" Email Newsletter: Do I Need An Autoresponder System "
By Henriette Martel-Lawson
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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:
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.
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 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.
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.
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
- 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.
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
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.
Find an autoresponder provider that offers good customer support
and comprehensive online documentation. Tutorials are a bonus.
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
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.
Martel-Lawson is a website strategist and author of 200
Marketing Ideas for Your Website. Receive a free ebook when
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reviews and resources to help you market your own website. http://www.marketingcues.com
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