November 16, 2005Volume 4 Number 46 Issue 81
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Autoresponders - Part Two

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Autoresponders - Part Two

Choosing an Autoresponder

Quick Autoresponder Overview

An autoresponder is an emailing program that is designed to collect emails and then send out a series of pre-written emails to the subscriber list on a schedule that you pre-define.

The value in this is that you can offer freebies, information, and "soft-sell" to your potential customers over time. It's a known marketing fact that it takes an average of seven (7) contacts with a potential customer to turn them in to a customer (for tough decision type of items). So, an autoresponder lets you follow-up 3, 5, 7, 10, or more times without having to manually keep up with it all.

Automation is the key to success of any online venture, so an autoresponder would, therefore, be central to any successful online campaign. That's not to say that without an autoresponder, you can't succeed. But, an autoresponder in most cases will make any campaign significantly more effective.

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What to look for in an Autoresponder

As with website hosts there are very many options to choose from when selecting the appropriate autoresponder. There are a few things that you will want to look for when choosing your autoresponder.

  • Personalization features. This will allow you, when emailing your list of subscribers, to address them by their actual names. Doing this will actually increase the amount of sales you make for a recommendation as the customer feels more like a person when they are addressed by their actual name.
  • List Handling Size - When your list grows beyond a few thousand readers, you do not want to find that your autoresponder cannot handle all of your customers in one run. It is important that you pick an autoresponder that you will not outgrow, or at least one that provides an easy migration path to a bigger, better, stronger, faster service.
  • Multiple delivery - My first autoresponder would reply to one email from a customer, by returning one. There was no ability to deliver a series of emails for a course or other multi-part series. We currently use our autoresponder to send out The Great Ideazine every week. By pre-loading the content, we do not need to worry that it will go out on time in the correct sequence. It also has the ability to send out a solo email piece that contains important advertising material. You are going to want to be able to send that message to all of your subscribers at the same time.
  • Export ability - This is crucial if you want to manage and maintain your list. You can cut your list in half and use split runs to test two different versions of an ad, or send out ads for totally different products to only parts of your list, etc. Storing your list off site can be a lifesaver if your provider disappears as some have done, of if you ever want to change autoresponder providers. Without the ability to export your list, that list of your names is stuck with your provider regardless of how poor their service may be.
  • Hosting - As Ed Sullivan used to say the r-e-a-l-l-y big decision you will have to make is whether you want your autoresponder to be run from your own website or remotely hosted. Remotely hosted just means that your autoresponder will work from someone else's website rather then your own. There are good and bad points to remote hosting.

After looking at the pros and cons of remote hosting compared to locally hosting, as summarized in the table below, we have opted for hosting our own autoresponders.


Local Host Remote Host
Cost one time purchase recurring cost in cash, or by allowing the remote host to insert ads
Control absolute at the mercy of the remote host
Look and feel your domain will appear on emails sent from your autoresponder the remote host's domain will show on your emails
Ability to change you own the names, you own the autoresponder, you decide what happens you own the names, but you may not be able to extract them if you wish to make a change
Simple to Install varies with product chosen not your problems
User Interface varies with product chosen subject to "improvement" at any time
Full featured depends on product chosen depends on remote host product

Personally, I think that if you are going to do something, do it right. Host your autoresponder on your own website.

The most appealing reason to host your autoresponder on your own website rather than a remote host is the look of your autoresponder emails. I can have an unlimited number of auto responders that end in the "@ideamerchant.com" address. The reason that is so appealing is that it matches my domain name address.

If I had a remotely hosted autoresponder I wouldn't even be able to have one address for my autoresponder that matched ideamerchant.com. It's a matter of clarity and professionalism for your potential subscribers.

Autoresponders can cost hundreds of dollars to buy, and just as much or more to rent. We are currently using IdeasUnlimited autoresponder that can be purchased for just $47. It does the job for us, or we wouldn't have bought it and become an authorized reseller!

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The IdeasUnlimited autoresponder comes with an easy to read set up and operation manual so getting things working properly shouldn't be much of a problem. This is a software package that you own. So, you'll never pay monthly fees.

Also if you can't set it up yourself, or don't want to, you can always pay a professional installer to do it for you for about $50 for the installation (recommended for the non-technical).

If you are just starting out and have to be really cautious about how much money you spend, remote hosting was a bit of an easier break on the old wallet, but not with the availability of the the IdeasUnlimited autoresponder for just $47.

Remote hosting can be cheaper than the $300 to $1,000 autoresponders pushed by the big guys, on a month to month basis, but in the long run it's more expensive and less effective. However, if you don't have the bucks to put up, and you aren't ready to use a responder like IdeasUnlimited (frankly, we can't think of a reason that you wouldn't) then remote hosting may be the way you want to go.

The best remote host I know of that has all the great features you want in a great autoresponder is GetResponse autoresponders (Yes, we are affiliates!). They have been around for as long as I can remember and that's because they offer a great service with good support.

warmly,

MrIdea
Jim Green

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