An autoresponder for eMail marketing, a key Internet marketing strategy, is one of the most important tools for any online business. Autoresponders automatically send messages to your prospects when they opt-in to receive information. An autoresponder also manages your ‘list’ (of prospects). The better autoresponders may include additional resources such as templates to create forms and some level of training.
There are some important considerations when deciding which one to use, as autoresponders are not all created equal. It is vital that your autoresponder service has a good reputation with ISPs (Internet service providers) so that your mail will be more likely to be delivered. A reputable autoresponder company will diligently enforce the legal regulations about not using the system to send unsolicited advertising (“spam”). They technically are not legally allowed to permit spammers from using their system. Because the law applies to them as well, they will go so far as to remove anyone who compromises their business as well as the other users ability to use the system effectively.
Autoresponder’s document the date, time and IP address when people opt-in to your list. If someone accuses you of sending them ‘unsolicited advertising’ (spam), you can prove that they did in fact request you to send them information. It is imperative that you can document your opt-ins as this will protect you and your reputation. This is very important as you can suddenly lose your autoresponder account (without refund), and depending on how numerous the complaints, you can lose your domain name and even your hosting account. No business wants to be associated with spammers whether done through bad judgement or ignorance of the law.
Some autoresponders have the option of having a double-opt-in system. This means that after the person inputs their name and email address on your web form, to “opt-in”, that the first message sent will be a confirmation message that includes a link the recipient needs to click to confirm that they do wish to receive messages from you. The system may be such that if potential subscribers don’t respond to the confirmation message, nothing further will be sent. In other cases the autoresponder may re-attempt sending the confirmation message usually one more time.
Another important consideration is the unsubscribe function. The ICANN anti-spam law indicates that you must include a way for people to ‘opt-out’ if they change their mind or for any reason do not want to receive mail from you. This is usually done by including a link at the bottom of each message. Others may ask you to reply and type “Remove me” in the subject. It is very important that this operation functions correctly and that the person is immediately removed from your active list.
When purchasing an autoresponder service, there are various options. The costs may vary. Usually they will have a free trial period, and/or can be free for a maximum number of subscribers or messages. There is usually one fee for each level of service, for example $xx for up to 500 subscribers and $xxx for 1000 and so-forth. Some may also sell leads which are usually an optional extra cost. This may be a good place to buy leads if you do that, as they are usually already confirmed (double-opt-in) so they go straight to your list and begin receiving your messages.