The One Email That Belongs in Every Autoresponder Sequence

by Adam Kreitman

Last updated on February 19th, 2018

John Fancher is Perry Marshall’s “go-to” copywriter and has written for the Glazer Kennedy Inner Circle among many others.  John writes A LOT…both copy and music.

He’s particularly well-known for his expertise in writing autoresponders and plays a big role in Perry Marshall’s Autoresponder Bootcamp training program (a course I’ve taken and can very highly recommend).

On the music side, John has a band in Chicago, “Johnny & the Beloveds”, that plays in local pubs. (You can find their stuff on iTunes.)

John Fancher

He also has a parrot named Scooby who likes to participate in his coaching calls (though, according to John, she rarely adds anything of value).

This interview with John focuses on the one email that belongs in every autoresponder series and also touches on some other key autoresponder strategies. Scooby did not participate in the interview.

1. Well let’s cut to the chase…what’s the 1 email that belongs in every autosreponder sequence?

OK, the one email that belongs in every sequence is the NEXT STEP email. It’s a very direct pitch for whatever you want the reader to do next. It works best when the next step is a phone call or in-person consultation but it can also work if the next step is a survey or a trial of the product or service.

2. Why does it belong in every sequence?

Most marketers pitch in every message. Or they make the opposite mistake and never pitch…and when they do the “next step” isn’t obvious enough or “sold” enough to get people to take action.

The method we teach is 80% content / 20% pitch. Rather than pitching in every message, we recommend making deposits first…for 3 or 4 messages of pure, helpful content. Zero pitch.

But when you do pitch…in the NEXT STEP message, be direct. Be brain-dead obvious about what you want them to do next. You can only pitch in this way, if you’ve earned the right to do so by providing relevant, helpful, content up to this point.

3. What do you mean by “making deposits first”. Can you explain that a little more?

We sometimes use “deposits” and “content” interchangeably. A deposit is any message that helps the customer solve a relevant problem without asking them to give you anything in return.

Deposits can take many forms:

  • Checklists
  • Free reports
  • How-to videos

Or just a message that spoonfeeds some of the information you previously gave them in a lead magnet. A withdrawal is any message that asks them to do something outside their comfort zone.

Like give you money. Or pick up the phone and call. Or fill out a survey. Or schedule a consultation.

4. What are some benefits of the NEXT STEP email? 

In every marketing piece, the call to action is one of the most important elements…probably second only to the headline in terms of its effect on response.

Yet many calls-to-action are vague. Like “give us a call” or “for more information, email me at…” This is especially true when the next step requested is a “soft” step, (a phone call or request for more info) as opposed to a hard step (fill out an order form, give us your credit card number).

The Next Step email turns a soft next step into a concrete next step and turns a vague call to action into a clearly articulated, well-defined call to action.

Also the Next Step positions you as a sought-after expert rather than as a marketer begging for a sale.

Think of a doctor’s office. When you go see a doctor he/she doesn’t say “Here are all the benefits you’ll get if you let me treat you, I would be honored to earn your business”.

No, the doctor’s assistant hands you a clipboard and tells you to fill it out and “the doctor will be with you shortly”. The Next Step is you handing your customer the clipboard.

Finally, one of the foundational concepts we teach in the autoresponder bootcamp is “The Maze”.

The end result of maze marketing is that every reader gets exactly the amount of communication from you that they want from you. And you don’t decide this, they TELL you this through the actions they take.

The Next Step email is one way to give them an opportunity to raise their hand and say “I want more from you.

Treat me differently”. This concept is extremely powerful and could fill several interviews, but I’ll leave it at this:

The Next Step can be a very powerful way to identify your most profitable readers. Always a good thing.

5. You mentioned the Next Step email turns a soft call to action into a concrete one. Can you give a few examples of how you’d do that?

One way to turn a “soft” step like “contact us for more information” is to turn that step into a consultation.  Usually a free consultation, but paid consultations can be highly effective too.

Tell them what they’ll get from the consultation, list the benefits/deliverables. Require them to fill out the “clipboard”. Require them to schedule a time for the consultation.

The main idea is to build the perceived value of the “next step”.  “Contact us for more information” doesn’t build any value.

6. Are there situations where a Next Step email doesn’t belong in an autoresponder sequence?

The Next Step is not appropriate for all email marketers. In fact, whether a Next Step email message can be used in your autoresponder sequence is a good indication of how powerful autoresponders can be for you business.

What I mean is…if your business doesn’t lend itself to the use of a Next Step email message, then autoresponder marketing probably shouldn’t be a primary weapon in your marketing arsenal.

However, if a Next Step email message is appropriate, then autoresponders could very well be your number one marketing weapon.

7. What are some types of businesses that don’t lend themselves to autoresponders?

Businesses that don’t lend themselves to autoresponder marketing are ones that sell on a highly transactional basis (as opposed to relational) and sell a low priced or almost-commodity item.

There are other factors to consider and that’s why we’ve put together an “Are Autoresponders for Me?” quiz at It takes about 2 minutes to complete and will give you a quick indication of how great a priority ARs should be in your marketing strategy.

8. Last question for you…there’s a lot going on in a Next Step email. How long should it be? Is it like a long sales letter, should you keep it short and sweet, or somewhere in between?

The “Next Step” template that we provide and recommend in the Autorepsonder Bootcamp is less than 500 words. It’s not a long sales letter by any means.

What questions do you have about the Next Step email?  How could you use it in your email autoresponder sequence?   

You can find John at And to see if your business can benefit from using autoresponders, be sure to take his “Are Autoresponders For Me?” quiz.



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Adam Kreitman

Adam Kreitman coaches business owners on how to make their websites more compelling to their prospects.. and to Google. He owns Words That Click, a firm specializing in Conversion Optimization and managing Google AdWords campaigns for small businesses.Follow him on


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  1. June 30, 2013 at 5:58 pm

    I have just started taking my website, which I have had for several years on a couple of different platforms, from a semi-hobby to a full time professional personal growth website encouraging people to build happiness through participation in life, balance between spheres of life, and attention to that which matters.

    In that quest, I have begun setting up my email program and auto responders (as well as inventory, not quite finished yet, of ‘where you are now’ in your happiness quest).

    I came upon this article while looking up ideas for a month’s worth of deep engagement auto-responders, and it was the most clearly worded and insightful I’ve come across. For me, like others here, “I want more from you, treat me differently” is a foundational concept in marketing. It really shifts the way I think about how I’m writing that letter.

    Thank you so much for this!

  2. June 18, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    Great advice. I like the ‘Next Step’ concept after having provided value to your reader. It’s more about giving genuine value and then providing an opportunity for further action. You will then have a list of people who want to interact with you, follow and trust you and more likely purchase any solutions offered.

    • June 18, 2013 at 10:24 pm

      Exactly right, Alex. Thanks for the comment!

  3. Christian says:
    May 27, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    the next step is a nice post, it gives me ideas for my autoresponder, thanks

  4. March 4, 2013 at 3:54 am

    Great article. I suspect the challenge is to know when the deposits have been great enough that the next step will be taken by lots of readers – and continually testing to improve their response.

    • March 4, 2013 at 10:30 am

      Very true, Vernon. 80/20 is always a good rule of thumb!

  5. Angelo says:
    March 3, 2013 at 11:41 am

    Although I mostly agree with the NEXT STEP concept, I believe that the #1 key to successful copywriting is (kinda vague, I know) to be in line with the image the business or professional has created. In short, be yourself and you’re golden!
    For instance, I have a great respect for Jay Abraham but every time he sends me an email I have to clear my day’s schedule to read it 🙂 I’m sure it works for him but I couldn’t possibly do that to myself (writing it) or to my list (reading it)!

  6. March 1, 2013 at 11:51 pm

    What an extremely helpful piece. Thank you.

    “When your readers have read your copy, they want to know what to do. Tell them” – John Caples

    • March 4, 2013 at 11:44 am

      Drayton Bird quoting John Caples in reference to something I did? My head will be in the clouds for months now. Thank you!

  7. Bob Angus says:
    March 1, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    Fantastic advice. The one a-ha moment for me was that the reader’s Next Step action tells you “I want more and treat me differently.”

    As marketers, we all can benefit from greater segmentation information about our customers. Most profitable customer, yes. You can also simply learn what they like and give them more of that. You can also test and learn based on non-action too.

  8. March 1, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    great tips on the Next Step….I am going to be adding video email to my autoresponder soon and will be giving more directives so that they know exactly what to do in which situation.

  9. Andrew Woo says:
    February 27, 2013 at 9:51 am

    Do you have any tips of how artists can effectively use auto-responders?

    • Andrew Woo says:
      February 27, 2013 at 9:52 am


    • February 28, 2013 at 2:35 pm

      Interesting question, Andrew. Did you take the quiz? What was your score? Feel free to email me directly too at

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