Email autoresponders have been around on the internet for almost as long as it’s been in existence.
But what do they do and why should you use them?
At their simplest, autoresponders can just be set on your regular email account to say you’re out of the office or whatever other message you care to send.
Much like you’ve got some kind of pre-recorded message on your phone to handle calls when you’re not able to take them.
But, for affiliate marketers, that’s not really enough.
You’re almost certainly on a number of email lists that are handled by an autoresponder.
Some of the messages were written a while ago, others may have only been written quite recently.
The messages that were written a while ago are sent out in sequence. It’s a lot easier for a computer to do this than it is for you to keep track of when a person first expressed an interest in your niche and regularly sending them the next message in the sequence.
Autoresponders can be used for lots of different things:
- Drip feeding content to warm up potential buyers – usually with emails you wrote once, maybe ages ago, that then get sent out on a regular basis
- Building up to an event or a launch of some sort. If you’ve ever had messages that say only X days to go, where X gets smaller with each passing day, you’ve probably been on an autoresponder list
- Reminding people of deadlines – some offers really stop, others (like furniture shop sales) have a false deadline imposed, others are things like Christmas and Easter where our calender forces a deadline
- Sending different messages to different people depending on where they are in the buyer sequence. This isn’t something I’m particularly good at but almost any autoresponder can be given rules to follow so that when someone buys a particular product they’re moved from (say) a general list to a more specialised one
- Sending out “broadcast” messages to people on your list – all of it or certain parts of it
They’re a really useful tool for marketers. Even if your niche is a fairly one-off sale (think cars, houses, that kind of thing) you can use these lists to keep in touch with the majority of people who don’t buy something immediately and keep them as warm prospects.
Choosing your autoresponder company is an important decision – it’s not particularly easy to change companies as they all have their own rules about how you gathered customer emails in the first place – usually by a form that the autoresponder company help you create.
One thing to beware of is anything that’s free or has a “lifetime” payment.
Free can be OK if there’s an upgrade plan, otherwise how does the company make enough money to provide the service they’re offering.
A lifetime fee sounds attractive but there are a lot of ongoing costs running an autoresponder. So if you paid your money, say, a year ago then where will the firm get the money to keep running the service? To which the answer is “probably nowhere” and they’re likely to vanish.
The company I use is Aweber. They’ve been around as long as I can remember and they work hard behind the scenes to make sure your emails get through, rather than ending up in a spam or junk folder.
They’re not perfect – no company is – but their help is pretty good and there are enough tutorials to help you through even the trickiest setups.
Like most email autoresponder companies, their charges get higher as you get more people on your lists. And you can have lots of different lists to segment buyers as your business grows.
They also have a lot of reports – number of new subscribers, how far people are into the sequence, whether or not a particular email was “opened” (in common with other companies, that’s not an exact science, more a best guess on the part of their system), etc.
They also offer a free trial so you can see how everything works.