Your email autoresponder series is a crucial part of your marketing toolkit. Not only does it ensure you’re at the forefront of your clients (and potential clients) minds, it also serves as a way to further build a relationship with the people on your list. And of course, it’s there to help you sell – your products and services, affiliate products you love, and yourself and your VA business generally.

So it’s critical that your email autoresponder series is not only awesome, but that it fulfils its purpose.

During this month we’ve been looking at how you can get yourself and your VA business New Year ready. We’ve looked at things you can do, to prepare for 2021 as well as how to carry out a review and refresh on your VA business. During that post we mentioned tidying up your email autoresponder series, so I wanted to give you some more tips on how to do that.

In today’s post I’m going to help you get it ready for the year ahead. To do this we’re going to look at what you need to include in your emails and email series, as well as what you need to avoid. If you’ve already got you email series in place, we’ll look at what five things you typically need to update, if you want to refresh it, so you’re ready to get it working for you at the start of the 2019.

What you need to include in your email autoresponder series

There are specific practical elements a series of emails needs to have, such as a welcome email and a confirmation email. But they also need to fulfil the promise you make to your subscribers, at the time of sign up. However, each email autoresponder series as a whole, also needs to include the following:

#1: A purpose and/or end goal for the series

The series itself needs to have a specific reason for existing. Do you want it to sell a specific product, establish a relationship, or create authority around yourself? Each purpose and goal will dictate the strategy, tone, consistency and length of series you need to implement, if you want your emails to fulfil this intended need.

#2: Useful and valuable information, your audience want (or need) to know

If you want your email autoresponder series to be effective, you need to plan out what information you’re going to include. That information needs to not only be fulfilling your need, it also needs to be something your audience want (or need) to hear – and sometimes, they’re two distinctly different things!

#3: Personality and you!

It’s important, if you want to build a relationship with your list, that you share your story and your personality. Obviously, you don’t want to overshare or give away too much personal information, but you want them to see the real you, when they read your emails. As bizarre as it sounds, it helps to exaggerate your biggest traits and loves, as this helps cement them in as part of who you are. It also helps to write emails as you speak. Don’t try and use language you wouldn’t ever use, just to create a perceived persona – and never, ever create a fake version of you! Always be genuinely you.

Three things every email needs to have

As mentioned above, there are certain things each email series needs to have. However, every email also needs the following:

#1: A clear reason for being sent

If you can’t decide why you’re sending a certain email, there’s no reason to send it in the first place. Every email you send should have a clear purpose. It not only helps you write the email, it also helps the reader understand why they’re receiving it.

#2: A call to action

Following on from the point above, a clear reason leads to a clear call to action, for your reader. Once they’ve read the email, what do you want them to do next? Do you want them to click through to something, reply to you via email, think on what you’ve written, follow you on social media or commit to doing some other action? Let them know!

#3: Content that focuses on the reader, not you

Every single email you send must be reader focused. This doesn’t mean you can’t talk about yourself or share your story and experiences – but it does mean they need to resonate and/or link back to your reader, in some way. It could be to illustrate how they’re feeling, share a solution or give them information to educate themselves and explore further, but every email needs to ultimately focus on them, not you.

Three things you definitely need to avoid

When it comes to your email autoresponder series, there are some things that you’re best avoiding completely, if you want the series to be effective:

#1: Selling in every email

It’s the quickest way to turn off your email list, not to mention increasing your unopens and unsubscribes. It’s important that you do have an email autoresponder series that focuses on selling, but this can be done in a subtle way. Use this series to establish authority, share proof and answer questions. Keep selling link emails to approximately 20% of your overall series (unless you’re conducting a launch – then it’s ok to increase this, as long as you give your readers an opportunity to opt out, if they’re not interested in that particular launch!).

#2: Excessive text

Have a clear purpose for every email you send. This not only helps you write the email, it also helps you to avoid padding it out. If you feel the need to pad your emails with excess text or to get them to a certain length, you’re trying too hard to justify yourself and your reasons for emailing them.

#3: Sending multiple emails in one day

The people on your list are busy. They don’t want to have their inbox invaded, so don’t sent multiple emails on the same day, unless you have a clear reason for doing so. This isn’t just about the specific email sequence they’re currently on – it also means avoiding sending your newsletter on the same day as the email in another sequence. The only time you should send more than one email in any one day is a) if you’re counting down the final hours of your launch, or b), need to send a corrected email (if you sent a wrong or non-working link, for example).

If you have an existing email autoresponder series, what needs updating?

If you already have an existing email autoresponder series, now’s the time to think about updating it. What tweaking and testing can you carry out, to get it New Year ready? Here’s a few things to consider:

#1: Updating subject lines  

Take a look through your email series reports and see what is and isn’t working for you. If you have low open and click-through rates, update some of the subject lines, to see if this improves the ratings.

#2: Overall tone and length

Another area you can review and refresh is the overall tone and length of your emails. High unsubscribes could mean your overall tone or length of the email, is something that’s putting readers off. Take a look through and see how you can cut surplus text, or where you can improve how you word things.

#3: Look to segment your list

Segmenting your list is about targeting specific types of people. For example, if you find there are people clicking on your links but not completing the intended action, you can create a new segment for them. You can then write a new email sequence that encourages them further, clarifies certain points and answers the most commonly asked questions. You could do the same with people who aren’t opening your emails. They can be segmented, so you can create a new reengagement series of emails for them.

#4: Frequency of emails

If your mailing list isn’t very interactive or responsive to your emails, it could be a sign that your frequency is wrong. Send emails too frequently, and your list may not remember who you are and why they should be subscribed. However, if you’re emailing too frequently, it could simply be annoying them, to constantly be seeing you in their inbox.

#5: Make the series longer

Many businesses and VAs alike, tend to err on the side of caution. They don’t want to annoy subscribers, so they send minimal emails. This leads to very short email series’ being created, and often, they’re not long enough to do the job you want them to do. If it takes several touch points on your website, before someone opts into your email list, and it takes multiple touch points, before someone is ready to buy from you – it’s understandable that your email series needs to be more than 5 or 6 emails long, if you want them to complete a specific goal!

If you have any intention of building relationships with the people on your mailing list, you need to be corresponding with them – and that means sending them emails and newsletters. Here’s an interesting article on email open rates, that may help you understand the importance of tweaking, testing and segmenting your email series list.

Finally, it’s worth remembering that your email autoresponder series is a living document – it isn’t (and shouldn’t be) a one-time-done deal. This is why it’s important to set aside time now, prior to the start of the New Year, to get your email autoresponder series in shape. After all, it’s critical that your email autoresponder series is not only awesome, but that it fulfils its purpose and is ready to work for you during 2021!

What are your thoughts around today’s post? Has it helped give you a workable action plan to update and refresh your email autoresponder series, ready for the New Year? Why not share your biggest a-ha moments, in the comments box below!