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Are you using the power of the autoresponder?

I was in a business development meeting yesterday with one of my clients discussing the email marketing programme that we are going to develop for them.  The course of the conversation turned to prospect engagement through emails.  As part of this conversation we started talking about using autoresponders as a way of building relationships and also as a way of encouraging people to sign up to her list.  It quickly became clear, that she wasn’t familiar with autoresponders and how to use them effectively and I suspect she’s not alone.  So here is my quick guide to using autoresponders as a marketing tool.

Autoresponder definition

An autoresponder is a series of emails that you send to people who sign up to a list.  It saves a tremendous amount of time by completely automating the process of communicating with your subscribers. You usually set up an autoresponder using a remote email provider (the two leading ones at the moment seem to be aweber and Mailchimp which is free for the first 500 subscribers on your list) .  Once you add the content and the frequency that you would like the emails to go out, the software handles it from there.  

Why use autoresponders

The marketing gurus out there tell us that it takes 7 – 12 ‘touches’ to convert a prospect to a sale.  These touches can take many forms from seeing your brand on the internet, in a newspaper or magazine, meeting you at a networking event and receiving regular emails as just a few.  The advangtage of using an autoresponder is that it gives you the opportunity to create those touch points yourself and what’s even better, is that they have asked to receive them!  They help you keep in touch with your subscribers by giving them relevant information that will help them but is also related to your business.

Using autoresponders to build relationships

Many people think that autoresponders are the domain of those spammy websites that want to sell you expensive internet marketing programmes, but the reality is that they can be an incredibly powerful tool for all types of business.   The trick, as with any conversational marketing tool, is to add value.  Adding value does not mean telling people all about the product or service that you offer over 5 different emails.  Adding value means helping your customer / client with a problem that is causing them so pain, fulfilling a promise, answering a question, or sharing your knowledge or expertise.   The chances are they have signed up to your autoresponder because they think it is going to help them.

You now have a way to prove how fantastic you are.  This is no time to be stingy, give them some of your best stuff as it will keep them coming back for more.   The more value you give to people through your email marketing and autoresponders, the more likely they will want to open your email and read what you have to say.  And each of those emails is an opportunity to build your credibility and expertise.

What to look for in an autoresponder service

Deliverability: If you send too many emails via your own domain provider, you will get blacklisted.  Black listing is what stops your emails from getting into people’s inboxes.  It’s therefore really important that you choose an autoresponder provider that has high deliverablity rates.

Double opt-in: A double opt-in is when someone enters their details and receives and email where they need to confirm that they want to opt-in.  The advantage of this is that you can be certain that the person who has signed up REALLY wants to receive your emails.  It will result in a slightly lower opt-in rate and will also mean that you can’t manually add people to your list, but it will definitely increase your open rates.

Multiple emailings per month for no additional cost: It’s much easier to pay a fixed fee for your email campaigns rather than pay per campaign.  Most email companies will base this on your subscriber list with the price going up once you reach specific numbers of subscribers

Reporting: The magic of email marketing for me is all about the reporting.  You’re able to see how many people have opened your email, what links they have clicked, and time of day.  This type of information is invaluable in determining what is useful to your list and what they are interested in.

List importing: Some email providers need you to prove that people have already double opted in to your list before they will allow you to bring your list in.  While this is very worthy, it can mean that you lose a lot of your existing subscribers.

Support:  What kind of support do they have ie telephone / email.  How responsive are they.  Do they have video or online tutorials.  Do they run webinars or teleseminars.  What are people saying on Twitter (this has been one of my recent  ways for finding out the latest on different services or products).

Three thougths to leave you with

Make sure you do your research before you commit and it take time and effort to set your autoresponders up and you probably don’t want to do it twice.

Make sure that you review the effectiveness of your autoresponder campaign so that you can tweak it to be more effective.

Add value, add value, add value with your autoresponder and keep them coming back for more.

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About the author: Julie Hall is the founder of Springmedia, a web design and web marketing agency and Women Unlimited, this site that you are reading now!  I hope you like this article and please let me know how you get on with your autoresponder!

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2 Comments
  1. Karan Dennis says

    Thank you for such an excellent article Julie, you have opened my eyes and taught me a great deal – thanks!

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