Depending on the type of business you operate, the thought of having to answer numerous email inquiries can be a nightmare. However, there’s no doubt if you want to run a professional and successful internet business you need to include email marketing as part of your strategy. There is tons of competition these days so its important to keep your business name in front of your prospective customer.
One way to do this is with auto-responder service. Using an auto-responder is a very time efficient and cost effective way of communicating with prospects, customers and clients using pre-written messages.
Auto-responder messages can be used for a variety of purposes such as providing as response as quickly as possible, to answer the same inquiries and FAQ’s, supply product information, provide price quotations, or to send out regular newsletters and friendly greetings.
There are two different types of messages. The first are automated and set up to be always dispatched in the same systematic order. These messages will always be accessed in the same order and time scale regardless of when a customer submits their contact details.
The second are known as "broadcasts" and these are live messages used to relay time sensitive information. As these messages can be set up, changed and delayed at will, and even designated to be sent out at a certain time of day, they really are intelligent programming.
Many companies provide email marketing or auto-responder services but there are certain criteria you need to consider before deciding which would be best for your business. These include the following:
1. Reliable deliverability. First and foremost, what is most important is the reliability and what pecentage of deliverability of your email messages and newsletters are passing through the numerous spam filters. The major email providers these days (gmail, hotmail, aol, yahoo, etc) are cracking down on spam email.
2. Tracking and segmentation. Does your email marketing company provide any type of tracking data, and can your lists be segmented? Without tracking data, you are unable to determine the effectiveness of your emails, newsletters, offers, etc, and whether your prospect, customer or client is actually receiving and/or opening your email. Being able to segment your different lists is also a big time saver.
3. Unlimited marketing campaigns with multiple lists. Are you allowed unlimited marketing campaigns and allowed to setup multiple lists within those campaigns? If you are not allowed unlimited marketing campaigns the cost can be rather significant.
4. Additional charges depending on your list. You need to be aware that as the size of your list or the number of subscribers on your list grows, are their additional charges that apply. For example, if your list grows from 5,000 to 10,000 to 20,000 and so on, will your email marketing company charge you a higher monthly fee?
5. Import contacts. Can you import contact details from other sources or from other autoresponders is very important as well.
6. Customer support. Is there a 24/7 customer support staff available to answer your questions and handle any problems that may occur.
7. Broadcast messages. Can you send broadcast messages to more than one list and be selective about which list to include.
8. Ease of use. Is the system easy to use? This is very important as most business owners are concentrating on running a business and may not be so tech savvy.
Using an auto-responder effectively and efficiency will greatly enhance your business. Taking the time to consider the 8 criteria above may save you an unexpected huge monthly tab or business headache.