Email Autoresponders and Sequential Email

Email autoreponder software is a powerful lever to move your online business ahead.

Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.

Leverage. Using a tool to magnify a small effort into a large result. The Internet is a powerful leveraging tool. One person can spend a few hours creating a webpage and find hundreds or thousands of people around the world to read it and be influenced by it. And, as long as the page is online, it can continue to be discovered and read by new audiences – month after month, year after year.

Another powerful tool of the Internet age is the email auto-responder (also known as a sequential emailer.) With one, you can leverage the direct communication power of email with the set-it-and-forget-it cababilities of a webpage. You can use auto-responders to deliver a carefully constructed sequence of emails at precisely controlled intervals, with no human intervention.

Why Would You Want to Send Automated Sequential Emails?

There are a number of reasons to send out emails in this fashion.

Auto-Responders for Sales and Marketing

If you are marketing a product or service, you may already be aware that it can take 6 or 7 contacts with a potential customer before they make a purchase. It’s not easy to get someone to visit your website 6 or 7 times and you never know what pages they’ll choose to look at.

What if you could persuade this same visitor to sign-up for your 5 part email course or a series of special reports? These emails would teach them a little information aimed at answering the need that brought them to your site. But, in this case, you decide what messages they receive, what order they are delivered in, and how much time will pass between each email.

Step-by-step you will be demonstrating your expertise, building a relationship with your visitor, and creating the trust required to convert them from lookers to buyers. It’s like having an automated salesperson greeting everyone who expresses an interest in what you have to offer.

One well written sequence of emails can be leveraged, using an auto-responder, into hundreds or thousands of sales.

Auto-Responders for Content Delivery

Selling is not the only use for an auto-responder. It can also be the delivery mechanism for content you sell or give away. If you offer your visitors a daily inspirational message, or a reminder service, your auto-responder will deliver the goods. It is also an excellent way to deliver an educational course.

Other Uses for Auto-Responders

Another creative use that occurred to me is using your auto-responder to send blog updates when you are on vacation. Instead of posting the usual ‘on vacation’ message, letting the site go idle, or finding a guest blogger to fill in, write a special series of posts and load them into your auto-responder. Set the responder to deliver messages every day and then, when you get ready to leave, add your blog’s email posting address into the subscriber list. (Many blog software packages, like WordPress, allow you to submit posts via email.) Everyday a new entry will be posted to the site and your readers (and the search engines) will keep checking in for the latest updates.

You might also set one up to email your mother every year on her birthday, anniversary, and Mother’s Day! (Or at least email yourself a reminder to buy a card.) The Journal of Medical Internet Research even has the results posted about a study to “assess the feasibility of using sequential email messages to promote physical activity and increase fruit and vegetable intake among employed adults.”

I’m sure there are other creative ways to use an auto-responder. If you’ve got a clever one, leave a comment and share it.

Where Can You Get an Auto-Responder?

There are 3 ways to get an auto-responder. You can pay to use an auto responder service provided by a 3rd party, you can license a commercial software package and load it (or have it loaded) onto your server, or you can scour the open source community looking for free stuff and then tweak and customize it – guess which route I’ve chosen?

There are a number of companies who provide subscription based auto-responder services. They usually have a very rich set of features and are simple to use. GetResponse is one such company. Aweber and Intellicontact are 2 others. These companies often offer extended features like list splitting, campaign tracking, and click-through tracking. If you are looking to do sophisticated online marketing, the extra features and reduced technical maintenance requirements may be worth the monthly fees. GetResponse and Aweber both offer a free 30 day trial to let you test out the service before subscribing.
My Autoresponder Pro, SendStudio, and Follow-Up Mailing List Processor, all offer commercially licensed software that you can load onto your server and run yourself. Most of these packages offer plenty of features and are reasonably priced. If you have trouble with the installation, you can expect some level of technical support. The costs are usually pretty low and, if you know your way around your server, installation isn’t usually very tough.

Being the Go-To Guy, I like to hunt down open source solutions and customize them to my needs and whims (I’m even thinking about making my own software as a PHP/MySQL learning project!)

Open source means no fees, but also no guarantees and no tech support. I’ve found an open source package that I like called Infinite Responder! The interface isn’t beautiful to look at (it was designed by a programmer!!!) but it handles double opt-in sign-ups and unsubscribes, HTML and plain text email options, and multiple lists.

Installation was pretty simple (the developer will install it for you cheap if you need help.) I’m working on customizing the look of the interface to my liking and will post an video installation tutorial soon to guide folks through the installation process.

Want to see how Infinite Responder! works? Sign-up for my Web Business Building series and see it in action!

Andrew Seltz
The Go-To Guy

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