If you’re in business on the Internet, you already know the
importance of e-mail automatic responders, or e-mail
autoresponders as they are commonly known. In fact, autoresponder
e-mail marketing is the primary method of doing business online.
They automate the process of following up e-mail marketing leads,
giving them another common name - follow-up autoresponders.
If you aren't
familiar with the concept or importance of e-mail autoresponders,
this introduction should help to get you started and pointed
toward choosing the free autoresponder, autoresponder software or
autoresponder services that fit your business.
In way of the
briefest of introductions to their function, email autoresponders
are special email addresses that return a previously-stored
message or set of messages in response to any email sent to the
autoresponder address. It is obvious that the email address you
get from your ISP doesn't have this function, so the question
arises as to where autoresponder addresses come from. A more
proper question is, who provides the special function that makes
an address operate as an autoresponder?
Web Host Autoresponders
paid web hosts and many free ones provide unlimited autoresponders
as part of the hosting service. They are unlimited in number but
quite limited in function (only one message with no follow-ups, no
mail list capability, etc.). The email autoresponder function is
provided by special software resident on the web host server. Any
address which the web site owner declares as an autoresponder
address, such as
email@example.com, where 'name' is the name you select for a
particular autoresponder, is interpreted by the server as being an
autoresponder address. It responds by sending out the message (if
any) which has been stored for that autoresponder.
If you want
more capability than the web host autoresponder can provide, one
choice is to purchase autoresponder software. Such software is
available from several sources, and is divided into two main
types. One type is installed on the web host server. The second is
installed on the user's computer. Each has its advantages and
disadvantages. Software installed on the server may complicated
enough to require the services (and cost) of an installer, and may
be limited to providing a single autoresponder address on that
server. Server-based autoresponder software maintains the list of
autoresponder addresses and is backed up with other web site
files, taking that burden off the user. Also, the process of
sending emails to a large list is handled by the server. PC-based
autoresponder software, on the other hand, is generally easy to
install, but imposes extra burden on the user to back up the list.
Sending broadcast emails to the list may strain the capabilities
of the ISP, or may simply exceed the allowable limits of messages
the ISP imposes. PC-based software can provide the feasibility of
integrating the email list with other marketing functions on the
PC which would be difficult or impossible with server-based
autoresponder function is most commonly provided by autoresponder
services provided by companies hosting the function on their own
servers. Access to the functions is over the Internet and has many
advantages. None of the issues of installing software, being
responsible for backing up the list or dealing with ISP message
limitations apply when autoresponder services are employed.
Autoresponder services are usually provided for a monthly charge,
and may consist of one, several or an unlimited number of
What is the best automatic responder? There is no single answer.
Your needs are different than that of the next business. And what
you choose today may be quickly outgrown as your business grows.
Beside the choice of autoresponder features, costs vary from
free to expensive. You need a
continually updated product comparison to see what fits your
business and your needs. Fortunately there is a product database
that is the
best guide to the perfect e-mail
autoresponder for your business!
tutorials in this series:
autoresponders - Should I use one?
How to use autoresponders - What can they do for me?
Autoresponder follow-up messages - How to write them
to use autoresponders - Right and wrong times
Structuring an autoresponder series - How to!
Customer relationships - Grow them with autoresponders!
Spam problems? - Stop it with autoresponders!