Picking the right autoresponder is no easy task. There are dozens of things you can look for in an autoresponder, as well as dozens of autoresponders to choose from. Choosing the right one is essential, because your autoresponder is the backbone of all your customer communications. Choose the wrong one and you risk communicating and selling poorly – Which will directly result in lost profits.
So how do you choose the right autoresponder? Here are the top 10 things to look for.
#1 – Deliverability
Of all the features you could look for in an autoresponder, none are more important than deliverability.
Deliverability is the number of emails that actually end up in your customer’s mailbox. That means it wasn’t caught by spam filters and it didn’t disappear in some black hole somewhere.
Deliverability is a big issue. People have often found that switching from a shopping cart autoresponder to a professional autoresponder can increase their open rates by as much as double. Why? Because their emails are getting delivered.
#2 – The Right Price
There are many different levels of pricing for autoresponders.
On one end, you have autoresponders like Mail Chimp that are literally free as long as you have fewer than 2,000 subscribers. On the other end, you have autoresponders like InfusionSoft that cost thousands of dollars to setup and hundreds of dollars a month to run.
Price is a big consideration when you choose an autoresponder. Pick a service that’s in your price range, that scales up in a way that makes sense for your budget.
#3 – List Importing
If you run offline events or need to import lists from outside sources, it’s important to consider what you can and can’t do in terms of important email contacts.
For example, Aweber is extremely restrictive about this. You either can’t upload your contacts at all, or you can but they all have to double opt in. In other words, there’s a very good chance you’ll lose 70% of your list when porting to Aweber, simply because their system isn’t setup for people who need to regularly import contacts.
On the other end of the spectrum is Autoresponse Plus, where you can upload as many as you want from whatever source. For example, you can upload your own co-registration leads if you’re using ARP.
Most services fall somewhere in between.
#4 – Tracking and Analytics
Tracking and analytics are crucial to email marketing success. Email marketing isn’t about getting it right the first time. It’s about learning what your customers respond to and learning about what’s working and what’s not over time.
What kind of emails do your customers open? What times of day work the best? What about days of the week? Do personal emails work better or do factual emails work better? All of these questions can only be answered by tracking and statistics.
When you’re choosing an autoresponder, make sure you take a look at what tracking and analytics data they give you.
#5 – Cloud Hosted vs. Self-Hosted
Autoresponders can be split into two categories: Those that are an online service and those that you install on your own server.
The online services are a fantastic simple way to manage autoresponders. They handle all the technical issues for you so all you have to do is send out emails.
On the other hand, self-hosted services give you a lot more control. There are no restrictions on uploading contacts. You can send as many emails an hour as you want, whereas most autoresponder services have a limit. And often time’s creating your own email server is the only option if your list is big enough.
Having your own server has its down sides of course. You need to install it, which is quite technical. You also need to manage your server’s deliverability and make sure you don’t end up on any blacklists. It’s a complex process.
Most small businesses start off with a cloud solution and only go with a self-hosted solution if they really need the extra functionality.
#6 – iPhone Capability
Are you regularly on the go? If so, try to get an autoresponder that you can take with you.
Let’s say you launch a broadcast in the morning. If you have an autoresponder that has an app, you can check all your stats while you’re on the bus. You can see exactly how your campaign is performing at all times.
You can also write your emails on your phone and do just about anything else you need to do all from your phone.
#7 – Spam Scoring
If you want your emails to get where they’re going, it’s crucial that you know you spam score. Your spam score is basically how likely your email is to end up in the spam folder.
If you use words like “buy now!” or “viagra,” there’s a higher chance of your email getting caught in the filters. If you don’t use personalization, you’re at a higher risk as well. Having a spam scoring system will allow you to tweak your emails to reduce your risk of getting blocked.
#8 – Unlimited Lists
Some autoresponder services only give you a limited number of lists. Some only give you one. Some will charge you more to have more lists.
You really want to have an autoresponder service that’ll give you unlimited lists. That way, you can run multiple sites and split up your lists all in the same account without paying extra.
#9 – Segmentation
Your autoresponder should be able to segment out just one section of your email list and target your emails to only those people.
You should be able to segment your email list by location, by name, by whether or not they open your emails and by custom fields. This kind of segmentation gives you a lot of power to really laser target your messages to the right people.
#10 – WYSIWYG Editor
If you plan on using templates to send your HTML emails, it’s essential that the autoresponder has a good WYSIWYG editor. Too many autoresponder services use just pre-made templates or have very bare bones WYSIWYG editors.
When you send out HTML emails, your email’s design is every bit as important as your website’s design. People will judge you and judge your brand based on your design. It has to be stellar.
Having a good WYSIWYG editor will allow you to customize those designs to your brand, as well as make sure everything really looks perfect before sending it out.
These are the top ten things you need to pay attention to when you’re choosing an autoresponder service. There is no “perfect” autoresponder out there. However, for each specific business, there is one service that’ll be better for you than any other service. Use this criteria to figure out which one that is for you.