All About selecting and using autoresponders!




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.

Autoresponder Basics

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

Virtually all 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, 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.

Autoresponder Software

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 software.

Autoresponder Services

The 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 autoresponders.

Best Autoresponder?

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!

Other tutorials in this series:

Free autoresponders - Should I use one?
How to use autoresponders - What can they do for me?
Autoresponder follow-up messages - How to write them
When 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! home

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