An autoresponder is a computer program that automatically answers e-mail sent to it. They can be very simple or quite complex. Autoresponders are often used as e-mail marketing tools, to immediately provide information to their prospective customers and then follow-up with them at preset time intervals. Autoresponders can be divided into two categories:
- Outsourced ASP model — these autoresponders operate on the provider’s infrastructure and are usually configurable via a web-based control panel. The customer pays a monthly usage fee. This is easiest to implement for the end-user.
- Server-side — enables users to install the autoresponder system on their own server. This requires technical skill.
How Does it Work?
1) A user submits an email address and receives a welcome email (most likely after a confirmation opt-in email).
2) One day after the signs up for the email list, customer receives the welcome email, the first of a series of “auto responders” is sent. This first email contains either the information or offer (or both) that the subscriber was interested in.
3) Following that, an average of ten to nineteen emails are automatically sent to the subscriber, most often with several days between each email send. The further the sequence gets, the longer the space between emails is. For example, within the first three or four auto responder emails, there may only be a day or two between each email send. However, as you get into the latter emails, it is common to leave a week between email sends so as not to encourage the subscriber to become frustrated and mark you as spam or unsubscribe from future mailings.
How to develop an auto responder program?
The first thing to do is to find an email marketing provider that supports autoresponder functionality. Then, when considering developing an autoresponder program, you’ll want to consider all of the following points:
- How many emails should be sent?
- What should be the time frame between sends?
- How should you balance useful content with solicitations for sales or offers?
- How do you minimize unsubscribe requests and spam complaints?
But the four concerns listed items above are unique to auto responder email programs.
There are five key best practices for auto responders that should be practiced.
1 Include the Auto Responder Name in the Subject Line:
Because you are sending multiple emails spaced out over multiple days, you always want to include the name of the auto responder program that your subscriber signed up for in the subject line so that they recognize you in the inbox.
2. Make Sure to Have Subscribers White List You:
Because auto responders run a higher risk of unsubscribe requests and spam complaints, be sure to ask users to add you to their contact list or address book in the first welcome email that they receive to help negate the chances that you will end up in their spam or junk folder.
3. Do Not Overdo Offers:
While the ultimate goal of your auto-responder program is to generate sales or revenue, too many offers can result in subscribers fleeing from your list early in the auto responder sequence. In fact Present offers contextually and don’t create auto-responders that look and feel like repeated direct sales emails.
4. Make Links Clear and Visible & Use Text Links:
Make sure that all links to your product purchasing pages are clear and visible. When possible, default to blue, underlined links for easy user recognition. Though in web design it is often unadvisable to use the words “click here” in a link, in email design it typically is more effective to use the words “click here”. Also Make sure that your links are text links and not image-based links as images may not appear in all emails.
5. Use Personalization Fields:
While always important in email marketing, because an auto-responder list cannot be easily segmented, be sure to use the features of your email marketing program, such as those at Comm100, that allow you to personalize fields within your auto responder email with the subscriber’s first name, handle, user name or other submitted information.
Auto responders present an excellent opportunity to create email marketing results with minimal effort after the initial build out. However, the key to success is to think through the process during the build out and to monitor the program carefully for the first several months in order to optimize it.