Monday, May 04, 2009

May 4th - "Autoresponders in your World" Series, Part 1.

Autoresponder Programs and Services: What’s best for you?

Internet marketing beginners (“newbies”) often fail to distinguish between an autoresponder program and an autoresponder service. In their haste to upload a squeeze page and start building a list, newbies often purchase the wrong type of autoresponder and end up wasting hundreds – if not thousands of dollars.

To avoid becoming a victim of needless autoresponder hype, let’s first define the relevant terms:

Autoresponder Program: A piece of software that is set up on your web server, often a free autoresponder that comes with your web hosting account. However, many people prefer more robust autoresponders that they have better control over. For one reason or another, they don’t like the hosting account’s software so they purchase autoresponder programs or scripts that must be installed on their web server.

Autoresponder Service: A service that is usually paid for on a monthly or yearly basis. The fees are ongoing, and everything is browser based. In other words, you can set up autoresponder messages and manage your opt-in list through your web browser – just as you can with an autoresponder program that is installed through your web hosting account. The difference is that the service runs on the autoresponder company’s web server – not yours or your web hosts.

Most beginners are better off using an autoresponder service. These services are generally easy to understand and use, and no prior technical knowledge is needed to get started.

Free Autoresponders – Buyer Beware!

These days, the cost of autoresponder services is an ongoing concern, and as such you may opt for a free autoresponder service. However as always, you need to be vigilant when investigating the quality and transparency of the company you are considering.

Free services earn revenue by placing advertisements within each autoresponder message that you send out. Some of these ads appear at the top of your messages, and sometimes they appear at the bottom. Some existing free services are simply an enticement to purchase the professional version, and may deliberately disable many advanced features (e.g. tracking statistics).

Making up your Mind.

More advanced users often choose to use autoresponder programs, simply because they have more control over the autoresponder, and they don’t have to follow some of the stiffer rules imposed by autoresponder services, such as sending confirmation messages to each and every person entered into the autoresponder list. Double versus single opt-in confirmation and CAN-SPAM compliance are other issues to keep in mind when making your autoresponder selection.

Get informed about what autoresponder is the best for you, but in most cases, a reputable autoresponder service should suit your needs. There are several companies that cater to Internet newcomers, but if you are unsure, look for a service that offers:

- Free sign-ups, with the option of a professional upgrade after a "risk-free" trial period.
- Top-notch customer support to answer your questions and concerns.
- Relevant, up-to-date advice on how to improve your email relationship marketing.

Rahul Majumdar is the author of two recent e-books, including Barack Obama: From Obscurity to the Presidency.

No comments: