What is an autoresponder or an automation email sequence?

What do we even call these things? 

ConvertKit sticks firmly to email sequences. Mailchimp calls them automations. Aweber calls them autoresponders.

But what the heck are these things, and why should they matter to you?

Here’s the quick + clean version: They are a series of emails, crafted oh-so-lovingly by you, that are sent automatically to your readers once they subscribe to your list, buy a product or take some kind of action, like clicking a link. 

And they’re important because…? - It’s like a bunch of automatic team members who are doing the work of spreading your core message, engaging with your readers and selling you without you having to do anything after it’s set up. Kind of like a gorgeous orchestra all set up to help you, the business owner, succeed.

As solopreneurs, our team is less often people and more often tools and systems. 

Your email sequence is a major component of your sales team, and you get to craft it in a way that is effective, honest, and totally represents your brand. 

They help you build a two way relationships with your readers, which to be honest, is becoming more and more of a commodity as we get further into the online business space.

So now that you know what email sequences are, what are the possibilities for using them in your business?

Here are 8 basic/fundamental ways to use email sequences in your business.

Do note that these sequences can be mixed + matched to your liking and to your business’s needs.

  • Get to Know Each Other - In this email sequence, you set up a series of emails with the overall goal of getting to know the reader who just subscribed and to help them get to know you and what you’re all about. One version could look like a welcome email as soon as they sign up, an email a couple days later introducing them to the most popular/moving/useful articles from your blog, and then another email a few days later checking in on them to see if they used your freebie, or opt-in. This one is great for starting a 2-way conversation with your new reader. 
  • Freebie Time - This email sequence is designed to deliver your freebie, or opt-in offer, and often consists of something like a “5-part free email course on how to find the man of your dreams…without using Tinder”. (Okay, someone steal that, that’s needed.) This can be easily combined with the “get to know each other” email sequence and the product sequence below.
  • Hey Look! Here’s How I Can Help! - This email sequence is all about introducing a product or service, or perhaps a series of either, to your new reader. This one works quite well in tandem with the “get to know each other” sequence. 
  • Study Plan - I personally think that anyone who sells digital courses or products should implement a study plan email sequence. No matter your audience, people are busy and they are going to find 302 other things to do than finish your course. If you want to have a higher completion rate, more engagement and really help them solve the problem they paid you to solve, this is a brilliant way to guide them along. Now, of course you’re going to have people who totally ignore the automatic study plan emails and that’s okay. You’ve done your part. 
  • You Might Like This Too - This email sequence requires that the reader do something before they are sent a series of very specific emails. For example, let’s say that in last Saturday’s weekly update, you sent out a link to a blog post all about ways to manage entrepreneurial anxiety. You have an on-demand course about this very topic. The people who click on that link will be sent a series of a couple emails that gives them more useful information about that topic and eventually the opportunity to purchase that on-demand course will be offered. If the person who clicked on that blog post link has already bought the course, they won’t be sent the series of emails. 
  • Where You At? - In this email sequence, you give your readers a chance to choose their own path, which will lead to them to getting more targeted information for where they’re at. For example, if you run an Italian language website, you might want to have your readers choose what level they’re at so you can send them useful information as a beginner and have an audience who are marked as beginners when you create/launch a beginner-based product. This could also work for parents in the first trimester of pregnancy, business owners who are just starting out, or burlesque aficionados who are ready to put together their own routine. 
  • Level Up - This email sequence builds on a previous product email sequence.  If they bought a product from you and the next level up would be to buy one-on-one time, they would be sent a series of emails after a certain amount of time from their first purchase. While this sounds complicated, it actually only takes a few decisions on your part and it will actually make your entire client customer experience more cohesive. For example, you can decide to implement a wrap-up survey for the first product they took and if they click the link, then they’re considered “finished” with the first product and the “level up” email sequence will be sent one week later.
  • Where’d You Go? - If you’re all about engagement, which if you’re here I’m guessing you are, then you love and care about your readers. You can set up a sequence to send once you’ve noticed that they’ve stopped opening emails for your product or just in general on a weekly basis. To be clear, this isn’t a guilt trip email sequence. It’s just one that sends a loving note out there reminding them that you’re here for them and that you’d like to catch up. It’s the same way you’d send a friend a text message or give them a phone call if you haven’t heard from them in a while. You do it just to connect and let them know that they’ve been on your mind. 

You can design extensive and creative email sequences with any of these eight as a foundation. The possibilities are endless.

Have questions? Leave them in the comments below! 

Hi, I’m Cher!

I write about the place where business + social responsibility meet. When I'm not researching whatever my latest obsession is, you can find me re-watching Remember the Titans, posting on Insta @chertakesprettypictures, or hiking somewhere in the PNW. If you're interested in working with me on a marketing or PR campaign, I do that, too.

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