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List Lesson 2 - Choosing An Auto-Responder

Choosing your autoresponder is vital if you want to succeed with your list. There are many different types of autoresponder with varying costs and features.

In order to pick an autoresponder, you need to understand your requirements from one.

  • Do you want single as well as double opt it?
  • What level of reporting do you want?
  • What level of segmentation of your list do you want?
  • What is your budget?
  • Do you want to host it yourself or buy a managed service?
  • How many lists do you want to have?
  • How many emails do you want send every day?

For example, some webhosts restrict the number of emails you can send per day from their hosting accounts. This may not be a problem if you have a small list, but if your list grows bigger then you have a serious problem as it could take days for a mailing to go out due to this restriction.

This delay could cost you a lot of money and ruin your attempts to earn from your list, particularly when you are sending out time sensitive offers.

Some auto-responders limit the number of lists you are allowed to run, or charge you more if you go over a certain number of lists or subscribers.

Different autoresponders offer different features for reporting ranging from basic to advanced and in depth reports. It depends on your need for reporting as to which you go for.

There are many different autoresponders on the market including:

Wonder how to set up an autoresponder account and list with Aweber?

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Other chooses are:

  • GetResponse
  • WizardAutoresponder
  • Autoresponder Plus

And more advanced business contact systems such as:

  • InfusionSoft
  • iContact
  • Constant Contact

There offer many more features and detailed reporting. These typically cost more as they are aiming for the corporate and big marketer market segments.

Typically when you are hosting your own autoresponder software you pay a one off fee for the software whereas a hosted service tends to be a monthly or yearly payment.

Hosting your own brings with it a whole host of issues that you may or may not want to deal with.

Firstly, you have to install the script yourself and configure, which may be difficult if you are not technically competent. Then you have to take care of security and ensure the script is kept up to date to avoid security problems and to provide the latest functionality.

On top of this you may find people spoof your domain, that is they send emails pretending to be from your domain. This is a big problem as it can result in your domain being blacklisted and your emails being put straight into the junk or spam folders. This is serious as it means your open rate will drop massively because most people don’t look in these folders for useful emails.

Hosted services don’t tend to have this sort of problem because they have people who work with companies to ensure the emails get through. Plus they usually have better measures in place to stop spoofing and other issues that could cause blacklisting.

When hosting your own autoresponder you have complete control of your list and can do whatever you want with it. You can email them when you like, email them what you like, import users and so on.

With a hosted solution you don’t have complete control. Your list is in the hands of the autoresponder company. Some of these companies will allow you to backup your list so you have a copy of it, which is a useful feature.

You must remember that the hosted companies rely on their reputation in order for emails to get through so they are very watchful on what their users do and will shut your account down if you have too many spam complaints. They don’t tend to let you import users into your account, or if they do, not very many at a time.

You need to consider the deliver-ability rate of the autoresponder you choose. Does it have a high rate or does it have problems with emails going straight to the junk folder?

You need to ensure that whatever solution you choose is compliant with anti-spam regulations. Depending on the location of your webhost, if you get too many complaints you could find your hosting account shut down without notice, which could ruin your business.

If you get too many spam complaints against your hosted autoresponder account, you may end up with that being shut down too, so you need to be careful.

You are looking for a reliable and established service that has been around for a while and will be around for some time to come. Aweber is well known for being reliable and having a long established presence in the marketplace, and there are some private label versions of Aweber such as TurboAutoresponders and ProSender.

Owning the list is fairly important. Can you export it so that if the worst happens, you still have a copy of the list you’ve built?

Depending on your business plan you may want to choose single opt in for your list and you need to be sure that the autoresponder you choose will allow you to do this.

Finally, it needs to be easy to use. Some of the self-hosted software can be a little counter intuitive for you.

Once you have built a big list you are pretty much stuck with your autoresponder for life as moving autoresponders is a nightmare when you have a list. Most don’t allow you to import email addresses and those that do require the subscriber to opt in again. This means you lose a lot of subscribers, unless you move to your own hosted solution, which opens a whole other can of worms.

Choosing an autoresponder is a very important decision and you really need to get it right the first time, so spend some time considering the above and then pick the autoresponder that works for you.