We’re in love with email autoresponders around here. We see tons of people building phenomenal email lists — and businesses — with autoresponders that educate and sell. It’s kind of a no-brainer to include email autoresponders in your marketing plan. But where to start?
We’re going to show you a great example of autoresponders in action. The Travel Hacking Cartel is a membership-based service to help people rack up loads of frequent flyer miles (and travel the world, naturally). Its founder, Chris Guillebeau, is a hero in the travel-hacking world.
When people sign up for the cartel (sounds pretty exciting, right?), they receive a seven-email series of autoresponders (also known as a drip campaign). These seven emails maintain an astounding open rate — even at the end of the series. How can you get similar results?
Discuss email housekeeping issues
In Email #1, “Welcome to the Cartel!” Chris and his “cartel overlords” share a few tips to help readers get the most out of the email autoresponders:
- First up: can you see images? If not, click “Display Images” in your email program.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sending you four more messages like this one to help you get started. The next one, entitled, “Earning Miles and Cashing In Awards,” will arrive TOMORROW. Watch for it!
One last thing: be sure to add email@example.com to your address book, to make sure we don’t get stuck in your spam folder by mistake.
Smart housekeeping, right? The cartel’s readers are going to enjoy the emails a lot more if they can see the images, know what to look for next, and actually receive the emails.
Include a clear call to action
Tell people what to do next. In Email #2, “Earning and Redeeming Miles,” the Travel Hacking Cartel team tells readers exactly what they should do before they receive the next email, as shown below.
Note that readers also know to expect the next email in three days. Smart thinking!
Include fun quotes in your email autoresponders
Each of the Travel Hacking Cartel’s autoresponders opens with a travel-related quotation. This is a nice touch, as it reminds the reader that THC “gets” them — they speak the same language and have the same dreams.
In Email #3, “A Few Ongoing Promotions,” the quote is from Robert Louis Stevenson: “For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” Sigh. Let’s all jump on a plane to anywhere, right?
While this whole drip campaign is high-performing in an entirely wowsa way, note that Email #3 has the lowest open rate. (The campaign totally bounces back with Email #4). The THC team might try a different subject line — maybe something a bit snappier than “A Few Ongoing Promotions.”
Curate valuable information
Probably the most valuable thing about this drip campaign is that the cartel has curated all the travel-hacking info imaginable and boiled it down to WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW. This is exactly what they do in Email #4, “Mileage Madness with Credit Cards.” They tell you which credit and debit cards are worth signing up for. Same for Email #5, “Creative Redemptions,” where they tell you how to get the most out of your miles — even which international destinations to visit.
What kind of information can you curate for your audience? How can you provide them with more value?
Shake things up with plain-text email autoresponders
This is pure genius.
Email #6, “Just checking…” is a plain-text email with a more personal tone. It’s signed by a Travel Hacking Cartel staffer named Tyler who wants to help the reader get the most out of his or her account. Yet it’s an autoresponder — simple to set up, yet extremely effective. This one has the second-highest open rate of the seven emails.
How might YOU work a plain-text email into an existing (or future!) drip campaign?
Editor’s note: Plain-text email image not available.
Surprise readers with a bonus offer
Autoresponder #7 in the drip campaign is called, “Bonus! How to Earn Miles by Referring Your Friends.”
We talked about the “but wait … there’s more” approach in “6 (Incredible!) Women-Powered Drip Campaigns.” It seems to work for the Travel Hacking Cartel as well.
If you’re a new member who’s read to Email #7 (and the majority of them do), you’re probably pretty jazzed up about this program. You’re ready to travel the world, and you might just shout it from the rooftops!
And now there’s an opportunity to earn EVEN MORE frequent flyer miles just by telling your friends about the cartel.
Here’s how they describe the referral program (more strong calls to action).
Start your campaign today
We hope you’ve picked up some fun new ideas from these high-performing autoresponders. Thanks to Chris and the Travel Hacking Cartel overlords for letting us feature their emails!
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Also published on Medium.