In the online marketing business people talk about ‘autoresponders’ a lot.  What exactly is one and what will it do for you?

To be accurate an autoresponder is a service or system that sends an automated message or series of messages when triggered by a specific event.  However, people tend to refer to the messages as ‘autoresponders’ too.

Why would you bother with a series of automated messages?  That’s easy – it saves you doing lots of manual work.  For example an automated message system is a great way to build relationships with people who:

  • Sign up to your newsletter
  • Download a free ebook from your website
  • Buy something from you
  • Join a group you run
  • Sign up for an ecourse
  • Subscribe to a membership site you own
  • Enquire about a product or service

When people have shown an interest in you and your products/services you’re missing an opportunity if they then don’t hear from you again.  No business owner has time to communicate directly with everyone on their lists individually – especially when that list runs to hundreds or thousands of people.

A good autoresponder set up to keep communications open is an excellent way to build the relationships and keep the ‘door’ open.

Where can you get an autoresponder?

Mostly these are a paid-for online service that you subscribe to.  The best known services include AWeber, GetResponse, MailChimp (not the free version), Constant Contact and Infusionsoft, but there are dozens.

Generally, you pay a fixed monthly fee based on the size of your total list.  This can be anything from about $15 (they’re mostly American sites and charge in dollars).  I use AWeber and pay $29 for up to 2,500 contacts.  The last time I did a comparison they were very close in price – apart from Infusionsoft, which offers many more services and is more complex – and correspondingly more expensive.

How do you set up a series of automated messages?

Whether you’re sending reminders, a series of tips, value based information or actual learning, you simply enter each message with its subject line and then specify how many days should elapse from the previous message.

Triggering the messages

Typically, the first message is sent when a new contact is added to the list – whether they are added manually or sign up on a web form (which most of these services also provide to add to your website).

What should the messages be about?

This is a bit like the ‘how long is a piece of string?’ question!

  • If someone signs up to your newsletter you might add value by sending a series of useful tips.
  • If someone has bought an ebook you could use ‘soundbites’ from the book to remind them of the key points.
  • If someone has bought something from you the messages could be tips related to the product or reminders about things to do following the service.
  • If someone is a member of a group you run then the messages could be reminders to visit the group, advice on how to get the best from the group, etc.
  • If someone buys a ecourse you can set up the autoresponders to deliver the modules at weekly/monthly intervals.
  • If someone has signed up to your membership site the message could be reminders to log in and advice on getting involved and benefiting from their membership.
  • If someone has enquired about a product or service the emails could be about specific features of this with benefits, plus the occasional testimonial.
  • If you’re running an event you could set up a series of autoresponders to your list reminding them about it and the benefits of attending.

The options are many – be creative and use the service to save you time and build strong relationships with potential customers.