What Is an Autoresponder and Why Should I Care? (Hint: It Affects Your Bottom Line)

This is the first of a series of posts dedicated to a technology called autoresponders. The idea here is to help you become familiar with what an autoresponder is, how they work, and how they make your life easier. On to the first post. Before I go any further you may see autoresponder spelled differently on different sites. It can be two words (i.e., auto responder); it can be hyphenated (i.e., auto-responder); or it can be a single, compound word (i.e., autoresponder). Search Wikipedia.com for autoresponder and you will see it as a single word. Search Dictionary.com for autoresponder as as single word and you won’t get a result at all. Neither will you for auto-responder or auto responder. Regardless of how you see it spelled, we are talking about the same technology. Furthermore, I will be using it as a single compound word, because that is how most people (and companies) use it. Perform a Google Search on the term, “autoresponder,” and you will see what I am talking about.What is an auto-responder, and why should I care? By definition, an autoresponder might seem like the easiest online technology to use. I mean, it does just what it says: responds automatically (to emails). Besides email, autoresponders are being incorporated into websites so website owners can easily manage subscriptions, posts, online orders, inquiries and electronic mailing lists (aka “lists” or “your list”.) The biggest claim to fame for the autoresponder is its ability improve and increase online sales and make online marketing efforts easier to manage on many different levels.The Autoresponder’s Early Days Whether or not you realize it, you have encountered an autoresponder at some point. Originally, it was a system that sent notifications when an email couldn’t be sent to the electronic address specified, even after many attempts. In these early cases, the autoresponder send a message (email) back the sender that his or her original message was not delivered. This message also included a few different reasons for the error. Have you ever received a “kick back” error because you sent and email to a wrong email address? Then you have encountered an autoresponder message.The Many Uses for the Autoresponder At it’s core, the autoresponder helps tackle several tasks that used to be done manually. No one sits in front of their computer all the time (except me! lol!). So you can’t answer messages as quickly or as often as you want. Even with smartphones and our always connected nature, it’s not possible to handle all of this electronic communication manually. The autoresponder helps build and maintain your relationships with existing clients and potential clients (aka: prospects) who are interested in your company, product, or service. Autoresponders also help answer repetitive questions. We tend to get tired quickly of answering the same question over and over. Want proof? Think about any 3 to 5 year old child that is told no to the request for ice cream or a puppy. They keep asking until they get the answer they want. Another classic example that everyone knows is, “Are we there yet?” Following where I am going with this? An autoresponder can provide answers automatically, without you having to answer from scratch every time. It makes you more efficient. Would you rather focus on income producing activities or responding to email questions about the various colors of your widgets?Simple and Complex Autoresponders Some autoresponders offer emails stating that the recipient cannot answer your email (out of office responses) and will get back to you as soon as they can. This type of autoresponse is also used acknowledge that your email or message was received, though not yet answered. Nowadays, autoresponders are much more intelligent. Timed responses time can be set and sent out at specific intervals. It can send one message or a hundred messages in a day, week, or month after the pre-written messages are added to the queue. In fact, autoresponders can be configured with years and years worth of messages that can be sent whenever you wish. With this level of intelligence companies can organize newsletters, responses, sales letters, and many other events far in advance and then schedule the messages to be sent at a specific time. Many companies now offer autoresponder services. Many business owners subscribe to such a service because they are flexible and offer month to month contracts that can easily be terminated if they are not needed any more. It’s always wise to check out a few different services before deciding on one for your needs. Some of the more popular services are:
GetResponse (getresponse.com)
AWeber (aweber.com
ConstantContact (constantcontact.com)
iContact (icontact.com)
MailChimp (mailchimp.com)
These are just a few of the services that I have personally tried over the years. I have finally settled on MailChimp and AWeber for my sites, lists, and campaigns. There are many that you can choose from, depending upon your needs. All of the above, with the exception of MailChimp are paid services that you can subscribe to. MailChimp doesn’t charge if you have no more than 2000 people on a list and are not sending more than 12,000 emails to them. Before joining any service, make sure you try out the service and ensure that the company is credible. Be smart out there and don’t go with just any autoresponder service because there is a very real danger that they are sending out spam messages or even worse, selling your email list to other companies. So do some research, call up these companies and ask them questions. If you have any questions about today’s lesson or need any other assistance, please feel free to contact me at anytime using my contact info below. I’m always happy to be of assistance. There will be more to go over in the next few days about how to use your selected autoresponder effectively for your business. Scan your inbox or RSS feed in the next few days so you can start your next lesson soon. The next topic will be focused on how to choose the right type of autoresponder service for your needs.Until then, Keep your Light shining Bright,Shawn