An introduction to Autoresponders | WebReference

An introduction to Autoresponders

An introduction to Autoresponders

By Alex Perez-Prat

If you've reached the point of exhaustion trying to keep up with answering mountains of email, you're ready to learn about autoresponders.

The bad news is people expect prompt replies to their email inquiries, but unless you can work 24 hours a day, or hire enough people to constantly monitor incoming emails (while they're eating up your revenue), you have a problem. The good news is an autoresponder is an inexpensive - or even free - method of quickly (and automatically) responding to emails as soon as they're received.

There are many reasons why you need an autoresponder (besides just answering your email). For example, autoresponders can be used if you need a way to send information about your services or products, pricelists, or if many customers ask the same questions. Maybe you want to offer your site visitors a special bonus of some kind, such as advice or relevant articles. All of this can be handled by an autoresponder. Additionally, you can advertise your business and build stable customer relationships over time.

Autoresponder programs vary from software that runs with your email program to a specialized script that runs on your Web hosting company's server. This script could use a Web page form or simply operate with your email account. This script is programmed to send out a standardized message whenever an email is received and is sent to a particular script or email address.

Some autoresponders can do more than simply send out standardized messages. They can send out an unlimited number of followup messages sent at predetermined interval of time. For example, you can set your autoresponder to send out a new message every day for as long a period as you desire.

There are numerous companies who offer autoresponders free of charge. Some hosting companies provide autoresponders as a free service. If this isn't the case with your Web provider, there are numerous companies who offer this service for a small fee, or free of charge, providing you attach an advertisement for their company to your emails.

To personalize your autoresponder messages, you can attach a signature, which are similar to a business card. You can include your name, company, all of your contact numbers and addresses, and a brief message. It's a good idea to attach a signature to every email that is sent out. This works as a reminder of your business identity every time a customer sees it. The more they look at your signature, the more likely your company will spring to mind when your particular service or product is needed.

You can create a standardized signature that every employee in your business uses, or you can go wild, and let every staff member create their own personal signature. Of course, like everything in life, there are some rules and guidelines when creating a signature. Keep the length of your signature between four to six lines of text, with no more than 70 characters in a single line. Make sure that your email program does not cut off your text! The content should include your name, your company name, your email address, fax number, and any other contact details, such as 800 numbers. Lastly, always include a short personal message about your company. It should be a subtle sell of your services or your products, and possibly your company's reliability and longevity.

Another specialized use of autoresponders is to create courses that you can then offer your site visitors for free. As an example, choose a topic in which you are an expert and that precisely targets your potential customers. Once you have carefully chosen your subject, divide it into a number of different sub-topics. Then offer your site visitor a free 10 or 15 day course, with each message offering a different sub-topic. The first topic should be a welcome message to your site visitor and an explanation about what is to follow. Your explanation should been enticing, getting the point across that you are offering free, quality information that your target audience will find of great value. With every lesson, include the number of the lesson, the topic title, information about your company and its services or products. At the end, include a few blurbs about the next lesson to entice the subscriber to continue on.

Make sure each topic is packed with essential and valuable information, and leaves the visitor lusting to know more. Otherwise, you may lose them at the very beginning.

Of course, you have to create your course before you can offer it. Once you have done this, and gone over the material carefully, employing a professional writer or editor if necessary, before transferring the course to your autoresponder. Here are a number of free autoresponders you can use:

Another option is to visit Google and you'll find a long list of free autoresponder companies. Then sign up for your chosen autoresponder. Once you do, you will receive instructions as to how to set it up and transfer your text.

Autoresponders are an effective and powerful marketing tool, allowing you to make contact with thousands of potential customers. This is an invaluable asset considering how many potential customers you usually have contact with before you make an actual sale. A big benefit of using an autoresponser is automating part of your marketing campaign.

About The Author

For more information, contact Alex Perez-Prat at: Workwithoutboss.com You can write to him directly at: app_owner@workwithoutboss.com.

Created: March 27, 2003
Revised: December 21, 2006

URL: http://webreference.com/authoring/autoresp/1