Email Marketing Guide for Bloggers – The Auto Responder Sales Funnel

This is part three of my email marketing guide for bloggers. If you missed part one or two, you can read it here and here. In part three, I’m going to discuss the most important part of email marketing – the auto responder.

As the name implies, the auto responder sends out automatic replies to people who subscribe to your email list. Most bloggers make the mistake of not using any auto responders at all in their email marketing. Instead, they use their list to send out blog updates or additional “subscriber only” content. If that’s what you’re doing, then you’re missing out big time. The auto responder is how all the big email marketers make their money.

Setting Up The Auto Responder

When readers subscribe to my email list, they are sent a series of seven (soon to be nine) emails over the course of seven weeks. These emails are design to do three things.

  1. Build a relationship with the subscriber
  2. Promote my blog and brand
  3. Recommend products and services that help solve the reader’s problem

Email auto responder

Setting up the auto responder is extremely easy (the hard part is writing the contents for it) and is no different than sending out a normal newsletter. If you’re using Aweber, all you have to do is click “Follow Up” in the Message tab. This will allow you to create a follow up message to be sent to your new subscriber at a later date. Aweber allows you to set up an unlimited number of auto responders.

If you check the screen shot above, you’ll see that my first auto responder email goes out the instant someone signs up to my list. The second follow up email out goes out four days after the first and the rest goes out in one week intervals until there are no more follow ups. If you want to see it in action, you can subscribe to my blog by entering your name and email.

Creating An Auto Responder Sales Funnel

For lack of a better description, an auto responder sales funnel is where you take subscribers on one end, split them out the other end and have them part with their money. I like to run my Auto Responder Sales Funnel as a series of progressive steps designed to solve the reader’s problem. The first email is designed to build trust and authority and doesn’t try to sell anything. Here’s a copy of the first email subscribers receive when they sign up to my blog.

Hello {!name}

I want to thank you for downloading my free eBook, Make Money Online with John Chow dot Com. I hope it helps you achieve your blogging goals. I started my blog back in December, 2005 and it was amazing watching the blog grow from making zero to making over $40,000 per month in just two short years.

How I achieved this is detailed in my eBook. However, if you have any questions, feel free to email me and I’ll try to help you in any way I can. You can also connect with me on the following social media sites.


I hope to connect with you soon! Please visit for latest information on making money from blogging.

John Chow

PS – In case you haven’t download my free eBook yet, you can get it here: need to subscribe to get it

Future emails carry the same type of tone are are designed to push the subscribes through the funnel so when they come out the other end, they have a solution their problem and I’ve been rewarded for helping them solved it. The auto responder sales funnel is the foundation of the blog’s backend sales system and is responsible for the majority of the blog’s income. The great thing about this is it’s fully automated and offers true passive income.

You should set up a series of five to ten emails to send to all new subscribers. Keep the three goals of building the relationship, promote your brand and recommend products that solve your reader’s problem in mind when writing the emails. Ideally, the recommended products and service should offer you an affiliate commission but that doesn’t always have to be the case. Recommending a product that you don’t make any money off can build more trust.

In order to maximum the income from your auto responder sales funnel, you have to test and keep testing. Little changes to the email copy can make a big difference. I review all my auto responder emails once a month to see if there’s anything I should add or subtract. The nice thing is, many subscribers reply to my auto responders and they provide valuable information on what I need to do to improve conversions.

If you have your email list set up with Aweber but haven’t created the auto responders yet, then you have your project for the next few days. If you don’t have a mailing list yet, then I recommend you head on over to Aweber and create one right now. Remember, the money is in the list!

55 thoughts on “Email Marketing Guide for Bloggers – The Auto Responder Sales Funnel”

  1. After i signed up for your mailing list I noticed the automated followups. Because you answered questions/solved problems I was facing, I was actually looking forward to your follow up e-mails! Figuring out how to make those e-mail meaningful definitely seems like a challenging task. Is there anything you would recommend avoiding heavily in those e-mails (other than obvious ad spam)?

    1. Your auto-responders could also be built to build trust only. If your niche is not one filled with affiliate items to sell (like making money online is), then you can still provide answers to people’s problems.

      As you provide answers, they will trust you more. At the end of the process, you will have a large group of people that will look forward to your next email and buy your products.

  2. Erika Marie says:

    Very neat. I did sign up for Aweber but last I checked, I only had one subscription!

    1. Aweber is a costly affair, you need to fix things quick and fast, learn quickly how you can use it in more better ways

  3. Benjamin Cip says:

    I am using aweber on one of my blog, and am fully satisfied with them. They have a really good support. And their affiliate programs is quite interesting. The best autoresponder in the world so far.

  4. Amit Mehta says:

    ” The first email is designed to build trust and authority and doesnโ€™t try to sell anything.”

    This is something that many new marketers, in their haste, don’t think about. It always costs them money…

  5. MLDina says:

    Auto-responders can be great, but there are a few sites, lists, and social networkers that send an auto-response (and the same one, at that) every time I comment, send an email, or interact with them. That’s a little much!

    1. Agreed. John’s auto-responder sequence works very well. Clearly if you get his free e-book about “making money online”, then you have an interest in doing just that.

      So he takes you through the steps… (I don’t remember the exact order)

      #1 – Web Hosting (cha-ching)
      #2 – WordPress + Themes
      #3 – Affiliate Networks
      #4 – AWeber
      #5 – Webmaster Tools
      #6 – Coaching

      etc… Every step, he gets a chance to help you, and a chance to make money. Not a bad schtick

  6. Last time, due to your video you posted that included a message to set up on Aweber, I set up my service there. I already have some subscriptions due to this. I will see about building up the auto-responder. The advice here is wonderful as long as it is implemented.

  7. EarningStep says:

    look like this is other feature to make money . aweber sure is a great email auto responder that all affilate marketer must have

  8. Andi Putra says:

    Thanks for this article, John. I always knows that Auto Responder is essential, but I’m just too lazy to write anything on it. So I love being reminded of how important it actually is. Maybe now I would take the action of actually write the damn thing.

    Yeah, and Aweber is great. There is one time when my gmail account was hacked…I only need to call them once, and the friendly customer service woman fixed it for me within 5 minutes. Love them.

    1. You could always sign up for email lists of others in your niche, and look at their copy…

      Rephrase as to avoid copyright problems, and blam… Auto-Responder built!

  9. I’ve used a few different email marketing systems, and I have to agree that Aweber is the best I’ve seen so far. It’s good to figure that out before your list really starts growing… trying to get people to re-opt in to a new list (if you change providers) is a huge pain.

  10. videostar says:

    Everybody knows about it but forget to use it in everyday life.Thank you for reminding.

  11. John those are some great tips. You really nailed it when you mention that you don’t sell them initially and that you have to build trust. That’s a big problem (in my opinion) that marketers tend to have when they’re building or trying to maintain their list. I can’t tell you how many newsletters I have received for various offers that are just sale after sale with no real offering. Delivering value and not just trying to push products is the key.

  12. ROFL, “you can read it here and here.” Do you want to rank high in the SERPs for “here”? Really bad example of an anchored text link, apart of this great info as usual, SY

    1. John Chow says:

      I write for people, not for for Google.

      1. Good answer ๐Ÿ˜‰ but people tend to observe how other people do things and imitate them. So somebody, a person, not Google, sees you using “here” as an anchor text and might do the same, because that is how you do it. And, imho, writing with Google in mind, doesn’t mean that you stop to write for people, the two are not mutually exclusive ๐Ÿ˜‰ SY

  13. Doug Dillard says:

    I have been using Aweber for MANY years now and have many different lists with just one account. It is the #1 most important tool that you need besides a website. You could actually make money with just Aweber’s service and no website if you had to though.

    Great post John… as always!

  14. Great guide, very informative

  15. R.W. Jackson says:

    I love the idea of using Aweber but have to admit that I am a little daunted by the idea of paying $240 a year for it. I find myself saying that when my blog is making more than that, that I will do it then.

    Is this just fear talking John? I know I will reach the point where it would pay for itself, but I’m very nervous about getting my feet wet.

    After all, you are one of the best email marketers out there, what if you just sold me a snow job?


    1. John Chow says:

      My biggest mistake was not starting an email list from day 1. Had i doe that, the list would have over 100,000 names and the blog would be making over $100K per month. Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish. When done correctly, you’ll have no problem making the list more than pay for itself every month.

      1. John,
        You already had some success making money online when you started this blog, so starting a mailing list wasn’t as big of a question (I would say investment, but u$20/month isn’t really that much money).
        Did you ever have a period your traffic was worse than 100,000 or 200,000 on Alexa? For a beginning blogger only getting 2000 hits a month, it is hard to know if you’re in the right niche to make money. Most people don’t want to spend anymore money than they have to if they don’t know they will be successful.

        1. This is my understanding of AWeber’s system… I have only been using their service for about a month (and I have over 700 subscribers). Giving away free items is great especially if they are high in value like free board games

          #1 – You can have multiple lists on your account. So if you have multiple niches, you can setup an auto-responder for each.

          #2 – Using AWeber’s RSS to EMAIL option truly gives you the ability to build your blog on top of your email list, rather than the other way around.

          My blog traffic is relatively low. My monthly visitors is around 2,000 (as of last week). At the end of this week I espect that number to grow to 3,000 (bad week falls off and good week comes in). My list grows my traffic, because I capture emails from about 30% of new visitors to my blog. Once again…FREE BOARD GAMES! So as they get email updates, some return.

          I have only had one RSS to EMAIL come out so far, and that day was 3x better than a typical day for traffic. It was also the third best day total.

    2. I know this will sound mean… BUT, I am a little callous…

      If you cannot find $20 a month to spare for what many internet marketers consider the MOST important tool out there, then maybe you should look at your ability to commit!

      I understand people have a budget to worry about. If you do, then make a handful of $3, $5, and $8 sacrifices during the month to pay for the service.

  16. fas says:

    Superb stuff there, I remember when I subscribed how I got mails which made me bite the dust.

  17. Building rapport with your subscribers is the single most important thing when it comes to list-building/management. A highly targetted list of 200 can kill a list of 20k if you take the time to build a relationship with them.

    1. Agreed. My list of 700 is currently insanely targetted. Every single person on the list is not only interested in board games, but they also are actively searching for new board games to buy and play.

      Being a board game publisher, I think that works out well! Although I would like to have an even bigger list! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  18. blues says:

    I have great interest on it though until last year i had no idea on it. Thanx to create some interest.

  19. Finch says:

    I don’t use autoresponders for blog marketing, but I do use them for direct CPA advertising. Works like an absolute dream. There’s plenty of black hat and grey hat use for them. Not that I’d engage in any of that…

  20. Sam says:

    No doubt email marketing is the most profitable money making source.

    But I’m wondering… Will social media marketing overtake email marketing anytime soon?

    Because the potential is just amazing, as you shown us with Twitter, John.

  21. Thanks explaining it. Great post.


  22. Ricz Sabido says:

    I agree that you should incorporate a sales funnel even in your autoresponder sequences.

    Having a solid sales funnel would really boost your sales by more than a 100%. The money is in the list, yes…but the big money is made at the back end part of your sales funnel.

    Nice post!


    If you want to know what a product sales funnel look like, you can visit my post, “Looking in an Internet Marketing Guruโ€™s Mind”.

  23. Albert Fang says:

    I have always thought about adding Aweber to my website, however, never really got the time around it. The idea of it sure sounds provoking and the idea about funneling newsletters sounds like a great idea.

  24. I havent tried out aweber yet. Still relying on free autoresponders. BTW I tried implementing these steps a little earlier and I have not got any click through s. Wonder what i am doing wrong

  25. This approach can be used in almost ANY business… not just blogs that sell information products.

    I like to connect with my new prospects this way, and give them some information that ONLY builds trust. Since I run a local service business, I need to build a lot of trust to get in-person appointments.

    Another nice approach is to offer a free mini e-course, in which there is a lesson given every day. You can really do a lot with this.

  26. mortyzplace says:

    I really like this post. You can not underestimate the power of email. What a fantastic way to increase your revenues and get instant feedback on new ideas.

    1. I think one of the great potentials of email is that you do not necessarily need a blog or website for people to visit. It certainly helps with trust, but is it necessary??

  27. Dean Saliba says:

    I’d like to use Aweber but I’m not sure I could rationalise the expense at the moment.

  28. Thanks for that sample email. I just set up my auto responder and I was trying to figure out exactly how my first few emails were gona go. Good thing I went here.
    Thanks John!!!

  29. Yves Lanot says:

    I just set up my automateyourlist (aweber) a couple days ago and I was trying to map out what emails to send and what other. Now you just gave me the perfect idea.

    Thanks John

  30. Hi John

    Great post..The money is not in the list…..”the money is in the relationship you form with subscribers on your list”


    1. Agreed. I dare say that you can definitely oversell to a list. Remember, there are people on the other end of those emails.

      You better be selling good products if you want them to come back!

  31. Make Money says:

    Wow, I have never seen that tactic before, (using your blog comments as an AR opt in) awesome idea…. going to implement it now.

  32. Phil Hogan says:

    This is great. I sure would love to try this out and see if it will work for me. I enjoy writing about money, entrepreneurship, time management and success and personal fulfillment (which is different for everyone). Let’s see if this would make a difference. Thanks!

  33. The key is building trust.

  34. I’ve been exposed to this funnel system soooo many times, yet have often been caught out by it, especially in my more naive early internet days.

    Building your audiences trust is key here and by giving away good value and then offering more at a very reasonable price you are most likely to get their buy-in – bingo!!!

  35. Great advice John. I’ve been caught in the auto responder funnel system as well. Luckily, I’ve familiarized myself with the Internet so much, that I rarely ever fall for them anymore.

    I think in order for an auto-responder to be successful you need to really get your audience to trust you. If they don’t trust you, well, they’re less likely to subscribe to you…
    Still, great advice John.

  36. Ian says:

    Hey John,

    Thank you for the useful tips. I’ve been using Aweber and the funnel system for one month. I’m excited about the branding and income generating potential an auto responder has.

    I will keep on testing, testing until I produce impressive results.



  37. Aweber is a costly affair, you need to fix things quick and fast, learn quickly how you can use it in more better ways

  38. Automated systems make it easier for us. Thanks for this post! ๐Ÿ™‚

  39. frank burns says:

    Hello John, When I first started online I was blown away at the prospects of earning income from Google for displaying their ads. Any sudden boost or shift in anyone’s income can only lead to healthier times. As I worked harder towards what my goals were the further I fell behind because I focused too heavily on ad earnings? I realized at one point that I didn’t need to split my brain in half trying to work anything out, the solution was right in front of me all the time. I’d like to share this with your readers because it is important to identify what we can all do, to stamp out poverty.
    Do YOU have an AdSense Account?
    Are you relying solely on the Income you hope to make from it or is it just one of those accounts you set, and forget. I’m asking this because I am donating the entire earnings from my account to help combat the problems associated to poverty and real hunger. If anyone of you can create an account and donate it entirely towards helping the poor, how much of a legacy can we all create together if only we stood side-by-side. Anything is possible, will you follow me.

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