How To Make Your Out-Of-The-Office Emails Work Harder

Astute Marketers Care About Email Autoresponders – Do You?

Email Autoresponders-aka Out of the Office MessagesHas this ever happened to you?

You’re ready to leave your office for a vacation, business trip, or just quiet work time where you aren’t interrupted.

The last thing on your to-do list is done.
[Happy dance!]

You pack everything you possibly need while you’re away from your office.

But, as the elevator doors open, you get the nagging feeling in the back of your head.

You forgot something.

But what???

Back to your office you go.

The rays from your computer are still glowing. But it’s off. (Tick that off your mental list.)

Standing in front of your work area, you can’t remember what you didn’t do.

It can’t be that important.

Or is it?

All the way home it bugs you.

“What did I forget?”

When you check your email one last time, it dawns on you.

As new messages cascade into your inbox, you realize that you forgot to turn on your email autoresponder.  [Headslap!]

You quickly write a short, utilitarian out-of-the-office message. DONE!

Don’t worry—Many businesses overlook the power these benign out-of-the-office emails wield at no cost.

But astute marketers define autoresponder guidelines for their companies.


Out-of-the-office autoresponders get through email filters. The sender wants to hear from you.

Email Autoresponders-aka Out of the Office Messages


Email Autoresponders: 2 Stellar Examples of Out-Of-The-Office Messages


1. Jason Miller’s Email Autoresponders

LinkedIn’s Jason Miller is the champion of maximizing the power of email autoresponders.

Email Autoresponder

Miller knows this itty little email is useful content. Even better, where most executives whip them off in a couple of minutes without any thought, Miller’s email autorresponders standout.

The dirty little email autoresponder secret:

  • Email autoresponders go to people who not only want your attention but also are interested in your response. As a result, they’re likely to get read.

Miller’s a very smart marketer. He knows how to wring value out of every piece of content and communication.

He doesn’t waste an attention opportunity like an email autoresponder. Attention is hard to get.

Miller packs his autoresponder with interesting stuff so you want to open it. He’s known to plant Easter eggs like this photo snapped in the underground labelled #LondonCalling.

Email Authoresponders Easter Egg

Mick Jones of The Clash and Jason Miller – Email Autoresponder Easter Egg #LondonCalling

Miller puts his big ask upfront so you can’t miss it.


Because research shows the average reader does not read the entire page. (HINT: You too should put your big ask first!)

Next, Miller nurtures his current project. It’s his jazz improvisation. (BTW, Miller is a big music fan—especially heavy metal. Check out his site.) Currently it’s his podcast. Even better he gives a shout out to his guest. This is another good tip to follow.

Then Miller includes his golden oldies—his blog posts. Not just any posts but his best, most shareworthy ones!

Lastly Miller invites you to join him on Twitter and/or Instagram. It’s almost a throw away. But if you’re writing to him, there’s a good chance you’re interested enough to follow him on social media. (Note: This social media step should support your business.)

Does this generate enough traffic to make a difference?

By itself, probably not. 

BUT use a variety of these small but effective traffic and attention options will have a cumulative impact. You can increase this by making all of your employees use it.

Done well—you only need to do this once and you cab allow employees to add a few bits of personal information.


2. Lisa Dougherty’s Email Autoresponders

As Content Marketing Institute’s Director of Blog Community and Operations, Lisa Dougherty knows a thing or two about content and communications.

I love her holiday tailored email autoresponder.

Holiday Email Autoresponder - Example

Dougherty  starts with a fun subject line complete with holiday emojis.

What’s not to like as a recipient?

You want to read more because you know it’ll be a fun break from the rest of your email drudgery.

You’re not upset that Dougherty’s not paying attention to you. She sets expectations about her availability and responsiveness during this pre-holiday crunch. Even better she plays on holiday themes being naughty and nice.

After Dougherty gets the business out of the way, she includes a soft sell for Content Marketing Institute’s next event.

Adapt this tactic to your business. What do you want your email recipient to do?


5 Easy Steps To Create An Effective Email Autoresponder Template

You can create your own tailor email autoresponder template.

Even better, create an email autoresponder template anyone in your company can use without a lot of work or thought.

Even better, it doesn’t require sexy visuals.

Remember you want it to get through low-end email clients including mobile!

5 Easy Steps To Create An Effective Email Autoresponder Template

  1. Give readers a reason to check out your big rock content. Include it even if it’s gated. You did put quality work into it—right? In Miller’s case, there’s 100+ pages of content goodness.
  2. Offer readers some content appetizers. Offer up 3 of your best blog posts—they should be evergreen and broad in appeal. Bonus points: Use a call-to-action to get them to subscribe to your feed or newsletter.
  3. Make them an offer they can’t refuse. Take a page from Content Marketing Institute’s playbook. Add a low-key offer. Skip the in-your-face promotional push.
  4. Suggest following you on social media. Get them to join your community.
  5. Include company branding. Use voice, colors and logo to keep your brand top of mind.


The Email Autoresponder Bottomline:

Astute marketers take advantage of every piece of content and communications. This includes email autoresponders.

Email autoresponders tend to remain out of sight among other forgotten owned media. They’re not high priced, sexy content.

Rather they’re utilitarian communications. They’re off most content marketers’ radar. They’re left to employee discretion.

Invest less than an hour into this forgotten content and you’ll transform it into an email workhorse.

It’ll save employee time and support your content marketing.

Go on.

Why not do this before you leave for Christmas?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
You can find Heidi on , Facebook and .

Photo Credit: 

Nick Jones and Jason Miller – Courtesy of Jason Miller – Rock N Roll Cocktail

Man in airport by Andy Beales via – Creative Commons Zero

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