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What can you do with autoresponder software besides automatically respond to email? Here are five ideas on how you can use an autoresponder to enhance your web business:
* Create hidden pages with special deals available only to those who request the autoresponder to send them the address.
* Offer a trial version of your product to those who request it through an auto-responder -- works best with products that can be delivered digitally.
* Create quizzes on your site and place the answers in an autoresponder.
* Distribute an email course on how to use your product.
Remember, the goal here is to interest casual users of your site enough to prompt them to give their email address to the autoresponder. All of the above are creative ideas to give you a start.
ASP solutions, where you run everything through the company's web-based system, have monthly charges that average around $20. Virtually all offer unlimited messaging capabilities. Which one is right for you? It depends on your budget and how much you like to mess around with the technical side of things. If you just want to set it up and run, the ASP likely will work best for you, and offer the added advantage of monitoring from any Internet connection. If you have a very low budget and basic needs, you can run the automatic responder off your own PC.
A good ebusiness solution will address more than the initial purchase. People who have bought from you once are more likely to buy from you than people who have never bought anything from you. And, interestingly enough, the more recent their purchase the more likely they are to buy from you again. This means you want your ebusiness software to take advantage of this by sending out emails to your customers, telling them about similar items they might like to purchase from you, offering special discounts, or telling them about new items in your online store. An ebusiness solution provider that offers "auto responders" helps increase sales.
One of the great advantages of ecommerce shopping cart software packages is how you can automate many customer-service functions that used to take work by humans. For example, answering customer email. Many autoresponders can also send emails to specific users or smal mailing lists. The idea here is to use the autoresponders not only to automate email responses, but to do, for example, follow-up marketing with contextual data. If this really takes off, you will likely need to upgrade to more powerful email list software.
Auto responders allow you to set up automatic emails based on various criteria. If you can use your web control panel to set these up, you won't need to pay for this as a separate service. Most people need to see something a few times before they will respond. You'll be able to use your web control panel to set up auto responders to send a series of emails to go out at certain schedules once people have opted-in to your mailing list. Then you can create different emails that will go out at different times. For example, the first day someone signs up for your list, they'll get email #1; the second day email #2; and so forth.
An automatic responder is software that responds to specific inquiries with automatic emails. It can also be used to send canned emails to specific email addresses that you have collected. So how can this help you with an affiliate program solution? Four words: Customer outreach, Follow-up marketing. If you have affiliates for your site, you can respond to their needs automatically, as well as send them specific updates and new product announcements. If you are an affiliate, you can automatically send emails to prospects based on past purchases or stated preferences. It's a relatively easy and inexpensive way to stay in touch with your affiliates and/or customers.
Getting the right auto-reponder software is a critical part of your ebusiness software suite. Auto-responder software lets you automatically send pre-written email messages in response to messages sent through your website. Auto-responder software is available as relatively simple software installed on your PC or as an enteprise-level hosted solution. Which is right for you depends on your needs and wallet. Take time to research auto-responder software and all ebusiness software before you buy.
Customers who just purchased products from you are more likely to buy from you than new visitors. Auto responders that are integrated with your ecommerce internet solution email your customers after their purchase with thank you messages, suggestions for follow-on purchases, and coupons for loyal customers. Auto responders integrated with your ecommerce software also help reduce your support costs by automatically confirming purchases, verifying shipment information, and other details that people might email or call you to find out.
Opt-in email software can help you build a successful email marketing campaign. But you need to make sure you follow some basic rules to make sure you build a reputation as a trustworthy email marketer:
* Your email lists should always be opt-in, with customers choosing to receive emails from you. If you send unsolicited emails, you risk developing a reputation as a spammer.
* Constantly check your email lists to see who has asked to unsubscribe and make sure you are quick to act on any unsubscribe requests.
Choose the right web host and you can often find free automatic responder services. Automatic responders send pre-targeted emails out automatically based on specific email queries made through the web site. These can be extremely helpful to anyone trying to run a busy e-commerce site with minimal human help. These free automatic responders aren't going to offer the industrial strength of specific automatic responder software that you can purchase on your own. On the other hand, it's a great way to find out if they work for you before dropping a lot of money on the software.
One good thing about putting together your own shopping cart software solution rather than buying an all-in-one package is that you can shop for exactly what you want. For example, opt-in email software packages are available in locally hosted options. On the other hand, you will again be dealing with more time spent installing and maintaining software, rather than having it done for you. Which is right for your business? You need to do the research and find out.
For all of its strengths as an ecommerce platform, the Web has one big, unavoidable weakness: it is an inherently passive media. Customers have to come to you by clicking on a link. The best thing you can do is prompt them to click on that link. And one of the easiest ways to do that is with email. As part of your online sales solution, you absolutely must have automated email list software, which will allow you to put together lists of customer email addresses. Use these lists for follow-up marketing -- "Since you bought x, we think you might like to buy y" -- to announce new products for sale, pricing changes, etc. Many ecommerce software solutions include autoresponders, which in addition to sending out pre-written emails to specific responses, can also create and manage small mailing lists. If your lists start to get large and difficult to manage, you may need to graduate to specific email list software.
Email is a great customer-outreach tool, but writing and sending dozens, or hundreds, or thousands of customer emails every day ranges from difficult to impossible and can take you away from more important parts of running your business. Automated email responders can make a big difference. Having an autoresponder as part of your online sales solution allows you to create and automatically send pre-written emails in response to specific customer requests. Often, autoresponder software can also be used as simple mailing list software, allowing you to create and automate the sending of emails to specific groups of customers. Email can be a very effective part of your overall online sales solution. Just remember to always allow your customers to opt-in and opt-out of mailing lists.
Commerce on the web has many strengths and a few weaknesses. One of those weaknesses is that the web remains an inherently passive media. You have to get people to come to your site. So as you look for an affiliate program solution, remember to think about outreach. One key to successful outreach is to build an email list of your affiliates and use an automatic responder to handle the mail and replies. The idea here is that you can keep your affiliates in the loop with new products that they might want to sell for you. The affiliates can also use email and automatic responders to reach potential buyers. So email outreach can work for each step down the marketing chain.
|Sheri Ann Richerson|