Autoresponders as their name suggests is a type of software that automatically responds to email messages sent to you. This is important because it allows people to get information that they want immediately rather than waiting for you to reply. Internet marketers have long understood the importance of autoresponders because it not only allows them to conduct business 24/7 around the clock but also the time freedom to enjoy life away from the grind of a regular 9 to 5 job.

Autoresponders also allow you to send personalized, follow-up messages to your mailing list. You only have to write these messages once, program the sending interval and the system will automatically send them out for you. Sending multiple follow up sales messages is important because people don't usually take action on the first message. Researchers have found that it can take up to seven impressions (web or email) before people are convinced enough to buy from you. Hence, it is vital to get the right autoresponder to help you manage your email marketing campaigns, track your readership and sales, and deliver your messages.

There are three main types of autoresponders in the market and can be broken down into the following:

PC based autoresponder software

PC based autoresponders reside on your home computer or laptop. They are easy to install and use but their main drawback is that emails have to be sent through your ISP. If you have a large mailing list, it could be very slow or exceed the email limits imposed by your ISP. Also, your PC has to be on all the time for the autoresponder to function in real time. Take a look at Promasoft AutoResponder software which costs US$147.

Server or host based autoresponder script

You can also purchase and install an autoresponder script on your web server or domain's web host server. There is only a once off cost for the software and it can be used for sending an unlimited number of email marketing messages and follow ups. However, you are responsible for maintenance, setup and configuration of the system. If there are any problems, you will have to troubleshoot it yourself. For example, if you are using a shared or reseller account, you are likely sharing one IP address with several other domains on the same server and if this IP is blacklisted because of another domain's actions, your emails will be blocked as well. If you are going to buy an autoresponder script, make sure you get your own dedicated server or IP address. A good example of an autoresponder script is AutoResponse Plus which costs US$195.

Autoresponder services

Autoresponder services are subscription based autoresponders that take away the hassle of setting up and maintaining your own autoresponder system and worrying about email deliverability. They offer turn key, web based email marketing services for a monthly fee. You also get live support and training plus unlimited email marketing campaigns for as many domains as you have. Good autoresponder service providers have agreements with major ISP and multiple IP addresses to ensure email deliverability. Companies like GetResponse provide autoresponder services for about US17.95 per month.

Bottom line is that if you are serious about your internet business, you need to spend time focusing on marketing your online business, not messing around with software and scripts and worrying about emails bouncing back. Autoresponder services are the way to go. Rather than spending a lump sum of between $147 to $195 for either of the first two autoresponder software, try out an autoresponder service for 6 - 8 months. If you're not making enough money online to cover the cost of the autoresponder service by then, you probably need to rethink your online business!

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