Making Autoresponders Work For You!
With Christmas and the holiday season coming along I thought the value of email autoresponders would be useful to explore.
Email autoresponders are email messages that are automatically sent in reply to emails sent usually by a customer to a business.
The value of an autoresponder email lies in how it communicates with precious customers – quickly and directly.
How well it communicates depends on what you put in the message of the email autoresponder. If you simply offer fluff then that is all your customers will receive. If you offer quality information that has a good chance of answering their question, their need then the value increases.
Because the autoresponder immediately returns a message to your customer the impression is one of caring and quick response, lets people know that the email has hit your system and hasn’t been lost in the internet. This is very important.
It also gives you a little bit of breathing room. You can say what time period you will directly get back to them, say 2 or 3 working days.
You can provide a list of frequently asked questions (FAQ) with answers and this saves everyone time and effort. From experience you can judge what are your most commonly asked questions and provide answers to them. This saves you from answering the same question three days a week, seven days a week and gives your valuable customer the information they want straight away.
With a FAQ you can even let your customer know that you don’t read email sent to this address as the most common questions are answered, if their question isn’t answered then they can email another specified address and chat with you directly.
I have a number of autoresponder emails set up so I can quickly answer questions, providing information, saving time and showing care.
It has taken me some time to get the right balance in the information I provide in the autoresponders and I do need to review and update them – especially in times of business development and change. But the amount of time they save me and my customers is valuable and important. They also have my business looking professional and robust.
Another feature I particularly like about autoresponders is the time they can buy me during school holidays or when I’m away with family duties. I can update autoresponders with info such as “during school holidays it may take an extra day to get back to you”.
I’ve found that if people are well informed about what is happening then life goes along much more smoothly – it has a lot to do with trust and the internet. Effective communication helps SO much with developing trust with an internet based business where you don’t necessarily know the people behind the business and you are spending money with them.
I learnt the most about autoresponders from the Corey Rudl Internet Marketing Centre’s Marketing Course because it offered detailed examples of what to write in an autoresponder, how to use them and when to use them.
It was such a Godsend to have examples written out for me to adapt to my own needs. Now, after a few reviews of my business systems and updates to the autoresponder text I still have the same structured shown in the Internet Marketing Centre material but my specific information and systems have evolved to meet exact customer needs.
An interesting lesson learnt through revision of my business systems has been the benefits of communicating honestly and openly with customers. I learnt most of my lessons by making mistakes and having emails from upset customers who felt I hadn’t provided enough information. I learnt that if I apologised politely for their negative experience, did my best to fix the problem, asked for feedback and told them how I was fixing the business system so the problem wouldn’t happen again they were really happy about the solutions and helpful with feedback about their experience, how it could be improved and gave me very useful information. They have also turned out to be repeat customers – the most valuable ones.
So the lesson was be open, see problems as ways to improve business systems and sincerely communicate with customers so you have a chance of making them happy and keeping them. Most people understand we are all human and make mistakes. Most people are also very happy to be part of a solution.
Now my autoresponders do things like answer eBay payment and shipping questions, promote other aspects of my business, provide alternative payment details for local customers, and more. eBay doesn’t allow linking to websites from the item descriptions. But it does allow linking to emails. So I list my email addresses in my item descriptions and they achieve two things – they show my website address in the written out email address so people can enter the URL themselves and go to the site and a few of them are directly linked to autoresponders which provide not only business system information but also promote my website and lead people directly to certain areas.
So I’m using my autoresponders as marketing tools as well. If you want to check this out go to any one of my eBay items and check out the emails. The email@example.com doesn’t have an autoresponder, it gets read by me so unless you want to have a little chat with me don’t worry about that one. 🙂
Most autoresponders are set as plain text, meaning they formatting is kept to a minimum. I have the opportunity of using HTML formatting for my autoresponders but have used it only once because I’m not sure how many people use HTML emails (a simple click of a button to upgrade to HTML email format on your end in most applications like Outlook, Hotmail or Yahoo).
So how do you get autoresponders for your own website?
Autoresponder facilities are provided by your website host provider. So whoever is hosting your website should be able to provide autoresponder technology (not fancy technology, it is straight forward stuff).
You shouldn’t have to pay for autoresponders, the use of them or how many you have or how many emails you receive for them. It should be a free service provided by your host.
When investigating make sure there isn’t anyone else’s advertising included in the emails – either your regular emails or your autoresponders.
Autoresponders need to have a from name, eg. your business name, a subject line, eg. Answer to your question, and the body of the email where your message is. It is also important to provide further contact information, especially for frequently asked questions!
I really believe in the benefits of effective business systems to grow and strengthen a business. Autoresponders are excellent and crucial internet business system tools and internet marketing tools. So take advantage of them. Learn, build, test and use!
Make it happen!