If you've reached the point of exhaustion trying to keep up with answering the mountain of emails that threatens to bury you alive every single day, you're ready to learn about autoresponders.
The bad news is that people expect prompt replies to their email inquiries. However, unless you can figure out how to work continual twenty-four hour shifts, or hire enough people to constantly monitor incoming emails (while they're eating up your revenue), you have a problem. The good news is an autoresponder is an inexpensive - or even free - method of quickly responding to emails. What these programs do is automatically respond to incoming emails as soon as they are received.
Emails are essential to your business for many different reasons. Most importantly, these invisible email voices give you their feedback about your website - for free! However, if you spend all your working hours answering these emails, how are you supposed to run your business? The answer is simple: use autoresponders. Autoresponders are programs that automatically respond to your emails without you so much as having to click on your mouse.
There are a number of good reasons why you need an autoresponder besides just answering your email. For example, autoresponders can be used if you need a way to send information about your services or products, price lists, or if there are repeated questions asked across large numbers of emails. Maybe you want to offer your site visitors a special bonus of some kind, such as advice or relevant articles. All of this can be handled by an autoresponder. Additionally, you can advertise your business and then build stable relationships with your customers by using autoresponders.
Autoresponder programs vary from software that runs with your email program to a specialized script that runs on your web hosting company's server. This kind of script may use a web page form or simply operate with your email account. This kind of script is programmed to send out a standardized message whenever an email is received. The message is sent to a particular script or email address.
Some autoresponders can do more than simply send out standardized messages. They can send out an unlimited number of follow-up messages sent at predetermined interval of time. For example, you can set your autoresponder to send out a new message every day for as long a period as you desire.
There are numerous companies who offer autoresponders free of charge. Your website hosting company often provides autoresponders as a free service. If this is not the case with your web hosting company, there are numerous companies who offer this service for a small fee, or free of charge, providing you attach an advertisement for their company to your emails.
To personalize your autoresponder messages, you can attach a signature. Signatures in this case are much like business cards. You can include your name, company, all your contact numbers and addresses, and a brief message.
It's a good idea to attach a signature to every email that is sent out. This works as a repeated reminder of your business identity every time a customer sees it. The more they look at your signature, the more likely your company will spring to mind when your particular service or product is needed.
You can create a standardized signature that every employee in your business uses, or you can go wild, and let every staff member create their own personal signature. Of course, like everything in life, there are some rules and guidelines to creating a personal signature.
Keep the length of your signature between four to six lines of text, with no more than 70 characters in a single line. Make sure that your email program does not cut off your text! The content should include your name, your company name, your email address, fax number, and any other contact details, such as 800 numbers. Lastly, always include a short personal message about your company. It should be a subtle sell of your services or your products, and possibly your company's reliability and longevity.
Another specialized use of autoresponders is to create courses that you can then offer your site visitors for free. You must choose a topic in which you are an expert and that precisely targets your potential customers.
Once you have carefully chosen your subject, divide it into a number of different sub-topics. Then offer your site visitor a free 10 or 15 day course, each day offering a different sub-topic. The first topic should always be a welcome message to your site visitor and an explanation about what is to follow. Your explanation should be enticing, getting the point across that you are offering free, quality information that your target audience will find of great value.
With every lesson, include the number of the lesson, the topic title, information about your company and its services or products. At the end, include a few blurbs about the next lesson to entice the subscriber to continue on.
Make sure each topic is packed with essential and valuable information, and leaves the visitor lusting to know more. Otherwise, you may lose them in the very beginning.
Of course, you have to write up your course before you can offer it. Once you have done this, and gone over the material carefully, employing a professional writer or editor if necessary, you must transfer your text to your autoresponder.
There are a number of autoresponders you can use. Try http:/www.getresponse.com, or http://www.aweber.com. Or go onto Google and you will find a long list of autoresponder companies. Then sign-up for your chosen autoresponder. Once you do, you will receive instructions as to how to set it up and transfer your text.
Email is an excellent marketing tool; it is inexpensive and it is fast. Use it to advertise your business by choosing your email address carefully. Your website should contain different email addresses for different contact requests. For example, use firstname.lastname@example.org for information requests, or email@example.com for questions about sales. It's a good idea to set up one for the owner, such as firstname.lastname@example.org. This presents your company in a personal, approachable light and insures that direct contact is provided.
Autoresponders are an effective and powerful marketing tool, allowing you to make contact with thousands of potential customers. This is an invaluable asset considering how many potential customers you usually have contact with before you make an actual sale. Essentially, an autoresponder allows you to automate part of your marketing campaign.
An interested visitor who has been strolling through your site has finally come to just what she is looking for and is about to make a purchase. It's a sunny afternoon, and her cat, who happens to be sitting on the moss under the visitor's large fifty-year-old snow-rose bonsai tree, suddenly jumps down, and the priceless tree topples over.
In the blink of an eye, your visitor exits your site, and your sale is dust - unless you have had the foresight to utilize an autoresponder that has captured her email address. If you have installed an autoresponder, you can then follow-up with her, and in all probability, make the sale when the poor woman has finished repotting her precious bonsai.
Autoresponders are remarkable, versatile programs that do so much more than just automatically answer your email. Here are a few ideas that will help you to creatively and productively use your autoresponder to transform the casual visitor into a profitable customer. Use your autoresponder
1. Publish a newsletter. Certain quality autoresponders will manage subscriptions and follow-up with interested prospects. Your newsletter can keep your visitors informed about your services or products, while building your reputation as a credible expert in your particular business.
2. Publish a newsletter only for your affiliates. Inform them of current sales you are running and of promotional material that your affiliates can use themselves to increase their commissions. Include tips, advice, and techniques that your affiliates can use to successfully go out and promote your business.
3. Write reviews. Cover books, software, music, e-books, movies, etc., and put each review in an autoresponder. Review your affiliate programs, using a link to your affiliate's page in your autoresponder.
4. Distribute your articles. Writing and distributing targeted articles is a powerful tool to build your business credibility, bring traffic to your site, and increase your sales potential. If your articles contain valuable information, many editors will print what is known as a resource box for you. A resource box contains your bio and a brief description of your service or product. It can also contain your autoresponder address. Let's say you've written fifty articles. Put them on separate autoresponder accounts and create a master list that contains the titles of each article, the autoresponder address, and a brief abstract. Then promote your master list. Additionally, include your publishing guidelines so your affiliates can add their articles to your list, increasing the number of writers who are represented in your article list.
5. Create mailing lists. Inform subscribers to your articles when you've written new ones that they may want to publish in their own newsletter or website.
6. Automate your sales process. Use an ad to insure repeated exposure of your message, which has been proven to effectively increase sales. In your ad, put your autoresponder address where a visitor will be exposed to numerous marketing materials. This multiplies the chances of converting visitors into customers. For example, if you're selling a particular product, put testimonials about how spectacular it is on your autoresponder, and add a detailed, enticing description of your product.
7. Distribute advertising. Let's say you sell advertising on your website or in your newsletter or e-zine. Set your autoresponder to send the information about rates and how to place an ad automatically to all prospects' email addresses. Then have your autoresponder follow-up. It can also send notification of any special deals you are currently offering.
8. Distribute an email course. Each day, have your autoresponder send out another lesson. Just be sure that each lesson has quality content - not a sales pitch. Your content will do the selling for you, and will do it much more effectively. You can include tips centered on a different topic for each lesson, illustrating how your product will benefit the reader. Include the tangible benefits the visitor will reap by purchasing your product. Make sure to include a paragraph or two at the end of each lesson enticing your prospect to consider making a purchase.
9. Automate a reminder about your service or product after a visitor has completed your course. This will increase the possibility of sales from visitors who have taken your course but are dragging their feet about actually making a purchase. You can also use these reminders to promote new products or services, and the products and services of your affiliate programs.
10. Distribute free reports. This gives your visitor an idea of the type of information you can provide and the quality of your product or service. Make sure these reports are not sales letters or you will more than likely lose a potential customer than gain a sale.
11. Create trivia quizzes on your site and place the answers in an autoresponder. Your visitor will then be motivated to request your autoresponder, and you will have a record of the visitors' email addresses who took your quiz. Or create a contest and have any visitors that enter send their responses to your autoresponder. Your autoresponder can be set-up to send them a confirmation of their entry.
12. Offer a trial version of your product. Give your prospects a sample of your ebook, course, software, membership, etc. People who are exposed to a little taste often end up wanting the whole pie. You can also capture their email addresses when you offer them a free trial from your website. Set up your autoresponder to give instructions on how to obtain their free trial, and then make sure to follow-up to try and close the sale.
13. Link to hidden pages on your autoresponder. For example, a hidden page could be your affiliate page that contains graphics, promotional articles, and text links that interested affiliates can make use of. Inform visitors that they may have free access to your affiliate page by simply requesting your autoresponder. You will then gather a list of visitors who may be interested in becoming your affiliates.
14. Use an autoresponder on your order page. Post a request form for visitors to be notified of special offers or discounts in the future. This creates a very effective mailing list that contains the names of people who are already your customers.
15. Put your links page on your autoresponder. It should contain up to fifty links that would be of particular interest to your visitors. Make sure to add your own promotional copy at the top or bottom of this page.
Now that you have proof that autoresponders can be used creatively, see if you can come up with some brilliant ideas of your own!
Other useful resources
1. Eversoft - html editing software
2. DevEdit - Email marketing
3. Templatemonster - Professional web templates at reasonable price
4. Templates - Unique, professional web site templates
5. Logo - Professional Logo design
6. Activ - eBook compiler software
7. Ebookgold - eBook creation software
8. PDFWriter - Create PDF eBooks and files
9. Dynamitecovers - make professional covers for your eBooks
10. CoverAction - Photoshop actions cover software
11. Hostgator - Secure web site hosting
12. Bluehost - Secure web site hosting
13. Startlogic - Secure web site hosting
14. Hostmaster - Secure web site hosting
15. Lunarpages - Secure web site hosting
16. Wpromote - promote your site
17. GetResponse - autoresponder
18. Aweber - autoresponder system
19. Web4dummies - web business start-up for dummies
20. 7Dollarsecretes - secrets to those 7 dollar reports