4 Types of AutoResponder Series and The One You Should Absolutely Avoid

Autoresponder SeriesIt might seem like a weird time of the year to write about autoresponder email messages, especially with everyone else talking about their goals for 2011 and what they hope to accomplish come the new year. But in my case, I feel it’s appropriate because it’s been exactly one year since I introduced my own newsletter and autoresponder series for the Smart Passive Income Blog. One year since I began building an email list.

As many of you know, at the same time I also introduced my free eBook, eBooks the Smart Way, as a “lead magnet” (that’s what the pros call it) to hopefully entice people to sign up, and as I usually do with everything else I’ve got my hands in, I’m happy to share my results with you.

Using Aweber to handle everything, I’ve accumulated 8,252 subscribers over the past year. To some of you, this may seem like a lot, but for others, it might seem like nothing. There are professional internet marketers out there with lists of over 100,000 people which is very impressive.

That being said, it’s not the size of the list that matters, it’s how responsive it is. If you have a list of 100,000 people but only 5% of them open your emails, then you basically have a list of only 5000 people.

I’ve been very fortunate to have obtained a list of very responsive subscribers (Thank you! You all rock!). My open rate (the percentage of people who actually open the emails that I send out) averages around 55-60% per email. From what I’ve heard, this is much better than typical open rates, which hover around 20-30% (source: Warrior Forum).

Below, I’ll share with you 4 different examples of how you can handle your autoresponder series, including the one that I use which attributes to my very high open rates, as well as the one you should absolutely avoid.

What Is An Autoresponder Series?

Before I get into the 4 examples, I’m sure there are a few of you out there who don’t know what an autoresponder series is. If you already know, feel free to skip this section. If you don’t, keep reading.

An autoresponder series is just another fancy term for a number of automated pre-written emails that get sent to your subscribers in a sequential order. This is different than a broadcast, which is a one-time message that gets sent to all of your subscribers (or a particular segment of your subscribers that you set) at the same time.

What’s nice about setting up an autoresponder series is that you can take people through a sequence of emails (which begin on the first day a new person subscribes) without ever having to do any work, since you’ve already written the emails beforehand. Many people use an autoresponder series to take people through an e-Course.

Other uses for an autoresponder series include:

  • Keeping in contact with subscribers.
  • Promoting your own products.
  • Promoting products as an affiliate.
  • Providing more content to your subscribers.
  • Re-introducing old content to your new subscribers.
  • Getting input from your subscribers by asking them for feedback or help. You may have experienced something like this already if you’ve purchased anything from Amazon.com and received an email a few days after receiving your package asking for a review.
  • Or a combination of any of the above.

The autoresponder series is one of the best tools for generating a passive income (even on a blog), because if setup properly, all you need to do is generate more leads and your pre-written emails will take care of the rest.

Autoresponder Series #1: The Bait and Hook

The bait and hook approach comes from writing a sequence of pre-written emails that work like this:

Bait and Hook Autoresponder Series

The basic premise is that valuable content related to a particular subject is provided first (the bait), and then a product or solution is introduced later (the hook).

I’m currently signed up for several different newsletters, and to me this is one of the most common methods – probably because it does work and is very powerful. While the emails with content do provide value, they also help to create awareness around a particular problem or subject matter, which the eventual product could provide a solution for.

With all that said, you do have to be cautious if you choose this method. There’s a difference between awareness and hype, and people nowadays are definitely turned off from hype-toned emails. The copy of each of the emails must be crafted carefully because it can be really easy to sound like you’re just leading up to a product, in which case the emails can be a real turn-off and you’ll find a lot of your subscribers will unsubscribe from your list.

Autoresponder Series #2: The Ground and Pound

This is the most aggressive approach to an autoresponder series, but it can still be effective and profitable in some scenarios. The ground and pound approach works like this, as you might expect:

The Ground and Pound Autoresponder SeriesYou might think that this is a big no-no, but in some situations this actually works to a website owner’s advantage.

For example, sometimes an autoresponder series is introduced to an existing customer, and these promotional/product emails are upsells for other products that compliment the initial purchase. In this case, the customer has already proven to be a buyer and so promotional emails will not be as unwelcome, and in some cases they can actually be valuable (in fact, they should always aim to be valuable).

The ground and pound sequence could also work if you properly manage the expectations of your subscribers upfront. If you blatantly tell subscribers that they will get promotional emails from you, then those who sign up will expect it – no harm, no foul.

If you had a photography site, for example, with a newsletter that sent emails with exclusive deals and tips about certain photography products and gear, then ground and pound could be your best friend.

Like I said, this only works in certain situations so you’ll have to use some common sense and think about your specific audience and their particular wants and needs.

Autoresponder Series #3: The Pat Flynn

I named this “The Pat Flynn” only because this is how I handle my autoresponder series. I’m pretty sure I’m not the first one to do this, but honestly I’m not familiar with anyone else who does, and I’m subscribed to a large number of email lists.

The Pat Flynn works like this:

The Pat Flynn Autoresponder SeriesAs you can see, there are two components to the Pat Flynn autoresponder series: Content and Engagement.

Content emails are tips and tricks that I provide to my subscribers that cannot be found anywhere else on the blog. This helps to keep people on my list and wanting more. Here are some responses to one of my particular autoresponder emails:

A Couple of Email Responses from my Autoresponder

Beyond killer content, I try to engage with my subscribers. This is something I don’t see anyone else doing (I don’t know why), but I highly recommend it.

By “engage” I mean actually trying to get a response from my subscribers in a few of the emails. In one particular autoresponder email, for example, I ask my subscriber what they wish I write a blog post about. This makes people feel like they are involved with the content on my blog (which they are, because I’m in fact using a lot of the responses as inspiration for the content on my blog), and it helps them connect with me on a more personal level too. Hitting reply is a form of taking action, and any type of action taken by a subscriber is a win.

Now, you might not like this idea because “I don’t want to get a ton of emails from my subscribers.” If that’s the case, you’re going to miss out on opportunities of engagement which may not lead to an immediate click or a sale, but could help build a relationship that eventually does.

So You’ve Got Lots of Great Content And You Engage With Your Subscribers – So What?

Good question.

The real magic of my approach is two-fold:

  1. I’m establishing credibility and building relationships in a non-evasive manner, which keeps people on my list and opening emails. This obviously helps increase the open rate and responsiveness of my broadcast emails; and
  2. Some of the content emails get people back onto another platform where opportunities for affiliate sales and product sales exist.

The first point is self-explanatory – by not being aggressive and promoting anything directly on my newsletter, I have an increased open rate and responsiveness on each of my emails.

The second point is probably better illustrated by the diagram below, which is the same diagram as above, with a few more add-ons:

The Pat Flynn Autoresponder Series Expanded

This doesn’t represent the exact order of how everything happens – I currently have over 25 pre-written emails setup in my autoresponder series and things happen at various time (I test a lot), but I think you get the main idea.

The newsletter is not where any promotion occurs, it’s used as another medium to connect with my readers. Money that is eventually made is made off of the newsletter, from people coming back to my blog where I do promote products as an affiliate, and will eventually promote products of my own as well.

The tough part about it is that any transactions that do take place are harder to track. In a traditional promotional type of email, it’s easy to tell how much money a campaigned has earned, based on the number of clicks on a link within that email and the commissions or sales earned as a result.

With the “Pat Flynn”, on the other hand, someone may become a fan on Facebook or subscribe to my YouTube channel as a result of one of my particular emails and may not perform any type of transaction that day, week, month or even year. But, some of those people may eventually find a link to a post on my Facebook Page or watch a newly uploaded Video on YouTube and be interested in something that I recommend, or a product that I release.

Maybe a person will end up on my blog as a result of one of my emails and see one of the ads in the sidebar. There are multiple points of possible transactions that can stem from the newsletter, but again I find it particularly important to use the newsletter as a relationship builder – not the point of sale.

Is this the best way to do things? It is for me, but for you it’ll depend on your niche and your audience, so think about it from your readers’ perspective and what they would want to get in your emails.

Autoresponder Series #4: The One To Avoid

Below is an email sequence that you should try to avoid. Unfortunately, this is the sequence that most people usually have:

The One Autoresponder Sequence to AvoidA.K.A. no autoresponder sequence at all.

A lot of people setup their email lists (use this beginner’s guide if you don’t know how) and focus purely on the broadcast emails. Broadcasts are great and should be included from time to time, however if you skip the autoresponder sequence you’re missing out on valuable, passive income opportunities.

Remember, it’s all about working hard now so you can reap the benefits later, and it really doesn’t take too much time to setup an autoresponder series.

I hope you found this post helpful, and if you’d like to get to know my autoresponder sequence first hand and get those exclusive tips and tips I was talking about, I invite you to subscribe to my newsletter (and get a free copy of eBooks the Smart Way too!) by clicking here.

Cheers!

Any thoughts?

  • http://dbpmarketing.com DB Baker

    Pretty cool post Pat.

    I think that The Ground and Pound method is also one that needs to be avoided as I personally don’t stay on those type of lists for too long. You really have to provide added value for the subscriber if you want them to stay and if you want to build some kind of trust and rapport with them.

    Building trust with your list is the single most important thing to do in my opinion and it is a great way to have long term success over just promoting stuff all the time and getting some commissions now but nothing for the long run.

    I just want to add that the best email marketing course I had was Autoresponder Madness 2.0 by Andre Chaperon. Andre is without any doubt the best email marketer I encountered and his methods and level of writing are out of this world…

    • http://www.theaffiliatejourney.com/ Ian

      DB

      I get your point, but in my opinion it’s a valid business model. A couple of years ago Allan Says, creator of the Warrior Forum, started working a model and sharing it with a select few, where he’d setup small niche blogs and target only 1-5 keywords that were product orientated and push visitors to an Auto Responder (AR). From there it was a Ground and Pound method… It was the sales funnel.

      This method turned into 6 figures a year with a few sites pretty quickly for many folks.

      If your model is a blog (such as Pat’s) then sure the Ground and Pound will turn people off. But if you’re obsessed with the potential that the Acai Berry could have for you then and you’re looking for info it can work.

      • Pat

        Yeah, I think it depends on the type of business model that you have, and like I said in my ground and pound example it can really be profitable in some cases. Like Ian said, it’s definitely not right for this blog, but in sales funnels with upsells, downsells and the like, it shouldn’t be overlooked.

        • http://www.earnmoneyonlinewithjohn.com johns online!!

          Hi Pat

          thankyou for the post
          it was better than some of he wso’s i got !!!

          I am learning fast but one of the older guys here

          cheers

  • Arthur

    Thanks for breaking it down Pat!

    I’m on quite a few email lists on a variety of topics and I really appreciate yours because its the only one that I’m not being sold to in every email. After this post, I realized how much I don’t like being sold to in every email that I’ve just unsubscribed to a few that I realize I don’t bother reading anymore due to the ground and pound method they use.

    Your motto of putting in the work now to reap the rewards later certainly pays off. Just like your autoresponder, with the trust you build, your readers keep you in mind for purchases in the future.

    • Pat

      Hey Arthur, thanks a lot – it’s all about investing time and effort into building relationships up front, so that readers can keep you in mind for future purchases, or even referrals to future customers, like you said. Cheers!

  • http://www.megabizflakes.com Samuel

    Awesome post Pat! You are right about the idea of engaging with our subscribers. To build great relationships with your readers, you must embrace the spirit of engagement. I’m facing the #4 problem. I will try my best to give it a life. :) Thanks so much!

    • Pat

      Thanks Samuel – I think it’s the perfect time to get on improving our autoresponder series because it can be a very lucrative and integral part of our passive income businesses. Cheers!

  • http://findmyblogway.com Lye Kuek Hin

    Hi Pat,

    A well time reminder on the auto-responder as i am guilty of not utilizing this function fully. The “Pat Flynn” style is definitely something i adore and admire. I am a subscriber in your list, definitely know how that feels when receiving your tips and tricks.

    Thanks a lot for sharing the breakdown.

    • Pat

      Thanks for the comment, as always Lye! Happy New Year!

  • http://bizhax.com Keith

    I am just getting back into my email marketing campaign, one thin I noticed was that it really made a difference if I used plain text over html with mine. Plain text gave me more clicks and more responses.

    • Pat

      That’s interesting Keith – I’ve found there to be no difference, at least in my campaigns, but obviously each person should test it on their own to see what works best for them. Cheers!

    • http://canadianconnectors.com Earl

      I’ve noticed the same Keith, huge percentage differences in plain vs HTML vs Something with an attachment.

  • Chris Worner@WarriorForum

    Hello Pat!

    I have really enjoyed reading your blog the last few months and I have really learned a lot from you, I’d just like to say thank-you.

    AS for the differing mailing styles, you forgot one of the most effective mailing strategies ever. It is a mixture of the Pat Flynn style and ground and pound. Provide engaging high value content and in the conclusion of your content place a link to a relevant product, whether you own the product or your promoting it as an affiliate.

    Nobody can accuse you of abusing their in-box with pitch after pitch since you are delivering on your promise to provide content while at the same time you are conditioning/setting up the expectation that they will be receiving commercial content at the same time since you are running a business and have to recoup your investment in the list and make money.

    Have a good new year!

    Chris

    Many people forget that articles and content are a form of

    This is how you promote to your list constant

    • Pat

      Good point Chris – thanks for the reminder. Of course, all of these tactics can be combined or fused together, and I think the Pat Flynn and GnP would work pretty well too, although I like to keep promotions off of my autoresponder, personally. Thanks for the comment, support, and have a great new year!

  • http://Www.abstractliving.com Vinay

    Perfect timing! Autoresponders are SO important and I totally don’t spend enough time working on my auto responders which I know is such an important element. Thx for the tips pat!

    • Pat

      Anytime Vinay! Cheers!

  • http://unlockthedoor.net Stuart

    Brilliant Pat! I’ve been pondering over whether or not to have a autoresponder newsletter via e-mail, and not only have you convinced me I should, but you’ve also shown me the best ways to do it! Pat, you are a genius :-)

    • Pat

      Heh – well the Pat Flynn works best for me, it may be different for you, but I definitely think an autoresponder series should be utilized one way or another, at least to keep in constant contact with your subscribers. All the best to you!

  • http://www.youngprepro.com Onibalusi Bamidele

    This is awesome Pat,

    It’s so great to hear you’re getting around 60% open rate per email, that’s awesome and it beats the average email open rate (mine is 20.).

    Yes, what matters most is killer content and making yourself able to be trusted (You can surely be trusted Pat, your work speaks for you!).

    Keep up the awesome work,
    -Onibalusi

    • Pat

      Cheers Onibalusi – keep up the good work and work on improving that open rate. Let’s stay above average!

  • http://Www.virtualbusinesslifestyle.com Chris C. Ducker

    Great post, Pat.

    Another Pillar Article hits the web, in my opinion.

    Best,
    Chris

    • Pat

      Thanks Chris, and Happy New Year!

  • TrafficColeman

    I been having my auto responder for about 8 years now and it has been an big help. People just need to understand when you get people on your list..educate them and don’t spam..they will stick around longer.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

    • Pat

      I definitely agree! Thanks Coleman!

  • http://www.moneycrush.com Jackie

    Hah, I’m stuck on “the one to avoid” right now. It IS on my list to improve, but hasn’t reached the top yet. Probably when I do finally get it done, it’ll be yet another thing I wished I’d done sooner…

    At any rate your emails are by far the most personal and engaging that I’ve ever read. I always double check to see if it’s an email from the list or from you to me individually, they are that authentic.

    • Pat

      Hehe, thanks Jackie – I really appreciate the kind words. At least it’s on your list of things to do, and 2011 is just around the corner so it’s the perfect time to take some action :)

  • http://www.unleashthewealthwithin.net Azzam

    Interesting to know that you gain a higher response rate in opening the emails above the average.
    However you probably can not determine whether these subscribers are signing up after scanning through the blog first.
    In my opinion the higher response rate is due to the expectation of the quality of content.
    The warrior forum is stereotyped with Internet Marketers who either rehash material or do not offering unique content. The consequence of this is the lack of conviction that the content will actually offer any substantial content.
    The other opinion is that warrior forum subscribers subscribe to a lot stuff and consequently there is a lot of noise in the inbox.
    I am unsure of how you can measure what I have said.
    I do believe that you go all out with your content, I am not stating this to flatter you in anyway but it is matter of fact and this could be reflected in the higher response rate.

    • Pat

      Hi Azzam, the content on the blog probably has a lot to do with it as well, in addition to the quality of the eBook that comes along with subscribing to the newsletter, which I’ve spent a lot of time on the quality too. It all has to be an entire “package” – a brand, that helps connect with subscribers and readers and followers alike. Thanks for the compliments :)

  • http://healthhomehappy.com Cara

    Thanks for this overview! I’m just starting up my newsletter and am totally going to try the Pat Flynn style ;) I’ve also found, in my niche at least, that getting people to join and interact with me on FB may be even more helpful than getting into their email box. My FB ‘likers’ are much more likely to share my content many people than my email subscribers are.

    • Pat

      Definitely Cara – I’ve found the same thing. Facebook is amazing for engagement and building relationships and holding long conversations with large groups of people and individuals. I still think email is vital though. All the best to you!

  • http://www.my4hrworkweek.com Eric | My 4-Hour Workweek

    Hey Pat – Way to take something that every internet marketer talks about and turn it into a unique and information-packed post. I love it. :)

    I’m a big fan of your approach to newsletter autoresponder series, and it’s inspired me to take a similar approach with my newsletter. It’s the best way to build a relationship with your readers, and it’s really a win-win situation. I’m sure your unsubscribe rate is way below average.

    Thanks for the post – hope your holiday season is going well.

    - Eric

    • Pat

      Most of what I talk about on this blog and my podcast isn’t usually brand new, but I always try to take that information and reshape it so it’s more easily understood and presented in a memorable fashion. Thanks dude!

      Keep up the good work with your newsletter, and by the way, how is your niche site coming along?

      • http://www.my4hrworkweek.com Eric | My 4-Hour Workweek

        Thanks man. The niche site is going well – after essentially ignoring it for a month, I just redesigned it a bit to hopefully increase conversions, now that I’m starting to see a lot more traffic. I’ll be writing an update post next week probably.

  • http://www.espressomachinecorner.com Francis

    Thanks Pat! Great information. I’m new to internet marketing profession and I understand the importance of having a quality list. I recently opened up my aweber account and working on developing a series of email responses for the websites I started.

    • Pat

      Awesome Francis – way to take those first steps, which many people fail to do. Keep up the good work and crush it next year! Cheers!

  • http://cashcampfire.com Christina Crowe

    I’m with Chris Ducker – awesome pillar article! ;)

    When you mentioned on Twitter that this post was “short,” I was imagining something way shorter than this. But that’s not a bad thing! :)

    I love the images you included to further explain each autoresponder series. At the moment (as you know, I only recently started my newsletter), I’m just focusing on the content with a few occasional broadcasts (like my Merry Christmas one the other day).

    I’ve been subscribed to your newsletter for over a few months now, and, now that I think of it, you were asking questions every now and then in the newsletter. I didn’t even think of it before, but that’s awesome what you’re doing.

    I have a question though. I’m planning on adding some engaging emails in the sequence – If I change the order so that a new engaging email gets shown before one of the other emails that already got sent to some subscribers, will those subscribers higher up in the ladder still receive the new engaging email?

    I’m not sure if the above question makes sense, but let me know if it doesn’t.

    As always, thanks for the awesome read!

    Christina

    • Pat

      Thanks Christina :)

      In regards to your question (which I can understand, hehe), I took the time to ask Aweber myself (because I was curious), and those who are at the end of your autoresponder series would not get that new email if it was stuck in the middle. And in fact, they would receive the message they already received in your last email, again. It doesn’t make sense to me, but that’s what happens.

      Here is the support’s response:

      Kelly Madden: Hello Patrick! They would not get that email. Also, that would bump everyone else down a message so they would get the last message they got a second time

      • http://www.my4hrworkweek.com Eric | My 4-Hour Workweek

        So basically, if you’re ever going to add new e-mails to your series, you should always add them to the end (so that people don’t see duplicates)?

        Depending on the content, I could see duplicates as pretty annoying, possibly causing people to unsubscribe. Wouldn’t want that!

      • http://www.whatdoestonydo.com Chef Tony

        I had asked them that before too… I think that would be a welcome change from Aweber..essentially it only changes the sequence for new subscribers, or someone who is earlier in the series that hasn’t hit that spot yet.

        It seems not rocket science to think that if person X is at message 17 (and system can tell that messages 1-17 have been sent) that at least Aweber could give you an option that inserting a new email into the already established sequence could trigger a question “Do you want current subscribers to be “post emailed” this new message?” or something to that effect.
        At least we who pay the monthly cost can make that decision…..and it makes your community all be on the same page.

        Now that new message COULD be sent out as a broadcast, but then some people would be getting it twice.

  • http://bloggersjournal.com Mark Bell

    I’ve only recently started using a list on my site – with a nice little ebook I put together as the incentive.

    I’ve been playing around with the wording to entice people to opt in too.

    I’ve a very brief auto-responder set up for now, basically to get feedback on the ebook. However I want to enhance this in the future.

    I personally remain on the list of those which follow the first method you outline. I’m cool with promotions every now and then. The second one is a real breaker for me. I hate to sign up to a list which is in no way related to the site it came from. It’s a pure profit maker – a turn off.

    I like the method you use, and as you say, I think it’s very unique. I think it’s an excellent method to try and engage with your readers. It’s a more private way than having them comment on your blog – which not everyone is comfortable doing.

    Cheers for the tips – and the links to your older articles. Great reads!

    Mark

  • http://cashwithatrueconscience.com/rbblog/why-understanding-the-law-of-attraction-prospers-a-cash-gifting-mentor/ Ryan Biddulph

    Hi Pat,

    Thanks for sharing the helpful breakdown.

    I like to keep my autoresponders personal. Sending a broadcast message right away is like yelling at your list with a bullhorn. Not the best relationship building strategy.

    Be personable and kill ‘em with content.

    RB

  • http://chefgeneman.com Philip geneman

    hay, pat this post is great. I am just starting my site and I do not have a mailing list yet. I am working on trying to do this I just have now Idea what content I should provide this whey.

  • http://www.whatdoestonydo.com Chef Tony

    Hey Pat…

    PHENOMENAL article, yes a Pillar article in my opinion…really well done.

    You’re spot on with regards to building relationships and developing that trust. I find it hard to see your future “customers” when starting a blog, but if we all think of our online business as a full service business (like my restaurant), we’ll take more care in writing emails, creating value, and delivering opportunities to make income as well of course.

    I click on your emails because you’re a REAL guy, you respond to almost every comment I see on your blog, and you bring value with the emails from your list. It’s for that reason that I follow Yaro and have for years…there are honestly just a few people in this industry from what I see, that have that magic of realness, and it’s super exciting because you bring reality into the picture. Your transparency makes the rest of us understand that riches (both monetary and lifestyle design) ARE possible, SO IMPORTANT.

    Great job again, you really bring value.

    Chef Tony

  • http://pimpslaptheratrace.com/ Allen Tapp

    Hey Pat,

    Huge thanks for this post as it really helps to clarify some hovering questions. One of the big one’s for me is, how often should you communicate to your list. I think you answer it best by the type of content you’re providing them. If the valuable content out weighs the promotional messages then you can probably send more often.

    Thanks again.

  • http://www.buildgreenmatter.com/ Matt

    As usual, another pat flynn post has me thinking. a lot of people do the quarterly summary newsletter pieced together from “best of” blog posts. It seems like this is best done with a broadcast email, but perhaps there is a way to automate this type of message into an auto-responder series. The trick would certainly be to ensure that it gets located at the end of the series as Christina, Eric and Pat have discussed.

  • http://www.mikeforshort.com Mike Moyer

    Wow. This came at exactly the right time. I putting the finishing touches on my “lead magnet” today and then you post this.

    Now that the eBook is finished, I need to get the auto responder series set up as well, and these tips were great.

    Thanks Pat.

  • http://www.babysleepsite.com Nicole

    Hi Pat! Great tips, as usual! I believe I use a combo of “Ground and Pound” and “The Pat Flynn”. My autoresponder series is strictly ground and pound but not in an aggressive tone, mostly trying to connect and offer a service and/or e-Book. However, the emails are set up one week apart and every week I also send a weekly newsletter where I try to engage and connect even more, link to a blog post and provide relevant/seasonal tips for my readers that are all free. This allows new readers to get to know me and know I’m just not a robot and yes, I actually care about your issues. So, if you sign up on say Thursday, you will get my next newsletter with free content before you get the first product offer. If you sign up on a Tuesday, you’ll get both the same day, though. In my newsletter, at the bottom are links to recent articles on the right and both free and paid products to the left. There is also a request to forward to a friend to get a copy of their free e-Book I offer as well (I notice a boost of sign-ups on the day or two after a newsletter goes out). I found once I made my newsletter weekly rather than monthly or bi-weekly, I got a lot better response rate. Reading Copyblogger has helped me fine tune subject lines to increase open rate, though it could be better. My site would be a fraction of what it is without my readers, list and my newsletter, so it’s been instrumental in my rapid growth. I have picked up all these tips here and there over the last couple of years and am really happy I found your blog just recently, too. It’s really interesting learning more and more about all of this. I have way more to learn, but too busy right now, which is a GOOD thing! :) Thanks again for all the great content and your tone of delivery. It’s really great!

  • http://www.blogthebank.com Blog the bank

    I’ve been trying to decide which auto responder to go with but I also I wanted a game plan before I purchase it so I will not burden my readers and than i would be able to use it effectivley great post you just helped me with the game plan.

  • http://www.bojandjordjevic.com Bojan

    I am one of those who actually waits for your new email… Good work Pat!

  • http://www.michellehaku.com Michelle

    Hi Pat

    I am only very new to internet marketing, and have just set up my new blog a few weeks ago.
    I spotted you on facebook quite a few months ago, but have never really taken anything in until now.
    I’m going to subscribe to your newsletter, you come across as extremely genuine.
    Do you offer any classes, or courses at all? Something that starts right from the beginning?

    Many Thanks
    Michelle

  • http://www.websitetooltester.com/ Robert (WebsiteToolTester)

    Autoresponders are truely powerful. I find your approach excellent – engaging content for your members that can turn them into buying customers in the long run. No hard selling. I like this strategy!

  • http://manchesterpsychotherapy.net Ian Tomlinson

    Thanks Pat! This post has suitable kicked my butt and I have now moved from model #4 to a “Pat Flynn”! I spent the whole afternoon writing follow up messages and now have a couple of months in the bag! I like your model the best, those that continually attempt to sell me stuff just get unsubscribed. I knew I was being ineffective with aweber and I guess your post just tipped me over the balance into action!

  • http://www.investparttime.com Brett

    I like the thoughts here. I’m still on the fence about doing an email autoresponder simply just from the cost right now, but hopefully down the road once I can get some traction and have more content to draw from then it’ll make more sense. In the meantime, this is great information! I think you’re on the right track with your method. I would much rather read someone who actually cares about their readers (e.g. Gary Vaynerchuk) than someone who simply blasts out product promotions every day (I can think of many more examples).

    Happy New Year’s!

  • Bob

    So what is the autoresponder to avoid? Oh wait, another misleading title to generate hits.

    This is starting to grow tiresome.

    • Pat

      No disrespect, but did you read the entire article? Example #4 is the one to avoid, the kind with just one followup message, which if you read the comments you’d see a lot of people are doing.

      Happy New Year Bob.

      • Bob

        No disrespect, Pat, but “no autoresponder sequence” is not an autoresponder sequence to avoid. You can’t avoid something that doesn’t exist.

        This is the second time recently that the title of a post refers to something that doesn’t actually exist in the post. A better title would have been “Must-Have Autoresponder Sequences: Three to Consider”

        Happy New Year to you too!

        • http://www.babysleepsite.com Nicole Johnson

          @Bob Those are semantics and if you do any type of e-mail marketing, the title you propose would get far fewer opens/clicks. Why is it bad that Pat tries to maximize reads? By indicating there is one to avoid, everyone rushes to make sure they don’t have the one to avoid and based on the commenters, there are quite a few who do. This is a kick in the butt that some people need to get a sequence. If you simply say these are three to consider, some people will put it off and figure they’ll get to it sometime just like they figured they’d get to their sequence. Saying there is one to avoid inspires people to read it for those who have one and for those who don’t when they do write their sequence. The “sequence” to avoid is just one e-mail welcoming the reader. As far as I see it, Pat did make good on what the title promised and it did what it was intended: inspire people to do something. Sometimes blogging and marketing aren’t perfect in terms of grammar…

        • Bob

          I can’t respond to Nicole’s comment for some reason, but I guess the only response I have is… it’s all about the clicks, isn’t it? To me, that’s a sad commentary on the state of the web.

          Also, Pat knows this isn’t about grammar. It’s about misrepresenting the content of a post.

        • Pat

          Bob – the threads only go 3 comments deep, which is why the ability to respond isn’t there with Nicole’s comment.

          Let me ask you a question (and I’m sorry to bring up this topic here, but it’s the perfect example). When they say “The only safe sex is abstinence” – are they wrong? Abstinence is not having sex, but that’s what they say to get people to realize the idea that no sex is the safest kind of sex.

          This is exactly what I’m doing with my title here and I don’t think it’s misleading, and no it’s not about CLICKS. I could care less about clicks. I have 15,000 people subscribed to my content who get it no matter what the title is. It’s all about making an idea stick.

          I don’t know why you’re so upset or feel like have you have to expend energy here against me and this one specific title of my blog post. There are thousands of other internet marketers out there who are stealing people’s money – promoting products they’ve never used and using headlines that are blatantly misleading just to drive sales for products that are just other products renamed with an extra bonus added.

          Good day to you.

          :)

        • http://simplylearnbusiness.com Nick

          Bob, all he’s saying is that setting up an email list account and maybe doing 1 email and then never making another one isn’t going to help you. He’s right too. I fell into this trap on one of my blogs. But he’s telling us that it’s not that hard and you really should just get it started.

        • http://www.babysleepsite.com Nicole

          @Bob Sorry you misunderstood. It’s not about clicks. When you are passionate about a subject and one of your goals is to help people (like this blog), you want to reach as many people as you can, that’s all I meant. Maybe Pat didn’t even mean to do it, but I’ve done some research on titles that get opens and those that don’t and this one was perfect for getting more people to read (caution in the title). I personally don’t think it is a bad thing if Pat were trying to reach as many people as he could, not so much to make money but to share his passion and help people, what he does every day FREE. Anyway… good luck to you and happy new year! :)

        • Bob

          Nicole,

          I’m not sure if you’re the same Nicole I responded to, but you said you were sorry I misunderstood. The first Nicole said: “Why is it bad that Pat tries to maximize reads?”

          Can reads not be replaced by clicks, since to read you must click? What did I misunderstand?

          Pat – I’ve read your site for a long time and find value in it. It just irks me to see everyone so kiss-assy (scientific term) when all anyone wants is clicks. It just seems so superficial.

          I also want your writing to be better. I want you to proofread your posts. I want you to know that the phrase is not “could care less” but instead “could not care less.” Given how much income is generated for you with the root of SPI, I think I am justified in wanting more. I know this content is free, but it can be better. I can’t recall seeing a single negative comment on this blog (and I don’t really consider mine to be negative either… constructive feedback instead) and this has to be the most popular blog that can say that.

          All I want is to not be manipulated. If I am told to expect something in a post, I want to get it.

          As for “the only safe sex is abstinence,” that is perhaps the stupidest slogan ever. It is manipulative. It plays off people’s fears. It probably does more harm than good when you think about it since it really doesn’t address the issue at hand. And it’s simply not true. It’s the perfect metaphor for our current political climate. Who cares what is true… let’s scare everybody!!! That’s a pretty bad example to use for your argument.

          Cheers mate!

        • Pat

          Bob, thanks for your opinions and constructive criticism, and I’m sorry you feel manipulated. You’re probably the only person who feels this way, although I can’t say for sure. Based on several of the other comments I have no regrets with how I handled this post and its title, which a lot of people have already benefited from.

          I’m done responding to you, partly because unlike you I know where my time and efforts should be spent, and partly because its difficult to trust someone talking about honesty and manipulation when it seems that person is trying to hide behind a fake email address (trust me, I tried to email you to discuss things in private and got a bounceback) and maybe a fake name too. All the best to you. Cheers!

        • Ken

          Sour grape in the bunch. Bob reminds me of some bully on the playground.

          Thanks for the great post Pat.

        • http://www.babysleepsite.com Nicole Johnson

          Yes, same Nicole, but was on a different computer and my ID must not be logged in for my picture. Sorry for the confusion on that. You can say clicks or reads, that’s not the misunderstanding. When you write for fun or for your own benefit, it doesn’t matter how many people read it, right? When you are trying to help other people and are passionate about doing so (as it is obvious Pat is), then you want to help as many people as you can, I would think. That’s all I meant. If a click meant someone was paying money, then maybe it would matter, but more clicks or reads is only potentially helping more people. If you don’t get people to click/open, you can’t get your message heard. Imagine an inbox of 100 messages (I get no less every day) and some subjects get opened and some don’t and sometimes it’s only the sender that matters. I don’t see why that would be wrong to try to maximize his as long as Pat delivered the content, and I guess that’s where you disagree with most of us. We can agree to disagree. It’s cool. Good luck!

        • Bob

          Pat,

          You were doing so well until “…partly because unlike you I know where my time and efforts should be spent…”

          So you know what’s best for me? Sheesh…

    • http://www.theemotionmachine.com Steven | The Emotion Machine

      LOL, the last one, the one where there is no autoresponder.

  • http://missiondrivenbrand.com Rob Pene

    Awesome post!!!!!!!

    I never really leveraged the true power of Opt-In and an autoresponder series…but I think that will be a good news years resolution for me :)

    Thanks as always for the valuable post!

  • http://FoolishAdventure.com Tim Conley

    Awesome article, Pat. I’ve been feeling guilty with my list since I don’t send enough content just for being on the list. So, is the Pat Flynn Autoresponder method trademarked or can we all use it? :-)

  • http://www.pokermarketingstar.com Kevin

    Pat you have a new follower of your blog. Came across this post and it was awesome, now time to go back through and read your archive…

  • http://www.onespoonatatime.com Paul Wolfe

    Pat

    Interesting post. I got a question for ya…do you do anything specific to avoid complaints. I use Awebber – just started about 4 months ago – and I had a couple of mail outs where I sent out just content (averaging an open rate of about 75%) – no promotion whatever – and YET i still had some complaints.

    Any ideas on how to avoid complaints on a pure ‘content’ email?

    Happy New Year. Keep rocking….

    Paul

    • http://www.goodfaithinvesting.com Shae Bynes

      Hey Paul, I know you were asking Pat but I thought I’d add a comment here. I’ve experienced the same thing and what I’ve been told is that some people simply click the “Spam” button to unsubscribe without any thought to the fact that it would register as a complaint. It’s just easy to click Spam right at the top of your inbox (provided by the e-mail provided) rather than scroll to the bottom to click the unsubscribe link.

      Hope that helps some!

    • http://www.babysleepsite.com Nicole Johnson

      I agree with Shae. To combat it, I found a tip to add something to the top reminding them they are receiving the e-mail because they subscribed. So, at the top of all my weekly newsletters I have something at the top in smaller font that reads:

      ****************************************************************************
      You are receiving this e-mail newsletter because you signed up on our mailing list on {!signdate abb}. If you wish to stop getting baby sleep tips, please unsubscribe below. I will be sorry to see you go! To see images and ensure delivery, please add newsletter [at] babysleepsite [dot] com to your address book. -N. Johnson
      ****************************************************************************

      It doesn’t stop all the complaints, but it has cut them down a lot. People don’t realize what they are really doing when they click that little “spam” button, I don’t think. They think spam = unwanted e-mails but really spam is all the emails about viagra I get on a daily basis! :)

      • http://www.goodfaithinvesting.com Shae Bynes

        Nicole, that’s a great tip!

  • http://mkakan.com Mk Akan

    Pat, i have recieved all they 4 types of email autoresponders …and trust me i have left the list that just send me promotional stuff…
    Your method is rear because frankly speaking you are one of the first few people that i started replying to the email autoresponders because of the ideas and contents you share(another person who does this is Daniel scocco from DailyBlogTips)
    I will model my autoresponder series like the 1st and 3rd points…

  • http://www.makepassivemoney.com/2010/12/download-spinnerchief-for-free-here/ Mike M.

    Pat,

    I like this information as I had a bad experience from getting aggressive emails, most likely 4th type you mentioned, I decided I will do not do that do my readers. I agree, I have signed up for your list and you are one of the best marketer who sells without sales pitch, kind of like a friend. I like that.

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  • Derrrick

    Based on my response to autoresponder emails, I stay on the list if the content is outstanding.I always unsubscribe from or delete any ground-and-pound emails,except if the email is promoting something I badly need – for example the latest Article Spinner.If there is no video demo or free trial,I always delete the email.PERIOD.

  • http://www.creatingmyempire.com Dustin Baier

    I haven’t commented in awhile but I just loved this post. Keep up the good work. One question is there a way to make sure that everyone gets a specific email on a certain date. i.e. lets say you have a Christmas themed email you want everyone to get or something else time sensitive. Do you just send out an extra email that week? How do you handle that situation?

  • http://www.twentysomethingmoney.com/ twentysomethingmoney

    the biggest problem i see with any email marketing program, is people tend not to read the reply-to emails, or even worse, set them up as bounce@….. Its a huge potential for engagement, to answer questions, or to even sell a product if thats the goal.

    Congrats on such a high open rate — 20% is even generous industry benchmark, so your 60+% is huge!

  • http://Www.goodfinancialcents.com Jeff rose

    Pat, this is great stuff. I missed the boat and didn’t add a newsletter option to my main blog until this summer. To compound the problem, I didn’t set an autoresponser – other than the welcome email – until recently. Now, I totally see the value and I’m going back and adding them slowly but surely. I love your idea about “engagement” and will definitely implement something similar.

    The good news is that seeing the error of my ways, i’ve setup an auto responder with my new Soldier Of Finance blog. Nowhere near the 25 you have set up, but I’m working towards it :)

    Thanks for your awesome insight on this!

    Do you have any blogs with newsletters that you subscribe to that have a “Pat Flynn” like feel?

  • http://blogstarta.com Momekh

    I am wondering if, instead of an ebook, one can get on with a course, delivered over say 15 to 25 days in 5 to 7 parts. This serves the purpose of ‘continued exposure’ – you know, memory recall and building relationship etc (people use some seriously technical terms for things like ‘relationship’ and ‘getting to know a person’!)

    I am trying that out over at my blog Blogstarta. I wonder what you have to say on this, any experiences on that?

  • http://simplylearnbusiness.com Nick

    I’m a happy subscriber of your newsletter. I love the Pat Flynn way. What it really comes down to is that you have to figure out the way that works for you. You can use all three ways and mix and match them. That’s what really makes the way that works for you. Great post. Keep this awesome content coming.

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  • http://thebusybeehiveblog.blogspot.com/ Beelissa

    Hi Pat. This make a lot of sense. I am turned off by the hard sell, but I feel a sense of trust in you because of your method. I’m no expert; I’m just starting out, so I don’t know what works, but as a “consumer”, I think I’m most likely to follow someone using your method and therefore more likely to buy. Unless you’re selling scrapbooking supplies. And then, it’s just about whether I like the product and the price. :-)

  • http://thesisready.com Dave Grimes II

    Pat,
    I’ve definitely made the mistake of using “The One to Avoid.” Really negated the whole purpose of having an e-mail list o begin with!

    I noticed that the “Pat Flynn” method is fairly complex. Did you develop that over time, or did it just seem like the right way to do it from the start?

  • http://www.songrecordingblog.com Terence Pera

    Hi Pat,
    I have not got deeper in the Autoresponder Emails except using the number 4 series, which you are right it gets me nowhere but the reason being is not fully understanding how it works. Now when explained in diagrams then i really understood how i can create a one on one relationship with my clients. I have decided to start writing my email templates to accommodate the Pat Flynn series.
    Terence

  • http://www.whoisbolaji.com Bolaji O | WhoIsBolaji.com

    What’s up, Pat!

    I think your inclusion of model number four is the most valuable piece of this already very valuable article.

    We’d all be wise to remember the saying:
    “Don’t get it perfect. Just get it going.”
    ACTION is the greatest killer app.
    The most potent differentiator.

    I started my autoresponder series a few months ago.
    Being averse to ground-and-pound myself, I’ve gone more with #1 (Bait and Hook).

    I’ve been thinking about how to refine and clarify my series though… and your timely blog post has given me good guidelines. Thanks for that.

    But I’m happy that I did get my autoresponder series off the ground.
    After some complaining, moaning, groaning and procrastinating… ha ha!

    Now, it’s time to give it a makeover.

    Thanks, Pat!

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  • http://www.zylun.com Bryan Canon

    Thanks for sharing infos, although i’m still not venture into email marketing but this one will be my guide in the future. I’ve noticed a lot of spams on my spam mailbox but mostly i never mind them and im just deleted them from time to time. But there are nice ones though so ive got to check them.

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  • http://theperfectgardens.com Dorothy Bellisario

    Hi
    How do I get this series please tell me you sell the prewritten emails
    Dorothy

    • http://ourappsfactory.com Adrian

      Just need to sign up to the newsletter and you’ll receive them!

  • Virgil

    Outstanding blog, detailed relevant information. Really like the way you handled the ;constructifve criticism’ from Bob…transparent with win win boundaries.
    Am forwarding this on to a # of senior friends who are just entering the internet marketing business….

  • Kschui

    Hi Pat,

    Question about bait and hook method vs pat flynn method. What is the difference between your email contents? I like how your method gives information that cant be found in your blog. Does the bait and hook method send email content from their blog? dont see a point if someone is going to send me content every few days when I can just read it all at once in their blog. By the time the information reach my email, I might have already read it in the blog.

  • http://bestautorespondersoftware.com Phillip Maxwell

    Excellent article, I like how you show the different types of email sequences, this is very helpful.

  • http://shaqirhussyin.com Shaqir Hussyin

    Great post! Going to subscribe to your list now :)

    Shaqir

  • http://www.brendanhufford.com Brendan

    Pat,

    Have you written about how to write good autoresponder content? I’m currently setting one up and other than just pointing to my posts, I’d like to write some unique stuff.

  • http://funkypencil.com sam

    Hey Pat,
    WOW!! I’m so glad I took the time to open your recent email and then found myself cruising your site and finding this post. I actually have an Aweber acount now yet I have’nt set it up yet to integrate with my site yet. I have a few days holiday coming up with the kids being off for school holidays so I will make sure that I’ll do something about it!

    I love the way you outline the various ways to set up an email list. I have never seen this done before, and it’s wicked how you show it visually too. Coming from a design background, I greatly appreciate this. Brilliant stuff!
    Nice one Pat,
    cheers,
    Sam.

  • http://www.envoyrelate.com/ Andrew Beeston

    I’d love to see an update on this, are there any new methods or changes in the last two years?

  • http://www.whatmommydoes.com Lena @ WhatMommyDoes

    I have a lot of distractions in my life (I’m a SAHM to 3 kids under the age of 5), and I have to say this is the first long post I’ve read from start to finish in a LONG time. I learned so much from your tips above, I’m itching to get started on the blog posts that will eventually become my first auto-responder series! Thanks so much for the advice. I really appreciate it.

  • http://www.namastenutritionist.com Frances Arnold

    Thank you, Pat! I’ve been thinking about how to structure my auto-responders for a while now. I’ve not yet started it, and it’s nice to hear from the experts who have paved a path successfully. I’ll be sure to review the emails you’ve sent to see your unique structure.

    Thanks for the generosity!

    Warm wishes to you and the new baby. =-)

  • http://www.dadspregnancyguide.com steve m

    Hey Pat,
    It’s amazing something you posted over 1 1/2 years ago is still getting comments, that’s evergreen content. Congrats on your new daughter. Another insightful post. Thanks so much, and I really appreciate your willingness to share your thoughts and ideas. I was curious to know if you have any suggestions of the best way to set that up for a specific point in the process someone is. My site is about helping dads get through pregnancy so if they sign up at 20 weeks instead of 6 weeks then some of the emails wouldn’t be relevant if I just went in order as you know they are two totally different experiences. Thank you.

  • http://www.themomwrites.com Prerna@The Mom Writes

    Hi Pat,

    I know this post was written a LONG time ago, but I love the model you have and will probably be replicating it.. As a newbie to ARs, I have question, ” what is the ideal/perfect time sequence for sending autoresponders out?” Should it be at 1-wee k intervals? 10 days? More? Less? I just can’t figure it out!

    Thanks!

  • Saba

    Great post and site Pat. You’re pretty cool headed too. I was chuckling when I saw the post from Bob. It reminded me of a phrase used by John C Maxwell (author and pastor) about a decade ago : “If Bob has a problem with everyone, Bob IS the problem”.

    What are the odds…. he had the same Bob among his followers?? :)

  • http://www.paidbyblogging.com Braden Cobb

    Pat, this content is awesome! I’m going to be revamping my auto responder this weekend! Thanks for the solid advice!

  • http://proactol-deep-reviews.info matthew

    Outstanding blog post, I have marked your site so ideally I’ll see much more on this subject in the foreseeable future.

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  • Rashida B.

    Hey Pat! I’m reading this almost 3 years later. Why? 1. I just found you in the last year and 2. I’m just at the point where I’m ready to do the newsletter/autoresponder thing. This post along with your newsletter tutorial hands down the best I’ve come across. Thank you for always providing value. I’m definitely rocking with the Pat Flynn method. :)

  • Shital Bhalani

    ANYONE can write emails, PR but can you write them effectively? Set your goals, start from there and plan out a draft of your autoresponder emails by mapping the sequence of the autoresponder emails.

  • saassf

    wow, I’d love to see an update on this, are there any new methods or changes in the last two years?

  • http://itstimwhite.com/ Tim White

    This is the method I use as long as you have a good offer you’ll make bank this way…

  • Lisa Marie Genovese

    Thank you for the great read! Awesome info in an easy to understand format- very beneficial post!

  • http://www.fivefoldfatherhood.com/ Ricardo Butler

    Dude this gold!

  • Nick Q

    Great recap Pat! Tweeted!

  • http://www.blogkori.com/ Tamal Anwar

    Guess what? I’m using the 4th type, need to do a lot of work and build up a series of emails. Let’s start!

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  • Benjamin MyTime McCray

    Do you sell an auto responder system, with pre written emails

  • Solomon Mwale

    You really good at all the ;post that you make on this blog. They very detailed and offer the information that you will buy if you where to to other sites. Thank you so much

  • http://Columbusweightlifting.org/ Drew Dillon

    An oldie but a great post! Thank you for calling me out on number 4… ugh… I needed it!

  • Hugo Robinson

    Great article, thoroughly enjoyed your examples of the different types of auto-responders out there :)

  • http://www.mjkelley.com/blog/ M. J. Kelley

    Love this. Thanks so much for breaking it down.

  • http://www.valuespreadsheet.com/ Value Spreadsheet

    Wow.. got a wake-up call when I saw #4… gotta do something about that in the upcoming month! Thanks!

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  • nathashaalvarez

    I understand all of the methods. Right now, I don’t sell any products or services. The goal of subscribing is to gain readership. So after looking at your pattern, I don’t understand how much time in between emails in the sequence. They sign up, get a welcome email. Then when do they get the content email? When do they get the next one?
    Thank you in advance for your answer. :)

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  • Kate Payne

    Awesome! Love it. Thanks for sharing.