If you have ever sent an e-mail to a colleague or friend and you received an "out of office" reply message, you know what an autoresponder is. However, autoresponders can also be used for promotional purposes. You may have heard them referred to as mailbots, infobots, automatic e-mail and e-mail on demand. Based on the same principle as a fax on demand service you send an e-mail to a specific autoresponder e-mail address and you will receive via e-mail, the requested information. The major benefit besides automation of a daily task is that there is instant gratification for the recipient in that they can receive information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Another benefit is you can schedule multiple messages at pre-determined intervals which is helpful in getting your message in front of your prospective buyer as research indicates that they need to be exposed to your message multiple times before making a purchase. Factor in the savings of additional telephone and fax costs and autoresponders become a very cost effective addition to your marketing strategy.

You can use autoresponders to send information such as:
  • Sample e-zine copies to potential subscribers
  • Product listings
  • Price lists
  • Order confirmations
  • Advertising rates
  • Welcome letters
  • Thank you letters
  • Out of office advice
  • Catalogs
  • News releases
  • Brochures
  • Job listings
  • Spec sheets
  • Assembly instructions

1. Tips

When trying to select an autoresponder you want to make sure it has all the features you need to make the most out of your marketing activity. Some things to look for include:

  • Personalized responses - It is very important to make the recipient feel that they are the only one receiving the e-mail, that it was sent specifically to them. Most autoresponders today capture not only their e-mail address but also the requester's name allowing for personalized responses.
  • Multiple responses - Market research has shown that potential customers have to be exposed to your message multiple times before buying. Many autoresponders allow for multiple messages on a scheduled time line. 
  • Mandatory fields - Make sure you can set up mandatory fields so that when someone sends a message they must fill in specific information such as their name or phone number in addition to their e-mail address. This allows you to create a more detailed database of prospective customers. 
  • Size of message - Ensure that the autoresponder you choose does not limit the size of your message.
  • Tracking - In order to be able to track the results of your marketing efforts, you need access to reports in order to determine what is working and what is not. 
  • Updating - It is vital that you be able to update your autoresponder messages so that recipients receive the most up to date information on your products and services.
  • HTML messaging - Studies have shown that HTML e-mails have a higher click through rate than plain text e-mails.


2. Tools

Get Response
An autoresponder system that allows you to send multiple responses without unwanted advertising and best of all it is free. Also includes the ability to send HTML e-mails.

Send Free
A free service that allows you to have autoresponders running from your Web site but also allows you to advertise your business in the e-mail body of other targeted sites' autoresponders and visa versa.
Another free service which allows you to send automated responses to those asking for more information from a form on your Web site or through e-mail to you. Allows unlimited follow up responses that can be sent daily, weekly, monthly or yearly and also allows for personalization of your messages.
An autoresponder service that charges US $15.99 per month. Allows you to customize your autoresponder to your specifications.

Other services and software solutions:
Fast Facts (
AWeber Systems (
Promasoft Autoresponder(

3. Techniques

In order to ensure you produce effective autoresponder messages use the following tips:
  • Personalize - Use the recipient's name throughout the message and in the subject line.
  • Tone - Write your message in a tone that will build a relationship. Selling is all about relationships.
  • Focus - Focus on the recipient's needs and how your product or service provides a solution to them.
  • Subject line - Make your subject line catchy but don't use ad copy or it will be deleted before it is read.
  • Call to action - You'd be surprised how often people do what they are told to do.
  • Use correct spelling, upper and lower case, grammar and punctuation. This correspondence is business correspondence and is a reflection of everything related to how you do business. 
  • Make your point quickly - Online readers have little patience with lengthy messages.
  • Write for scanability - You should have a maximum of 6-7 lines per paragraph. 

4. Resources

I have included a couple of resources for you to check out when developing your coupons. For additional resources on a variety of topics, I recommend you visit the resources section of my Web site at There you will find additional tips, tools, techniques and resources.
How to Use Email & Autoresponders to Communicate with your Visitors
by Michael Wong
Have you thought of using autoresponders to automatically reply to visitors' emails? Autoresponders are a wondering time saving tool and are typically a free service from your ISP.

How More Work Takes Less Effort and Earns More Profit
by Dale Reardon
This article shows you how doing more work can take less effort and earn you more profits. The key is automation and the process is following up. Read on.
Lighten your E-mail Load with Autoresponders
by Jennifer Johnson
The author is an advocate of responding personally to visitor email, but there are certain situations when an autoresponder may benefit you AND your visitor. Find out which ones.

Visit my Web site at