An email autoresponder is possibly one of the most important elements in your online marketing strategy.  It is a piece of software that enables you to automatically send emails to people. The number of people does not matter. An autoresponder can send messages to hundreds or thousands of people.  It is a very powerful marketing tool because it allows you to stay “top of mind” with your target audience even when you are not actively engaging with them yourself.  An autoresponder is like an automated sales person for your business that works 24 hours a day, 365 days per year for your business.

Pick Your Poison: The Two Types of Autoresponders

There are two types of autoresponders you can use for your business. The first type can be installed on your own server.  This type of autoresponder was popular in the late 2000’s, offered freedom and flexibility.  The downside is that with full control came the responsibility and annoyance of dealing with email deliverability and making sure emails didn’t automatically land in people’s spam folders.  This reality paved the way for the most popular type of autoresponder today – the software-as-a-service (SaaS) autoresponder.    This second type of email autoresponder is where you a pay a company who hosts the email autoresponder on their own server for a monthly fee.  In return the company worries about managing the email autoresponder, ensuring high performance and deliverability, and security.  Popular email autoresponders today are Aweber, GetResponse, and MailChimp.  Some offer free plans for the early stage entrepreneur and monthly plans from $10 – $15 per month for small businesses.

Bending the Autoresponder to Your Will

Before an autoresponder will work, it needs a list of email addresses to which it can send email messages. These email addresses are usually from your subscribers who give you their email in return for something of value.   What you offer people really depends on your business’s product or service, but common offers include:

  1. Free Trials
  2. Beta Memberships
  3. Free Guides
  4. Free Tips
  5. Special News and Alerts
  6. Training and Educational Videos
  7. Coupons and Deals

Once a person subscribes, the autoresponder handles the subscription process automatically. Whenever a subscriber wants to unsubscribe, this is also done automatically so you don’t have to process it personally.

Winning the Hearts and Minds of Your Prospects

The beauty of autoresponders is that you can schedule messages to be sent out now or at some time in the future.  Every time a message goes out you go “top of mind” in your prospect’s brain.  An example of this might look as follows:

  1. A person is reading your blog and sees your offer for a free 7-day training course related to solving whatever problem they might have.
  2. That person enters their email address into the email opt-in form to subscribe.
  3. An email arrives in that person’s inbox with a link he or she has to click in order to confirm they really want to subscribe.
  4. Once confirmed, the person will receive the first message in your 7-day training course.
  5. On day 2, that person will receive the second message in your series.
  6. This will continue for the remaining days in your 7-day course until it completes.
  7. By day 7, you will have hopefully delivered so much value and information to your subscriber that is will become incredibly self-evident that you are the one-and-only choice for that person to engage for business.
  8. Additionally, you can still send periodic emails to your subscriber even after the 7-day period is complete to deliver more value and ensure you stay in their minds for when they are ready to make a purchase.

A Love Story: How An Autoresponder Builds Your Relationship With Prospects

The coolest thing about this example is that it eliminates a big problem most websites have. The owner spends considerable time and money to get a person to visit the website.  In most cases, that person will visit and leave right afterwards never to return again.  In the autoresponder enabled website, the website owner who is able to collect email addresses can get a second, third, fourth, fifth chance (or possibly even hundreds or thousands over the lifetime of the business) to do business with the person who subscribed.  No longer is it as important for the prospective buyer be ready to buy the moment they visit your website.

Take Action

If you do not already have an autoresponder on your website, I urge you to add one right away.  It is almost deceptively simple and often overlooked by many business owners.  Add one now and you’ll find out it really is the gift that keeps on giving.