How Autoresponders Work

If you use an autoresponder service, for each autoresponder that you want to use, you create an identification.

This identification comes in front of and an email sent to that address triggers your autoresponder series. The identification is also translated into a reference number that you can use in forms where you have people sign up for your autoresponder series.

Before using them, you fill your autoresponder with some general data, like your physical address, which is required by law, copyright notices and so on.

Then you start filling the autoresponder with messages.
For each message, you have to specify how many days after triggering the autoresponder it has to be sent and that information, together with your message, is stored into the autoresponder

Most autoresponder services allow you to store an indefinite number of messages. That means, you can have a follow up series of 5, 7, 20 or even 52 or more messages.

Now that you have your messages prepared, you can create a form that your visitors can fill in, so they get subscribed to your message series.
Most autoresponder services will help you create such form. You just tell the system which fields must be incorporated and the system creates the HTML for the form that you just copy and paste into your webpage.

The most obvious fields in your form will be email address (of course, otherwise you wouldn’t know where to send the messages) and name. Either first name or full name will do.

If you’re using the autoresponder series for lead generation, I recommend to restrict your form to those two fields. The more you add, the higher the threshold for your visitors to subscribe.
Don’t scare them by asking physical address and phone number.
If however, you use the form as a follow up for sales, you could ask other personal data, an absolute necessity if you have to send CD’s or manuals.

Now you can present a nice form to your visitors to have them subscribe to your email follow up series.

A couple of fields in the form are hidden. That means, they are present in the form, but not shown in the browser.

One of them is the reference number, so the autoresponder service knows which series have to be send. This one is generated automatically when the form is created.

Another hidden field may be used for tracking. If you use the form at different webpages, it can be useful to put the page name in there, so you’ll know from which page the visitor subscribed. It can show you which pages are successful and which aren’t.

And there’s also a hidden field, containing a URL where the subscriber is sent to after successful subscription. This can be very useful, as you can send your subscriber to a specific page where you remind her again to confirm the subscription using the confirmation email that just has been sent.

Finally, all the information that your subscriber has filled in, will be stored in the autoresponder system. So, if you used name or first name in your form, their (first) name will be stored and can be used in your email follow up messages.

These fields are the variables that the autoresponder service provides and their appearance is different for each autoresponder service, but the way they work is basically the same.

So, for instance, in Aweber, one of the best autoresponder services around, the first name of your subscriber is stored in the variable {!first_name} and if you put this exact variable in your messages, it will replace {!first_name} by the name the subscriber filled in.

This is a very powerful option, as is personalizes your messages.
Whatever service you use, if this option is there, and it mostly is, use it!

Finally, you should be aware that you can broadcast a message to your subscribers at any time. So, a good autoresponder service is not only an email follow up service, you can also use it for list management.

Ok, now in the next issue we’ll see how you can market with autoresponders.

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