Are Auto-Reply Emails Still Relevant?

There was an internal discussion this week about whether the auto-reply email is still relevant. Well, that topic immediately got me sitting up in my chair. Can you guess what camp I sit in? Coming from the CRM side of the business, I am most definitely on Team Auto-Reply (along with a Thank You Page).

I know, I know, in today’s market you may feel that an auto-reply isn’t necessary: leads are registering, sales are happening, why bother with an extra email?

First, let’s start with the prospect experience on your website. They are interested, they have questions, they complete a form and click submit. What happens next? Without a doubt, something needs to happen. There needs to be some form of acknowledgement that the submission worked (otherwise, they may hit the submit button 10 times and you know what that does? Creates 10 duplicates in your CRM!)

So, a 1000% yes to either a pop-up “Thank you for registering …” Or redirecting to a “Thank You” page on your website.

But do you really need an auto-reply email?

Let me count the ways …

  1. It provides confirmation that the prospect’s submission actually happened.
  2. It’s a permanent receipt for the prospect. When they close a website, they may forget you. An email sits in their inbox.
  3. Even though it’s automated, it’s more personal.
  4. It’s the start of building trust. A nice-looking, friendly email is the start of a relationship. It’s professional and it provides the prospect with confirmation they have engaged with a reputable company.
  5. Because the content of the email provides the prospect with an understanding of next steps, sets the tone for what’s happening. For example, if you’re experiencing a higher than normal volume of enquiries, let them know and help them understand the process. We often think the prospect understands the process … they don’t (not usually). You need to let them know when you will be in contact with them and what will happen next.
  6. It allows you to introduce the team. Do you send new leads to an Online Sales team or do they go directly to an Onsite team? This is the perfect opportunity to show a face (literally, put an image in the email!)
  7. It gives back time to your OSC. Our OSCs are our heroes. They are on the frontline helping prospects navigate. If the auto-reply email has the potential to reduce the number of calls to the OSC, let’s get it in place quickly! By outlining the process and setting expectations, this provides the OSCs with the ability to be proactive instead of reactive.


The auto-reply email has the highest open rate of any type of email

That’s right, according to an Invesp research study, auto-reply emails have a 50% open rate. It has the highest engagement rate because it’s an email that people expect, plus they are interested – they just signed up. Even in the building industry, right across the board, we see builders with 50% open rates for their auto-reply email. You’ve got a captive audience, but that doesn’t mean you can overload them with information! A well-designed, thoughtful, concise email is the way to go and keep the design simple and readable. 

The following are some technical aspects to the auto-reply email: 

  1. The prospect should be able to reply to it. If it’s coming from a generic email address, make sure it’s an active account and someone is receiving those emails
  2. The subject line shouldn’t be more than 60 characters. Short is good! Including your builder name in the subject is always a good idea. Avoid shouty caps and exclamation marks (those can send an email to junk). Something as simple as:
    • Hello from <BuilderName>
    • Welcome Home
    • Let’s Find Your Home
  1. Most people will be reading the email on their mobile device so responsiveness and use of white space is important.
  2. Most auto-reply emails can be created within your CRM and in your control to update and manage. They can also be hosted by your web provider. Lots of options depending on your preference and involvement.

What about Content?

Be personable and set the stage for the next steps. Introduce the OSC (if applicable) and explain their role (this is not always understood by the prospect… it’s not just about selling a home but rather guiding someone on the home buying journey).

Important tip about auto-reply emails: check the content regularly! If your auto-reply email still says “Coming soon in the Fall of 2021” you are a little behind! Or, if you updated all your auto-reply emails last year to reflect Covid protocols, it’s time to revisit and modify. Things change, people change. Shop yourself!

These emails are important!

Auto-reply emails can be source specific, form specific, and community specific. The key is customization. It is worth the extra effort as it will save you time in other ways and provide a better experience to your buyers. They set the tone for the prospect relationship! Your team will thank you and so will your buyers.

There’s not a lot of inventory available and many builders will be launching new communities later in the year, but are now starting to gather names of interested buyers. If there was ever a MORE important reason for an auto-reply email, this is it. Absolutely, you need to send an email out to explain the process and what is going to happen. There may not be a lot to communicate over the coming months but email could be the best way, so let the prospects know what is happening and what the next steps are.

What works today may need tweaking down the road

Will there be a time when auto-reply emails aren’t as important? Very likely. It could transition to text. It could be more of a transactional/account creation email where the prospect creates an account and all their correspondence and information lives on the website. But for now, most buyers will appreciate an email (about 50% of them). It’s a low-cost, high-value item. In today’s frenzied market, the immediate value may not be immediately recognized but it’s not always going to be like this ,and developing a brand that is responsive, and easy to work with is always in style. We are living in a time where people make decisions based on their experience. Let them start out on the right foot with you.

Happy emailing! 💌


Angela McKay

Angela McKay

Director of Homefiniti Experience.

Angela has been serving the home building industry for 14 years. A marketer at the core, she is always looking for ways to improve the customer experience and the buyer journey. She’s a problem solver and has a knack for finding the positive in everything and everyone. Angela is responsible for helping builders realize the full power of Homefiniti. While her husband and their two adult-aged children are most important to her; Monte, the family lab, and her Peloton bike, are not far behind! Hiking, running, and spinning keep her head clear and her spirits high.