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Internet Business Ideas, Issue #006 -- NEW Autoresponder Options
February 19, 2005
Hello,

This is a one-part report I created to share with you some of what I've learned about autoresponders and about online publishing. I update this report every time I learn something new! This report was last updated on February 19, 2005

I've been working with autoresponders, also known as automatic responders, since 2001. Since that time, the entire landscape of e-mail marketing has changed. Due to abuse of this precious gift of e-mail, spammers have clogged everyone's email with unsolicited and even crude marketing offers.

Nowadays, everyone needs a spam filter or other e-mail filter on their mail program. As a result, up to 27% of your WANTED e-mail is now deleted or thrown into a spam folder before you even see it.

All internet business have suffered, especially those that use autoresponders. By the way if you are new to the world of autoresponders here is a great article about the benefits of using autoresponders.

What follows is my updated version of a report I've been writing since 2002 about my experience with various autoresponder systems.

Building Relationships

One of the greatest benefits of using automatic responders is that you can follow up automatically with your customers and potential customers. On the internet, building relationships happens through offering valuable information that your prospective customer needs.

Creating a newsletter, a free report series, an online course, or providing other valuable information in short segments, over time, is made simple by using a professional autoresponder.

Also, once you have a customer, an automatic responder is the perfect way to follow up with them.

Your autoresponder is one of the most important business decisions you will make. You will need to choose a reliable company to entrust your list to!

Your newsletter list is pure GOLD ... it's where your income is! Start with a professional autoresponder so you can safely grow your newsletter subscription base.

If you end up having to move your newsletter list from autoresponder to autoresponder, you will lose subscribers, and you will spend a lot of time relearning how to use the new system as each service is different.

There are many autoresponder companies. I've researched a bunch of them and used 6 or 7 over the last 3 years in business.

Some things are OK to scrimp on, but not your autoresponder. It is so important to have a reliable list service.

I had one autoresponder company crash their servers and LOSE my entire database list ... AAARGH!! :-( Another one went out of business. Another one sold every name in my list as leads to other marketers. Another one crashed their server and did not deliver e-mail for months. Another one went out of business.

I repeat, your e-mail lists are a crucial aspect of your online income. Choose a reliable company!

Getting Your E-mail Delivered

With the increase in spam, ISP's are starting to filter out even legitimate e-mail sent by automated sources. For this reason it is essential that you choose an autoresponder company that knows how to keep themselves off of ISP "spam" lists. Those autoresponder companies that have established good relationships with ISP's are more likely to have their e-mails allowed though,

Here's how to find out if the autoresponder you're using is blocked by ISP's.Go to http://www.dnsstuff.com/. On the top right you will see the DNS lookup which is where you enter the autoresponder domain name. The result will give you the IP address (this is not the same as the name server addresses NS1 and NS2), it will be the first one in the list.

Copy the IP address and then go back to http://www.dnsstuff.com. Paste the IP address into the top center field for Spam database lookup and then see what the situation is. The more red you see, the fewer ISP's are allowing mail from that autoresponder.

Keep in mind that legitimate marketers still get spam complaints, so even a reputable company will unfortunately have some blocking. Another thing to keep in mind is that some autoresponders send mail from several domains so you should check out all of the domains that e-mail is sent from.

MY FIRST CHOICE - AWeber

Aweber is the first of all the autoresponder companies and initially when I was looking for an autoresponder, they were highly recommended to me, but at that time they had many limitations. In the old days they had only 7 follow up messages available, and they were one of the pricier services.

Now however they have become competitive with most other automatic responder companies, in both pricing and services. In my opinion, their greatest strength is that they have been around a long time and they are reliable. Also they have developed relationships with many major ISP's so your e-mail is more likely to be delivered.

I am still investigating which domains they send mail from. Their domain is blocked by several ISP's though this may have changes since I looked. Here is their spam database report.

Their user interface is simple and they have video instructions available to help you get set up. They offer unlimited autoresponders with an unlimited number of messages. Their pricing is based on numbers of subscribers within your database, rather than numbers of e-mails sent. They have all the basic features a good autoresponder service should have, plus toll free telephone customer service which is a VERY big plus nowadays.

If I were starting out with autoresponders I would choose this service hands down over any other.

If you are moving your autoresponder lists over to AWeber from another company, I am still not clear on how easy it is to transfer lists over. Nowadays most autoresponder companies require even double opt-in subscribers to re-confirm their subscription yet again if you move the list into another service. I am waiting to hear back from Aweber on this question.

ANOTHER GOOD CHOICE - QT-Pro

I've used QT-Pro for a number of years, and overall it has been a positive experience although recently there have been some problems which have alerted me to research some other systems. Until the last few months, they have had with the best and most prompt customer service I've ever experienced (web based). On one occasion the owner walked me through the list import process by phone ... from France! He also personally saw to it that my data was transferred properly when I transerred over to QT-Pro from an older autoresponder system.

QT-Pro is very open to suggestions from clients, and are always enhancing their service. They have made several changes at customers request, which no other service I have worked with has done.

QT-Pro's greatest strength is their wide range of creative marketing features. For the most part they haven't been blocked by most ISP's though they have trouble staying out of the Spamcop database.

They work diligently to keep abreast of the constantly changing e-mail marketing scene, and to protect your business from getting spam complaints. See their spam database listing.

They offer unlimited autoresponders for $10 to $40 a month depending on how many fancy features you want (talking e-mail, video and so on) . I've found them to be one of the best values on the net for a such a high powered, unlimited professional service.

You can download all your autoresponders every day to back up your lists and protect your data ... one of the few companies that puts this in your control. You will also get reports about how many e-mails were sent from each responder, you can track who opened your e-mails and so on.

You can generate several types of customized forms, create unlimited autoresponders with unlimited messages, have one autoresponder sequence move into a second one, (that is an incredibly usesful feature if you like to consolidate your lists into one big newsletter) and so on.

QT-Pro also has a user forum where the owner keeps members informed of various current events happening with e-mail marketing and online business. This is extremely valuable and no other autoresponder I have used provides this service.

For example one time Hotmail began rejecting all automated e-mails sent in batches over 30. QT-Pro reprogrammed their system to accomodate this. In sharp contrast, another autoresponder company I was using at the time handled this problem by not telling their clients about it and insteadtaking their e-mail broadcast feature offline indefinitely with no warning! :(

QT-Pro like all services has some limitations. Recently the system has had periods where it is extremely slow, which can be very frustrating. In the last 2 months I have noticed technical glitches occuring, such as my web forms malfunctioning. I did not see this for a while so I lost some business as a result. This has caused me to be concerned over the reliability of the service, which I am currently testing.

Autoresponders I Checked Out and Do Not Use

  • GetResponse is a good autoresponder and I use a version of this same autoresponder in my Traffic Oasis leads account. It was not my first choice for an unlimited service because at the time I was looking it was on so many spam databases. You will need to check all the domains they send from, as Get Response sends e-mail from multiple sources. You can see their spam database report here.
  • Quickresponder was a good service for a while but when all the spam laws changed, they had to keep changing their domain which caused a lot of problems with interruption of service and so on. Finally they required that each customer purchase their own new domain to send mail from. This was beyond he scope of what I was prepared to deal with.
  • Proautoresponder was another one I checked out and chose not to use at the time because they didn't have all the features I was looking for.
  • My first professional autoresponder was Infogeneratorpro whose company changed management. I came to understand that they were selling my subscribers as leads :( so I found another service.

NEW OPTIONS FOR NEWSLETTER PUBLISHING

With so much spam clogging up everyone's e-mail these days, it is a more challenging to share information with people. One exciting new alternative I have just learned about is syndicated news channels.

This not only allows your subscribers to not miss your newsletter, but they can add a comment right on your channel, and they can get notfied from the computer desktop or browser when you've added a newsletter. They can also add your newsletter to their site!

This also is excellent for search engine rankings as your news channel gets spidered by the search engines and you get more traffic which means more exposure for your business.

I've set up news channels for several of my sites if you'd like to see. They are brand new at this writing so I haven't finished setting them up yet.

The HomeBizwomen.com news channel (which I've also syndicated on the site) is still getting it's content shuffled around, and I haven't found the right look yet, so pardon our dust :-) http://www.homebizwomen.com/news

The HomeBizHearts.com channel is also new at http://www.homebizwomen.com/news

The Xango news channel for my exotic health beverage business is completely up and running at http://www.homebizhearts.com/go

I link to the items in my news channel from my e-mail messages, which makes it easier for the e-mail messages to get through e-mail spam filters.

With this service you can get a free non-e-mail messenger, I find that very helpful! You can even send me a message here, without e-mail, and you'll know that it won't get lost.

I hope this report was helpful to you. Take care and have a GREAT week!

Blessings,

Homebizwomen.com


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