First, let’s start with “What is an autoresponder?” According to Wikipedia, “An autoresponder is a computer program that automatically answers e-mail sent to it. They can be very simple or quite complex.”
For the online marketer, this is like having an assistant in your office, who’s taking care of business whether you’re in the office or not. Here’s what an autoresponder doesn’t do…it doesn’t write emails for you.
What it does do…it sets up a sequence of prewritten emails…that you (or someone else) have composed. Most autoresponders will add, automatically, the names of your subscribers, to your list. It will send your prewritten emails in a time frame that you designate to people that have given you permission to send them emails.
This allows you to educate and persuade them about the benefits of your product or service. Did you know that the average buyer purchases after being told seven times about a product? So, unless you only have one or two customers, and a great “to do” list on your calendar, doesn’t it just make sense to use an autoresponder to make sure your invitations keep coming until your prospect is truly ready to take action?
Online marketers know that having a list is crucial to success. They also know that once you have a list, you need to do something with it. Like…sending quality emails with valuable information, not product hype, with easy purchase or ‘get more information here’ links.
To do this means choosing a reliable autoresponder in order to increase sales on your website and to allow you to provide valuable information and updates to your prospects and customers. The good news about sequential autoresponders is that most of them are relatively inexpensive. And, there are a few free ones. I recommend, however, that you choose a paid service, or buy software.
The free programs send a limited number of emails, and then, in order to expand your service, you have to upgrade. If you really can’t afford to pay for a monthly autoresponder or buy the software, you can start with a free service. Keep in mind, however, its limitations.
Here are a couple of free sequential autoresponders:
- SendFree is a free service. It carries partner ads that will be included on every email it sends on your behalf. It does have an upgrade, of course, so you can try it, and if you like it, you can upgrade.
- ConstantContact is free…from 0 to 50 emails. After that, you’ll pay.
- FreeAutobotis also free…up to 500. However, it has no export facility so your list management, and ability to change autoresponder providers is essentially nill.
There are other free autoresponders, and certainly the list has grown in the last few years. If your budget is really limited, or you just want to try out the use of autoresponders, this is a good way to start.
If you’re ready, however, to get serious about your email marketing campaign, here are a few sequential email autoresponders that are affordable and have demonstrated their reliability.
- Aweber. This autoresponder has been around for over ten years, and advertises 99.34% email delivered…that’s pretty impressive. It’s the autoresponder I’m currently using, and I’m certainly a satisfied customer. They charge a monthly fee, have templates, unlimited autoresponders, and tracking services are included.
- GetResponse. A newer entry into the autoresponder service, GetResponse, in addition to unlimited autoresponders, also does follow-ups, messages, lists, broadcasts and email campaigns. They also have a large number of templates.
- Omnistar Mailer. Rather than a monthly fee, this PHP-based software is available for a one-time purchase price of $287 for a single license to sell unlimited emails. Their customer testimonials describe a large and well-satisfied base, who find the software and programs easy to install and easy to use.
What I’ve described is only a small sample of what is available. Before you choose, decide what features are most important for you and your business, then look for comparative reviews. The key elements that I think are critical, regardless of your company’s size, are the autoresponder’s reputation, deliverability/reliability, tracking tools, and expense.
Match your needs with your requirements in those areas, and you’re sure to find an email autoresponder that can help you build your business exponentially.