Auto-Responder Basics

auto respondersWhen you’re dealing with lots of automated correspondence, nothing can substitute an auto-responder. But there’s much more to a good auto-responder than just replying to mails.

An autoresponder can be used to build and maintain a mailing list (a simple membership site!), pitch special offers to members and even perform certain conditional functions. A good autoresponder will alos help you put together your lead-capture pages, followup emails, distribute your free gifts, carry out scheduled mailouts – and will keep track of a virtually unlimited number of campaigns (and individual members) for you.

Knowing this, a choice of the “right” autoresponder is very important. Some marketers insist that this is the single most important weapon you’ll ever have in your IM arsenal.

Some autoresponders are free, but the really good ones are almost always subscription-based. My favorite is aWeber, but there are other excellent ones out there as well (see further below).

Here’s a typical (very simple) flow you’ll encounter on many marketing sites:

  1. Landing page, requesting a signup (opt-in form) in exchange for a free gift
  2. Email confirmation
  3. Thank you email along with the free gift
  4. Pitch page, offering a great product, linked to PayPal or other online bank – or to ClickBank
  5. Upon payment, thank you email along with a link to the download page
  6. Regular (monthly?) followup and special offers

That’s the essence of what an autoresponder will do for you, once you’ve set it up. This is what they mean by an “auto-pilot income” on the web. They only way that’s possible is if you have an autoresponder!

Here are six tips you should use whenever you write an autoresponder email series:

  1. Make it simple. Don’t bother with complicated HTML emails and fancy graphics. Although these can fair well at times, unless you are an expert it is likely most people will not see your message like you want them to. Plain old text email messages can be just as effective today as they ever were. Whenever I see an HTML email I usually assume it’s a commercial message from a company or it’s spam. Many people also have HTML turned off in their email software, so to be safe, K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple Stupid.
  2. Personalize it. Whenever possible use the recipients name in your subject and the email itself. A persons name is music to their ears. If you use it you will get better results and build a closer relationship with your reader. Even if they know your emails are automated that extra touch of using the readers name can make a big difference.
  3. Send those emails! There’s no limit to how many emails you can send to someone and the more you send the more you will sell. Just make sure to spread the emails out so you are not bothering your readers too often and make sure the emails are relevant. A good rule of thumb is to include at least seven email messages in every follow-up series you write and spread them out over 10 to 21 days. You can even set up the same recurring email to be sent out every few months just to remind your readers about you.
  4. Test & Proof-read. Yes, you should test your autoresponder and make sure that it is being sent out on time. Sign up for your own autoresponder series so you can receive your messages just like your subscribers will. You should also have your entire email series proofread by a professional. If you cannot afford a professional at least have someone look over your series for grammar and basic errors. Run a spell checker over your email messages as well.
  5. Honor all removal requests. To avoid spam complaints you should ALWAYS honor the request of anyone that wishes to be removed from your autoresponder. Also make sure you include a link in every email that makes it easy for someone to remove themselves from your list. No, it’s no fun to see subscribers leave, but if they don’t want your email anyway it’s really doing neither you nor the subscriber any good.
  6. Go Professional! Use a professional autoresponder service or software. Doing so will help increase your email delivery rate by getting past spam filters, provide you with many useful and flexible options, as well as allow you to back up your email list. I recommend aWeber but AutoResponsePlus is also a popular alternative. aWeber is a hosted solution that is run by the company and you pay a monthly fee in order to use it. AutoResponse Plus is a software/script that you install on your website in order to run your autoresponder. Both are good and provide different options depending on what you are looking for. If you are not an experienced webmaster or marketer I recommend starting with aWeber.
  7. Do NOT put all your eggs in one basket. Sign up for at least 2 different LEADING autoresponder services so that when one fails, you have a back-up plan. This will ensure that your business is not interrupted, especially since autoresponders play a VERY CRUCIAL role in our online business.
    1. Selected free autoresponders
      1. Free AutoBot
      2. EasyResponders
      3. Responders.net
      4. SendFree
      5. 123Response
    2. Selected autoresponder scripts
      1. AutoResponsePlus
      2. AlstraSoft AutoResponder Pro
      3. Followup AutoResponder Basic
      4. PLX AutoResponder
      5. SendStudio
    3. Selected commercial autoresponders
      1. aWeber (most highly recommended – it’s YOUR business: don’t skimp on the autoresponder!)
      2. GetResponse
      3. 1stAutoResponders
      4. SmartAutoResponder
      5. 1ShoppingCart (also a shopping cart system)
      6. DirtCheap AutoResponder

So there you have it, six tips to increase your autoresponder profits. It doesn’t take much to start your own autoresponder except a little time. Remember, with an autoresponder you are not limited to selling your own product, you can endorse and promote any related affiliate product or service to increase profits even further!

(partial source)

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