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Email Sequence Follow-Up Hassles

AWeber Email Marketing Tools Service Provider Yesterday some members of my newsletter received a message with a broken link in it. That message was not supposed to be sent out. Instead of apologizing with another email, I write this blog post and explain, how you can avoid a similar faux pas.

Don't mess with your autoresponder follow-up series

Autoresponder follow-up messages are sent in defined intervals to someone, who has just joined your email list. Such a feature as provided by a sophisticated email marketing service tool provider like AWeber is used for various purposes. Some series are scheduled with a daily email for a week others with a weekly email for a year. For example:
  • A 7 day, 30 day, 4 week email course
  • A series of affiliate promotions
  • Pointing readers to older, but valuable blog posts or other resources

Before starting to change your existing series of messages that is already in use, beware that there are 2 types of operations:
  • Safe Operations
  • Unsafe Operations

Let's have a detailed look at this. You must consider that the follow up list of emails is linked to your subscriber database. Each user has associated the number of the message that was sent to him last. When you change the order of messages, delete, or add some things might get a little weird as you will find out from receiving the complaints of your subscribers.

Safe operations

There are only 2 of this kind.
  • editing a message
  • adding a new message at the end

Dangerous operations

Before doing any of the following you need to change the last message numbers of selected members in the database to avoid the side effects I am talking about here.
  • deleting existing message
    All subscribers who already have received the message you delete, will miss one message in the following sequence.

  • reordering messages
    Some subscribers will get the same message twice and miss another one.

  • inserting a new message in between
    Some visitors never see the message you have inserted and will get another message twice. For example all members who have finished the follow up sequence already will receive the last message again.

What can you do about it?

I already told you about the trick, “Re-assigning last message numbers in the database” Doesn't sound like an interesting job at all.

Unless your service provider or software supports you in this endeavor with some automatic or semi-automatic mechanism — I haven't heard of any service that does — Don't get into this! It's ugly, painful, time consuming, if you have more than 100 subscribers. And you might get it wrong anyway.
  • Select the users, who get effected depending on the case.
  • Increment or decrement the last message number index.
  • Change the follow-up sequence.
  • Optionally: Schedule the message for members, who might miss this info otherwise.

As you can see, it's kind of a complicated task that you really need to think about in great detail. Draw the scenario on a piece of paper to help visualize how the sequence changes and how various members get affected.

Quite honestly, when I messed with my sequence yesterday, I did not think a second about re-assigning message numbers.

I learned my lesson:
I will stick with the safe operations only.

You can do some workaround with the safe operations

Safe Workarounds

Why delete. Just replace the content of the message you wish to delete with something that appends to the previous message or prepares the next one.

reorder or insert
Sorry, there is no real way. You always can send a broadcast message for important things. But it might be best to start a new follow-up sequence with all messages in the new order.

I hope this was helpful.

What's your story or advice about email follow-up sequences. Leave a comment here.

John W. Furst

P.S.: To those who are concerned: “Please, accept my sincere apology for sending you broken emails.”

Trackbacks on : Email Sequence Follow-Up Hassles

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You should use follow-up autoresponders in your marketing. But wait! Before changing it read this article. It will save you from some hassle. Step-by-step guide on how to avoid a mess with your autoresponder follow up series.

E-Biz Booster Blog on : Email Marketing Tips - Edition 13

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Welcome to the thirteenth edition of email marketing tips on November 10, 2008. This week's edition comes to you two days early. Better than late,… What do you think? My favorite article this week has been written by Yaro Starak, who explain


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Daitondimeny on :


Great blog. I am really learning new tactics here. Thanks.

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