Autoresponder – A Major Consideration in Building a List

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by John V. W. Howe

One of the first considerations in building a mailing list should be “how am I going to handle all those names that I will have in my list”. An autoresponder is the answer to this “nice to have” problem.
When you study successful Internet entrepreneurs, the most common theme that runs through the success of these individuals is building a list of customers who then become faithful repeat customers. You know from your off-line life that the businesses that you continually use are the ones that do a good job and treat you right. Once you gain confidence in them, you continue to go back to them. The same is true on the Internet.
An eBook called “The 30 Day Blueprint for Success” tells convincing stories of the importance of building a mailing list. The book is a compilation of articles from 15 highly respected Internet professionals from different arenas of the Net who were challenged with the following scenario:
“Dear Internet Marketing Expert,
You suddenly lose all your money, along with your name and reputation, and only have your marketing know-how left.
You have bills piled high and people harassing you for money over the phone.
Plus, you have a guaranteed roof over your head, a phone line, and an Internet connection for only one month.
You no longer have your big guru name or JV partners. Other than your vast marketing experience, you’re an unknown newbie.
What would you do, from day 1 to day 30, to get yourself back on top?”
(The above quote was excerpted from Volume I of “The 30 Day Blueprint for Success”.)
The most common method that these individuals used was to rebuild a customer list as quickly as possible so they could be effective in rebuilding the business they once had. Just as an aside, the book was very revealing about the thought patterns of these experts during their 30 day quest to restore the income stream that they once enjoyed.
I was fortunate to be able to attend a class taught by my friend and mentor, Jim Cockrum (author of “The Silent Sales Machine Hiding on eBay”). During the class, he said that if his office caught fire the first thing he would save was the backup of his mailing list.
How to Manage a List - Autoresponders
Some might consider this a little backwards, but let’s plan for how we are going to handle the list before we figure out how to build it. We need to be able to capture basic information like name and email address. We need to be able to automatically send a reply to the person joining the list and verify that they were indeed the person who sent the request to join. (This is called double opt-in and it is vitally important so you can prove that you are not sending SPAM to the members of your list). We will need to send out emails to all the people on the list in the future when we start communicating with the customers on the list.
To handle this in any volume on your own is an impossible task, but there are services called autoresponders on the Internet that will handle all of this for you.
There are free autoresponders such as FreeAutoBot.com and there are paid autoresponders such as Aweber.com and GetResponse.com. Free sounds good for a start up, but the downside is the fact that the autoresponder puts its link and sometimes places advertising in the emails that it sends for you. This does not look as professional as a message from a paid autoresponder.
If you use a free autoresponder and then want to switch over to a paid one later, you face the conversion problems of converting your mailing list. This can be done with import features in autoresponders that allow for mass input of lists. However, this is additional work and the autoresponder will take a close look at the list since this is how large SPAM mailing lists are loaded into an autoresponder. This is your choice and should be carefully researched before you make your decision.
Let’s discuss the autoresponder, Aweber.com. The site has a 30 day free test drive that will allow you to experiment with it and decide if it is for you. 
If you decide to use it (and you will have to use an autoresponder to build a list of any size), one month of service from Aweber.com is $19.95 as of this writing if you start off with a monthly plan. Once you are satisfied that this is for you, you can save $60.00 per year with an annual plan.

After you have registered, log into Aweber.com and go to the “How to Get Started” page. This is very complete and has great instructions and tutorial videos to help you set up your first autoresponder.
Compose your email to send in MS Word or similar word processor. This will help you with spelling and grammar. Then open MS Notepad or a similar text editor. Notepad strips off the word processor formatting in preparation for copying and pasting your message into the Aweber input screen.
If you use MS Notepad , it is found under Accessories in Programs on your MS Windows. If you have not already done so, set up a shortcut icon on your desktop or on your systems tray for Notepad. It is very handy to be able to open this quickly. It can be used as a scratch pad for copying and pasting information from web pages to print or save for later use.
Each week when the weekly issue of Boomer eZine is being prepared for publication these are the steps that are followed:
1. Log onto Aweber and set up what is called a “Broadcast Message”.
2. Copy the newsletter from MS Word and paste it into Notepad.
3. Copy the text from Notepad and paste it into the input area on Aweber.
4. Check the formatting in Aweber.
5. Send a test email to myself to see how the email looks. This is a tool on Aweber.
6. If the email is acceptable, queue the broadcast message to send the Boomer eZine to all the names on the list.
The Aweber autoresponder automatically sends follow up emails. It is set up to send a follow up email 14 days after the initial sign up to thank a new subscriber to Boomer eZine for being a reader.
Now that we know there is a simple way to handle all those names that you will add to your list, go out and get started building your money making mailing list.
Good luck.

About the Author:

John V. W. Howe is an entrepreneur, author, inventor, patent holder, husband, father, and grandfather. He has been involved in entrepreneurial activities for over 40 years. He founded boomer-ezine.com and retirement-jobs-online.com to help Boomers (baby boomers) become entrepreneurs when they retire.

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