By David Greiner on 22nd July 2010
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:
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
For each email in an autoresponder we’ll slide down a link activity report showing the unique and total clicks for each.
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.
Everything 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.
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