Friday, July 17, 2009

July 17th "Autoresponders in Your World" Series, Part 14.

Autoresponder Power Ratings: Four Criteria for Making the Best Choice.

Autoresponders are an integral part of a serious marketer’s online toolkit. Together with landing pages, opt-in forms, and traffic tactics, they constitute the 24/7 engine of your Internet Marketing regime. A uniquely informative, content-rich autoresponder sequence in a profitable niche makes all the difference for list-building, affiliate marketing, and customer care. So, make sure that the service you entrust your business to has enough muscle to deliver the goods.

What should you look for in an autoresponder service? For starters, ensure that it meets your e-mail deliverability needs. This is your main service requirement; therefore you must have confidence in its anti-spam policies and its own white-listed business domain. In addition, a third party company must have good relations with the major Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Otherwise, a high percentage of your e-mails will be blocked by various spam filters and flagged by online watch groups. One more thing: don’t forget to ask about broadcast capabilities.

Next, autoresponders should have an extensive suite of tracking tools that allows you to monitor your web analytics. A minimal set of metrics an autoresponder should provide includes:
  • Open rates; i.e. what percentage of your list subscribers is opening each of your e-mails.
  • Click-through rates; i.e. how many subscribers are clicking your links to reach salesletters, product offers, other landing pages, etc.
  • Split testing results for messages and forms to see what works best.
  • The growth of your list in absolute terms, and by segment (e.g. country of origin).
Let’s face it – what good is an autoresponder service if you cannot measure your performance?

A proven third party service should offer extensive subscriber management tools. While everyone enjoys the ability to automate their list-building with autoresponders, it’s critical for your service to allow manual adjustments as well. For example, you will need to remove “unsubscribes” and undeliverable addresses on occasion. You are running a serious business, so people wanting to tap into your expertise should be on your official mailing list. Similarly, the ability to move contact information from one list to another simplifies the management of multiple campaigns. This is especially helpful if you change autoresponder companies in the future.

A fourth “must-have” feature is the integration of your autoresponder with popular web-based shopping carts to permit seamless information (digital) product delivery and after-purchase follow-up. One-time sales are fine, but why end you customer relations there? By immediately adding proven buyers to your list, not only can you thank them for purchasing; you can nurture a relationship that eventually leads to more sales in the future.

The above four criteria: e-mail deliverability, web analytics, subscriber management, and shopping cart integration, should be your minimal requirements when investigating a prospective autoresponder service. Before putting your money down, take the time to evaluate your options – it will be well worth it.

Rahul Majumdar is an Information Marketer specializing in article marketing, list-building, and digital product creation. Sign up for more of his insights here.

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