Autoresponders pt 2 – Are they Really Worth It?

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Paul Harvey joins us as a followup on Amazon autoresponders and asks are they really worth it?

  • There has been a blog post from a big Amazon autoresponders company
  • It explained a new rule from Amazon where you can send only one email per customer and no more
  • This email must have all details including shipping details and request for feedback all in one
  • When this email went around there was a lot of contact with the other companies in this space

The Backlash

  • The company that posted it has been berated by everyone for posting it
  • But why would the company share the post as it is bad for business
  • As a Seller then I want a discount from the autoresponders company as I’m getting a lower volume of service
  • This seems like the company has found some inside information of a new policy coming and published it too soon
  • Clarification Amazon has made is that Sellers cannot send unsolicited emails to opted out buyers. These are restricted to shipment delays type problems for emergencies only
  • Limit of 5 maximum emails to buyers according to Amazon’s guidance

Amazon official word

  • So the official word from Amazon can be different to people commenting on rumour and hearsay
  • There is an inherent risk in selling with Amazon that they will change terms underneath you
  • Paul has spoken to Steve Simonson who is a huge seller
  • He says Amazon staff laugh at a number of the rumours that he brings to them
  • Things like this article that was erased can become the norm in the coming few weeks and months
  • We think Amazon is moving to this position and has been for a while

Amazon email pre-fixes

  • Amazon is looking to start using a marketing pre-fix on emails that are going out
  • No-one Danny or Paul knows have seen this in the wild yet
  • It’s likely that Amazon will do this to combat the abuse of messaging

Re-authorization of MWS

  • Forcing the re-authorization of your MWS
  • When you take on new services to your account your MWS is re-authorized
  • There was an example of a Seller having to renew his MWS authorization which introduced a delay to his email providers emails being sent after they had ordered the products to Buyers which caused him significant pain
  • Paul has had a previous experience when he has re-invoked an API and 300 of his customers received 30 emails all at once
  • As a Seller you must be prepared for this problem and how will you fix any backlog as Amazon won’t see this as their problem and could penalise you

Poor open rates

  • The open rates issue has not been resolved
  • The figures are all wrong and it seems no company can fix this right now
  • Danny has used tactics like emojis and characters in the titles to try and entice people to open emails
  • The result has been pretty poor and open rates are not great
  • Paul sees these services as a potential waste of money, except that by sending the email to the buyer at least they have an open channel of communication with your company
  • Sellers see these auto-responders as an expense to the business with limited value
  • We are paying for the volume of emails sent and not on only the opened ones
  • The pricing model of paying per email sent is out of date now and these services should reconsider their pricing in light of the terms of service and consumer culture changes

Rely on your inserts not emails

  • You might as well pick the cheapest service given open rates are so weak
  • We might as well just rely on our product inserts now

Follow the herd

  • How you optimise and measure is key to everything
  • The de facto guidance is that you have to use autoresponders and three is the magic number
  • But in the light of buyers not wanting to be marketed to you could decide that one is enough or even none
  • More opinion based than data-driven because lots of companies don’t provide the ‘black-listed’ emails that didn’t give you any value
  • These businesses design their services this way to hide the blacklist data because they are worried about people unsubscribing from their service

This deleted post supposition

  • Unfortunate they had to pull the post as it was doing good for the community
  • It could have been pulled because of:
    • There was no official Amazon confirmation
    • They did not expect the post to go viral
    • May have haemorraged subscribers after this post so pulled it
  • These auto-responder companies know that with the landscape shifting their business could disappear overnight

Paul’s Advice

  • Stick with the auto-responder services that have been around longest
  • Don’t spend too much time on your auto-responder emails
  • Have a good design, stick to it and re-visit periodically to check it’s working for you
  • Emails are important to communicate with buyers where you are working with complicated products
  • Inserts guidance:
    • Having buyers to reach out to you for warranty
    • Accessing people that would connect with you on Instagram or Messenger are likely to be more engaged with you and take up services, warranty, offers, etc
    • Use it as a customer protection measure and not just for ‘offers’
  • If you’re not hearing anything from your customers via email or inserts then you could take solace in that you have a good product with few defects


  • By end of the year people will have completely given up on email marketing and emails sequences to Amazon customers
  • When you factor out:
    • Amount of people opted out
    • The local blacklist
    • The historic blacklist
    • Deliverability of the service
  • There will be little value in this Amazon email marketing any more
  • Other than inserts and working within ToS, what else can you do?
    • Inserts get 100% open rate as buyers ‘open’ the box and see it
  • After inserts, what is the next step and improvement that will come for buyer contact


  • Paul sees Amazon fading away email marketing and that inserts will be attacked by Amazon as well soon
  • The future will require Sellers to build out Facebook, Instagram and Twitter audiences to push traffic to Amazon from these
  • This means that a Seller now not only has to be an Amazon expert but also now a super-Marketing expert as well with an exponential increased draw on their time to keep up

Contact Paul