An autoresponder is a “must have” internet marketing tool

f you’re serious about internet marketing and want to create a thriving on-line business you’ll need to learn how to use an autoresponder or some kind of autoresponder service.

In this article we’ll explain the basic facts about autoresponders and help you get started on using one.

What are autoresponders?

If you use the internet frequently you have probably received messages from an email autoresponder at some stage although you may not have been aware of it. These autoresponder messages can either be short welcoming messages or alerts or longer emails such as reviews and newsletters. They are called autoresponders because no human intervention is required to make them work. They perform their allocated tasks based upon pre-determined schedules and rules.

Here are some examples of events which might automatically trigger an email autoresponse:

  • Sending an email to a particular mail inbox (perhaps requesting information)
  • Entering information (including an email address) into a form on a website
  • Clicking a web hyperlink on a website such as Facebook (the link will automatically pick up your Facebook address and trigger an autoresponse.
  • The email auto-responder response you get will be specific to your request. For example, information on a particular product or specific to a particular situation (e.g. recipient away from office).

How long have autoresponders been around?

Autoresponders have been around for well over ten years. They were developed by email marketing companies with very large email address databases. These companies wanted to be able to identify incorrect and blocked email addresses so they developed software which would automatically send return messages to a sender when emails couldn’t be delivered. These email addresses could then be removed from the address database because they were no longer useful for marketing campaigns.

The software these companies developed became the basis for the very sophisticated email autoresponder software which exists today which is used by all sorts and sizes of company.

Now that email autoresponders are so widely available , it’s no longer considered acceptable for a business not to respond promptly to an email.  An autoresponder can be used to send an immediate response to any incoming email informing the sender that the message has been received and that a response will be on its way shortly (hopefully with one or two days)

The first autoresponder software packages were very expensive and only used by large companies. Nowadays, autoresponders are inexpensive enough to be used by even the smallest companies and are sophisticated enough to enable any company to automate lots of areas where electronic communication is an important part of the business.

It’s foolish to ignore the benefits autoresponders can bring, and very important for every small business to learn how to use one.

Types of autoresponder

Before we can start talking about how to use an autoresponder we need to explain the two different types;

  • Application service provider email autoresponders
  • Own server email autoresponders

Application server autoresponders

An application server (ASP) autoresponder is one in which the autoresponder software is hosted on the computer of an autoresponder services supplier. In this instance no software needs to be loaded onto your own computer because the supplier gives you access to the software through a screen control panel.

This panel can be used to carry out a wide variety of different tasks such as:

  • setting up emails
  • defining triggering events and dates
  • creating autoresponder web forms
  • managing email databases.

You can get a good idea about how this type of autoresponder works by signing up for a $1 trial with aWeber, one of the most popular ASP suppliers. Typical monthly costs for an ASP service are around $10 to $15.

Here’s an introductory video from aWeber on how to use an autoresponder as an ASP service:

[imaioVideo v=1]

Own server autoresponders

As the name suggests an own-server email autoresponder is one that works on your own server. This could be your own PC or a home server, or a server provided by the company that hosts your internet services. In this case you are responsible for loading and managing the autoresponder softwaeWhen you decide to use an own-server autoresponder you are responsible for installing and operating the auto-responder software.

The basic features of this type of autoresponder software are very similar to the ASP software. The main difference is that you won’t get the comprehensive back-up and support you get from an ASP supplier. Own-server autoresponder software is generally purchased outright. Costs can vary from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars.

Two good examples of own server autoresponders are Elite Autoresponder and WP Autoresponder (a very versatile and feature-rich WordPress autoresponder plugin).

Watch the video below to see what’s involved in setting up WP Autoresponder:

[imaioVideo v=2]

Examples of how to use an autoresponder

Now that you know what autoresponders are and have an idea on how to use an autoresponder you’ll find it useful to see some examples of email autoresponders in action.

These examples will give you some ideas about how autoresponders can be used on your own website.

1. Responding to visitors to your website

The objective here is to collect details of website visitors. To do this use your autoresponder services to create and install a form on one or more of the pages on your website and then create an email welcoming visitors. This email will be sent automatically when they have completed and submitted the web form containing their personal details.

At the same time the autoresponder email is sent the name and address details of the responder will be entered into a database on the server.

If your visitor has completed the form in order to receive a free report which you’ve offered then you can use your autoresoponder to set up a special page with a download link. This special page is accessed through a hyperlink in the autoresponder email. The “Social Media Report” on this website is a good example of this sort of application.

2. To collect email addresses for a database

The objective here is to build your own email database of prospective customers from a larger database that you might have rented or purchased.

To achieve this include a promotional hyperlink (e.g. click here to get a report/more details) in the emails you send out. When clicked this hyperlink will send an autoresponder email containing the requested information or a link to a download site. At the same time the responders email address will be added to the email database.

3. To set up a subscription to a series of newsletters

The objective here is to create database of subscribers for a series of newsletters. To do this set up an autoresponder web-form which collects the email addresses of website visitors interested in receiving newsletters from you over a specified period of time (generally one every 4/5 days).

Autoresponders are powerful business-building tools

I hope this article has demonstrated that auto-responders can be very powerful tools for building a business (internet or otherwise). It should be a priority of yours to learn how to use an autoresponder if you want to create real growth in your business.

A good way to get started is to sign up for the Aweber trial. You can always do a thorough survey of available autoresponders and autoresponder services once you have learned the basics of how to use an autoresponder.

And if you’ve found this article useful make sure you read our other articles on Marketing Ideas for Small Business.


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