Email autoresponders

Mon, Jul 13, 2009

Email Marketing

What is an autoresponder?

Autoresponders are email programs that can schedule and send emails to addresses automatically, based on arbitrary criteria. They can be extremely simple or hugely complex. They are often used to assist in the management of email lists.

Why should I use an autoresponder? What can I do with one?

Autoresponders are a great way to automatically contact your subscribers. If used smartly, they can save you an enormous amount of time and produce sales from your mailing lists through automated follow up on leads. Here are a few examples of ways in which you can use autoresponders:

  • Automatically send a follow up email to customers who have bought products from you.
  • Follow up with customers who download your free e-book/s or other “ethical bribe” products.
  • They can be used by technical support to tell users that you have received their message and will get back to them soon. Such messages are important because they reassure your customers that their support request has arrived at its destination and will be attended to when you are available.
  • Send prospective customers product price lists, your FAQ, and other fixed information. People emailing the autoresponder address you specify will automatically receive the information they require.
  • Send email course modules. For example, if you have a three week course that requires course information or documents to be sent to your students once a week, you can simply request your students to send their addresses to your autoresponder. The autoresponder will then reply to your students with the course package at the scheduled times.
  • A variation of the above is used by some webmasters to sell courses. They advertise an email address that customers can contact to receive a free sample of a course or book. The autoresponder then sends a few chapters from the course or book to the customers over three successive days. On the fourth day, the message asks the customer to sign up for the rest of the paid course or book if they wish to continue. Since the customer has sampled several segments (or chapters) of the course or book, he/she is able to decide whether or not to continue. If the course or book is particularly good, the autoresponder segments can be an effective way of persuading a customer to buy that product.

Where can I get one?

If your autoresponder needs are simple, such as merely sending a single message reassuring your customers that you’ll get back to them, you can probably use the free, basic autoresponders that usually come as part of a web hosting package. The procedures to set up these autoresponders vary from web host to web host, but are usually trivial. If you need an autoresponder to send more than one message, or if you need to schedule messages to be sent at certain intervals over a period of time, you will either need to program your mail system on your domain, or use one of the free (or commercial) autoresponder systems around (some of which are listed below).

The autoresponder services listed below are third party services: that is, this blog doesn’t have anything to do with them directly. In general, free services are provided free in exchange for in-email advertising. Pricing for commercial solutions varies considerably, but is often based on volume. Visit the sites listed below to find out more details.

  • SendFree provides statistics on the performance of your autoresponders and advertisements. You also get to place free targeted advertisements on other people’s autoresponders. For example, for every two advertisements published in your autoresponder emails, one of your advertisements is published in someone else’s email.
  • FreeAutoBot sends an unlimited series of follow-up messages in an interval you decide. You can personalize the message to include the recipient’s name and email address. Unlike most free autoresponders, no advertisements are inserted into your message (as of the publication date of this post).
  • GetResponse gives you an unlimited number of follow-up email messages of any length. You may attach files to those messages, view the list of email addresses that requested the autoresponders, view statistics on your autoresponders and configure the autoresponders so that replies will be sent to you.
  • Aweber is possibly the most popular commercial solution for both autoresponders and email list management solutions generally. Their pricing model is volume-based.


Today’s autoresponders need to be careful to operate so as to avoid the emails they send being labelled “spam”. Sending anything by email to people you do not know personally always involves risk, even with stringent “opt-in” mechanisms employed. As such, I recommend that you carefully evaluate your needs before you blindly rush off to implement a commercially-focused autoresponder.

If you use autoresponders to send series of messages, you should include a note at the beginning of the message to remind your subscribers why they are receiving it. There must also be a way for them to stop receiving those messages which is indicated (prominently) within the email. It may seem like a drag, but having all the messages you send to major email providers bounce or hit the Junk folder is a much bigger one. It’s just like anything, really. Do your research. Read articles and talk to people who use autoresponders–try to learn from their mistakes.

Until next week.

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22 Responses to “Email autoresponders”

  1. AV Mode Says:

    Ths is a good read for a start of the week.


  2. Josh Zehtabchi Says:

    You can also just create a general email account and make a rule in Outlook to auto respond. That’s what I use for customers who request a quote, to let them know we’re processing their request, etc.
    .-= Josh Zehtabchi´s last blog ..About V2interactive: =-.


  3. Vic - BusinessAccent Says:

    Hello. Thanks for sharing this article. I thought of only using aweber. But aweber is still beyond my budget.
    .-= Vic – BusinessAccent´s last blog ..The beginning of business wisdom =-.


  4. Jordin Says:

    I didn’t know outlook has this auto-reply feature. I’ll give it a try.


  5. Eman Says:

    Aweber is way too expensive. Glad youve shared this article.


  6. Hanna Says:

    Are there any more auto responders feature that can be bought that will not rip off my budget?


  7. Knifey Says:

    I use aweber and so far not getting me mch trouble using it.


  8. Sun Says:

    Aweber is a good tool. It’s usable.


  9. Ad Hustler Says:

    As much as people know about autoresponders, i think they are still underused by us marketers :)
    .-= Ad Hustler´s last blog ..The Importance Of Pricing Optimization =-.


  10. Michael Says:

    Marketers should be using this in as much as they need to advertise.


  11. Beycone Says:

    Is autoresponder prone to spam issues? I hope not!


  12. Michael Says:

    I’m using outlook express for auto response emails. So far, so good!


  13. Miley Says:

    Aweber is still the best option when it comes to auto responding emails.


  14. nick Says:

    nah..not impossible really..tried this one already..and its quite good


  15. Sea Says:

    I still haven’t figured out how to use auto respond using outlook express. Anyone?


  16. Girlaloo Says:

    I don’t think it’s possible. Try aweber buddy.


  17. luc Says:

    what’s the different with feedburner?
    .-= luc´s last blog ..Mystery of 1 Dollar Bill =-.


  18. R.W. Jackson Says:

    This is great. I’ve been digging around for an autoresponder and haven’t really found a useful breakdown of them such as this. While I have heard lots of praise on aweber, I’m not quite ready to pony up for a paid service yet…

    thanks for this.

    .-= R.W. Jackson´s last blog ..Making money online – August 2009 results =-.



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