How to Set Up an Autoresponder for Your Online Business - dummies

How to Set Up an Autoresponder for Your Online Business

By Greg Holden

An autoresponder, also called a mailbot, is software that you can use for your online business to set up to send automatic replies to requests for information about a product or service, or to respond to people subscribing to an e-mail publication or service.

You can provide automatic responses either through your own e-mail program or your web host’s e-mail service. If you use a web host to provide automatic responses, you can usually purchase an extra e-mail address that can be configured to return a text file (such as a form letter) to the sender.

Look for a web host that provides you with one or more autoresponders along with your account. Typically, your host assigns you an e-mail address that takes the form info@mycompany.com.

In this case, someone at your hosting service configures the account so that when a visitor to your site sends a message to info@yourcompany.com, a file of your choice, such as a simple text document that contains background information about you and your services, automatically goes out to the sender as a reply. You can do this in Gmail by following these steps:

  1. Click the gear icon in the upper right corner of the Gmail window.

  2. Click Settings from the drop-down list that appears.

    The Settings options appear in the main area of the Gmail window.

  3. In the General Settings area (the options that appear beneath the Settings heading), scroll down to Vacation Responder and select the Vacation Responder On option.

  4. Type a subject and message for your automatic response in the Subject and Message fields.

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  5. (Optional) Select the Only Send a Response to People in my Contacts check box if you don’t want everyone who e-mails you to know that you’re away from your mail.

  6. Click Save Changes when you’re done.

    With the vacation responder turned on, you see a banner across the top of any Gmail page, displaying the subject of your vacation response. To stop Gmail from automatically sending the response, click End Now in the banner.

If the service that hosts your website doesn’t provide free autoresponders, look into SendFree, an online service that provides you with autoresponder service for free but requires you to display ads along with your automatic response. (An ad-free version is available for $19.97 per month.)