When it comes to hiring a virtual assistant (VA), people might present the following arguments against it:
It’s expensive and you can’t afford it.
It’s difficult to hand over the control of your work to someone else.
You don’t have enough work to justify hiring a VA.
This post, however, was not written to tell you about the benefits of VAs, why you should have them, or why letting go of your work is easier than you might think.
Rather, this post is about how you might already have a VA, but you haven’t realized it yet. Once you understand what I’m talking about, these three arguments lose their power and meaning.
Nevermind if you have never intentionally hired a VA, there is still one particular service that you have likely subscribed to and is essential to your online business: your e-mail list provider, especially the autoresponder part of it!
Here are seven things you can let your autoresponder take care of on your behalf. This list is in no way complete, so take some time to brainstorm other tasks that you could automate with it.
You might hire a real VA at some point, but be sure to take advantage of these automated steps first.
1. Set expectations right from the get-go
Let’s start with the e-mail #1, the message that the user gets immediately after joining your e-mail list. This e-mail is also known as the “thank you e-mail” and in it you give the subscriber access to the goods you promised on your opt-in page (for instance, an e-book, video course, etc).
The most important thing to understand is that this particular e-mail is generally the most opened and read in your sequence and that’s why you should take advantage of it.
For instance, my thank you e-mail (#1) is definitely the most opened one in the sequence:
Knowing this, it’s a perfect place to set the expectations with your subscribers. When you do this, you define the rules you play by, decreasing potential confusion on how your blog operates.
In this e-mail you could define:
- How quickly you respond to e-mails
- Your commenting policy (or a link to one on your page)
- Whether you accept guest posts or not
- Whether you review products or not
Since this e-mail is the most read message, it’s a perfect place for setting rules and therefore ensuring you are spending less time explaining the same things over and over again.
2. Generate new content ideas
Another great way to take advantage of your e-mail list automation is to allow your readers to come up with new ideas for the content. These ideas could then be used for blog posts, guest posts, videos, or even products and services.
When an idea comes from a reader, it’s a great way of learning what your readers actually want. This could also potentially lead to other content ideas if you brainstorm the idea a bit further.
Since this kind of automation provides new ideas to write about, you will have less brainstorming to do yourself.
3. Understand your audience’s pain points
This next automated e-mail idea is closely related to point #2 and could very well be asked in the thank you e-mail you send to your subscribers.
The main idea behind automating this question is to create the products, blog posts, videos, or other types of content that your audience cares about.
4. Spread the word about your work
There are numerous ways to create awareness about your blog and your work. One way is by to send your subscribers an automated e-mail saying that you are available for interviews (video/audio/text).
With this simple action, you can demonstrate your expertise to audiences you haven’t communicated with before. This, in turn, can bring more subscribers to your e-mail list and more clients to your products and services.
5. Obtain new social media followers
You can use your autoresponder to build your social media following as well. For instance, you could schedule a message on your sequence that asks people to follow you on Facebook or on Twitter.
An alternate way of doing this (in which e-mail is still a starting point) is through your thank you page.
In my case, when a person has joined my e-mail list, in addition to receiving the thank you message, he or she is also redirected to a thank you page where he or she can download the goodies I have promised.
On that same page I’m also asking the person to like my Facebook page:
6. Get people to unsubscribe from other e-mail lists
People get a lot of e-mail nowadays, so making your e-mails stand out in the sea of other messages requires a bit of work.
Why not ask people to unsubscribe from other lists they have subscribed to? That way you get more visibility and people have less e-mail to take care of (it saves their time and energy).
7. Ask their opinion
Sometime ago I was writing an e-book and I wasn’t sure if my audience wanted me to include a certain section. The next logical step was to ask them.
I received answers quickly after sending the e-mail and I didn’t have to ponder this question by myself.
In this particular example, I sent my audience a broadcast e-mail, but you could very well automate this question through your autoresponder.
For instance, you could ask:
- Is there anything I can help you with?
- I’d like to know you better – would you like to have a Skype call with
- Do you want me to write a guest post for your blog?
These are just a few examples off the top of my head, but depending of your niche, you could come up with many additional questions to ask of your audience.
‘E-mail autoresponder is a wonderful tool, but not many people are not using it to it’s full potential.
There are many ways to use autoresponder to your advantage. That’s why I wanted to share this with all my readers – so that we can all benefit from them.
- Over to you: What tasks can you automate with your autoresponder?
Want something extra?
- The exact e-mail messages I used in points 2, 3, 4, and 6.
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Image credit: chrisinplymouth