Making use of an auto response service is about much more than just having an “out of office” reply set up. It’s about accumulating and managing a list of potential clients or customers.
This includes the capture of email addresses for future follow-ups, which can be automated. A professional auto response service also facilitates the creation of list segments based on the subscriber’s actions. These may include sending a message, looking at a specific page, abandoning their cart upon checkout, or clicking a specific link in a specific email.
Choosing the right email management provider enables you to automate a host of tasks, some of which would be either impossible or uneconomical to execute otherwise – and leverage those actions for a better return on your advertising spend and your marketing efforts.
Here are 3 things to look for when choosing an auto response provider:
1. How long have they been in business?
Auto response companies come and go. Many of them don’t last, for various reasons. Some of them are unable to evolve with the needs of their clients, while some struggle to maintain their delivery rates. Some are simply unable to acquire a large enough market share to maintain viability.
There are, however, a few companies which have stood the test of time. For smaller businesses, we recommend using services like Aweber (which we use ourselves) or Getresponse if you need more specific functionality. For a basic newsletter and broadcast emails (emails sent to everyone on the list), you could also look at Mailchimp. Their functionality is basic, but their deliver-ability is excellent.
Larger business, you may want to look at systems like Hubspot and Marketo.
2. Does the price seem to good to be true?
As a rule of thumb, professional auto response services start at $15 to $20 per month for 500 subscribers (and it becomes cheaper per subscriber for higher priced plans).
If the provider’s services start below that price point, or facilitate managing a high number of subscribers for the price, you could run into any of the following:
a. Limited functionality. In some cases you cannot send sequential emails, or have access to triggers (such as the subscriber performing a specific action which triggers a specific email). In other cases you may find yourself limited in terms of templates for sign-up forms or emails.
b. Poor deliver-ability. Note that your mailing list provider is judged (by the mail delivery subsystem) on ALL of the emails sent from it. There are many factors that can affect the deliver-ability in general, and whatever is allowed by the provider will have an impact on the emails you send. Your legitimate emails may end up in the spam folder.
c. Templates that are not mobile responsive. Yes, some providers still use outdated technology. It happens.
As such, aim for a provider with middle-of-the-road pricing. What you pay for is what you get.
3. Ease of use:
While the person setting it all up may be knowledgeable, there may be times when that person is not available to make changes or to send a quick broadcast email to a specific segment of the mailing list.
When you need to do it yourself, or delegate it to someone else, will that person understand how to get the job done? If you need to send out an urgent email, the last thing you need is to have to deal with a learning curve.
Once again, Aweber is – for us – the one that offers the best balance between deliver-ability and ease of use. While our functionality requirements are relatively simple, Aweber can do quite a bit in terms of triggers and segmentation.
At the end of the day, choosing an auto response system is not rocket science – unless you have some very specific, industry-specific needs.
Just be sure that you are buying something that has the functionality you need, doesn’t look fishy (too good to be true), and is unlikely to go out of business any time soon.