Features

Email Automation: How to Send Follow-Up Emails To Your Subscribers

Direct Mail’s email automation features save you time and energy, letting you focus on the core of what makes your business unique. There are a number of automations available in Direct Mail, but this blog post focuses on one in particular: autoresponders. Autoresponders make it easy to send email automatically to people on your list based on certain events and criteria that you specify. One common example that you may be familiar with is a birthday or anniversary email. We want to introduce you to another use case: sending automated follow-up emails to people who engage with your newsletters.

Sending follow-up emails can be a great way to provide relevant information or support to a lead or customer in a timely manner. For people who express an interest in your newsletter (by clicking a link, responding to a poll, etc.), you may wish to send them additional information, schedule a call or meeting, or just thank them for their response or interest. We explain how to set up this kind of automation below.

Planning Your Automation

Let’s cover what you need to get this automation up and running:

  1. Your mailing list
  2. An email newsletter that you plan to send out to your list
  3. A follow-up email to send to people that engage with your newsletter from step #2

Let’s skip over #1, under the assumption that you already have your mailing list set up in Direct Mail.

Let’s talk about #2. Make sure that your email newsletter includes links (or a feedback poll) that people can click on or interact with. It could be a link to a page on your website, social media post, video, or other content that your subscribers may find interesting and click on. The click will be what triggers the automated follow-up email to go out.

Lastly, create the follow-up email that will be used in step #3. Just like any other email in Direct Mail, you can include any kind of content you like (text, images, videos, links, etc.) and use mail-merge tags to personalize your message for the recipient.

Creating Your Automation

Now that you have all the pieces in place, let’s create the automation. By the time we’re finished, you will have sent your newsletter and configured an automation that sends out follow-up emails to the people who click your newsletter links.

Schedule the Newsletter Campaign (Or Save It as a Draft)

The first thing to do is schedule delivery of the newsletter that you created in step #2 above. You don’t want to send it out at this step, but you do need to schedule it to send at a future date (to give you enough time to set up the automated follow-up emails).

This is done by clicking “Send” in the toolbar, then clicking the “Schedule” pop-up menu and choosing “Schedule for Later” (if you know when you want to send it) or “Save as Draft” (if you’re not sure when you want to send yet).

Configure and Start the Autoresponder

Choose “Window > Autoresponders” from the menu bar, or click the Autoresponders button in the toolbar.

Give the autoresponder a name— this is just for your reference, your recipients won’t see it.

Next, click on the pop-up menu and select the follow-up email that you created in step #3 above. This is the email that will be sent out automatically.

Next, choose the event that will trigger the follow-up email. In this case, choose the option titled “Clicking a link in an email campaign”

Next, choose which email campaign you want want to watch for clicks. This should be the newsletter campaign that you just scheduled to send. You can pick and choose which links in the newsletter will trigger the follow-up email. You may choose all of them, or just the links that are relevant for your follow-up email.

If you want to delay when the follow-up email is sent, or adjust other advanced options, you can do so by scrolling down to reveal those settings, but the defaults should cover most cases.

The final step is to click the Start button in the toolbar (look for the “play” icon ▶️). Congratulations 🎉, your autoresponder is up and running!

Monitoring Performance

When your newsletter campaign is sent out, the autoresponder will watch to see who clicks the links that you specified. As soon as the link is clicked, your follow-up email will be sent automatically—even if Direct Mail is not running on your Mac at the time.

Just like regular email campaigns, you can review the performance of your autoresponder campaign in the “Reports” tab in Direct Mail. You will notice some additional date-based filtering options to help you evaluate recent performance versus overall performance. The “Recipients” section of the campaign report will show you who has received the autoresponder thus far.

FAQ

What happens if a recipient clicks a bunch of links, or the same link multiple times?

Don’t worry, your autoresponder won’t send duplicate follow-up emails. They’ll receive the follow-up email after the first click, and subsequent clicks will not trigger an email.

What if I need to edit my follow-up email?

Your follow-up email cannot be edited while the autoresponder is running. If you need to make changes, pause the autoresponder (in the Autoresponders window), make your edits, and then resume the autoresponder.

When does my autoresponder stop running?

Autoresponders run indefinitely until you pause them (in the Autoresponders window). Note that autoresponders will be automatically paused if you remove your project from the cloud, or transfer ownership of your project to someone else.

What’s a draft?

When you schedule your email campaign to go out, there is an option to instead “Save as a Draft”. A draft campaign is simply an email campaign that is scheduled to go out, but that doesn’t have a send date specified yet. You can send a draft campaign at any time by selecting it in the Reports tab and clicking “Deliver Now” or “Schedule Delivery”.

Can my follow-up email be triggered by a click on an “email”, “telephone”, or “anchor” link?

No. Only “URL” links can trigger autoresponders. The other kinds of links (email, telephone, and anchor) are not tracked by Direct Mail and do not show up in the campaign report.

Conclusion

Spend your time focusing on the core of your business, and let Direct Mail’s email automation features take care of the rest. Our Autoresponder feature is a great way to automatically follow-up with subscribers in a timely manner as they engage with your newsletter content. Nurture leads, grow sales, build customer relationships, and more, all without lifting a finger.

New Feature: Get Valuable Subscriber Feedback With Polls

Was this email helpful? How likely are you to recommend our service to a friend? What topic do you want us to cover in our next newsletter? There’s no doubt that getting timely, honest customer feedback is essential to the success of any business. That’s why we are so excited to share with you a new feature that lets you quickly and easily find out what your subscribers are thinking. It’s called Polls, and it’s available now in Direct Mail version 6.0, a free update for everyone.

It’s Easy to Add a Poll to Your Message

Direct Mail’s built-in template editor already lets you add a variety of content blocks to your message: image blocks, text blocks, social media blocks, etc. We’ve now added an additional block: the Poll block. You add a Poll block to your message when you want to ask your subscribers a question.

Like other blocks, you can modify the appearance of your poll (layout, alignment, font, color, etc.), but you also specify a list of responses that your subscribers can choose from when answering. We have a number of commonly used responses built-in, but you can write your own, too. Here are some examples:

Left: Configuring the poll in Direct Mail. Right: How the poll appears in the email.
Left: Configuring the poll in Direct Mail. Right: How the poll appears in the email.
Left: Configuring the poll in Direct Mail. Right: How the poll appears in the email.
Left: Configuring the poll in Direct Mail. Right: How the poll appears in the email.

You can add as many polls to your email as you need.

It’s Easy For Your Subscribers to Respond

When your subscribers receive your email, they can respond to your poll right from inside their email app. Each poll response is just a simple link. When they click the link, they are shown a web page thanking them for their response and directing them back to the email.

View Poll Results in Your Campaign Report

After you send your email campaign, poll results show up right in the campaign report. You’ll get a summary of the top response (and, if applicable, the average of all responses), and can drill down into a histogram of all responses. Poll results are also available on the go, in Stamps, as well as in web reports.

We hope our new Polls feature will help you unlock valuable feedback that your subscribers are just waiting to provide! Polls are easy to incorporate into your existing messages, convenient for subscribers to respond to, and results are available instantly in your campaign reports. If you have any questions, you can consult our in-depth help article on the topic, or contact our customer support team any time. We’d love to know what you think, and how you plan to use this new feature!

2020 Holiday Email Marketing Guide

Congratulations! You have made it nearly all the way through 2020, a year like none other! The holidays are now upon us and, you know what that means: turkey, gifts, and overflowing inboxes. As you prepare your year-end marketing, here are some tips on how Direct Mail can help you break through a crowded inbox, boost sales, and grow your customer base.

1. Check out our holiday-themed templates

Direct Mail comes ready to go with a number of holiday-themed templates. They look super-sharp on mobile devices and large screens, and are easy to customize (like all our templates).

You can find these templates in Direct Mail by clicking the “Choose Template” button and searching for Glimmer, Merry Pines, Slopes, or Quattro—or browse the other options available in the template gallery.

2. Stay on top of your holiday calendar

The end of the year is chock full of special occasions and opportunities to celebrate—more than just Thanksgiving and Christmas. Consider theming additional email campaigns around these upcoming holidays in November and December:

  • November 10: Marine Corps Birthday
  • November 11: Veterans Day
  • November 11: Remembrance Day 🇬🇧🇨🇦🇦🇺
  • November 11: Singles Day (i.e. World Shopping Day) 🇨🇳
  • November 13: World Kindness Day
  • November 19: International Men’s Day
  • November 19: Women’s Entrepreneurship Day
  • November 20: World Children’s Day
  • November 21: National Adoption Day
  • November 26: Thanksgiving
  • November 27: Black Friday
  • November 28: Small Business Saturday
  • November 30: Cyber Monday
  • December 1: Giving Tuesday
  • December 15: Free Shipping Day
  • December 22: First Day of Winter
  • December 24: Christmas Eve
  • December 25: Christmas Day
  • December 26: Boxing Day 🇬🇧🇨🇦🇦🇺
  • December 31: New Years Eve
When should I start my campaigns?

Consider starting your campaigns a week in advance (or earlier, if your customers average time to purchase is longer) with a follow-up scheduled for the day of. You might also consider sending a thank you email post-holiday.

How much is too much?

It is possible to send too much email. Bombarding your subscribers can lead to unsubscribes or even spam complaints. A good rule of thumb is to not increase your typical email frequency by more than 3× during the holidays.

3. Write subject lines that are irresistible

It’s going to be a crowded inbox, so stay away from bland, generic (or spammy) subject lines. Here are some ideas:

Personalize

Adding a personal touch to the subject line almost always improves your open rate. Direct Mail makes this easy. If you want to include your recipient’s first name in the subject, just include the mail-merge tag “[first name]”. Like this:

You’re not limited to first names, of course. It can be any piece of information that you have stored in Direct Mail for a contact (e.g. occupation, city, last purchase, etc.)

Don’t get carried away

Aim for a ten words or less in your subject line, and limit the number of punctuation or special characters so it doesn’t appear spammy. Using an emoji can help, but try and stick to just one. Also, note that some devices can’t display emoji, so it’s best to use emoji as an enhancement, instead of a replacement for words.

Ask a question

Questions are naturally engaging. Consider using a question as the subject line in order to draw your subscribers into the content.

State your offer loud and clear

Featuring your offer prominently in the subject line can be a good way to stand out in a crowded inbox. According to NRF and IPC, online shoppers top considerations are:

  1. Free shipping, or clear shipping charges prior to purchase
  2. Simple, reliable, free returns
  3. Rapid response customer service
Try these on for size…

Here are some subject line examples for your inspiration:

  • Warm up to winter with us this Saturday 🔥
  • Our ultimate winter packing list
  • [first name], spread some cheer with us — open house sale!
  • We’re thankful for our customers: Coupon Inside!
  • Stuff yourself with savings 🍗
  • Early access to Black Friday deals
  • Celebrate Small Biz Sat with us: BOGO sale 🎉
  • See you on Small Business Saturday?
  • Ho Ho Ho (Spend Less Dough)
  • You’re Getting Warmer – Packages from $59
  • Meow-y Christmas! 5 holiday treats safe for your cat
  • We Like You a Latke!
  • Challah for These Chanukkah Deals
  • Let’s start this year right. 10% off throughout January
  • The holidays may be over, but the savings aren’t!
  • …check out more examples here

4. Include a “[Do It] Now” button

The easier you can make it for your subscribers to purchase (or take some kind of action), the better. After all, the holidays are just as busy for them as they are for you. Make your call-to-action prominent and easy to find. Direct Mail’s built-in buttons work great for this, and are available in a number of styles.

Here are some sample calls to action you might consider (and some interesting psychology behind it):

  • Shop now
  • Get it now
  • Act now
  • Subscribe now
  • Sign up now
  • Receive it now
  • Get access now
  • Do it now
  • Get your code now
  • Start spending now
  • Browse now

5. Get inspired!

Struggling to come up with ideas for your email campaigns? Get some inspiration from this gallery and the suggestions below.

  • Cyber Monday sale
  • Free shipping now available!
  • Gift card bonus (e.g. buy $100 in gift cards, get a bonus $25 for free!)
  • Holiday gift guide
  • Special coupon code
  • End-of-year update
  • Year-in-review or celebration of the year’s achievements
  • Holiday hours or holiday schedule update
  • Pre-sale or early-bird discount
  • Thank you for being our customer (and optionally include a referral code)
  • New product or service announcements
  • Share a holiday video
  • Promote a social media contest (e.g. photo contest)
  • Black Friday offers
  • Looking ahead to what’s coming in the new year
  • Last-minute deals or reminders
  • Shipping or ordering deadlines
  • Special gift packages
  • Small Business Saturday (it’s not just for brick and mortar!)
  • Share a story about how you celebrate the holidays
  • Giving Tuesday
  • Post-holiday specials

6. Check out these Direct Mail tech tips

Now that you’re ready to rock your campaigns, it’s time to put Direct Mail to work for you! Here are a couple of how-to articles to level-up your Direct Mail skills:

Sending Your Email Campaign at the Perfect Time. Learn how to schedule your campaigns to send even when your computer (or you!) are asleep, so that they arrive in your recipient’s inbox at the perfect time.

Search and Segment Like a Pro. Learn how to find and segment portions of your mailing list so that you an send targeted campaigns, or perform bulk editing operations.

Sending Your Email Campaign at the Perfect Time

You’ve spent all day perfecting your latest holiday email marketing campaign. The copy is perfect, the subject line irresistible. Now all that’s left is waking up at 4 AM to send it so that your subscribers across the country see it first thing in the morning. Wait, what?

Of course you don’t want to wake up early just to send an email. With Direct Mail, you don’t have to!

Scheduling your campaigns

You can schedule your campaign to send at any date and time, even if Direct Mail is closed or your computer is turned off when that time arrives. Here’s how:

  1. Click the send button in the toolbar
  2. Click the “Schedule” popup menu and select “Schedule for Later”
  3. Choose the date and time you want your campaign sent
  4. Click the Send button

After you click Send, Direct Mail will queue up your campaign to send at the time you specified. If you switch over to the Report tab, you’ll see your campaign waiting to send.

FAQ

What if I change my mind and want to cancel or reschedule?

No problem. In the Reports tab, just click the “Cancel Delivery” or “Reschedule Delivery” buttons.

What if someone subscribes to or unsubscribes from my mailing list before the campaign is sent?

If someone unsubscribes in between the time that you queue up the campaign and the delivery date, Direct Mail will automatically skip them when the campaign is sent.

If someone new subscribes to your list in between the time that you queue up the campaign and the delivery date, they will not receive the campaign (but will still be added to your list for the next campaign). For this reason, it’s best to not schedule campaigns too far in advance, especially if you are expecting a bunch of new subscribers.

Tip: Sharing your project with other users

Putting together an email campaign is often more than just a one-person job. The responsibilities of writing content, creating graphics, editing, analyzing reports, and more may be shared across an entire team of people. In these situations, Direct Mail’s cloud sharing features can really come in handy. In this blog post, we’ll show you how easy it is to share your Direct Mail project with other people.

Step 1 of 1

To share your Direct Mail project with other people, all you need to do is choose “File > Share…” from the menu bar at the top of your screen.

If you haven’t already, you’ll be prompted to first move your project into the Direct Mail Cloud. This is a necessary step because project sharing is built on top of Direct Mail’s cloud features.

After you choose “File > Share…” from the menu bar, you’ll see a list of people that are allowed to access your project.

To allow new people to access your project, click the “+” button and enter their email address. After you’ve entered their email address, pick what level of access (i.e. permission) you’d like to give them:

  • View: The person can view, but not edit your project
  • Edit: The person can view and edit your project
  • Edit & Send: The person can view and edit your project, and can send email campaigns from the project
  • Owner: The person can do all of the above, plus edit these sharing settings or remove the project from the cloud. Email campaigns sent from this project are billed to the owner’s Direct Mail pricing plan.

When you’re all done, click OK.

What happens next?

A notification email will be sent to the people that you added to your sharing list. The notification email tells them how they can open the project that you’ve shared with them. If the person doesn’t yet have Direct Mail installed on their Mac, the email will tell them how they can download and set up a free account.

If someone has shared their Direct Mail project with you, you can open it by choosing “File > Open from Cloud…” from the menu bar at the top of your screen.

Live editing

 

As you (or the other people you’ve shared with) make changes to your project, Direct Mail automatically keeps everyone up-to-date. Changes are synced across the Internet in real time. If two people change the same piece of data (e.g. a message, an address, etc.), the most recent change wins.

Change your mind?

You can change who has access to your project at any time. To do so, just choose “File > Share…” from the menu bar again. You can remove people from your project, change permission levels, or add new people. If you remove someone from the list, then Direct Mail will automatically remove your project from their computer.

Just for fun: updating your profile photo

By default, Direct Mail shows a generic “profile photo” next to each person’s name. You can add some fun to Direct Mail by updating your profile photo. Your photo will show up in the sharing window when other people share their Direct Mail projects with you. To update your photo, choose “Direct Mail > Direct Mail Account” from the menu bar at the top of the screen, then click on “Name & Picture”.

Conclusion

Whether it’s authoring content, proofreading, or building a list, email marketing campaigns often require the talents of a whole team working together. Direct Mail’s sharing features can make it easier to work together in real time—without resorting to workarounds like Dropbox or file servers. We hope you take a look at what’s possible, and please let us know what you think.

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