How To Use Auto Responders To Increase Your Sales

by Irune

Email is still a proven marketing channel, and both small businesses and affiliate marketers can use newsletters and email lists to make money.

If you are a small business owner trying to run your own company all by yourself you may already noticed how much time you spend dealing with email. Many of those emails are actually semi-automated responses, from courtesy follow ups to answering requests for information from clients, and can be automated using an auto-responder with the right scripts. This will free your time to actually write the emails that need your personal touch, and allow you to always stay on top of your inbox.

What does an auto-responder do?

As the name indicates, an auto-responder is a program that sends one or several emails back in answer to a specific query. To do this it uses scripts that identify the type of email that needs to be answered and sends the correct reply. Not all auto-responders are the same and they can go from extremely simple to versatile and complex. An auto-responder can, for example, send several emails to a user who registered at your website for a trial product over the course of a few days, sending training materials or prompting the user to register at a reduced price before the trial is over. Other money making schemes, such as affiliate marketing, rely heavily on canned responses to make subscribers aware of new products being promoted.

Doing this manually is both time consuming, error prone and right out impossible if you have more than a few queries per day.

How do auto-responders help you sell more?

Auto-responders allow you to send a reply to a user query immediately, even if you aren't close to your computer. If a user signs up requesting a catalogue and you don't answer his email on time he'll probably move on to the competition. The fact that your email goes out immediately allows you to keep the user attention and increases the chances that he'll purchase. You won't lose a sale again because of a mail sent when you were busy, and you won't even waste time answering routine sales questions.

Freebies and building up your mailing list
Auto-responders also allow you to send download links to incentives offered to sign up to your mailing list, such as a downloadable eBook. This is a proven and popular way to build your prospect list and impress your potential clients with a free report or eBook full of insights and useful information. By automating the response you will be able to forget about this part of your business and focus instead of creating quality products that keep your visitors engaged and increase your conversion rate.


Choosing the right auto-responder for your small business
Not all auto-responders are the same, and there's a wild variation on features, complexity and prices. Before spending a lot of money on the most complex and expensive auto-responders you can find (or the one that promises to make you rich while you sunbath) take a look at your requirements and technical skills.

If you are barely able to program a video or your business model is built around the phone, a highly configurable auto-responder may go unused. On the other hand, people involved in money making schemes such as affiliate marketing, running several mailing lists to promote their products, will be ill served with a cheap but too basic option. 

Compare the different auto-responders on offer and choose one that you feel comfortable using. If your needs change you can always change your auto responding system later on, instead of buying a complex piece of software and never using it because it's too complicated to program.

Auto-responders don't replace the personal touch
Auto-responders are a useful tool to manage a business and make it more efficient, but it doesn't mean that you can set it up and forget about it. There will be emails that need your personal touch, and even with the automatic ones you will need to analyse their effects and tweak them if you actually intend them to be a great marketing tool. There's few things more annoying that sending a support request and receiving a canned response that doesn't really answer your question, and you don't want to become known for that kind of situation. Auto-responders are definitely not the way to deal with unhappy customers.

Despite the claims that can be found on the Internet, running a small business in autopilot is risky and auto-responders won't replace you in your interaction with your clients. Auto-responders are just one tool out of many you can use to increase your small business marketing reach.

Updated: 10/30/2011, Irune
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