The answer is a definite… maybe. Or perhaps… it depends…
It really does depend on how your promoting your business. If you have a fair number of clients and it would benefit you to send them a newsletter or some other communitcation on a regular basis, an auto responder can make your life much simpler.
What is an auto responder?
The auto responder (alternate spelling as one word) Wikipedia – yes, there is one – defines an auto responder as a computer program that automatically answers e-mail sent to it. Although I understand that definition I don’t think it really explains it very well.
When for example, you sign up for my newsletter, you fill out a form and when you click send, you are actually sending an email to my auto responder service. In my case, three things happen when you click the “Yes I want it!” button:
1. Your name and email address are sent via an email to my auto responder service.
2. You are transferred to a page that allows you to download the free ebook.
3. My auto responder service sends an email to the email address you entered into the form, with a message to you asking you if you really want a subscription to my newsletter. You’ve got to confirm you want the newsletter before it will be sent to you. That’s called a double opt-in system and it’s designed to reduce spam.
Once you confirm you want the newsletter, your email address goes into a database and the next time I send a newsletter out, you’ll get one because you’re now on my list.
And that’s the magic of an auto responder service. It creates and maintains a database for you, allowing you to send out newsletters, product offers, or email efficiently to a group of people who want to hear from you.
How Can Writers, Editors, Bloggers and Others Use An Auto Responder?
The most obvious use for an auto responder is some form of newsletter. If you’ve got a website or a blog, setting up a newsletter is pretty easy. You put a form on your site and people sign up.
Your newsletter can be daily, weekly, monthly, every six months or whatever you want. It doesn’t even have to appear on a regular schedule. Consider these ideas:
- You’ve written one or more ebooks and want to sell them. A newsletter gives you a way to remind people the ebook is for sale.
- You want a way to easily stay in touch with clients; a newsletter issued quarterly is an ideal way to do that.
- You want to offer a class. If you’ve got an email list it’s easy to promote it.
- You teach a face-to-face class and you want to give your students a way to be notified of new classes and products.
- You’re doing book signings. An auto responder on your website let’s you notify fans where you’ll be appearing next.
- You’ve got a blog and you realize a weekly or monthly newsletter is an ideal way to bring traffic back.
Do you begin to see the possibilities? Any time you want to communicate the same message to a group of people, an auto responder is a huge help.
What Auto Responder Do You Recommend?
I use GetResponse. They have been around a long time, which reassures me. You can have as many different lists as you want and pay nothing extra for any of them.
If you know a bit of html you can create good looking newsletters with a simple cut and paste.
If you don’t know html, no worries, GetResponse has nifty templates ready for you to use.
In fact, GetResponse has so many bells and whistles I’m only going to say that I’m very happy with them and can endorse them without hesitation.
How Much Will an Auto Responder Cost Me?
This is another it depends answser, and it does. My cost is just under $18 a month because I do the html on my own. But that’s all I pay for three newsletters for me and several for clients… a total of less than $20 a month.
So figure somewhere between $20, and maybe $40 a month, depending on which service you use and how many bells and whistles you add.
Contemplate how an auto responder might work for you and give one or the other a try.
Image from http://www.sxc.hu