What is an email autoresponder?
A good example of the most basic email autoresponder is the “away from my office” message. This is when a person goes away and sets up an autoresponse message that sends a reply to every email received. The message is a common courtesy which explains why a personal reply email won’t be forthcoming yet. This demonstrates the principle of automatically sending an email in response to an action.
A fully-fledged Internet marketing system uses a more powerful autoresponder that can send multiple emails during set time intervals and in response to different actions. They can also be used to handle newsletters, mailing lists and subscriptions. Integration is seamless using a sign-up form on your website or an email address that your visitors can email to join a list.
A practical example
When a person submits their details via my website, they receive a confirmation email asking them to click a link to confirm their subscription (this is called ‘double opt-in’ and stops me from being accused of sending SPAM). Once they are confirmed a welcome email is sent saying hello. Twenty-four hours later another email is sent offering a special download audio file. Another three days later another email is sent directing them to an article and so on.
Each of these messages is personalised using the name of the subscriber and signing-off from me. All the messages are pre-set to come out at certain time intervals and create a natural dialogue with my subscribers. Even though the system is sending out every email automatically and handling all the communication it appears to be quite personal and consequently builds a relationship.
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Autoresponders are not too technical
You might be worrying about how technically difficult it is to work with autoresponders. Thankfully if you choose a good system you should get the hang of it within a few hours and there are always lots of help files and customer support staff you can call on if you get stuck.
My autoresponder of choice is called Aweber. It costs between $14 USD and $20 USD per month depending on how much you prepay. Aweber has been around for over five years and has the backing of hundreds of online businesses, including all of mine.
However that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look around. There are many different autoresponder services available, some that are specialist services like Aweber, others that you can install on your webhost or on your own computer. I strongly recommend you choose one of the specialist external services because they are specifically set up to send lots of email. If you try and send out broadcast email messages to hundreds of people using your own computers you may be accused of spamming or your mail may be blocked.
One of the most common ways to utilise an autoresponder is to distribute an e-course. An e-course is a fantastic way to build a relationship with your website visitors by teaching them something of value.
The first step to establish an e-course is to write it. Five to seven short (500 words each should be enough) sequential lessons written in plain text is all you need. As you have probably guessed what you are reading right now is part of an e-course, although you are reading it at a website and not through an email subscription. You take your lessons, put them into an autoresponder designed to send the lessons out once per day over a week and hey presto! – instant rapport building tool that demonstrates you know what you are talking about and provides real education to your eager students (potential customers).
Autoresponders + Website = Customer Relationships
Now you understand the basic formula for online marketing. You realise that the web presents an amazing opportunity to get customers. You understand that “just a website” is not good enough, you need to build a relationship and establish communication channels. Autoresponders are the tools you use to do this, providing an automated system that communicates with your website visitors automatically, selling value and creating rapport on your behalf.
The final ingredient necessary for successful online marketing is of course traffic. Without people visiting your website your online system can’t be put to use. In the next installment of this series I’ll teach you how to quickly get website visitors and not just any visitors, people that are actually looking for what you offer.
This article is part 3 of a series on Internet Marketing. Below are links to all 8 articles in the series:
Internet Marketing Part 1 – Its use as a business growth strategy
Internet Marketing Part 2 – Creating an effective business website
Internet Marketing Part 3 – Using email autoresponders
Internet Marketing Part 4 – How to use pay-per-click advertising
Internet Marketing Part 5 – Introduction to search engine optimisation (SEO)
Internet Marketing Part 6 – Search engine optimisation part 2
Internet Marketing Part 7 – The basics of blogging for business
Internet Marketing Part 8 – Breaking down technical skills barriers