How To Boost Email ROI With Autoresponse Campaigns

Last week’s stunning and game-changing updates to Google Analytics with multichannel funnels have raised an entirely new set of questions to most email marketers. Given that we now have a way to measure the impact of email beyond just pushing prospects over the line to an immediate sale, what new tactics, strategies, and ideas should we be examining?

Let’s start with the email marketing funnel. For a quick refresher:


Prior to multichannel funnels, most of our email marketing efforts were focused on one of two areas: sending email to leads to compel them to grow into customers, and monthly newsletter because we felt that we had to. With multichannel funnels, we can now more accurately assess our email marketing efforts at every stage of the funnel.

Given this, what can we be doing to increase email’s effectiveness in a measurable fashion? The answer lies in a specific email methodology known as autoresponse campaigns, in which you send timed or triggered email messages to highly targeted lists.


Strategy: The most obvious thing you can and should be doing is encouraging sharing, especially social sharing, of your email content. This necessitates having content worth sharing (people rarely share the mediocre, only the wonderfully good and horrifically bad) as well as an encouragement to share.

Tactics: Have great content. If you don’t have great content, then become known as a curator for great content by subscribing to as many reputable blogs in your industry and then putting together lists of curated content in your email. From there, use behavioral autoresponse campaigns for anyone who does share your content to encourage them and incentivize them to share even more.


Strategy: The path to converting a prospect into a lead, into someone interested in doing business with you, is through value. Provide them as much value as you can practically and reasonably create. Your goal at the convert stage is to become the authority and the only reasonable choice for your prospects to buy from, effectively warming them up for a sale.

Tactics: Use an automated response campaign to send prospects a series of tips, white papers, and other content to maintain presence of mind. For example, if you were a large food retailer, sending original recipes to your subscribers would provide them additional reasons to consider shopping at your store. Food manufacturers have put together free recipe books for years featuring recipes that require the use of the manufacturer’s products.


Strategy: To grow someone into a customer, you need to accurately understand their budget, need, timeframe, and if you’re selling something that requires participation of more than an individual, authority. Sometimes these criteria happen in the blink of an eye, like the purchase of a pack of gum at checkout. The need is immediate, the budget is whatever spare change is in your pocket, the timeframe is immediate, and the authority is just you. Sometimes these criteria happen over the period of years as companies consider multibillion dollar contracts.

Tactics: Growing a lead into a customer requires constant reinforcement of a structure that marketer Dan Kennedy promotes: P/A/GS/SS. With your email marketing, in your copy and in your campaigns, remind or elicit the problem that your prospective customers have. Incite agitation about the problem, about the opportunity costs or unrealized benefits. Suggest the general solution that addresses the problem, then conclude with your specific solution. Perform this marketing structure with autoresponse campaigns that are triggered off of behaviors from previous emails; for example, if someone subscribes and downloads all of your white papers and attends your webinars, they are indicating through their behavior that they might be ready for a more substantial conversation and would be ideal candidates for a targeted autoresponse campaign.


Strategy: Once someone’s become a customer, use value-enhancing email to retain them and turn them into evangelists.

Tactics: Building loyalty through autoresponse campaigns is simple (if not easy). From the moment of purchase, send a series of timed autoresponse campaigns providing tips for getting the most out of a purchase. Offer suggestions, ideas, and recipe-like content (“5 new ways to use your email marketing platform”) so that customers continue to increase the amount of value they get from you. Offer frequent encouragement to share post-conversion content as well, as that can then lead to new audience and prospects to reach.

As you set up each autoresponse campaign, make sure that you track them using distinct labels such as [WC Guests] or [WC Influencers] in the subjects. Not only will these labels help customers identify your mail from everything else in their inboxes, it will also help you carefully track what’s working in your multichannel funnels. If you see, for example, [WC Customers] emails showing up in your early acquisition/first touch reports, you know that your evangelists are sharing your post-conversion messages as intended. If you see surprises like [WC Guests] showing up in lead conversion, you know you’ve got some additional research to do for new marketing opportunities.

As we stated last week, multichannel funnels are nothing new conceptually, but their broad availability to marketers at any company and budget size is what’s the game changer. Start using effective autoresponse campaigns to create a consistent, valuable flow of emails to reinforce assisted conversions all along your funnel, and your email ROI will skyrocket as a result.

Christopher S. Penn

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