Save Time and Money Using Autoresponders
Establishing your online business using Autoresponder Services
Autoresponders have become important time saving tools for online and direct mail marketers. It’s accepted knowledge in Internet marketing circles that it often takes as many as seven (some say nine or more) contacts with a potential customer before he or she makes a purchase; autoresponder services can establish those contacts efficiently. In this way, the right autoresponders can save you time and money.
Autoresponder services will facilitate the process of following up with prospects, tracking which messages contacts have already received when – and which ones go out next. Converting varying levels of customer interest into full-fledged sales on your own would eat up hours of your time. Autoresponders can, in truth, save you a full time job.
Basically, autoresponder services are software programs that automatically generate email responses. Autoresponders are responsible for the messages you receive when an email you wrote is undeliverable; they send you an automatic message when you sign up for a newsletter, join a group or sign on for a free trial membership online. In other words, any time you give your email address to a company on its website, you’ve likely encountered the work of its autoresponder services.
Autoresponders are particularly useful in the case of maintaining and building interest with prospective clients until they convert into customers. Practically everyone selling anything online uses autoresponder services. Their functions can be extremely simple, or as complex as you require.
Autoresponders manage a growing list of prospects, sending each of them a progressive sequence of emails, one at a time, at a prescribed schedule.
One popular way to engage autoresponder services is to use them to distribute a free multi-day course directly related to the subject matter of the product or service being sold: seven days of poker tips from a Multi-Player Poker Site; five days of gardening tips from a seed catalog company; 10 days of internet marketing tips from the makers of autoresponders.
Each day’s lesson arrives in the prospect’s inbox thanks to the autoresponder services. It may include a handful of valuable tips on the subject, a plug for the product or service being sold, and an invitation/request to visit the website (or brick and mortar store) and make a purchase. Typically, each subsequent message “sweetens the deal” a bit more, adding a bonus gift, a special “limited time” offer, a lower price, etc.
Autoresponders could also be newsletters, sent out indefinitely, once a month, as long as the subscriber wishes to continue receiving them (or as long as the company publishing the newsletter stays in business). A single company can employ different autoresponder services for different purposes.
Generally, almost any autoresponders you evaluate (including those reviewed in this section of our website) will perform certain similar functions for you:
- Manage your email lists, including adding, suspending and deleting names
- Manage the subscribing and unsubscribing process. Autoresponder services provide you with a subscribe/unsubscribe page that to some degree matches the look and feel of your website
- Allow scheduling of messages and automatically send out each original “broadcast” message and each subsequent message in turn, in the right order, at the right times
- Track clicks from autoresponders messages to (presumably) your site/checkout page
- Track which autoresponder services and message which prospects have already received and prevent sending of annoying duplicates
Most of the autoresponders reviewed here will also handle “bounced” messages for you – when a message for one reason or another is undeliverable. There could be any number of reasons why a perfectly valid and active email address could bounce a message once or twice.
If you were to instantly delete that email address from your list, you could be losing a valuable sale. Notice whether the autoresponder services you’re considering automatically resends bounced mentions a set number of times before – also automatically – deleting the message.
Unless you have extremely limited needs and no expectation of expansion, your business will probably most benefit from a software package that allows you unlimited autoresponders and unlimited follow-up messages within each campaign using autoresponder services. Even if you only decide to have one campaign going at any one time, you could always send out multiple versions of the same basic script and track and analyze which one(s) performed the best.
You’ll also want to get autoresponders that permit you to attach any type of files you might want – zip files, .PDFs, ebooks, software, etc. – to your messages. You might want the ability to include graphical headers or footers on all your messages, further branding your company.
While perusing some of our reviews, you may notice that many of these companies offer a free “trial” version of their autoresponder services. Usually, these free versions of the software not only have restrictions on the number of autoresponders you can run at once, but will also be ad-subsidized, meaning that each of your messages will include either an affiliate ad or an advertisement for the company offering the autoresponder services. Only with the paid version of the software will you get unlimited autoresponders with no unwanted ads.
Throughout this article, we’ve referred to autoresponders as a software product. This assumes a one-time cost and (typically) a downloadable program (though sometimes you may get the program sent to you in the mail as a CD-ROM).
However, there are also web-based autoresponder services that don’t require any software download to use. These do require an active internet connection in order to set up and manage your campaigns and you’ll be charged a regular (generally monthly) subscription fee in order to continue to use their services.
As always, there are certain advantages and disadvantages to each of the autoresponders, so before you buy/join, be sure you know which kind of autoresponder services you’d like – downloadable or web-based autoresponders.