Yes, You Need an Autoresponder, a Primer

July 20, 2009 - Comment

What is an autoresponder and why do you need one? Maintaining a list of subscribers is an important part of being successful with an online business. An autoresponder service is a cost effective way for online entrepreneurs to send quality information to potential customers, and a great way to build loyalty and keep in touch with prospects.

Yes, You Need an Autoresponder, a Primer

What is an autoresponder?
An autoresponder is a program or service that will send emails to your list of subscribers. It will also keep track of your subscribers and provide statistics on such things as delivery rate and email open rates.

How is an autoresponder different from an email program?
Why can’t I just use my email program to send out emails?

Unless you have very few subscribers, sending out emails from your own computer is a bad idea for a number of reasons. The most important reason is that when you send a group of emails from your computer (a broadcast), your internet service provider (ISP) will become suspicious and may decide that you are sending spam. If that happens, the ISP will most likely cancel your account.

You can argue with them and explain that you are only sending emails to people that have asked for them, but ISP’s most often err on the side of caution. They may believe you, but more likely, they will shut down your service. Because of the proliferation of spam, ISPs are very wary of anyone sending out the same email to groups of people. And they have good reason to be. Other Email services will block emails from ISPs that have had many complaints of permitting spam to be sent through their system. Once an ISP is on a list of possible spammers, it is very difficult for them to get off that list and all of their subscribers will be penalized.

Double Opt-in
High Quality autoresponder services require that all their subscribers maintain a double-optin list. That means that once a subscriber signs up to receive your emails, they will be sent an email by the autoresponder service requiring them to opt-in again (double opt-in) to confirm that they have requested to receive your emails. It is very difficult for someone who has opted in twice to an email list to say that they were sent spam, because the ISP has a record that they confirmed their email address and that they requested to be on your email list.

An example
The best autoresponder services also do much more than keep your list of subscribers and send out emails. They automate the entire email process which means lots less work for you. The following is an explanation of how Aweber, one fo the best autoresponder services makes my business work better.

A potential customer, George, is directed to my optin page (also called a squeeze page) where he signs up to receive information from me. On the optin page is a form with fields for his name and email address. This form is one of the ways that Aweber helps me, because it provides me with a form builder and the code to add to the optin page.

Once George completes the form and clicks on the Submit button, Aweber automatically puts him into my list of subscibers. And, he is automatically sent the confirmation email with a link to click to confirm his request (double opt-in). Once he clicks on the confirmation link, he is taken to a default Aweber “thank you page”, letting him know that he has confirmed his email address and request(you can also customize the thank you page).

Aweber then automatically sends George a welcome email. This is an email that I have created in Aweber that welcomes George to my email list and explains to him what information he will receive. After that, Aweber will send the emails that I have previously composed and set up to be sent to my subscribers. I can put the emails in any order I want and decide when each one will be sent. These are called follow-up emails.

Every subscriber who joins my list will be sent the same emails in the same order, automating the process. Aweber also lets me send a broadcast email to my entire list, as well as a subset of the list, whenever I want to.

Autoresponder features
Aweber also keeps track of lots of statistics and even graphs them for you. You can learn a lot from the statistics. Some of what you can learn are; your number of subscribers, your email open rate, whether links in your emails are being clicked, which of your email titles are getting the best response, and much more.

Autoresponder service choices

Aweber is one of the most highly regarded autoresponder service and has a great delivery rate, as well as good prices and tons of online training. Their customer support is also excellent.

Constant Contact is also a respected autoresponder service and has a very complete library of html templates that you can use to format your emails and improve their visual appeal. They don’t have all of the features of Aweber however.

Vertical Response is another service that many folks use and is similar to Constant Contact.

Infusionsoft is a high end service that includes autoresponder features. This service is more of a complete customer management system and is supposed to be excellent. It is used by many top marketers. On the down side, it is quite expensive comparatively and is targeted to companies with a complex sales funnel.

Maintaining a list of subscribers is an important part of being successful with an online business. An autoresponder service is a cost effective way for online entrepreneurs to send quality information to potential customers, and a great way to build loyalty and keep in touch with prospects.

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