What is an Autoresponder?

what is an email autoresponder and how does it work

Autoresponders are often touted as a great marketing tool for online entrepreneurs, but learning what they are and how they work is often a bit of a mystery. 

Some people get the concept confused with chatbots, and others are concerned at the idea of relinquishing control to something automated.  Autoresponders are actually quite simple to create, very easy to control, and having nothing to do with chatbots!

What Does an Autoresponder Do?

Very simply put, autoresponders are a series of email messages sent to subscribers in a particular order and frequency.  You might be thinking, “that’s it?  I do that all the time!  I send thank you emails on Fridays, and newsletters every other Wednesday, and… ” . STOP!  This is exactly the scenario that autoresponders are intended to alleviate.

While it may seem simple enough to remember when to send a particular group of marketing communications, what happens if you have a sick day?  Or go on vacation?  Having these emails automated can take a lot off your plate, and allow you to focus on other crucial components of running a successful business.

What Kind of Autoresponders Do I Need?

There is no set combination or rulebook for setting up autoresponders, because every business is different, from their stage of growth, to corner of their niches, etc.  There are, however, a few very common types of autoresponders that many business owners have found very helpful in keeping a set group of customers engaged.

A welcome email

For those who have taken the plunge and signed up for your email list, it’s great to send a welcome email.  Introduce yourself, your brand, and set up expectations for how often they might receive emails, and what type of content they can expect.

Educational or “how to” emails

Autoresponders are great for educating both existing and potential customers on the products and services you offer, and there are plenty of areas where this can be implemented.

If a customer signs up for a free trial, an autoresponder can give them “getting started” directions.  If a customer purchases a particular product, an autoresponder can recommend related products or point them to care instructions or helpful hints for successfully using the item.

If an individual has signed up for your email list, yet still not made that big step into conversion, an autoresponder can present some of the ways your product can enrich their lives and solve their problems.


There are various scenarios where a customer or prospective customer might require a gentle nudge.  Abandoned cart emails can remind customers they haven’t checked out yet, and encourage them to review their potential purchases.

A customer who has investigated a specific product several time, either by opening an informational guide about that product or by clicking on an ad in a newsletter could receive an email that provides more detailed information to help address any lingering questions they might have.


If you capture birthdays at any point in the sign up or conversion process, an autoresponder can reach out to customers on their birthdays with a special message, a coupon code, and more.  Nearly everyone appreciates warm wishes, and an email from your company might engage or re-engage them in your business.

Thank you

Following a purchase, thank a customer with an autoresponder.  In fact, take the opportunity to thank those who have been on your email list for awhile with a special anniversary email or promotion.  Always practice gratitude!

These are, of course, just a few of the typical areas in which autoresponders can be used.  As you consider your communications with customers, you will likely find a few additional options that might work for you!

Creating Autoresponders

You very likely have an email system in place already, which captures email addresses and analytics, etc.  Many of these systems allow you to set up autoresponders.  In fact, there are several email marketing platforms that also include these capabilities.

MailChimp, for example, is a very popular email service among online marketers due to its inexpensive and easy-to-use platform.  It is possible to set up basic autoresponders through MailChimp, including welcome emails, date-based emails, etc. 

While their autoresponder editor isn’t the easiest to use in the market,  this software is extremely popular, and allows for a great deal of integration with other applications that can ease the process of setting up these automatic emails.

GetResponse is a marketing-based platform that includes tools for landing pages and webinars, but also offers expansive service for automated emails. 

GetResponse allows for email triggers to be set from a variety of scenarios, including time based, action based, and more.  The functionality is easy to follow, with drag-and-drop management keys, and simple tools that make editing, advanced timing, cycle planning, and more easy to control.

One of the news- and most popular- offerings on the market is SendInBlue.  Like MailChimp, SendInBlue is very inexpensive, offering a solid range of options on their free plan, which includes a daily limit of 300 emails for unlimited subscribers (up to 2,000 per campaign) and split testing.

Another good solution that we recommend and we are using right now, is AWeber. Are you curious to learn more? Check the features below:



Pre-Built Landing Page TemplatesPre-Built Email Templates
Email AutomationsCustomers Segmentation
Sign up formsEcommerce
Drag and drop builderFree up to 500 email subscribers

Autoresponders like welcome emails, anniversary, and website actions can all be set up through this software.  Campaigns can be triggered by specific clicks, visits, or opens, which allows you to have a very high level of interaction with a variety of customers, which in turn, can create profit for you.

What’s next?

Regardless of the software you choose, you’ll be able to plot a full menu of autoresponders to help take some of the communication chaos off of your plate.

While autoresponders certainly can’t take the place of every email communication you choose to send, having a full stable of emails lined up and ready to go in a variety of scenarios can allow you extra time to pursue other avenues of marketing, while still keeping in touch with customers via email.

Take your time in considering which emails to use when, and as always, make sure content is strong, clear, and consistent.  While you may need to edit autoresponders from time to time, you’ll at least be able to remove the calendar alerts that tell you when to send which email one at a time, and automatically send those important outreach emails.

Read also: How to Get More Customers with your Email Marketing Campaigns.

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Teachingbiz provides internet marketing services and education to digital entrepreneurs and marketers who want to learn how to build and scale their businesses.

1 Comment
  1. […] you can build the process yourself using some plugins like Instapage or WP Profit Builder, and link your autoresponder optin forms to collect the leads and follow […]

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