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December 13, 2002
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" Think... 'image'! You wont appear a very reliable organization if it takes days just to get a reply to an email enquiry. "

Autoresponders (also known as mail bots, automatic email and email on demand) are great promotional tools that you'll find it difficult to succeed without. They provide the easiest way to automate the selling process, and are basically email versions of the fax on demand services that have proved to be very successful in recent years.

Instead of you personally having to reply to each and every enquiry about your service or product, sending out sales letters, order confirmations and thank you letters, etc., you can set up an autoresponder to do all this for you. This way you can save your valuable time for those promotional activities that really need personal attention.

Essentially an autoresponder is an email program that automatically replies to any email sent to it with a predetermined response letter that you've previously saved. Having one or more autoresponders will free up a vast amount of your time and enable you to dramatically increase your profits. Prospects can get instant information about your products and services 24 hours a day, seven days a week, without the need for any human intervention to manually follow-up each lead.

Apart from saving you time, autoresponders provide you with another essential ingredient for successful online marketing – prompt and timely replies. As you should already know, the vast majority of Internet surfers want information fast, and this is no less true when they're answering your online ad and requesting more information – they don't want to wait for days or even hours until you get around to replying to the pile of mail you get everyday, and they've already become accustomed to getting it in seconds from most companies online.

Think... 'image'! You wont appear a very reliable organization if it takes days just to get a reply to an email enquiry. Even worse, the initial interest created by your carefully crafted advertisement, the spark that lead to a request more information, may well have faded later on. So, it's essential that you respond with your additional information immediately, improving your image and getting your sales message read by a hot prospect.

Choosing Your Autoresponder
You aren't short of choices in this department; there are innumerable companies that offer autoresponder services. Various options and pricing structures are available. There are also several free services that earn revenue from small advertisements placed in your autoresponder’s replies. The size of these ads varies between different providers, so it's worth shopping around.

Whether or not you decide on a free or paying service is largely dependent on your needs and budget, but don't be put off just because the service is free – some paid autoresponder services are not as good as the best of the free ones.

There are however a few things that you should look for. One of the first is the amount of freedom you're given in the choice of your autoresponder’s email address name. Ideally you should be able to name your autoresponder something relating to your product or business, unique enough that you can also use it for tracking your advertising effectiveness in various locations or with different advertisements.

You will also want a service that allows you to personalize your response as much as possible, by using the prospect’s first name in the body of the letter – in the Dear XXX, for example.

Another important consideration is whether or not you will receive notification when someone has requested information from your autoresponder. Generally this takes the form of a copy of the prospect’s original email request including any of their comments. This is important in order to keep up to date and to deal with any special requests.

Check to see if there are any limits imposed on the size of your autoresponder text and how often you can change it. Some companies will charge extra to send large files or for frequent modifications. You may need both.

A very useful feature that you should look out for is the ability to set up one or more automatic follow-up letters at predetermined intervals – this can really help to increase your sales as most people need to see an advertisement several times before finally acting on it.

I use GetResponse, a service that I feel excels in all areas. They offer a great free service (ad supported) or a paying option if you want to get rid of the additional advertising in your mail.


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