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It’s generally true that the lifeblood of any online business is your email list. Communication with customers and subscribers is vital in order to build a successful internet business. Therefore building an email list is something that must be done from the beginning. List building can be a very simple process, as long as you have a few tools in place before you get started.
One of the most important tools you will need is an email autoresponder. Without an autoresponder, building your list is going to be much harder, if not impossible.
If you’re serious about your online business, you know that in order to be successful and develop a business based on long-term profitability, you need to free up your time and resources so they can be better spent expanding your business.
Fortunately, there are a few different email marketing platforms available that are generally inexpensive to obtain. Some are even free. And most are extremely simple to use. You won’t need to spend too much money to get started, nor will you need any specialized skills.
What Is An Email Autoresponder?
Autoresponders are messages set by you to go out automatically to your email list. They help you by automatically sending out emails and newsletters to recipients who have signed up to your list.
You can schedule each set of messages to go out to your list in a sequence determined by you. Imagine marketing to a group of 5,000 customers by emailing each one individually. It would take countless hours to touch base with your subscribers. In the end, it is likely that only a small portion of your direct emails would ever make it to their inbox.
Autoresponders are invaluable because they enable you to write your messages in advance. They keep track of who receives them and when. They also give you a breakdown of your open and response rates so that you can modify your campaigns accordingly.
An autoresponder service is really an essential part of your list-building arsenal. They allow us to make and maintain contact with our customers and potential customers.
The best autoresponders also give you the ability to generate and manage newsletters, even supplying you with hundreds of templates. Autoresponders are a highly efficient and essential marketing tool that can be categorized into two types.
Self-Hosted Autoresponder Services
Self-hosted Autoresponders won’t normally cost you a monthly fee. They will usually have an upfront charge for the autoresponder itself. However, what you save initially may cost you later down the line because of problems that can arise when using this method.
If using a self-hosted autoresponder you run a high risk of having all your messages delivered to your recipients’ spam folder.
Hosted autoresponder companies are experts at ensuring high delivery so that your emails make their way to your subscriber’s inbox.
Furthermore, you will have to handle any spam complaints you get on your own. A hosted service would normally take care of any spam complaints on your behalf.
Not only that, a hosted service offers you the choice to use a double-opt-in. This guarantees you will get further protection in case of any complaints.
Moreover, hosted services typically give you the ability to back up your lists if something goes wrong. This is a job you will have to attend to yourself with a self-hosted autoresponder. And if you factor in any maintenance you may need to carry out, any initial cost savings may appear insignificant.
Hosted Autoresponder Services
Hosted autoresponder services are far easier to use. Apart from being white-listed with a vast majority of the major ISP’s, they also make sure you’re protected in the event of any spam complaints you may get. They also have lots of useful added features that you would not get with a self-hosted autoresponder.
These include tools that provide the ability to do split tests and monitor performance. By utilizing a hosted autoresponder provider, you’ll be able to create an unlimited number of campaigns and mailing lists, giving you the opportunity to target specific segments of your market.
If you really want to maximize response rates, you’ll want to segment your lists so that you’re able to connect with specific subscriber groups. For instance, you could send out a discount coupon to first-time customers to encourage them to shop on your site again. This is achieved through ‘list segmenting’. It uses demographics to categorize subscribers and break them down into separate, identifiable groups.
There are numerous hosted services for you to choose from and each comes with its own pros and cons. If you have never used an autoresponder service before, it can be a very difficult task to select which one is best suited to your own personal needs.
With this in mind, I’m going to give you a brief summary of the ﬁve most popular email autoresponder services available today.
Popular Hosted Services
Aweber has been the most popular autoresponder service for a very long time. Founded in 1998, they have a solid reputation within the email marketing sector as being a quality and reliable service for marketers. With high delivery rates and extended features that include segmenting and split testing, you’ll have access to all of the tools you need to maximize performance.
Aweber is also fairly easy to use and includes over 700 templates and 6,000 plus stock images to choose from. It also comes with a great customer support system.
They offer a free and a pro version which contains some great features and a price plan that will grow with your list. Prices start at $19 a month for 500 subscribers. For the yearly plan, you can save 14.9% if you pay upfront.
GetResponse is an all-in-one email marketing platform that caters to small and mid-sized businesses. Along with providing unlimited email marketing they also boast some great features.
These include advanced analytics, automated funnels, and live and on-demand webinars. As with AWeber, Getresponse is simple to use and also has plans that will grow with your business. Starting at $15 a month for a list size of 1,000, they’re slightly cheaper than Aweber. They offer a 30-day free trial and an 18% discount for a yearly plan.
MailChimp is a little different from the other email autoresponder services because they offer a free plan aimed at startups. The dashboard is easy to navigate, which is great for beginners. For an email list of up to 2,000 subscribers, you can send a maximum of 10,000 emails. Even so, with the free version, you have access to limited features. It might be better to start with the paid plan earlier in order to access the extra features.
Constant Contact offers an all-in-one simplified platform that serves small businesses. Their list of features includes email automation, list management, audience segmentation, split testing, in addition to social media campaign integration. They also offer a good size image and template library, website and online store builder, logo maker, and SEO tools.
Unlike the others, Constant Contact offers a 60 day trial period. Packages start at $20 a month for 500 subscribers.
iContact is another email marketing platform that offers a low monthly budget plan for beginners and small businesses. It allows you to create, send and track your messages. They provide a user-friendly drag and drop email builder with mobile-optimized design templates.
Other features include landing page analytics, campaign reports to track email performance as well as split testing to see which messages work best with your audience.
Another great point to take into account is the ability to import your existing list.
iContact offers a 30-day free trial. They are competitively priced with packages starting at $15 a month and a 15% discount if you pay annually.
You should now recognize the importance of an autoresponder when used as part of your marketing strategy.
Even though I’ve listed five of the most popular email marketing platforms on the market, there are many more out there. Take a closer inspection at a few of them and make your own decision.
After choosing one, you will typically have to remain with the same service for the duration of your business.
Transferring your list to a new provider can be a very labor-intensive and difficult process. Your new email autoresponder service might even require your subscribers to re-conﬁrm their subscription.
Also, keep in mind that autoresponder pricing works on a tier-based structure where you pay based on the number of subscribers you have. As your list grows, you can expect your monthly charges to increase as well.
There’s a lot of reputable services out there, and it’s up to you to do your research and choose one that is suited to your business needs.