What's an autoresponder you might ask?
If you know already, read on anyway for useful tips on how to make their work well for you. If you don't know, read on and find out!
An autoresponder is exactly what it says - a responder that's automatic. It's an online system that allows you to distribute emails automatically without having to write and send each one individually.
Here's how it works.
Let's say you have an newsletter that you send out regularly and you want new subscribers to get certain information on signing up. In advance you write your emails containing the information. This can be just one email, or a whole series spaced over a period of time. The number of emails and the intervals at which they are sent is entirely up to you.
Then you set your autoresponder to begin sending when someone signs up. The autoresponder for my newsletter subscribers contains a long series of emails sent at intervals of a couple of days. They include a 7-part email course on marketing as well as details on where to download the free website report I offer and they end with a special gift just for my subscribers. And once it's set up I don't have to lift a finger to make it happen.
Watch your inbox and see how many other uses there are for autoresponders.
You've probably noticed that when you buy a product online, you get an immediate confirmation email: that's an autoresponder in action as well. Notice how many emails you get. Usually a confirmation of your order. Then one when your product is shipped. And maybe more.
Often that's the last you'll hear from the company but it doesn't have to stop there.
You can offer great customer service by setting up a series of emails asking if the product arrived safely or, in the case of an electronic product, if they downloaded it without problems, whether it was satisfactory, maybe to suggest another complimentary product they might like to buy, (this is called up-selling like the folks at MacDonalds who ask "Do you want fries with that?") It's planting a seed that might not have been there before and may lead to more business for you.
Key of course is to be friendly and sincere, and to write your autoresponder emails from a place of wanting to be of service rather than simply wanting to suck more dollars out of their bank accounts. Believe me, the energy you write your emails with, will come through to the recipient!
The beauty of autoresponders is that you can keep in touch with your customers regularly. You nurture those client relationships without spending endless hours on the phone. Or forgetting altogether. Or having so many clients that the sheer volume would not allow for telephone follow up.
The emails are sent out automatically, whether you are at your computer or online or not. You can be enjoying your vacation in the Bahamas (lucky you!) and your emails will still go out like clockwork.
There are lots of autoresponder systems available. Many of them only have email distribution and some are hooked into a complete shopping cart system.
If you're just starting out and you intend to sell products later, I recommend a full shopping cart system, even if you don't use all its features at the beginning.
Otherwise you can run into problems. You may end up with some contacts in your autoresponder program (those who signed up for your newsletter or teleclass etc.) and some in your shopping cart (those who bought a product). There's no easy way to transfer all your clients from one system to another without requiring them to "opt-in" all over again. So if you decide to start with a system that is purely autoresponders, check that it integrates easily with shopping cart software.