Auto Responders That Knock Your Socks Off

I’m a believer that personality plays an important role in selling. I’m a super Type A person, so I prefer to buy from people and companies that are organized, detailed and competent. But I also like people and companies who have a healthy sense of humor. Silvercar is a great example. A few years ago, my friend Chris and I went to breakfast at a conference in Scottsdale, Ariz. He pulled up in his Audi A4 rental car. “Great car,” I said. Where’d you get it?”

emailI’m a believer that personality plays an important role in selling. I’m a super Type A person, so I prefer to buy from people and companies that are organized, detailed and competent. But I also like people and companies who have a healthy sense of humor. Silvercar is a great example. A few years ago, my friend Chris and I went to breakfast at a conference in Scottsdale, Ariz. He pulled up in his Audi A4 rental car. “Great car,” I said. Where’d you get it?”

“Silvercar. The best rental car company. I use them exclusively now.”

“What makes them so good?”

“Working with them is so easy, and they have a great personality.”

So, I gave Silvercar a try, and they have been my go-to rental car company for the past three years. You may ask, “How does a company have a personality?” Good question. Everything they do is hassle-free, technology-based and fun. My last reservation took one minute and 33 seconds (yes, I timed it). When I got to the lot, I scanned my QSR code on the window sticker, got in and drove away. Easy peasy. No lines. Ever. I actually look forward to getting their marketing emails. They are short, to the point and funny.

Silvercar has taught me the importance of making sure my personality shows through in everything I do, even the way I write my out-of-office emails. I travel a lot for work. I turn on “auto response” before each trip, even if I’m not going to be disconnected much. This messaging is a great opportunity to make someone smile and remind them of my spunk and creativity.

I’ve created a repository of responses that I can choose from based on the time of year and what’s happening in our business. Here’s my latest:


Howdy,

At home working by the fire in slippers and comfys? I wish. Rain check for the week of 12/12 when I return from Texas. I’m going to the birthplace of jazz, casino central (Vegas) and to Dallas to find my friend, a tall cowboy with a six-pack (he’s in need of a hot holiday party date).

If my email has not put you to sleep yet, and you are still in need of things to do to make yourself look busy at work, check these out:

  1. Read the book “Never Eat Alone.” I’m reading it for the third time. Top five on my list of great sales books.
  2. Buy yourself one of these holiday suits. It will help you feel better about yourself and might win you Two-Buck Chuck at your neighbor’s Christmas party. NOTE: They hide curves and fat well.
  3. You really want those new Lululemon pants for hot yoga class, but they are $118. You just don’t have that in your budget. Sounds like you need a raise. Use your boss’s feedback to get promoted. You’re welcome.

BONUS: Do you buy print? Does your team buy print? Want to free up their time so they can focus on other activities? Want to look like a hero? Consider outsourcing your print buying to us. We are pretty cool for being in such a boring industry (at least we like to think so).


Since I’ve started writing fun auto email responders, I’ve been surprised by the increased number of responses. Here’s my favorite response from a prospect, “You are funny. I like the culture you’ve created at your company. It really stands out and makes me want to do business with you. PS: You’ve inspired me to rewrite my out-of-office messages.”

I challenge you to write down five things that make you unique. (Think about your hobbies, activities, books you like to read, etc.) Then, incorporate them into an out-of-office message. After you’ve crafted a message that gets positive responses and motivates prospects, I suggest encouraging each person on your team to write his or her fun and poignant auto responder. I know each team member’s unique personality will shine through. In my humble opinion, that is much better than having one company-wide response. Snore, snore.

The art of people buying from people is not dead.

Caution: You and your team members may knock someone’s socks off.

Client Maturity

As an agency, or even a marketing department, you must work with clients of every possible ilk. Oh sure, your client might be your company’s CEO or it might be the marketing director of a third-party company, but when you provide marketing services, you’re nearly always reporting to someone else. So what happens when that client doesn’t have the maturity required to participate at a high level in discussions and project development?

As an agency, or even a marketing department, you must work with clients of every possible ilk. Oh sure, your client might be your company’s CEO or it might be the marketing director of a third-party company, but when you provide marketing services, you’re nearly always reporting to someone else. So what happens when that client doesn’t have the maturity required to participate at a high level in discussions and project development? This lack of maturity might result in an abandonment of the project before completion because it “seemed to take too long,” “needed too much development,” or “was broken.”

As campaign architects and builders, we find ourselves working with clients who need to learn a new vernacular in order to participate in meetings and decision-making with our teams. Simple explanations are one thing, but when we spend copious time in calls and meetings simply educating, it’s time to take a long, hard look at the fit of the client.

For the immature client, working to build campaigns will be a daunting task—made so by longer meetings and hours’ long descriptions of design and development processes as you attempt to keep them in the know and in the loop. If our client is lacking the required maturity to participate in a meaningful manner, the negative impact on the project may derail efforts to the point of paralysis or even abandonment.

In an effort to find the best customers for your company, consider developing a maturity-diagnosis document. In this document, ask questions to help you determine at what level your customer will be able to contribute to conversations and decision-making. You could ask questions such as:

  • Do you know the difference between drip and nurture campaigns?
  • Does your company have a revenue goal this year?
  • Are you on target to reach your goal?
  • How will this campaign contribute to the goal?
  • How big is your sales team?
  • How are they compensated?
  • At what level is your understanding of HTML and CSS?
  • Is your website responsive; do you know what that is?
  • Does your website offer e-commerce? If so, what platform?
  • Does your e-commerce system enable you to send auto-responders?
  • Do you know how to modify these auto-responders?
  • How dependent are you on your IT department or other departments?

As you can see, the questions you might ask should span myriad topics, but which to ask will be dependent upon your company and the types of services you provide to clients.

If you are a .NET website-development company, you may need to ask questions focused more on the maturity of knowledge of our client in the e-commerce space. If you provide simple blast emails, you may wish to focus on their understanding of various types of emails and SEO. In both cases, however, you are looking to minimize the overhead created by having to educate your client each step or phase of the project.

Not every prospect who dials your number or fills out a form is a customer with whom your company should engage. You are not in the business of education, you’re in the business of providing a service—and the more quickly, succinctly and efficiently you can provide that service, the more profitable you will be.

Vet your customers. They certainly vetted you.

5 Important Email Tips for Converting Prospects to Customers

The harder you make it for your prospects to become customers, the fewer will. Most marketers agree that lead generation and lead conversion are the bedrocks of their efforts. As you scrutinize your internal process to convert prospects to customers, remember that, in order to consistently convert, you must at least

(Editor’s Note: This is a preview of Cyndie’s presentation on the upcoming webinar “Email for Customer Acquisition: 5 Great Ways to Expand Your List, and Your Profits!,” with Yeva Roberts of Standard Register, airing Jan. 28 at 2 p.m. EST. Register here to watch the rest live tomorrow, or catch it on-demand starting Jan. 29.)

The harder you make it for your prospects to become customers, the fewer will.

Most marketers agree that lead generation and lead conversion are the bedrocks of their efforts. As you scrutinize your internal process to convert prospects to customers, remember that, in order to consistently convert, you must at least:

  • Provide a clear, concise path to becoming a customer.
  • Enable your prospect to become a customer.
  • Resolve any concerns your prospect has about becoming a customer.

1. Be Timely, Relevant and Easy
Conversion begins at the moment of acquisition—waiting to engage is the kiss of death if you hope to hold the attention of your new prospect. We humans have very short memories—and attention spans—and marketers who allow the opportunity for one to forget a recent engagement will be saddled with lower retention and conversion rates over the customer’s lifecycle.

Your first touch to new prospects must be prompt and direct as you remind the recipient of how the relationship began and, ideally, lay out the path for becoming a highly valued customer. Using email, converting prospects to leads can be quite easy, and when you group likeminded prospects into segments, you can also create highly relevant content appropriate for this audience.

When relevant content is bolstered by personalization, your messaging can transcend a timid first step and become a flat stone skipping through sales ripples reducing necessary touches to a simple few.

Tracking clicked links and buttons within your email will enable you to appropriately respond to engagement with auto-responders recognizing specific engagement activities. Auto-responders are unique tools for reminding prospects they engaged with your brand and helping them resume the process if they’ve become distracted along the way.

2. Provide High-value Content
Inbound marketing represents one of the most successful approaches to converting prospects to leads, leads to subscribers, and subscribers to customers. Your content should be well-written and professionally designed while establishing your brand as an expert.

Your e-books, slide decks, videos, webcasts, demos and the like must be honest and forthright in order to establish your credibility, and should not shy away from areas where your competitors have you bested. Recognizing and addressing these areas will foster trust and help you to build upon these new, budding relationships.

When you post inbound content to your website, you will drive repeat visits; visits that naturally develop, deepen and nurture the relationship to the next stage.

Inbound content such as blogs, videos and online tools also extend the time of visit, and this is an important metric that contributes to your search-engine optimization effort.

Though content at your site is important for this reason and others, resist the urge to keep your content to yourself. Create partnerships with companies that will post your content or choose apps such as SlideShare, YouTube or edocr.com to syndicate your content beyond your own reach. Requiring a form submission to download your content will result in capturing some leads, but you will benefit far more from unrestricted content that is shared liberally.

3. Convey Urgency and Scarcity
Certainly not news to most seasoned marketers, urgency and exclusivity still motivate prospects to act more quickly. Procrastination is a sales killer, so text within your email reminding the recipient of how few widgets remain or how few days to buy the widget remains can dispel bouts of procrastination that grip many of us at one time or another.

Positioning your offer as time-sensitive, quantity-bound or event-based will boost your conversions, but lack of instructions for how to take advantage of your offer can easily negate the benefit gained.

4. Provide Instant Gratification
In email marketing, it’s key to first identify and then solve the customer’s problem—as quickly as possible. Your customers have come to expect and even demand instant gratification, not just in electronic platforms but physical as well. (It’s unbelievable that Amazon is currently testing same-day drone delivery and delivery before you’ve even ordered in order to meet such demands.) You must strive to deliver now.

In your emails, recognize that your clients want it now, and use words such as “instant,” “immediate,” and “now” as trigger words to put them in the buying mood. If your product doesn’t lend itself to being delivered via drone so they can get it now, offer an instant rebate or immediate download. By solving your customer’s problem more quickly than your competitor, you will be more likely to gain the coveted conversion.

As with urgency and scarcity, it’s imperative that you are clear on what steps must be taken in order to achieve instant gratification.

5. Test, Track and Tweak
Don’t guess at what it takes to reduce clicks and shorten your sales cycle, nor should you be a focus group of one. While your opinion about what works and what does not is important, you are not the customer. Use your opinion and expertise as the starting point for testing, but analytics must be used to prove or disprove your educated guesses.

As you begin to understand areas or components slowing your conversions, consider paths that provide information in a more compact and effective manner. Videos are a great solution and a preferred vehicle for many, but podcasts, self-running demos and other online options are also ideal for replacing overhead-heavy meetings, site visits and other person-to-person events.

There are myriad sales-funnel processes, but all can benefit from trusting relationships and consistent experiences. Your blast, drip and nurture emails should be professional, branded and graduated in order to nudge your constituents along. It’s important to remind your prospects why they should choose you—both explicitly and obscurely.