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Free Autoresponder

 

Free Autoresponder

Email autoresponders are the most powerful email marketing tool available to the online business. But, as with any tool, users always want to keep costs as low as possible. So, with free autoresponders available, why not use them? Or to state it another way, who should use free email autoresponders and who should opt for paid autoresponder services or autoresponder software?

There was a time when the choices were somewhat simpler. If you were in business, you wouldn't bother with a free service because it didn't look professional. However, as the free autoresponder services have changed, that distinction isn't quite as sharp. Let's look at some of the issues involved. By the way, it isn't possible for this overview to cover all the factors that go into choosing a free autoresponder or a paid service. To get the entire picture, you need to see a side-by-side listing of all the available products.

The Free Autoresponder You Already Have

When considering the universe of ways you may use autoresponders, don't ignore the one you probably already have. That is the 'unlimited' autoresponders usually supplied by your web host, if you have a web site. The address of these autoresponders will take the form of name@yourdomain.com, where 'name' is the name you select for a particular autoresponder. They are unlimited in number, but limited in function. They, in fact, only provide the basic autoresponder function of sending a reply to a message sent to the autoresponder address. No follow-up messages can be sent, no list of names is kept of those who queried the autoresponder, and consequently no method to send a message to all those who used your autoresponder. Thus, this autoresponder is limited to the simple function of sending out information on request. But there are lots of uses for it, nevertheless. Use it to send copies of articles, background information, reference information, FAQs, etc. Being able to use your domain name in the autoresponder address can be a real advantage, and may be something you find impossible to do with some paid services.
 

Dealing With Ads

A major reason not to use free autoresponders is the fact that most free services include an ad with every autoresponder message. Having an ad is bad enough; you may even find that your message carries an ad for your competitor's product! Some free autoresponders limit their ad subject to the autoresponder service itself. The more professional you want to appear, the less you want to be doing advertising for someone else, even if it is only the autoresponder company. But, depending on your needs, you may well choose a free autoresponder for some portion of your business. It is rare for a growing business to use only one autoresponder - you will probably find that your autoresponder needs change right along with your business. This means that a good free autoresponder may continue to fill a role in your business.
 

The Ezine Issue

 One of the major uses for an autoresponder or email list program with autoresponder functions is to produce and distribute an online newsletter or ezine. Producing an ezine is a time-consuming process and you don't want to make it more so by choosing the wrong autoresponder. If you want to maintain an ezine and send broadcast messages to your subscribers, you have imposed a major new requirement on your autoresponder product.  If you want to send emails using HTML, you need to look for that feature. Frankly, there are few free autoresponders that can meet even the minimum needs for distributing an ezine, but a few may be able to fill that role for you for some period of time.
 

The Big Picture

When deciding whether a free autoresponder will fit your needs, you need to think ahead and decide all you expect it to do. Will it need to function as your ezine list handler? How many follow-up messages do you expect to send? Have you thought about how many total messages you might send in a month? Do you need to have your autoresponder track the response to the messages it sends? These are just a few of the questions that you will need to answer to determine whether a free autoresponder might fit your needs or not.

Would you like to see a feature comparison of the available free and paid autoresponder?

Other tutorials in this series:

Autoresponders - Where do they come from?
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!

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