640px-Feedback_loop_(email)In the earliest stages of your entrepreneurship journey, you probably replied personally to every email contact. You were grateful for every lead you got, and you did everything you could to convert leads into customers.

Once your company reaches a tipping point, however, you just don’t have the time to have a personal conversation with every lead. It’s not practical to send a personal email to every prospect who shows interest in your company.

If you’re at this point in your business development, congratulations! There’s enough buzz around your business that you’re no longer fishing for customers. Instead, customers are coming to you, which means it’s time for you to focus on your company’s next stage. Effective email auto-responders can deliver timely, personalized responses to customer actions and queries, and help you nurture prospects, while letting you make top spenders and qualified leads your top priorities.

Stay Top of Mind With Prospects

According to the Online Marketing Institute, it takes seven to 13 touches to turn a B2B contact into a qualified lead. At the same time, according to survey data from Forrester, 74 percent buyers prefer to do their research online before making a purchase, which means they don’t really want to talk to a salesperson.

Early in the buying process, you need to get those seven to 13 touches without an aggressive push from your sales team. Email auto-response keeps your business on visitors’ minds while being respectful of their preferences.

Understand and Appreciate Your Customers

In the beginning, startup owners cheer whenever they have a single website visitor, phone call or application download. You get to know each individual customer so you can solve his or her problems in a personalized way.

When that single visitor turns into thousands of visitors each day, you have to work differently to give customers what they want. Email automation lets you be everywhere your customers are even when you’re working on something else.

  • Express gratitude and attentiveness. Set up an auto-response for when customers place an order or when they download your application or e-book.
  • Learn which parts of your inbound marketing strategy are working. Let’s say that you set up an email auto-responder to send a Welcome message whenever customers subscribe to your blog. If you create different emails for different referral sources, different calls to action or different subscription box widgets or landing pages, the auto-response that’s activated most often will tell you which of your marketing methods work best.
  • Respond to visitor actions. If you set up an email auto-response triggered by certain website actions, such as an abandoned shopping cart or a visit to your contact page, you get another chance to turn a visitor who left your site into a paying customer. Plus, your email auto-response can fire off instantly or within a few minutes of the action, delivering a timely follow-up to your lead.

Test Your Email Strategy

Auto-responders expand the volume of email you send to customers, giving you better insight into your strategy. Based on how people interact with your messages, you gain a lot of knowledge into your performance, including:

  • Messaging. Set up multiple auto-responders to test subject lines, copy, images and other elements. You’ll learn which strategies get the most opens, downloads and other positive conversion responses.
  • Enticing content. Try out multiple content offers for different actions, such when a customer clicks on your contact page. You’ll learn whether the infographic, white paper or video works best to draw your lead back to your website.
  • Email frequency. Auto-responders can make it clear whether you’re sending too few or too many emails. Send your automated responses, and monitor your leads’ behaviors. If your open or download rates are dropping, and your unsubscribe rates are climbing, try sending fewer emails.

Happier Customers and More Business — With Less Work

Set up your first batch of email auto-responders, and start building deeper connections not only with your best customers but also with casual visitors and prospects. You’ll turn more of them into qualified leads and paying customers, and you’ll encourage returning customers to make more purchases.

You’ll also get all of the benefits with a lot less work, so you can focus on what matters most.