Autoresponders - Your Number One Marketing Tool
By Charles Hopkins
Published 06/1/2006 | Marketing
One of the key tools for anyone wanting to do business on the World Wide Web is an autoresponder. It also is one of the most misunderstood tools among those new to the effort and sometimes even for those who have been online for many years.
In its simplest form, autoresponders allow you to create a fixed message that will go back to anyone who e-mails a specific address. The most common use for this is the Im away from my office until 29 May and will not be checking my e-mail until I return type of message. Messages of this type can be created within the control panel of most ISP e-mail servers.
Autoresponders are far more versatile, however. Even the basic autoresponder that comes with your e-mail account can be set up to send a document or photo, even an audio or video file to anyone contacting that address. This is the most basic form of using an autoresponder for delivering a product, but it is not recommended for products you are selling because of the lack of control. Basically, whatever you are selling will be delivered to anyone sending an e-mail to that address whether they paid for it or not.
Third party autoresponders provide the kind of control needed for a marketing or sales application. The good news is there are a number of excellent autoresponders that can be used at no charge. Those that do have a fee whether a one-time purchase fee for a system you set up on your own server or a monthly/yearly fee for one you access online typically are well within the budgets of nearly anyone trying to do business online.
Perhaps even better news is that autoresponders are not difficult to set up, even those that offer several levels of capability across a broad range of possible applications. The largest and most popular autoresponders often come with tutorials some of them video that walk you through the set-up process step-by-step. Many also have user forums or support systems that will help you if you get stuck.
The possible uses for an autoresponder at this level are legion. For example, you can set one up to send out a newsletter to your mailing list on a regular basis, another to send e-mails advising your list of special sales, upgrades, new releases or other such information. Still another autoresponder can deliver your digital product, along with future patches or upgrades.
These different tasks actually can be set up using a single autoresponder, even a single account, depending on the capabilities of the system you have selected. Many of the free autoresponders allow you to upgrade to a fee-based version, with far more capabilities, without losing anything you already have created.
Anyone who thinks they may someday want to have a mailing list or sell any kind of product especially digital, such as downloadable software or e-books should make investigating autoresponders one of their first and most important tasks. The more you know about them in advance, the more prepared you will be to quickly and efficiently get your business online.