Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Getting Started With Autoresponders

by Mary McNeil

An autoresponder is an email message which is sent automatically when someone enters their name and contact details on your website and clicks on the Submit button. It is one of those automated responses you'll have received yourself if you shop online, or receive online newsletters.

You need to subscribe to an autoresponder service so that you can send an automatic email response to all your website enquiries. By automating the process, you free yourself up, you make your business look a whole lot more professional and you enable the element of immediate delivery. The quicker your first follow-up message reaches them, the less chance there is of your website sign-ups forgetting why they were interested in you in the first place!

Although an autoresponder doesn't need to consist of anything more than a single message, you can choose to set up whole sequences of messages too. So if, for example, you want to offer a free four part mini-course, with one instalment sent every three days, you can programme your autoresponder account to manage that automatically.

* The double opt-in

As a result of the ever-increasing levels of spam on the internet, all email service providers have put measures in place to ensure that as little unsolicited email as possible actually reaches your mailbox. This means that when you become a sender of bulk email (which is what you are setting yourself up to be by building a mailing list), you need to make sure that you comply with the anti-spam regulations.

Your autoresponder service will, by and large, manage the compliance aspect for you. But one thing you do need to be aware of is the double opt-in. This means that every single person who signs up on your website must confirm their email address before it's okay for you to send them further messages. You don't have to verify your sign-ups this strictly, but I recommend that you do as it will greatly improve the chances of your follow-up messages reaching their destinations reliably.

Assuming you go down the double opt-in route, most autoresponder service providers will offer you some template 'please confirm your subscription' messages. But since the first message that your potential new clients will see from you is the confirmation opt-in email, I think it's important to personalise it.

* Composing your messages

I recommend preparing your messages in something like Word or Notepad before you enter them into your autoresponder account for real. This will give you a chance to think about the wording carefully and about the order in which your new sign-ups will receive information from you. With the double opt-in, they will start out by receiving two messages from you in quick succession.

The first message is the opt-in confirmation message. The bare bones of a typical opt-in message look something like this:

'Thank you for requesting my free introductory report: [report name]. All you need to do now is click the link below to confirm your request. If you have changed your mind or received this message in error, simply delete this email and your information will be removed by the system automatically.'

The second message is the one where you deliver the goods. It's usually either the first instalment of your free report, e-course or set of articles... or it contains a link to the document or audio file you promised on sign-up.

* Hey presto!

Set these messages up, get your website designer to link them through to the sign-up box on your website using the code provided by your autoresponder service, test it to make sure it works, and then you're done... Your first follow-up steps are now automated and you can put your feet up with the beverage of your choice!

About the Author

Mary McNeil's FREE bulletin: "How to Set Up Your Coaching Website AND Get Clients From It" is available right now. Grab your copy at