Ok so first things first.
This is probably not going to be one of the most fun parts and it going to take you a few 30 minute sessions to get this one right.
But believe me you want to get this one right, or as right as possible before you go to far into collecting email addresses.
I speak from experience I lost my first autoresponder account with the free service MailChimp because I did not pay attention to their terms of service.
So I speak from experience spend the time it takes to get this decision right from the beginning, it will save you a lot of lost time and frustration.
But first lets start with what an email autoresponder is;
So I am sure you have asked for information online about a product or service, or signed up for an e-list or group membership somewhere on the Internet, and received a nearly instantaneous response in your e-mail inbox, right?
Yep you guessed it that was an autoresponder program that was responsible for delivering the reply to you at the speed of the Internet.
Simply put, autoresponders are e-mail programs that send out a preset message in response to every incoming e-mail received.
Some autoresponders, like sign-up services for e-groups and forums, are one-shot deals: a single response for every message received.
Just about every Internet-based company uses autoresponders for a variety of purposes, from automating tasks that would otherwise take up hundreds of man-hours to building lists and tracking prospective leads.
Autoresponders that have what are called follow-up series or campaigns will send a series of messages to received e-mail addresses on a predetermined, timed basis.
For example, this type of autoresponder can be used to send an instant response, then a follow-up message three days later, then another five days after that, and so on.
It can be programmed to send a message a day, one per week, twice monthly, or any interval that satisfies the purpose of the message series.
Today if you buy a cloud based autoresponder you will get this functionality it will just be a different interface depending on which provider you choose. Here is an example from my Aweber account:
Autoresponders are the most powerful Internet marketing tools available and will be the core of your online business, so as I said before you want this to be a decision that takes you a bit of time to make sure you have laid out all the things you need it to do for your business.
Because all autoresponders are not the same.
Some of the most popular platforms that can handle most everything that you will need:
From this list you can tell there are a ton of email marketing platforms out there for you to choose from.
So as I said this will take you a few 30 minute sessions because you should dedicate a day or two to researching each one, comparing features and pricing, and determine which one is best for your business.
But with that said once you do decided on which one to use, they are easy to use, and once they’re set up the entire marketing process is automated and instant.
When you use autoresponders, your business runs itself 24 hours a day.
Again launching an effective autoresponder campaign can mean the difference between a struggling business and a wildly successful one.
Once you’ve chosen an autoresponder service, it’s time to start thinking about email marketing strategies, but lets not get ahead of ourselves...
Here are some ideas and questions around what you should be looking for and asking yourself when making this important decision:
It is always best to choose an autoresponder platform that lets you retain some level of control over your marketing campaign.
If you are into affiliate marketing, for instance, you would need a platform that lets you send out emails without having to worry whether or not they approve or disapprove of your vendor or affiliate program.
So make sure you read the term of conditions for using their service and if any doubts call and talk to sales and/or support before paying for a subscription.
Customization is also an important factor in your choice of an autoresponder.
You should be able to determine how your emails look for your newsletter, e-zines, or transactional mails.
Branding lets you remain consistent and gives you an identity with your customers.
Think about the ease with which you can embed calls to action, images, and the likes in your messages.
Other important factors in your choice would be deliverability, reliability and scalability.
You should find your chosen platform easy to use so you do not have to struggle with every action.
If you run an ecommerce website, you need a platform that integrates well with your store – Shopify, Magneto, etc., and that lets you promote your products easily.
Set up and integration are top considerations for the beginning marketer, while the more advanced marketer might pay more attention to email marketing tools and other functionalities.
The cost of the platform must be such that you are able to profit from your email marketing campaign.
For some more advanced marketers with a lot of technical knowledge and/or can afford a programmer for mail integration and customization via some providers rich API (Application Programming Interface) which can be a good thing to have it is just out of the scope of this post.
If uncertain, feel free to play around with platforms that offer free trials to find out if they have what you need.
Remember, the goal of your email marketing campaign is to get your mails into the inbox of your subscribers and get them to act.
If it doesn’t make it as far as the inbox, then your campaign efforts are all for naught and it all comes to a halt, before it even begins.