The Most Important Features For Selecting an Auto Responder For Your Business

An autoresponder is the most important Internet marketing tool for anyone who wants to keep in touch with customers and potential customers. This invaluable tool will automatically inform, train, and remind a potential customer he needs your product or service. Autoresponders do this by sending a series of pre-written emails based on a schedule you define in advance.

For example, you could use the first email to instantaneously send a free report to anyone that completes a registration form on your web page. Then two days later, your auto responder will send another email explaining the benefits of your product or service. The next day, the auto responder sends another email, and so on. Meanwhile, you could be soaking up the sun at the beach or boating on the lake next to your second home in the mountains.

Why Do You Need An Auto Responder?

When you are in business, regular communications with your customers is vital to keep them coming back. Autoresponders are a great time-saving way to do this so your customers will not forget about you and your company. It is much less expensive and more productive to re-sell an existing customer than it is to get new customers. For this reason, it is important that your autoresponder allows you to broadcast emails to your entire customer list.

With a broadcast feature, you can send on announcement, holiday greeting, or special offer to thousands of customers with the click of a button, and each email will be Individualized with the customer name, email, and any other information you choose to collect. Compare that to sending the same email individually to just 10 friends, and you should be able to see the power of autoresponders. Many online marketers have lists of 10,000, even 100,000+, customers, and they can contact everyone one of them in a fully-personalized email in seconds.

Incidentally, you can install autoresponder software on your own website for as little as $50 one-time, but most web hosting accounts will limit you to a couple hundred emails sent per hour due to spamming concerns. For this reason, most Internet marketers should use a professional autoresponder service.

Steady communication is also crucial for courting new customers. If a potential customer visits your website, you need to remind him of the value you are offering and invite him to come back and buy. You could even throw in an extra incentive to come back and join or purchase now. Statistics say you need to contact new customers an average of seven times before they buy. Responders make this easy which makes this invaluable tool critical to success Internet marketing, and you need to make each campaign (i.E., series of pre-written emails) at least seven messages long.

3 Types Of Auto Responders

You have basically 3 Alternatives to meet your responder needs: Free, professional, and your own responder software. Later in this article, I will present what I consider to be the best of each type and why. There are obviously pros and cons for each type.

The primary advantage for free autoresponders is they are free. However, free options often put unrelated ads in your messages which is not good for your business. The other really big downsides to free responders are (1) they normally limit the number of subscribers you can have on your list, and (2) they often limit the number of messages you can use per campaign.

Your second alternative is to use professional responders. In my personal opinion, this is the best option for most online marketers. The pro versions tend to offer all the best features with zero maintenance and installation issues and no extraneous advertisements. This frees up your time to focus on marketing and product development. The primary downside is the cost which varies widely. We will discuss this more in a moment.

The third option is to use your own software. If you use good software, this is also a good option. The price is a one-time expense, but you have to know a fair amount about software code, and fixing it when you Internet Service Provider changes settings can be annoying and sometimes baffling. And as mentioned above, you need to know if your web host will limit the number of emails you send per hour or per day.

What Features Are Important In Selecting Your Auto Responder?

Regardless of which type you choose, the important features are the same. The primary difference is which features are available for any particular auto responder. In this section, I will identify and briefly discuss the important features to consider.

Number of Campaigns:

This and the next three features are by far the most important to consider. The number of campaigns is how many different series of emails you are allowed to create. For example, if you offer three products and/or services, you might need three campaigns (one to sell each product or service), or you might need six campaigns (one to sell each product or service and one to train your buying customers on each product or service). Ideally, your selected responder will allow unlimited campaigns.

Number of Messages:

The service you select must have no less than seven messages allowed per campaign to be really helpful. The good thing about this is I have never seen one that limits you to less than 10 messages; even the free responders typically allow 10 emails. Ideally, your selected service will allow unlimited messages or emails per campaign.

Number of Subscribers:

Another extremely important feature is the maximum number of subscribers allowed per campaign. This is one of the truly discriminating features of all three types. Free responders tend to have a fixed limit on the number of subscribers. Auto responder software is typically NOT limited by the number of subscribers, but your web host probably limits the number of emails your account can send per hour which is effectively a subscriber limit for your software. Even many pro responders have a virtual limit on the number of subscribers by charging you a monthly fee based on the number of subscribers (either per campaign or total across all your campaigns). The ideal responder will allow unlimited subscribers per campaign with no increase in price.


I mentioned broadcasting earlier in this article. Broadcasting is an important feature that allows you to send impromptu, one-time emails to everyone on your list. As previously stated, this is invaluable for announcements, special offers, and just keeping in touch. I would not join any service without the broadcasting feature.

HTML Capable:

HTML is the language used to display websites, and using it in your emails tends to capture the attention of your customers better than simple text emails. If you can build a web page … Or even just format text in Microsoft Word (e.G., bolded, underlined, and colored text) … HTML is an important feature to consider. I find the easiest way to use HTML is to build your email as a web page in Microsoft FrontPage, and then click the HTML tab and Select All. Then copy it and paste it into the HTML message field of your auto responder service. Be sure to send yourself a copy of the campaign so you can ensure your formatting translated properly.

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