Please visit my new site:

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Auto-responders With Punch

By Ingrid Cliff

Auto-responders are a business's best friend. Before we cover how to write fantastic auto-responders, here is a quick recap. What exactly is an auto-responder? Think about when you meet someone and you ask them "How are you?" Most times the automatic response is "Fine thanks". People don't even think - the answer just automatically comes out.

Now - transfer this to your computer. Most people are aware of the "sorry I am on holidays so can't answer your email" type of autoresponder email. You know the person is not there answering their email - the computer does it automatically. This is the most basic sort of autoresponder - one email triggers one response.

But there is so much more you can do with a decent autoresponder package. When people contact you via email or over the net they want a fast answer. This is where an autoresponder program really comes into its own - they become major productivity enhancement tools.

Let's start with something simple. Say, for example, someone enquires using a form on your website wanting a brochure. Imagine if your computer automatically received the email and then sent out the brochure electronically, without you having to do anything.

Autoresponders can also be set up to manage subscriptions and unsubscribes to newsletters, sending out appropriate confirmations as needed. They can be set up to deliver e-books or MP3 downloads on successful purchase over the net. They can deliver a broadcast email or newsletter to everyone on your list at the touch of a button.

One of the other great features is you can upload a series of follow up auto-responders to be delivered at pre-programmed times in the future. Most sales people give up after 2 or 3 follow up contacts.

Autoresponders will keep on following up no matter what (as long as you have programmed them into the sequence). Write it once and then let it run over and over again.

OK - enough about the features of autoresponders. Here's my 10 step formula for creating auto-responders with PUNCH.

Auto responders are like mini direct mail letters - you need to cover all of the regular elements of a long copy direct mail letter in a very succinct way. Everything should be covered in no more than 5 paragraphs!

1. Subject line - your subject line is your headline. People will decide whether or not to open your email by your subject line. Make it interesting, intriguing and tempting.

2. Headline - you need a strong headline to grab attention once they click on your email. Your headline must be consistent with your subject line and make people want to keep reading your email.

3. Body copy - your copy needs to reflect a problem-solution approach. This means you hint at a problem and then quickly provide a possible solution. Focus on the benefits of your product or service, not the features.

4. Links - you need to link through to your sales page quite high in the copy as well as at the end of the copy.

5. Proof/testimonials - it helps to include a testimonial or some other proof.

6. Guarantee - if you offer a money back guarantee then say so.

7. Call to action - make sure you have a clear and compelling call to action. Tell people what to do - this may be as simple as asking them to visit your website.

8. Create urgency - people need to know why they need to act now.

9. Signature.

10. PS - PSs are generally always read. Make sure your PS restates the benefits, repeats the urgency or repeats the call to action.

Here's an example of a typical autoresponder sequence promoting a new product or service.

1. Initial email in the format we have just discussed.

2. 4-7 days later - restate your offer and reinforce the urgency of their action.

3. 4-7 days later - reinforce the benefits, pile on the testimonials and perhaps offer added bonuses. Combine this with a reminder of the deadline or other reason they need to act today.

4. If they still don't buy, then you could ask for feedback on the offer at this stage.

5. Keep the person on your email list and regularly keep them updated with newsletters and other broadcasts.

Autoresponders are like silent salespeople. If you take the time to set them up correctly and program them for success, you can automate your business and create more time for other business growth activities.

Article Source:

Ingrid Cliff is a Freelance Copywriter, Business Development and Human Resources Consultant to Small and Medium Businesses with her business Heart Harmony. Ingrid writes a free weekly business development newsletter and daily blog for small to medium sized businesses.