Nov 122013

Subject line (well Duh!)

If you don’t get the subject line right, no matter what else you write in an autoresponder email, the email will fail.  That is because most (over 90%) decisions on whether to open an email or not are made based on what the recipient sees in the subject line.  The subject should find a middle ground between boring and over-hyped, and it should give a hint…not a lot, just a teaser amount…to what is in the email.

It should also be honest.

10-15 years ago most people would open almost any email they received, but those days are long gone.  People are far more discriminating about what emails get a second look than they used to be, and once you get someone to open one of your emails, dishonesty is probably one of the top 5 reasons they will never open the second one from you.  Keep  the email honest, in the subject line and the body of the email.

That does not mean your emails cannot promote, just keep the promoting real…and keep people opening your emails.

Keep your subject lines brief, and make sure the first 3-4 words are attention grabbers.  Many people don’t devote a lot of screen space to their email client (mine gets one fourth of a 22″ screen) which means subject lines and the “from” field get truncated followed by “…”.  Its OK to write a long subject line, but make sure the first part of it, the part that comes before the ellipse (…) is interesting enough to get the recipient to want to read  further.

How long should an autoresponder email be?

To write a good autoresponder email you need to understand what an autoresponder email is…and what it is not.

An autoresponder email is not a sales letter.  While it may (and should sometimes) lead directly to a sale, that is generally not its direct purpose.  While there are a few successful sales campaigns set up as completely automated email sales campaigns, they are few and far between.  Sales letters, either long form or short form, anr individually crafted for each “thing” you want to promote, be it a product, idea, or organization.

Autoresponder copywriting takes effort and thought

On the other hand, the use of an autoresponder campaign should be limited to three purposes:

  • Introducing yourself, company, or organization.  The first 3-5 autoresponder emails after someone opts in to your list shouldn’t try to sell anything, even subtly.  They are your way of saying “Hi!  How are you?  I hope I can be of service to you throughout our relationship.”
  • Establishing authority.  Before most people will take your advice or buy anything from you, you must convince  them you are someone to be trusted, that you actually know what you are talking about.  A series of autoresponders that provide free information on your niche, or tips on how to do something related to your niche, establishes  that you 1.) know what you are talking about and want to be helpful and 2.) show that you aren’t just trying to get into their pocketbook every time you contact them.
  • Maintaining contact.  Even the best and most dedicated of us sometimes get lazy or busy with other things and neglect our list except when we want to promote a product through it.  A good preplanned set of autoresponder emails that simply say “Hi!” and ask what you can do to help with “xxxxxx”, or offering a free report or tips, can help you maintain contact with your list.

What information should be in a good sales letter?

This question is here to make one point:  An autoresponder email is not a sales letter.  A sales letter, either a long form letter or a short form letter, is custom crafted to promote a specific product or service.  An autoresponder is more general, meant to accomplish one of the three items above.

What should never  be in an autoresponder email?

  • Anything impersonal (see below, “Who should an autoresponder be “from”?”).  Do all you can to avoid having your autoresponder (or any email you send) be the email equivalent of a piece of snail mail addressed to “resident” or coming from “123 Main Street, Anytown, Ga, 12345″ with no name.
  • Direct sales pressure.  That is for custom sales letters, not autoresponders.
  • Overblown promises.  Promising something you can’t (or won’t) deliver will destroy all of any credibility or authority you will have otherwise built.
  • Too much information.  An autoresponder should leave the reader curious and wanting more.  That will keep them opening later emails and turn them into loyal readers and paying customers.

How much “hype” should be in an autoresponder email?

NONE!  Enthusiasm…yes.Excitement…yes.  Hype?  Nope, not if you want to have a long term relationship with your list members.  Hype may induce a one off sale to someone trying to take shortcuts to success or someone desperate to have a successful promotion (IM “gurus come to mind, here today, gone tomorrow) but will make your list far less effective, long term, than it otherwise would have been.

Who should an autoresponder be “from”?

Almost anybody except [email protected]  Instead of accepting the default sender (your email address), personalize the sender.  If you are Steve Smith with a website about cooking implements… for example, use “Steve | Cool Cooling Tools” or “Cooking With Steve” instead of the default [email protected]

An old saying is “the money is in the list”, talking about your email list, and that is true, but…

You must use that list effectively, and the first step in doing so is to create an effective autoresponder campaign that is targeted, crafted for a specific niche, and well written.  The above thoughts will not put thousands of dollars in your bank account, but following them will keep you from locking the account’s door to new sales.

Bob Hayles

A Luddite at heart, Bob has adapted to being in a tech world adequately. The King of Cheap, he enjoys sharing his WordPress and inexpensive web video production skills with others. He abhors Geek-lish, but translates it into normal human language quite well. He avoids code as much as possible, and breaks out in hives at the mere sight of php, but he will make minor adjustments to HTML. He also reverts to being a Luddite at and is something of a political junkie/blowhard at

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