Why an autoresponder will change your life

Earlier this summer, I was talking with my friend Joanna about how I really needed some space from my inbox and was considering putting up an auto-responder. But I was hesitant because it felt really pretentious. It felt like I would be telling people “I’m too busy and important to answer your email,” and also clutter their inbox with an unnecessary email. She encouraged me to give it a try anyway and see what happened.

Armed with a template from Alexandra Franzen, I crafted my auto-responder. Here’s what I wrote:

Hi there!
If you’re getting this note, it means I’m getting lost in web design land (once I get started, I just can’t stop!). I’ll send a personal response to your email as soon as I can.

If you are
 a current client: Your message will be bumped up to the top of the queue, and you won’t be waiting long for a response.
 looking for support for your website, and I developed it: Please make sure you send the login information for your website so I can help as quickly as possible.
 a potential new client getting in touch to discuss your project: Hooray! I typically respond to inquiries on Fridays. Can’t wait to hear more!
 asking a question: I might have already answered it over here!

And while you’re waiting, you can…
… take one simple step to look your best online.

… do some fun + easy exercises to discover your brand.
… read my best advice on WordPress, in plain English.
… or, step away from the computer and enjoy my latest Netflix favorite, Orange is the New Black!

Thanks for writing.
Talk soon!
web designer

I couldn’t believe the response. I actually had people tell me how much they loved it! The complete opposite of what I expected. I was only planning to use my auto-responder this summer, but it just may become a permanent part of the way I work. Here’s what I love about it:

1. It sets expectations.

Inquiries know they’ll hear back from me on Fridays. People asking general questions are pointed to my Start Here page, which addresses some frequently asked questions. This gives me time to process all similar emails at once, which is way more efficient. And though I try to respond personally to every note that comes through from my email list, it does give me some relief during busy times knowing that they have at least received my auto-responder pointing them to resources. (I do read each and every email and may address them in a blog post or email to my list instead — which helps more people who have the same question!)

2. It saves time.

Before I set up my auto-responder, clients would email me with support issues, I’d email them back for login information, and they’d eventually send it. So something that should have only taken 5 minutes to address could take days.

Now my auto-responder specifically addresses this and asks for login information up front, and since the client has just sent the email, they reply immediately instead of days later. So I’m able to take care of the issue as soon as I see it in my inbox.

3. It promotes my work for me.

At the bottom, I remind people of my products and blog posts. This is especially helpful for people new to my email list who may not know about them. Every bit helps! It doesn’t have to be pushy — just a simply “hey, here’s what else I’m up to” invites people to check it out if they like, or move on if they don’t.

Do you use an auto-responder? Does it annoy you to receive them? Tweet me @elembee_ and let me know what you think.


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