Autoresponders are here!

For a long time now, autoresponders have been one of the most requested new features for Campaign Monitor. The first vote came in not long after we launched in 2004, and they haven’t stopped since.

So what took us so long? Well, autoresponders can be tricky beasts; they can be prone to abuse, become complex to manage, and quickly overwhelm subscribers (hello, spam complaints). They can also be incredibly valuable.

We were prepared to hold off until we knew we could solve these problems in a simple way. After a stack of design iterations, usability testing and a huge effort from our developers and QA team, we are finally ready to put it in your hands. Here’s how they look:

Autoresponders in Campaign Monitor

Auto-what?

Before we get too carried away, how about a quick introduction. Autoresponders go by a few different names like triggered emails and drip campaigns, but essentially they are an automated email, or sequence of emails sent when a subscriber meets a condition you set. For example, when someone joins your list, your subscriber’s birthday, or a month since someone purchased from your store.

Basically, you set the rules around when an autoresponder should be triggered and tell us what emails to send. We’ll do the rest.

Below is an example of how an autoresponder would look if you want to send an email to subscribers when they first join your list, send a quick guide a week later, and then a final follow up a month after they signed up:

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You can set up an unlimited sequence of emails for each type of autoresponder you create. Combine these with our new date-based custom fields and the possibilities are endless.

Choose your trigger

You never want to email a subscriber when it’s not what they asked for or isn’t something they’d be interested in. The “set and forget” mentality that comes with autoresponders can be a dangerous thing, so we’ve made it easy for you to choose exactly what should cause an autoresponder to be triggered.

After trawling the feedback from customers via email, Twitter and our forums, it became clear there were three main types of autoresponders you needed. Here’s what you’ll see each time you create a new autoresponder for any subscriber list:

3 ways to trigger an autoresponder

You can trigger an autoresponder when a new subscriber joins your list (via a subscribe form or the API), or when a subscriber’s date-based custom field (which we announced yesterday) matches a rule you set. Date-based autoresponders can be based on either the anniversary of that date (like a birthday), or an exact match (like a membership expiry).

Of course, there are other scenarios outside these like a link clicked in a campaign, or more sophisticated conditions being met, but as always we’re going for the simplest implementation to meet the needs of the majority of customers. If the demand is there, we’ll look at adding more ways to trigger them in the future.

Reporting you can actually learn from

We put a lot of thought into building autoresponder reports that you can actually learn from. At a glance we give you an overview of the basics like how many emails have been sent, the average open rate, click rate and unsubscribe rate. But, it’s the “over time” stats that are really interesting.

Autoresponders are often something you put a lot of work into setting up initially, but then only tend to check on them occasionally. With that in mind, we focused on making it easy to spot how each email in the sequence is performing over time.

Autoresponder reporting

This type of report means that if you make a copy or design change to an email in an active autoresponder, you can come back in a few days and see how that change is performing compared to the initial version.

See how individual emails are performing

As well as comparing the performance of each email in an autoresponder over time, you can also drill down to see the results for each email itself.

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For each email in an autoresponder we’ll slide down a link activity report showing the unique and total clicks for each.

Just 1¢ an email, or less

Every autoresponder email you send costs 1 email credit, which start at just 1¢ and get cheaper if you buy a bunch. There is no $5 delivery fee like a regular email campaign. If you or your clients have any active autoresponders, we’ll let you know when credits are running low automatically so you can top them up.

If you do end up running out of credits, we’ll just pause that autoresponder until you jump in and purchase some more. Then you can turn them back on with the click of a mouse. You can read a little more about the billing side of autoresponders here.

Getting started

Where to find autoresponders in your accountEverything you see here is live and ready to roll in your account. Autoresponders are list-specific, so simply head into a subscriber list you’d like to set one up for, and you’ll notice a new “Autoresponders” link on the right.

We’ve put together loads of help documentation on getting started with autoresponders, sending a series of emails to new subscribers, creating anniversary style autoresponders (like a happy birthday email) and answers to common questions you might have about this new feature.

With autoresponders out the door we’re back to work on another very exciting (and rather huge) new feature which I can’t wait to share with you all soon. The team have put a lot of work into this update, and we honestly can’t wait to see what clever implementations you all come up with. Enjoy.

Posted by David Greiner

72 Comments

  • Simon Rae
    22nd July

    This is definitely something that has been requested by my clients. Great this is now available! Well done!

  • James Collins
    22nd July

    Fantastic news!  Now we can finally stop using AWeber.

  • Glenn Nicholas
    22nd July

    Big feature, great implementation. The reporting seems really well thought out, and it is very easy to set up new autoresponders.
    As you’ve just gone live no doubt you’ll want to focus on core features ... but maybe one day you’ll be able to report conversion rates as well. A conversion might be the success page loading after a visitor fills out an enquiry form or buys a product after being referred from an autoresponder email. Just a thought for the future.

  • Ros Hodgekiss
    22nd July

    Hi Glenn, thank you for the great suggestion! You can use Google Analytics to achieve this in part, however there’s no doubt that we can do more in terms of integrating analytics into Campaign Monitor. I’ve certainly recorded your vote, thanks again for your feedback here.

  • Kenneth Dreyer
    22nd July

    Great implementation - I’ve been looking forward for this for quite some time now. Just one question - how does this work against the API?

    I currently have a client who sends out his own welcome mail to all new signups on his site. Would there be any good and automated ways to set this up against the CM API so that when new people fill out his form they get the welcome email from CM, rather than internally?

    Please let me know on twitter when replying as there are no notification functions on this blog.

  • David Greiner
    22nd July

    Absolutely Kenneth, when a new subscriber is added via the API to a list you have a “new subscriber” based autoresponder set up for, it will be triggered. There are lots of cool applications this kind of trigger makes possible, and we’ll be sharing more cool ideas and examples in the coming weeks.

  • Kaelig
    22nd July

    Love the icons. Did you craft it yourself ?

  • David Greiner
    22nd July

    We sure did Kaelig, they were designed by our very own Jesse Dodds, who you can follow on Dribbble if you’re interested in seeing more of his work.

  • Finge
    22nd July

    Just set up my first autoresponder. Amazingly simple and intuitive as always! Love everything about it!

    This will bring our email markting and CRM to a whole new level. Thank you guys!

  • David Greiner
    22nd July

    Brilliant to hear Finge, thanks so much for the great feedback.

  • Jay Holtslander
    22nd July

    Great news! Just learned of this now via Twitter in bed at almost 2am and am fighting the urge to leap out of bed and go update my website with this news/feature.

  • Mark Walker
    23rd July

    Nice! One question please. I set up a test to see how it worked and added a new subscriber to my list via the CM site rather than using the API or form on another site and nothing has happened!

    I set up an immediate responder and another a day later but nothing has been sent or recieved. I can’t see anything about where the subscriber needs to be added so am I missing something?

  • Mathew Patterson
    23rd July

    Hey Mark,

    To trigger an ‘on signup’ autoresponder, you do need to use a subscribe form or API call. This is covered as the last question on the FAQ page, http://help.campaignmonitor.com/topic.aspx?t=174 for future reference.

    Most often when adding or importing people directly in Campaign Monitor people are moving existing subscribers in, and it doesn’t make sense to suddenly be sending them welcome emails.

    It also keeps autoresponders consistent with the existing behaviour of Campaign Monitor.

  • holder10
    23rd July

    Great! Wouldn’t you want to update the “Features” section on the website? I think A/B tests aren’t their yet as well, but it could be quite misleading for potential customers. :)

  • Mathias
    23rd July

    Two words only … thank you. Finally a beautiful, simple, rebrandable, cheap, etc. etc. etc. autoresponder. You are my (and my clients’) heros! :-)

  • Mathew Patterson
    23rd July

    @holder10 actually AB tests and autoresponders are both already listed in the full feature list - obviously not prominently enough for you to find them though!

  • holder10
    23rd July

    Ah, I see. Yeah, I think they would deserve a place in the main sections. ;)

  • Todd Wright - Threesides
    23rd July

    Hooray!  Thanks for giving me even more reasons to use campaign monitor with our clients in their online marketing.  Means we can ditch Mail chimp, vertical response and constant contact - they were boring us anyway.  Thanks also for the flexible charging fee - means that there no $$ hurdles for clients to get keen with autoresponders now.

  • Alaistair - The Refinery
    23rd July

    legends!  just spotted it when setting up a new client, and am going to use it for all existing ones straightaway!

  • Rhys
    23rd July

    Our clients have been begging for this for ages. We’ve been trying to hold off on using a simian-like competitor who do have auto responders in the hope that CM would get on it.

    Thanks a lot, this will make our customers very happy & means we can put that monkey to bed, as it were!

  • Kyle Hildebrant
    23rd July

    This is really, really good news. Couldn’t be happier with our switch from Constant Contact to Campaign Monitor three years back.

    Kudos!

  • Mark
    23rd July

    Super news. :)

  • Gavin Quinney
    23rd July

    We’ve been asking for this through our brilliant UK designers, Reasonably Good (who I found through your site in the first place), who have forwarded on our request. Well done, we look forward to trying it out. Thanks.

  • Nickolas Simard
    23rd July

    Great news!

    I can’t wait to go tell my boss about that in August, back from vacation! That’s going to be a nice “Welcome back” gift for the boss… and the clients!!

  • Jason
    23rd July

    If clients are paying on a per campaign basis, will we need to transition them to buying credits to take advantage of autoresponders? Can’t wait to try out! Thanks

  • Mathew Patterson
    23rd July

    Hey Jason,

    Yes, you will need to have your clients either buy credits, or allocate them credits for them to use autoresponders.

  • Chr1s
    23rd July

    Hi Matthew, following up on Jason’s questions and your answer to that: I assume clients can also send autoresponders if we have the billing for a client set to “I’ll pay on behalf of ...”, right?

  • Chr1s
    23rd July

    And a second question: will there be some API features for autoresponders in the (near) future?

    PS: almost forget to compliment you guys on this great work > great work! Worth the wait ;-)

  • Barbara Zaccone
    23rd July

    Regarding charging clients. We charge our clients for each campaign and tack on the delivery fee. But now if we are setting up this autoresponder system and it’s out there working all the time…. should we charge our clients a monthly fee?

  • Chr1s
    23rd July

    I’m fooling around with the awesome new autoresponder feature and you know what would be great? If one could choose and edit previously sent campaigns to be used as autoresponders. We ourselves have a number of previously sent campaigns that are or could easily be made “timeless”. Great way of recycling and making the most of precious content, as well as having a quick newsletter follow up to new subscribers And choosing autoresponders used for list A to also use for list B, that would also come in handy.

    Just a thought.

  • Chr1s
    23rd July

    @ Barbara, I discovered that the usage of autoresponders is very conveniently showed per month in the CM billing section, with the possibility to expand the info to the number of autoresponders per client. So the info you’d need for charging your clients is very easily found.

    You could consider (something that we are probably going to do) to grant your client a number of free autoresponders per month. For example, if you would give your client 100 free autoresponder emails per month, that would cost you only 1 dollar (at the most) per month. A very nice incentive that clients will certainly appreciate.

  • Kurt
    23rd July

    LOL, i was in the process of writing you guys a lovely “we-love-you-but-the-ape-people-have-autoresponders” email yesterday. We are looking at pitching to some of our clients, and auto-reponders (triggered emails) was one of the key things we were missing.

    Bless your socks!

  • Chr1s
    23rd July

    I’m sorry, while working with the autoresponders, new ideas keep coming up. How about being able to exclude specific subscribers from further receiving autoresponders? For example, if a series of 5 autoresponders is aimed at turning a subscriber into a client and that goal is met after the first 3 mails, it would be nice to be able to exclude him or her from receiving email 4 and 5.
     
    I’ll stop now ;-)

  • David Greiner
    23rd July

    @Chr1s, don’t stop, keep those great ideas ‘a coming. Scenarios like this is where the API can really shine.

    Using your example above, if a subscriber does meet a desired goal after the 3rd email, you could always use the API to remove them from that list. This ensures they won’t receive email 4 and 5.

    To ensure they aren’t removed from all other lists in your account (unless you want that to happen), just tweak the unsubscribe settings for that list so it doesn’t use your suppression list.

  • Gavin Botica
    23rd July

    How does this interact / effect the previous auto email sent after a signup?

  • Ros Hodgekiss
    23rd July

    Hi Gavin, you can still send new subscribers a subscription confirmation email, free of charge. However, using an autoresponder will give you a lot more flexibility with this, as well as reporting. Here’s the skinny on it.

  • Emily Smith
    23rd July

    yehy! Happy days

  • Clare Kelly
    24th July

    Simply…you guys ROCK!!

  • Nick Evans
    24th July

    Well done chaps. This adds a whole new dimension to our client offering.

  • Tamara Baranova
    24th July

    Thank you so so much! CM is so much better than Aweber or Constant Contact and we couldn’t use you effectively with some clients because of no autoresponders! Now it’s a complete solution…can we send email attachment next? :))

  • Julian Wellings
    24th July

    Thank you thank you thank you!  I can now boost my product offering to my clients and also migrate my existing auto responders from the cheeky primate.

  • Ben
    27th July

    Great new feature.
    How does it work with marking the cost up in the billing?
    If clients dont prebuy credits and just pay as they send how does the feature work?

  • David Greiner
    27th July

    Thanks Ben. If you’ve set your clients as paying for the own campaigns, you’d need to jump in and allow them to also purchase their own email credits to pay for any autoresponders.

    You can let them buy credits at our base rates, or mark them up to any amount you like an automatically earn a profit when they purchase credits.

  • James
    27th July

    Would it be possible to include the ability to add a link to a previous newsletter (or alternatively setup an autoresponder that was your last newsletter). Have a couple of clients who would like to send new subscribers the latest newsletter straight away…

  • lisa@p3.ie
    27th July

    Any plans to add “clicking on a specific url/ downloading a pdf documen"t as additional triggers? we would love to see this feature

  • David Greiner
    27th July

    Thanks for the continued kind words and additional suggestions guys.

    @James, that isn’t possible right now sorry, but I’m wondering if just receiving a past issue when signing up is the most intuitive first run experience for a new subscriber? I can see how it might work if you explain this as “subscribe now to receive the latest issue”, I’m just not sure how often this request would come up. At any rate, I’ve added your vote and if we hear from lots of customers we’ll look at it.

    @Lisa, that is something we might support in the future, if the demand is there. Can see how that could be pretty useful for some customers.

  • Kasper Skott
    27th July

    cool feature - thanks! I am missing the possibility to base the autoresponders on the custom fields of the customers so you can have different e-mails for the different segments.

  • Aaron M Baxter
    29th July

    Cancelled my Aweber account.

  • Jeppe Donslund
    29th July

    Nice feature.

    One thing for the wish list. I would like to be able to send an email saying 7 days after a subscriber clicks a certain link in a newsletter.
    If that is already possible, please let me know.

  • Philip Downer
    29th July

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

  • Jeremy
    29th July

    This is really exciting. Can you set the time of day an email is sent based on a custom date. So if its there birthday. Can it go at 11am on their birthday with a birthday wish and a coupon code for instance?

  • Tricky
    29th July

    Fantastic, well done, you’ve just removed our need to have Mail Loop, Aweber AND Campaign Monitor and now we can simply focus on Campaign Monitor! Awesome stuff.

  • Mathew Patterson
    29th July

    @Jeremy

    Yes, you would just set if for <11 hours after [custom field date]> for example, since it will default to sending at 12am on the dot, when the day begins.

  • Kain Tietzel
    29th July

    Whoo-hoo! Can’t wait to sink my teeth into it. Great work guys.

  • Edwin Yip | Word add-in for Writers.
    29th July

    Great! I’ll use this to send tutorials and tips of my software (Word Add-in for professional writers) weekly!


    Edwin Yip
    http://WritingOutliner.com
    Turn Microsoft Word into an all-in-one writing software for long documents.

  • Drew
    29th July

    again proving that you are at the top of the email marketing game… your work is outstanding :)

  • Rob Smith
    31st July

    This is great news a long wanted feature our end as a digital agency. Thanks guys.

  • Dan
    31st July

    How about autoresponders for segments or for other rules based on custom fields? Do you plan to add this feature? Thanks!

  • Boone
    9th August

    WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! This is awesome!

  • Kev Charlton
    10th August

    I second Dan’s comment above…if we can send trigger based emails dependent on segments (ie, clicked a specific link) then it would be brilliant.

    Any news on this? :D

  • Ros Hodgekiss
    11th August

    Hi Dan and Kev, at this point we’re really gauging customer interest. If there’s a lot of demand shown for autoresponder rules based on segments/custom fields, then we’ll certainly give it our consideration. I’ve added your votes and will let you know if more concrete plans come to light. Keep adding your ideas and suggestions, though! :)

  • RZN8 Media
    12th August

    @david Greiner,  @lisa, DEMAND, DEMAND, DEMAND.. is that enough demand to get the click-based trigger? That way we can send relevant auto-repsponders, which would in turn increase conversion, which would in-turn increase happy CM customers, which would mean more CM customers. I can’t see any scenario where this would *not* be a great thing!

  • Mika Tuupola
    14th August

    One big thing is missing. Possibility to set autoresponders for segments. Currently I send different language versions of newsletters with segments using language custom field in subscriber list.

    Since autoresponder cannot be set to segment I have to manually duplicate language segments as separate databases to be able to send different language autoresponder emails.

    Maybe you could consider enabling autoresponders for segments too?

  • Mika Tuupola
    14th August

    Hmmh. Why do autoresponders have before and after time limited to 12 months? Lets say I have a really old list and I want to send emails like You have been our member for one year!, You have been our member for two years! and You have been our member for three years yeas! etc…

    I can’t.  If I try to do Send this email [ 24 ] [ months ] [ after ] some date field I am greeted with error:

    You must enter a valid amount of time, which may not exceed 12 months.

    I do not see any reason for having this limitation. Maybe it can be lifted? Actually would be great to have years as an option in the pulldown.

  • Daniel Fonseca
    14th August

    Great feature! But it is missing one important point: autoresponders for segments! Without this it is impossible to manage a complete activation/retention efforts for a web based service.

    Example: my client signup and I start the activation e-mails. This is only the first step, and about the other ones? After activation, there is lots of work regarding more complicated activation proccess and retention efforts. With segments it would be so easy to manage all this.

    Best regards

  • Ros Hodgekiss
    16th August

    HI Mika, thanks for your interest in autoresponders based on segments - it’s certainly on our radar and I’ve added your vote for this.

    As for the recurring email based on signup date, that’s certainly worth us looking into as well, in cases where you specifically need a “You have been our member for two/three/four years!” message.
    In the interim, however, you could create an annually-recurring autoresponder with a message like, “You’ve been a member since [signup_date]” (where signup_date is the date value in your custom field).

    Daniel - Cheers, I’ve added your vote for this, too. Good call :)

  • Mika Tuupola
    17th August

    Ros: We are sending different email content depending on date field. For example send a different offer to person who has bought a bicycle from us 2 years ago and different offer to person who has bought us a bicycle 3 years ago.

    For example. Today your bicycle is two years old. Come and get free maintenance from us. or Today your bicycle is three years old. Maintenance for just 10$ etc.

    Anyways keep up the good work. Campaign Monitor is awesome :)

  • Daniel Fonseca
    10th September

    Ros, any news for autoresponders based on segments? Do you have an estimated time for developing it? I’m still using Mailchimp to manage this and I’m ansious to move for your solution.

    Cheers

  • Ros Hodgekiss
    10th September

    Hi Daniel, we don’t have a timeframe for when this will be released. At this stage we’re tallying up votes and suggestions, but we’ll certainly keep you posted as we progress. Thank you for the thumbs up, we really appreciate it!

  • Boulder chiropractors
    22nd September

    AHHHHhhhhhhhh!  That is absolutely music to my ears!

  • Kirk Beard
    1st October

    Love this feature guys, but I really wish it was possible to set up auto repsonders by segments rather than the full list.

    Other than that, it’s a great feature to have!

  • Alexander M.
    18th October

    Was so excited about autoresponders until I found out I can’t use them in combination with our segments. That makes them almost useless for us. I would assume most people involved in e-commerce use segments and are also the first ones to want to use autoresponders. Please add my vote.

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