Net Results for Business

How to Write an Autoresponder Message
that Gets Results

by Al Bredenberg

This article is part of the "Net Results for Business" series, a syndicated column by Al Bredenberg.

Copyright 1996, Alfred R. Bredenberg
All rights reserved.

Contact: Send e-mail to Al Bredenberg

The E-Mail Tool for Getting the Word Out -- Fast!

The autoresponder (or mailbot) is one of the power tools of Internet marketing. With the autoresponder, you can deliver your sales message or other information rapidly. And you can deliver it 24 hours a day to any Internet e-mail user in the world.

But how can you create a money-making autoresponder message? How can you get real results? Here are some methods of power communication that I've had success with as a writer of sales letters, mailbot copy, World-Wide Web content, ads, and more.

1. Focus on the reader, not yourself

Your message should be about the customer's needs and how your product will fulfill those needs, not about how wonderful you are and how great your product is (in your own opinion).

Don't talk to me about your fertilizer, talk to me about my lawn. Take a look at my first few paragraphs above. How many times did I talk about "you" and "your" as opposed to "I" and "me"?

2. Make it personal.

As with any sales letter, write your autoresponder message as a one-to-one communication. Pretend you're sitting down to talk to a friend.

Let your message be friendly, animated, and informal. Go ahead and use contractions (like "you're" and "don't" and "we'll"). Don't be afraid to start a sentence with "and" or "but." Your English teacher will never read it, and he wasn't teaching you to write advertising, anyway.

3. Emphasize benefits.

Rather than thinking of yourself as selling a product or a service, think of yourself as providing benefits. To determine the benefits, ask yourself, "What does the customer get out of my product?" The answer should be something like "more time," "more money," "more pleasure," "an easier life," "better health," or "greater safety."

Benefits are different from features. Example of a feature: "This computer has a Pentium processor." Now we turn it into a benefit: "Lightning-fast Pentium processor means you get more work done in less time."

4. Include a "call to action."

Be clear in your mind about what you want the reader to do after reading your message. What do you want? A reply by e-mail? A visit to your Web site? An order called in to your toll-free number? Let the user know what response you want, and let them know in a compelling, urgent, benefits-oriented way.

Include complete contact information, and triple-check it for accuracy. I suggest that you offer multiple ways to respond. For example, many people respond to the mailbot for my Internet marketing book by e-mail. But others reply by phone, others by fax, others by postal mail.

5. Offer useful information.

One good autoresponder strategy is to offer a free report giving useful information but including a sales message -- an "advertorial" approach.

For an example, send for my autoresponder report, "10 Tips for Selling on the Internet and the World-Wide Web." To get the report, send any message to

This is a report with much solid nuts-and-bolts advice. But at the end of the report, I tell you how to order my "Small Business Guide to Internet Marketing," and I even include an order form. Most likely, you won't resent my pitch because you've gotten so much value from the report.

6. Use correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

You tell the world whether you're a professional or an amateur by the quality of your marketing communications. Take the time to edit your autoresponder message for errors. If you're not a good speller, get help from someone who is.

7. Use layout to make it easier to read.

Since a mailbot message is delivered in plain ASCII text, your design capabilities are limited. Here are a few tricks you can use to make your message more readable:

                    Now available:
          Solid strategies for "Net" results!
       Send any message to

Warning: I suggest you not try to create cute pictures with text characters. Different computers use different screen and printer fonts, so your picture will often come out as a big mess.

Also, I think it's a good idea to limit each line to 55-60 characters, as many e-mail systems will automatically wrap the text at that length.

8. Obey the law.

False advertising is still illegal, even if you're on the Internet. In many countries, pyramid schemes and chain letters are illegal. You should assume that all tax and licensing laws in your town, state, province, country, and so forth still apply. If you're in doubt, check with your attorney or accountant.

9. Read the messages people send to your autoresponder.

A good autoresponder system will send you a copy of the request every time someone sends for your report. With most systems, the user doesn't have to type anything in the body of their message when they send in the request. But often they do! By reading the message and replying to the user personally, you may increase your chances of selling to that person.

I hope your business benefits from this simple but powerful e-mail tool, the autoresponder. If you create a strong, well-written, persuasive message, your autoresponder can help you increase your sales and fulfill the goals of your Internet marketing program.

More how-to guidance for Net marketing is available in The Small Business Guide to Internet Marketing -- an electronic book you can order from Al Bredenberg Business Reports.

Al Bredenberg is a writer and creative consultant. He is the author of "The Small Business Guide to Internet Marketing," an electronic book. To get in touch, send e-mail to Al Bredenberg or visit his World-Wide Web site at

This article and others in the "Net Results" series are available for republishing in print or online media. For rates and permissions, contact Al Bredenberg.

Copyright 1996, Alfred R. Bredenberg

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