Auto-responders are computer generated, automatic email follow-ups, triggered after someone fills out an inquiry form at your website.

Usually, they are sent immediately after someone hits the “submit” button on your inquiry form.

Should you use an auto-responder as a follow-up after someone fills out an inquiry form at your website?

Yes and no.

The problem with many of the auto-responders I have seen is that they often come off as very impersonal. They look like a computer-generated follow-up, and that is NEVER a good start to ultimately closing a new sale.

I am not against using auto-responders, and I think they are a good idea to use if you take the time to create one and do it correctly. And that’s a BIG IF.

Like most things related to Internet marketing, if you don’t use Internet marketing tools and “best practices” properly they won’t help your business. Improperly used they can backfire and end up HURTING your sales.

The Case Against Auto-Responders (NO)

DO NOT use an auto-responder unless you can create a very personal, engaging, positive first impression message. It has to ABSOLUTELY look like you wrote it PERSONALLY to ONLY the person who made the inquiry. This is trickier than you might think!

The Case For Auto-Responders (YES)

Auto-responders, when used correctly, INCREASE CONVERSION.

Yes… they IMMEDIATELY communicate with a potential new client after they have shown an interest in your company. This should create a positive first impression. Quick responses effectively communicate that you are interested in getting someone’s business, and “starting the conversation” is a tricky, yet CRITICALLY IMPORTANT, part of the sales process.

Yes… they can be used to confirm you received their inquiry. There’s nothing worse than a bride/groom wondering if the inquiry they just made actually got to the company/person they are interested in.

Yes… psychologically speaking, people like confirmation after they’ve asked for something. It also communicates respect. It also eliminates added stress and anxiety, two things often associated with wedding planning.

Yes… your quick response can increase sales dramatically. Often, the first person to follow-up gets the sale. At a minimum, you’ll have a better chance to start a conversation with a potential new customer.

Yes… they can help deal with the “bride made inquiry, now I can’t get in touch with her” issue everyone in the wedding industry who has a website has experienced at one time or another. You don’t want to lose track of potential customers!

Yes… they can be used to get new likes and followers at your social media touch points (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest), if you use these links in your auto-responder.

Yes… they can be used to get a bride/groom BACK TO YOUR WEBSITE, to see pages that they possibly did not view or that you would like to emphasize. Typically, I’ve created links in auto-responders to a FAQ page, About page, testimonials and awards page, blog posts, or photo galleries. Never assume someone visiting your website has seen everything you want them to see! There’s no downside to sending potential customers back to your website, right?

Yes… they can be used to promote specials or “limited” offers. Adding a time-sensitive element can increase follow-up conversations and conversion (i.e. sales).

THE BOTTOM LINE: there are a lot of positive benefits to using auto-responders after a bride/groom makes an inquiry at your website, but there are also some very real risks. If you don’t use auto-responders properly, they’ll more likely hurt your sales than help them in the long run.

Chris Jaeger
Executive Director & Founder
International Association of Wedding Industry Professionals
e: chris@iawip.com
p: (727) 234-1314 x201

P.S. Has this information helped you understand something new that can help your wedding business grow, or something that will help you improve your marketing and sales? If so, consider joining the International Association of Wedding Industry Professionals and enjoy more expert advice as well as many additional benefits.

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