Autoresponder and list management software has evolved from simple applications to very powerful and vital follow up and marketing tools.
While many people have questioned the effectiveness of email marketing due to the rapid increase in unsolicited mail in recent years, it still proves to be a very effective means of promotion on a budget.
As the popularity of this marketing strategy has taken hold, so has the range of autoresponder and mailing list manager software packages available.
What can I do with autoresponder/mailing list management software?
Here's a few examples:
- Deliver courses via email with all the lessons prepared. The autoresponder software/mailing list manager will send out the lessons at pre-defined intervals. The software can also handle subscriptions and unsubscribe requests.
- Send single marketing messages and request for information responses based on a form input from your web site, or on an email subject line.
- Handle subscribe/unsubscribe/subscription confirmation functions for a regular newsletter and maintain mailing list email addresses.
- Send out a marketing email based on a request for information, then follow up with a series of messages spread over time. This is an especially useful aspect to those involved with marketing as it's well known that most people do not purchase a product or service the first time they are exposed to it. Autoresponder software makes it very easy to follow up on leads.
Autoresponder software/mailing list manager functionality
Not all autoresponders can handle all the above functions. Some are only capable of replying with a message based on very simple rules. e.g. "if email subject line= food, then send message with subject line=recipe". No mailing lists are maintained or follow up messages are able to be issued. If you are seriously into web marketing, then you may want an all-in-one solution offering fast delivery rates.
To make choice of autoresponders and list managers more confusing, some applications can be hosted on your own site, remotely hosted by another company on their site or also come as desktop software that you run directly from your computer.
Pros and Cons of remotely vs. locally hosted and desktop software.
Remotely hosted autoresponder/mailing list management services:
Pros: The service provider has the responsibility of ensuring that the software is running properly and is secure. You'll always have the latest version running and it's a great deal simpler to get started. Dedicated list management services usually offer fast delivery of emails.
Cons: The company can go broke overnight taking not only your hard work, but also your valuable mailing lists with them. The price of remotely hosted applications can also add up over time to be very expensive - especially if the service provider suddenly jacks up the subscription price. There's also the question of privacy as some companies have been known to sell off mailing lists to others. If you are going to use a third party list management solutions, carry out appropriate research.
Recommendation - iContact (read review below)
Locally hosted autoresponders & mailing list managers:
Pros: Total control over the application and a high degree of customization is achievable.
Cons: Some technical knowledge may needed for setting up and upgrading; although over the last few years, this aspect has become far more user-friendly and some companies will install the software for you. Security of lists can also be a challenge.
Our recommendation - Email Marketer (read review below)
Desktop autoresponder solutions & list management software.
Pros: Very easy to set up and maintain. High degree of customization. Your mailing lists are always on your own computer, so you have total control
Cons: You need to be online to process subscriptions in the case of double opt in (although there are several simple workarounds for this).
locally hosted (server based) autoresponder software:
Email Marketer is a locally hosted (meaning you run it on your own server space) autoresponder and email marketing software solution with also regular mailing list features. I've used a number of their products and have always found them to be of excellent value and quality, easy to install and backed by equally good after sales support and user friendly documentation. This is the list management and autoresponder software used by Taming the Beast.
The company offers a guided tour and demo on their web site that you can use to review the powerful features of their application. The Email Marketer autoresponder software package also comes with a 30 day money back guarantee, free installation, support and updates.
Partial Feature List:
Take a trip out to view the Email Marketer autoresponder and mailing solution and try out their guided tour of the software.
Remotely hosted mailing list managers
Combining powerful list management, email marketing and autoresponder features, iContact is well worth a mention.
Decent remotely hosted email list management services are usually horribly expensive and fairly limited in options, whereas iContact has some great features and fast delivery rates at very sensible prices. They also offer a 15 day free trial so you can really test out the software. One very important feature is icontact's whitelist agreements with national ISPs; helping to ensure deliverability of your campaigns.
The feature set of this list management solution includes:
iContact provides real-time stats on sent messages, unique and total clicks, opens, bounces, forwards and delivery rates.
The pricing of iContact is very reasonable and is based on the number of subscribers, not on the number of messages you send. Prices start from as little as US$12 a month. The company also appears to take privacy very seriously, i.e. they state a strong commitment to the security of your lists.
If you don't need a full powered autoresponder software solution, just a good email list management service offering fast delivery, it's definitely worth while investigating. Try out the free trial iContact service.
Desktop autoresponder software:
FollowUpXpert. FollowUpXpert kindly provide free demo versions of both their autoresponder solutions so you can really test them out. I found this software to be very easy to implement and had it up and running very quickly.
Download your free demo copy of the FollowUpXpert, it's well worth considering.
MailXpert. If you're looking for an all-in-one desktop software solution; Consider MailXpert. It's a mailing list manager, email forwarder, autoresponder software, opt-in mailer all rolled into one easy to use package.
Download your free demo copy of MailXpert, and review the many other features of this powerful mailing list/autoresponder software!
In the months ahead, I'll be publishing further reviews and information on low cost,
all-in-one autoresponder and mailing list manager software solutions.
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In Loving Memory - Mignon Ann Bloch
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