" Email Newsletter: Do I Need An Autoresponder System "

By Henriette Martel-Lawson

This section is updated quite frequently.
Bookmark this page and check back often.

WeddingPlanning

Are you always trying to do everything yourself and buying the cheapest solutions to save money?

The most important lesson I learned from my financial advisor is to invest in my business. Do painters use the cheapest brushes? No, because they cannot work as efficiently if they spend time picking loose bristles off their paint work and taking more brush stokes than necessary.

Similarly, if you intend to produce a regular e-newsletter, the management of a mailing list plus the writing, formatting and promoting of your newsletter could take valuable time out of your core business. If you want to look professional, be efficient and free your time from mundane tasks such as adding and deleting subscriptions, you should consider an autoresponder system.

I have been using an autoresponder system (or automatic email response program) for the past six months. It is not only worthwhile, it is indispensable. It enables me to send email newsletters and automatic follow-ups, view detailed demographical reports on my leads and track subscribers' moves.

These are some of the benefits of using an autoresponder:

Automation

This is probably the best advantage offered by autoresponders.

  • Subscriptions: Subscribers can manage their own subscription e.g. subscribe or unsubscribe to your newsletter without you doing anything. No manual entering of data, your list is always up-to-date.
  • Follow-ups: you can write several personalised follow-ups that will be sent automatically in a predetermined order and at set intervals e.g. over the following days, weeks or months. A standard autoresponder provided by web hosts would only send out one immediate response.
  • Email newsletters: you can prepare many newsletters in advance and set the time you want those newsletters to be sent. Even when you are on holidays, your subscribers receive their personalised newsletter.

Deliverability

What good is an informative newsletter that is not delivered?

  • Spam filters: Many internet marketers are now complaining that their newsletters are blocked by spam filters. Your messages are more likely to be delivered if you use a reputable autoresponder provider who has relationships with major ISPs (Internet Service Providers).
  • Reporting: Do you know if your email newsletter is delivered? An autoresponder system monitors the delivery rate of your messages and you can view the report.

Tracking
Tracking the activity of your subscribers enable you to trial new email marketing strategies and measure the results.

  • Subscription source: You can track from which web form subscribers join your mailing list by assigning a unique identifier to each form.
  • Split tests: To find out which web form generates more subscribers, you can place a special link on a web page that will automatically rotate different web forms on that same
    page. This is great for testing different headlines, colours, quantity of information, etc.
  • Opened newsletters: You can track how many newsletters are opened.
  • Links: You can track which links are clicked in your newsletter.

Tools
With an autoresponder system, you have the convenience of having all the following tools grouped together to streamline your work.

  • Web form generator: You can easily create standard web forms, pop-ups (traditional pop-ups, pop-unders and exit pop-ups) and hover pops without technical knowledge.
  • SpamAssassin(TM): The spam filtering tool checks your message, gives it a score (from 0 to 10, 0 being the optimal score) and displays the key areas that may be caught in spam filters.
    Text format scores lower than HTML messages. When I provided only an HTML newsletter, my SpamAssassin(TM) score was about 2.1. Since I am producing the newsletter in both text and HMTL, my spam score has dropped to roughly 1.4.
  • HTML editor: You can produce a professional HTML newsletter without having to learn HTML. An HTML editor with a tutorial video are supplied.
  • MIME protocol: Very few email programs do not support HTML but you may want to please all your subscribers. Create your email newsletter in both text and HTML. Because the autoresponder system supports the Text/HTML MIME (Multi-Purpose Internet Mail Extensions) Protocol, the HTML version will be displayed to readers who can view it and the text backup to those who can't.

Reports
A wide range of statistical reports are available in tables format, charts and downloadable Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. These are aggregated reports, i.e. they do not contain identifiable personal details. These reports include:

  • New leads: Number of new leads added per day, week or month.
  • Verified leads: Number of verified leads and how long it took the leads to send back the verification email.
  • Source of leads: How subscribers were added to the list: email to autoresponder, web form or manually imported.
  • Geographical area: Where the subscribers come from: by Country, State and City.
  • Broadcast message: The number and percentage of email newsletters that were sent, opened, clicked on or undelivered are displayed in a graph.

Legal protection
A reputable autoresponder provides precautionary measures to help you to be Can-Spam compliant and prevent you becoming a victim of false spam allegations. These simple measures include:

  • 'Double opt-in' or 'verified opt-in' method: Because anyone could have typed an email address in your web form without the owner's knowledge or consent, it is important to confirm that the email address belongs to someone who wants to receive your information prior to sending your newsletter. The autoresponder provider has a system in place to easily set your opt-in and verification message. (This is the system you have been through to subscribe to this newsletter.)
  • Contact address: To comply with US Federal Can-Spam, your physical postal mail contact address is automatically inserted at the bottom of each message

Database
You can create numerous mailing lists and each list has its own database that can be searched by:

  • Fields used in your web form.
  • IP (Internet Provider) information collected by the autoresponder
  • Status of your lead (date added, stopped, last follow-up)
  • and many other search criteria.

Educational material
Find an autoresponder provider that offers good customer support and comprehensive online documentation. Tutorials are a bonus.

In conclusion

My list of benefits is not complete but you have enough information to realise the potential of having your autoresponder system.

Selecting an autoresponder provider is not easy. There are so many. After extensive research, I chose AWeber based on their enviable reputation amongst internet marketers.

How much does an autoresponder system cost? In my pre-purchase research, AWeber was in the mid-range price category of autoresponders on my short list. AWeber costs US$179.40 (approx AU$244) per year or equivalent to US$14.95 (approx AU$20) per month. At that price, it's certainly value for money.

If you are in the market for an autoresponder, I can highly recommend AWeber system because it is easy to use, the customer service is excellent and their tracking system second to none. You can discover the many uses of an autoresponder by yourself with a test drive.

An autoresponder system should be part of your website toolbox not only to delivery your newsletter but to disseminate information, automate follow-ups and track your marketing efforts.


RESOURCES

Henriette Martel-Lawson is a website strategist and author of 200 Marketing Ideas for Your Website. Receive a free ebook when you subscribe to WEBmarketingcues, a free and valuable newsletter with articles, reviews and resources to help you market your own website. http://www.marketingcues.com


More Internet Marketing Articles