How to optimize your Autoresponder to improve your performance

I know everybody and their grandmas say you have to measure stuff and optimize it, you’ve heard this way too many times.

But this time, I really mean it. If you don’t watch your sequence and have the right metrics in place, it will be pretty darn hard to optimize it.

In this lesson, I will show how to measure your sequence (yes, there is a way to measure this thing), exactly what to look for and how to optimize it.

How to measure

I’m not bluffing when I say there is a way to measure the performance of your sequence.

When you are analyzing a blog, you can look at how much traffic it gets, you might want to look at time spent on site, bounce rate, pages per session and other stuff like that. But if you really want to get into what’s working and what’s not, you need to analyze individual content.

You might want to use Google analytics to see traffic on specific pages or look at which posts are working best on social media on Buzzsumo.

Post performance

This way you’ll find out which specific blog posts are working and which aren’t. You’ll probably be able to see what you did right or wrong, what you need to do more of, and what you need to optimize.

When you analyze a sequence, you must look at each piece of content individually. Only looking at the overall results will not allow you to see the strong and weak points in the sequence.


As I mentioned before in this module, one of the steps of planning your sequence is to determine which metrics are going to be used to determined success.

Your sequence might required of slightly different approach when it comes to metrics, but these are the essentials:

  • Open rate
  • Click rate
  • Other engagement (page views, survey responses, video views)
  • Conversion

These metrics should be present for each email in your sequence.

What are we looking for?

Watching the performance of each email will give very valuable data that you will use to polish the sequence.

The reason you’re looking at individual metrics is because you are trying to figure out where exactly your subscribers are dropping off the sequence.

Let me explain, let’s say your sequence consists of 10 emails, you’ll see some consistency in the metrics, but then open rates drop dramatically on email 5. Most likely, the performance after email 5 is consistently lower.

What happened?

Relax, you found your weak point. This is actually a good thing, your data is pointing you in the right direction.

There are a couple of possible scenarios:

  • Email #4 was not as powerful as the previous ones and your subscribers lost interest
  • The subject line on email #5 sucks big time

Now, instead of thinking that your sequence doesn’t work, you narrowed things down to 2 possible areas of improvement.

Let’s illustrate this with an example:

Chart 1

There is an obvious drop from email #1 to #2. This is completely normal, as you’ll learn later in this module, welcome emails tend to have an insane open rate compared to any other type of email campaign.

Let’s ignore that.

analytics - welcome email

Chart 2

Even tough the rest of the emails look pretty consistent in all areas, there is a slight drop on #6, both in opens and clicks. Also, it’s important to notice how after that, it picks up again to continue the trend line.

analytics - drop

It’s pretty obvious, the content in email #6 didn’t motivate people. Is it the subject line? Is it the topic of the email?

But let’s not make any assumptions, that’s why we have data in place. Let’s look at email #6 then…

Identify the drop

Boom! Turns out in this case the drop is completely reasonable and expected: it’s the survey campaign in the middle of the course.

Subject lines on each email are consistently announcing the arrival of a new lesson. The fact that the subject line reads “Before we continue…” is a clear indication that there is no lesson in this email.


Now you identified the drop and you’ve determined the possible reason. It’s time to optimize.

Roll up your sleeves and lose the analytical hat.

To continue with the same example, I could do a couple of things:

  • Test a different subject line to see if I can get more opens
  • Send a survey as part of one of the email that contain lessons and see if I get a higher response rate
  • Leave as it is, after all, survey campaigns are expected to perform lower. Also, the performance picks up after that email

But things might be different in your case:

  • You might need to test a different subject line
  • Test a different copy
  • Test a different open loop in the previous email
  • Eliminate that email completely

Once you’ve made the necessary changes, you’ll have to watch even closer to see if you’re able to move the needle.

See the trend here?

Optimization works like this: Analyze > Identify > Optimize > Analyze > Identify > Optimize > Analyze > Identify > Optimize.

External content

Okay, we went over the analysis of each email in the sequence using the analytics provided by your ESP, but what if you have external content?

Let’s say you have a few emails that include written content in your blog, a download, video tutorials or you’re delivering an email course with video lessons.

Can you measure the performance of this external content?

Here are a few examples of how to measure engagement on external content:

  • If it’s a PDF download, set up a goal on Google Analytics to count the downloads and calculate the conversion rate from visit to actual download
  • If the content is in a page in your website, you could measure the CTR in your email, but also the time spent on the page, and even run a heatmap to see how much visitors scroll on the page
  • If you have video tutorials, measure the engagement on the actual video from the platform where the video is hosted, even if it’s an embed on your site

Why is this important?

One thing is to look at the open and click rates, but in your ESP analytics you don’t know what happened outside of the inbox.

What if people click through but they don’t download your PDF or don’t watch the video?

Let me share with you how I measure the videos the videos in the lessons of my autoresponder sequence. The videos are not embedded in the emails, subscribers have to click through to a page on my site where the lesson is hosted, but the actual videos are Vimeo embeds.


If you already have an autoresponder in place, then you have work to do in this lesson. If not, come back here when you’re ready.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. At this point you should already have established the metrics you’re going to use to determine success
  2. Go to your ESP and locate the autoresponder sequence analytics
  3. Watch closely to find any jumps in the trend line
  4. Make a note of the things you will need to look into
  5. Analyze what happened. Could it be the subject line? What else do you see that’s unusual?
  6. Decide what you are going to test (1 item at a time)
  7. Run your test and observe the results for improvements
  8. Do it again 😉

If you didn’t get the spreadsheet before, here it is: Spreadsheet