14 Ways to Revive a Lifeless Autoresponder Sequence

Revive a Lifeless Autoresponder SequenceMany successful Internet entrepreneurs depend on their autoresponder sequence.

It’s the mechanism they use to earn a full-time income. If they didn’t have email; they wouldn’t earn a dime.

The problem with email marketing is it’s completely depended upon subscriber response.

If people aren’t clicking links, they’re not checking out your offers. And if they’re not checking out offers, you’re not making money.

So how do you fix a low response? Or more specifically; how do you turn a weak autoresponder sequence into a profit-pulling email list?

Today I’ll list fourteen answers to these questions. All of these are part of the report I’ve written: 45 tips to take your email marketing to the next level.

#1: Provide Quality Content

People join a list to get expert information. These subscribers are not your personal ATM machine. So don’t treat them that way!

I’m all about generating an income. But I also provide great content…for free. I’ve learned a simple mantra:

“Help people first and you will make money”

The first thing a subscriber notices about an email list is the quality of information. Your job is to build a solid relationship by providing value upfront. The selling should come later.

#2: Promote Multiple Products

Some marketers make the mistake of promoting a single product. Remember your list is full of multiple people with multiple problems. Your job is to let them know about offers that can help them out!

An autoresponder sequence should promote a variety of solutions. These are the products that solve very specific problems in your niche. Start with the biggest obstacle in the first few emails and then go from there. (This is a topic I cover in the post about creating an autoresponder sequence.)

#3: Link to Free Resources

For a long time, I was a firm believer in monetizing each message. Now I realize that subscribers want value from a list. Simply put, they want free, no-strings-attached information.

As you’ll see below, a great autoresponder sequence tells a multi-part story. It uses personality to talk about a particular problem. And it also links to free sites full of additional information.

Be sure to refer to things that don’t lead to Internet income. Remember, the goal is to build trust. You do this by providing information that isn’t self-serving.

Even better, this “free stuff” can actually put money in your pocket. It trains subscribers to click on your links. Ultimately this increases the click-thru-rates (CTR) to premium offers.

Remember —> More clicks = More money

#4: Tell Stories and Anecdotes

Storytelling can captivate the attention of an audience. Many people are on your list because they believe in your personal brand. Give a few anecdotes and you’ll strengthen this relationship.

Stories should be a major part of your email sequence. These will comes from personal lessons you’ve learned in this niche. They work best when directly related to the topic of that email.

Think about each message you send. Is there a quick story that can be included? Was there an “ah-ha” moment that helped you overcome an obstacle? If so, throw it in there!

#5: Interject Your Personality

My autoresponder series is an extension of my personality. I tell stories. I’m funny (or at least try to be.) And I give my personal viewpoint. In short, I’m a real person!

As an example, here is the start of an email I sent over a week ago:

Recent Email I Sent

I didn’t do anything special here. Instead I wrote things that popped into my head. One of them was how uncomfortable I felt because of the heat. So I tied this into the introduction of the email. What’s interesting is I had a few people send replies; saying this message made them laugh.

Don’t be afraid to be a genuine person to subscribers. You’ll discover that it’s a great way to build loyalty and a following. People want to business with people. So use your personality to BE a person.

#6: Create Open Loops

I’ve known about “open loops” since my Psychology 101 class in college. Unfortunately, I never thought to use them in email until I read the Autoresponder Madness course.

What’s an open loop? It’s using cliffhangers and suspense to engage an audience. When applied to email marketing, it’s a multi-message sequence that explains a core concept.

Your sequence shouldn’t be a collection of single emails. Instead, they’re part of a lengthy story that keeps a subscriber’s attention. In a way, it’s like your favorite T.V. show (ie: Lost, 24, Game of Thrones or True Blood.) You tune in each week to see what happens next.

Open loops are created by referencing a topic that will be covered in a future email. To make things really interesting, use multiple open loops throughout the series. So when one loop closes, another is opened.

This technique causes an insane response with subscribers. I implemented this technique three weeks ago, and I’m already getting emails from people begging me to re-send a message because they missed an “episode.”

Use open loops to increase open rates. It’s a subtle art where you give a *hint* to a solution. But it takes multiple emails to tell the whole story. Do this in an autoresponder sequence and people will open your messages.

#7: Use Dispensed Learning

Information overload should be a real concern to Internet marketers. Nowadays, everyone has access to an unlimited amount of knowledge. It’s YOUR job to help subscribers filter this information and make them take action.

One technique I’m currently using with email is a dispensed learning platform. Simply put, I don’t give away all the information upfront. Instead, I’ll drip-feed content to subscribers.

“Dispensed learning hooks the interest of subscribers. They don’t just get an email. Instead they receive an individual lesson that’s part of an advanced course. Each email moves them one step closer towards mastery of a concept.”

Read that paragraph a few times. Let it sink in. This simple philosophy can turn an ordinary email list into a group of information-hungry subscribers.

#8: Give a Homework Assignment

One of the best open loops is to provide a homework assignment with each message. This creates a sense of continuity and purpose. Your emails should give specific instructions about how to overcome a certain problem – Even it’s to buy a product you’re promoting.

This is yet another technique to train subscribers to take action. Not only do you talk about a problem; you provide people with the tools to fix it.

Typically I’ll end each message by telling people what to do. Sometimes I’ll make them test a specific technique. Other times I’ll provide a document they need to read. And once in awhile, their “assignment” is to check out an affiliate offer.

#9: Use Short Text

This idea is more about style than substance. It’s important to write email that commands a person’s attention. A great way to do this is to use short, punchy sentences.

Again, take a look at the above email image. Notice how the sentences are very short. This text breaks numerous grammar rules. But it gets the job done because it helps people take action.

My advice is to use short text when writing an email. In a way, this is similar to how you’d write copy on a sales letter. One resource that’s helped me learn this skill is the Copywriter’s Handbook by Robert Bly.

#10: Use Short Widths

I also recommend keeping the width of the email to a minimum. The text length that I currently use is 50 characters. This is a lot shorter than the 60 or 65 character limit that is recommended by some email gurus. Use a short width and you’ll make it easy for people to read your content.

Do this. Take a look at the header I use for each message:


This is exactly 50 characters. Write this down at the top of each email. This will help you format the text and keep the sentences short.

#11: Read Your Email

You should be getting feedback from list subscribers. Some of this will be specific questions. Others will be constructive (and sometimes negative) criticism.

This information is invaluable because it shows how people respond to your autoresponder sequence. Your job is to take their comments and turn it into content. Often these responses can form the basis of future emails you’ll create.

#12: Answer Questions

This ties-in with the previous idea. You should answer questions within an autoresponder sequence. Personally, I don’t respond to many emails that I get in my niche. (That’s because I get dozens every day.) BUT, I’ll often take a question and use it as a foundation for an email.

This technique creates a lot of social proof with an email list. Subscribers see that others look to you as an authority figure. Answer a common question and you’ll show that people always seek your advice.

#13: Offer Bonuses

Affiliate marketing is a great way to make money with an autoresponder sequence. Unfortunately, many people get minimal results with this business model.

The trick to this business model is to offer a bonus offer IF a person buys through your affiliate link. What I like to do is point out a “negative” in the product I’m promoting. Then I’ll position my bonus as something that fills this void. This is a great way to incentivize an affiliate offer.

There’s a reason why so many Internet gurus recommend this technique –Because it works! Offering a bonus item is a great way to motivate those subscribers who are on the fence. Remember, people are on your list because they like your personal brand. So offer them a bonus YOU have created.

#14: Track your Email Campaign

In the last few weeks, we discussed the importance of tracking. The only way to know if an email campaign is effective is to measure the results.

It’s important to use tracking when trying to revive a lifeless email list. Specifically you should measure:

  • Open rates
  • Click-thru rates
  • Product purchases
  • Daily growth

You’d be surprised at how a few changes can impact an autoresponder sequence. The trick is to use metrics to get statistical proof that something is (or isn’t) working.

How to Breathe Life into YOUR Autoresponder Sequence

Autoresponders are still a great way to make money online. The problem is it’s impossible to get results with a boring collection of emails. Now is the time to breathe life into your email sequence!

Stop creating messages that don’t relate to one another. Instead use these fourteen ideas to craft a quality; attention-grabbing autoresponder sequence. Do this correctly and you can literally write your way to online success.

To learn more, I recommend checking out my report on email marketing.

Take Action. Get Results.

33 thoughts on “14 Ways to Revive a Lifeless Autoresponder Sequence”

  1. Steve, I only just started building my list, but I am thinking carefully about autoresponders and how to write and use them. Can you say which tool you use for these? I used to use constant contact with my store, and spent ages crafting a really nice looking email filled with great pictures of products, and I got really cross when no-one opened it. Do you think text on its own is enough, with no pictures? I noticed you suggested only 50 characters wide.

    • Lesley,

      I use Aweber, which is a pay program, but I think well worth it for the free emails. I have head good things about “mailchimp” which is free for lower volume (though I think it gets more expensive when you get a large list)

      I rarely put pictures in my emails at all. Though I am not running a “store”. The theories could be a lot different.

      For affiliate autoresponders all you want to do is encourage that click. There is a lot of art that goes into it. But sometimes simple.

      “have you checked out product X” even works.

      Again with the “store” vs. affiliate offers the answer could be completely different, but the width is something that is really tested and pretty important.

      Not only does it provide uniformity, it also shows best cross platform. So it should not come out “messed” up depending on what email provider people use or if they view it on cell, laptop, kindle or tablet.

      As for “no one opening?” What is your CTR. The “opens” will likely always be under 10%. But you can get it that high if people come to expect that the things you send are -more- than just trying to sell stuff.

  2. I used to run a newsletter, but I have found that an autoresponder sequence is soooo much easier. You can actually tune it using all of the points you listed.

    However, I found you point about using open loos and cliff hangers particularly useful.

    Thanks Steve,


    • Mark,

      Glad you liked it. I agree. Nothing “wrong” with a newsletter/ But there is opportunity to be a little bit more personal and personable with a Autoresponder.

      Glad you found the open loops and cliff hangers useful. They can be a powerful psychological tool and build a desire to read post-to-post a fairly important thing!

  3. Some people will disagree with your tip to promote more than one product. It may be beneficial to run a split test – one promoting a single product and another promoting a few different products.

    • Done and done. I have run quite a few split tests on this. But I think the idea of everyone doing there own personal split tests on this is a great idea.

      It CAN vary by the list, by what your niche is and even what you promote.

      IN fact I am split testing now whether it is better to do a series of 3-4 messages in a AR series and THEN move on to the next product OR totally mix up the offers from week to week.

      Regardless of what works for ME. I think that these are things that each person really should split test on their own and find out what works best for them…and their list.

  4. Hi Steve,
    It is a very nice and informative post.Thanks for sharing 14 ways to revive a lifeless auto responder sequence.This post is helpful for many readers.

  5. Hi Steve,

    Excellent article there.

    When it comes to email, I simple adore Pat from Smart Passive Income. If you want to learn how to build a relationship through newsletters, subscribe to his ebook and you will get high quality, personal, no fluff articles.

    Monetizing every email like you did in the beginning is not very good for people other than maybe john chow!!! For the rest of us, it’s always value packed information that wins our readers heart.

    Great article Steve

    P.S: I emailed you a guest post article. Did you receive it?

    • Pat is a guy I respect too! I agree he does use personal and is not a fluff-miester.

      I think it is also a big help to try to think of a “person” you are sending messages to. Every single person who reads may not be like that person, but targeting this demographic means it will be far more likely that you will hit the nail on the head when it comes to what the person is like.

      FOr each of my lists I have actually written up short biographies of what my “audience of one” is. I know where they went to school, martial status etc. etc.

      It is entirely fictional, but it helps you to write in a more natural way, because you ARE writing to a (fictional) friend, rather than just a faceless entity.

  6. I was always partial to the idea of being yourself in mass communications and talking to a single person when writing. Some people will like you, others won’t, but following the tips you listed and the concept of one on one writing wins every time!

    • Trudy,

      I didn’t really get into it, but I agree this can be important. For the different email lists I run I actually have a specific person I write “to” for each list. Sort of an ideal recipient. It gives a little bit more of a “personal” feel that people can recognize.

  7. Hi Steve,
    I am using MailChimp for my email/newsletter campaign. I haven’t learned enough about it yet, especially autoresponders. My list is growing and I will use your tips for improving my performance.

    • Justin,

      I havent played with mailchimp. Being an Aweber guy since I started. But I have heard good things about that program, and it IS free to start out. 🙂 EMail list building can be frustrating early on…just keep at it.

  8. Solid and informative post Steve. Thanks for sharing these tips, offering free stuff always attracts good audience as well as consistently keeping track on the stats. Time to start applying few of these concepts!

  9. This is another great post which I have studied over a period of a few days! I really like the idea of mentioning a tiny negative in a product recommendation only to override it was a personal discount code. Very clever. I also like the idea of including links to free resources in your content emails to get the respondents in the habit of clicking – or knowing that the links in your emails are worth following.

    • Thanks Rob,

      It all boils down to being MORE than just endless repetions of “this is the greatest product ever”. I think many people are too savvy for that these days anyway. When you have affiliate products you are able to believe in you can point out a downside yet still give it that big general thumbs up.

      The challenges are getting those “opens” regularly and being viewed as a real person is one of the cornerstones to getting that done.

      (steps off soapbox)



  10. I know a lot of people say that the money is in the list and that may be true but I swore against having a list mainly because I got tired of getting all these emails promising me ways of making money online.

    I now have a list but those who join my list know that all they will ever get from me is a personal email when I have published a post. When possible I give them links to other interesting sites I’ve come across but I never ever try to sell them anything. There may not be any money in my list but there is community spirit.

    • Sire,

      Obviously if you have read a few of my articles i am a huge proponent of building a list. I think it has invaluable potential.

      However, your “limited” method of list building ends up being great. In my opinion there is nothing wrong with slipping in a promotional offer now and again, but using a list to only
      1. point out your articles
      2. point out solid information
      3. point out other good posts that are relevant on others sites

      is a great way to use the list. It will make the people who DO open up your messages respect that you do not put them through the wringer.

      The only difference in philosophy really is that I think it is OK to add -some- quality promotional messages into the mix.

      • Steve, you’re probably one of the few who do not continually send out emails with the sole intention of selling something. I don’t know. I can say that every list I’ve ever joined, bar one, would send several emails a week with little content other than trying to convince me to buy something. I’ve unsubscribed from all of them and it’s the main reason I don’t do it in mine.

        If I ever have something that I want to promote I always do a write up in my post so there is no need for me to do anything more than provide a link to that post to my subscribers with whatever little bit of extra information that I may want to add.

  11. Nothing is worse than signing up for a list, only to be sent emails that are essentially advertisements every single day. Recently, I pruned the lists I had subscribed to down to just a few – these few were the only ones to offer content on a regular basis, so when the the occasional sales pitch was offered it was instantly credible to me.

    • Amy,

      Yup! that is the point. People with heavy sales messages -may- make the occasional extra sale early on, but in the long run being overly promotional just burns people out and brings on the “unsubscribe”

  12. Steve, catching up as my wife was ill last week.

    Firstly thanks for the tip about autoresponder madness. It’s a great course. I’ve just bought the copywriters handbook too as I think good copywriting is priceless.

    Great tip about the 50 characters, to be honest, it’s much easier to read on PDA’s/Smart phones, so I’m going to add that to my templates on Aweber.

    Thanks again, Matthew

  13. Thanks for a great post. Here is something I have noticed when sending emails at work.

    Sometime I feel that the main purpose of an email is to just drag them through to the site and on the site you can hit them with your real push. I find a good way to do this is with a “read more” style link at the bottom of an email story in the same way you sometimes get with a wordpress blog, just give them 1/2 a story on the email and then put the full story on the site.

    • Danika,

      For sure. A major point with a good autoresponder sequence is that you do not want the emails to be JUST sales tactics. I think it best to mix it up. A lot that are purely good purely good content with perhaps just a subtle link that you do not really expect people to click. A few that are good content with a slight sales pitch. A few just to remind people of your blog and then finally a very few aggressive sales pitches. My thinking is to give more than enough valuable content that when you do a sles pitch that people do not respond to, you have more than enough good will built up that they will not unsubscribe.

  14. Hello there, Steve! 🙂

    I just hopped on to this one from your recent 7 Links Challenge post, and thought I’d check if I had been a factor towards this post not getting the attention it deserved. Well, it turns out that I was.

    But then this must have been during the time I was struggling with the nuclear crisis and what followed a few months after that. Couldn’t verify that as you’ve hidden the dates, but I think that would be the reason.

    This post was really a great one! I guess I would have missed a lot of content during those months. Keep up the great blogging!


Comments are closed.