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What Is An AutoResponder?
Do You Really Need One?
Most people are familiar with autoresponders
that send out those automated "I'm away" or "I'm on vacation" messages. In fact, most web hosting and email providers refer to these autoresponders as "away" or "vacation" settings within their email programs. These are good for a quick one shot automated reply to let someone know that you got their message or that you are away and will be returning to reply later.
Setting up these types of autoresponders is usually pretty straight forward. A quick glance through your email settings or your web hosting control panel are usually all that is required to activate them.
However, if your needs go beyond simply sending a one-time message, it may be time to look in to what is known as the Sequential Followup AutoResponder. This type of autoresponder is much more robust and includes a number of powerful features that are starting to be adopted by businesses and organizations from around the world.
Think of this type of autoresponder as an email-on-demand system. Any time your autoresponder receives a request via email or a form, it can automatically respond with whatever information you have loaded in to it.
There are a number of ways your business can benefit from autoresponders.
- You could set up a series of pre-written sales letters.
- You could create a mini-course that you schedule to go out every few days.
- You could create a price list that would automatically be sent out to anyone that requests it.
- You could create a newsletter or ezine that gets sent out to subscribers once a week.
- You can also set up special offers that your autoresponder can broadcast out to your subscriber lists whenever you like.
Autoresponders that send sequential follow-up messages are being used by more and more professional online marketers.
Some of the important features you should look for are:
- The ability to create, store, and send as many letters as you need.
- The ability to personalize each message by inserting the recipients' name and other personalization features.
- The ability to send your messages in both plain text and html.
- The ability to track the response rate of your messages.
There are basically two options for getting an autoresponder. One option is to purchase autoresponder software that you would install or have someone install on your server. If you are technically adept, enjoy messing with software installation, and are prepared to spend time managing bounces, changing email protocols, and various technical issues that will inevitably arise, this can be a good option.
If, however, you prefer to focus on the actual job of marketing, creating messages, and running your business, you may be better served by using a hosted autoresponder service. When you go with a hosted autoresponder service, it is the job of the autoresponder company to make sure that hardware and software issues are kept up with, as well as manage the ever changing landscape of email marketing legislation. Most businesses prefer to pay a reasonable monthly fee so that the technical wizards can focus on the technical requirements while they focus on their business.
Once you've decided on an autoresponder service, your next step is to create the messages that your autoresponder will send out. I recommend creating 5 to 7 followup messages since marketing studies have shown that it can take up to 7 contacts before your customer decides to purchase from you.
Effective use of a followup autoresponder can help any business maximize their profits by capturing visitor information and then helping to convert those visitors in to customers.
Many businesses, after using autoresponders, quickly wonder how they ever got along without them.