Using E-mail Autoresponders Effectively for Your Business

Autoresponder messages are sent automatically in response to e-mail or as part of the cycle of activity on a website. You set up the former type in your e-mail program, usually by creating a message rule. (See the Help feature in your e-mail program.) The standard out-of-office message is perhaps the most common use of this type of autoresponder.

Web-based autoresponders, such as the one for Sewing Patterns, shown in the following illustration, are often generated when users submit forms or make purchases.

[Credit: Courtesy of Sewingpatterns.com]
Credit: Courtesy of Sewingpatterns.com

These autoresponder messages are useful when you want to

  • Welcome users to a newsletter, perhaps with a coupon for an initial purchase.

  • Acknowledge a request for information or technical support.

  • Confirm a purchase.

  • Indicate that an item is in production or has shipped.

  • Send a survey for feedback on customer service.

  • Say thank you and inquire about customer satisfaction.

Because users can’t reply to web-based autoresponder messages, include a live e-mail address and phone number in your message. Simple autoresponders are usually included in hosting packages. Tell your developer which autoresponders you want to send and when.

Ask whether you can personalize these autoresponders with a salutation (such as “Dear Jane”) that draws the user’s name from an order or information request form.

If you need multiple, timed autoresponders, you can use shareware, purchased software, add-on features offered by many e-newsletter vendors, an autoresponder included with your storefront package, or a third-party provider’s web-based service, such as the one at eCourseWizard. Given the sensitivity to spam, just don’t overdo it. See The Site Wizard for more information about autoresponders.

An e-mailed autoresponder doesn't serve the same function as a Thank You page on a website. You still should provide immediate feedback online whenever a user successfully submits a form or places an order.

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