Autoresponder Features: Essentials, Important and Others

autoresponder features

The autoresponder is a tool which, by itself or as part of a complex online marketing service offers its customers the means to keep a relationship with a subscriber base, via email marketing.

Throughout this blog post I will not make any recommendation of one (or more) autoresponder service(s). I encourage you to compare and think in perspective and based on what YOUR expectations are, what you want to use email marketing for. I made my choice years back as a newbie (so don’t just copy my choice without thinking!) and I will most likely “update” it at the right time.

Why did I write this blog post? Because we see it all the time: people choose, especially at first, the autoresponder service based on the wrong reasons or putting the most value on non-essential features.

Below, I won’t list the essential features you’ll find in most professional autoresponders like “unlimited” lists and followup emails, personalization, support for html and text emails. Just a few sensitive points that make a difference in my opinion:

Essential Autoresponder Features

  1. High Deliverability
  2. This is not really a feature, but it speaks loud and clear about the quality of the service being offered and the ability of the autoresponder to perform its main function: to deliver emails to your subscribers’ inboxes.

    The service provider has to have a good reputation with the major ESPs (email service providers) or the high deliverability is only a claim. Here’s one way you can check out the reputability of your autoresponder. Just enter the autoresponder’s URL in the input box and press Enter. On the next page choose one IP to see its reputation (counter-intuitively, a high number is bad) and details about how many recipients are good and bad, how many emails were ok, contained viruses, were spam, or suspicious. Most big autoresponders have multiple IPs, which is a very good thing, but the reputation and deliverability differs greatly between them too.
    The best online marketing services (a fancy way to say “top autoresponder”), additionally offer a spam analysis tool to their clients, so they will know what issues their emails have regarding spam, and fix them before emails are broadcasted, to avoid being caught by spam filters.

  3. Single Opt-in Subscribing or Both
  4. The client should be allowed to choose between a single or a double subscribing opt-in process, or if only one is offered, then single opt-in is the right choice. For double opt-in, a click on a link in a confirmation email is needed for a subscriber to be added to the list. In the single opt-in case, once a subscriber hits submit (and the form submitted), he is added to the list.

    In a single opt-in subscription, the process is streamlined and it still respects the anti-spam policies. The downside is some will enter bogus email addresses and they will bounce at the first email you send out to them.

    When using double opt-in, a significant number of people who subscribed will not confirm their email and won’t end up on your list. At least 30% by my own tests, but can be higher.

  5. Integration with Other Applications
  6. Autoresponders don’t work in a vacuum. They interact or must be included in various applications. The wider acceptance an autoresponder has with renowned or popular platforms, the likelier it is you won’t come to a point in the future you will need to integrate it into a well-know platform and there is no support for it.

  7. Import and Export Subscribers
  8. Your subscribers should really be yours. And the possibilities to come from and go to a different provider should be unrestricted. While every autoresponder service implements extensive methods to import your lists from a different source, it’s not always the case when it comes to giving you the option to move out.

    A related potential feature (more of a wishful thinking on my part) is importing and exporting followup emails. This should be an essential feature of any serious autoresponder. Now, the entire process is mainly manual labor even for the most advanced autoresponders.

  9. Excellent Customer Support
  10. No, customer support options and helpfulness is not the same for different autoresponders, even if they are paid services. Excellent customer support should be a non-negotiable part when you look for an autoresponder service.

  11. Tracking and Delivery Stats, Re-Targeting
  12. Is it important or essential to have
    – open rates, CTR, A / B testing, clicking patterns
    – the possibility to re-target subscribers who haven’t opened the first email, maybe with a different subject line?

    Delivery stats are essential for everyone. You want to know if your emails are being delivered. In my opinion, so are open rates and CTR.

    The importance of in-depth analysis and targeted actions of these features depend on the objective we have for our list. For marketers, sales and business people, in-depth is the choice and they are essential features. For someone else, maybe this information is not paramount, but it is useful to be there if it’s needed, at least in a basic form.

  13. List Segmentation
  14. I don’t know for a fact, but probably all major autoresponders include some sort of list segmentation capabilities.

    The distinction is on how easy to use it is and how well integrated with the previous point (for example, can you send an email only to subscribers who opened a previous email on a similar topic in, let’s say, at most 3 clicks?). Again, the fine differences are of interest to those who will use this feature.

Important but Unessential Autoresponder Features

  1. Price
  2. If you grow a list for a non-profit organization or to share cooking recipes, but as a hobby without making any money, price may be an important factor to consider. Also if you use it to stay in contact with your site’s members, most of them being free.

    But if you grow a list of buyers, then price is not as important, if it reflects the quality of service you need. An investment is not judged by the price alone, but by the return on investment (ROI). Which is why clients of a progressive price model autoresponder service seem more determined marketers and more interested in keeping a clean list. Low price gives us a way out to not being profitable because we can afford to sustain the big unresponsive list on a low flat-fee autoresponder.

  3. Affiliate Program
  4. Many people first look at the affiliate program before they select the autoresponder. While I think it is important to make some money by referring new customers, this is in no way an essential feature of an autoresponder. In fact, it is not a feature of the autoresponder itself, just good marketing.

    Of course, the fact an autoresponder is an ever green service that can produce residual commissions for the long term is an important aspect to factor in.

Other Autoresponder Features

    Landing Page and Form Creation

    These might be nice features, I wouldn’t know.

    I prefer standalone services like Landing Page Monkey for building my landing pages, and therefore not create any unnecessary dependency between my landing page generator tool and my autoresponder.

    Some will say: I have both tools at the same price. Not exactly at the same price. What you may gain in price, you lose in freedom.

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About Adrian Gurgui
Programmer, with good understanding of the financial markets (working as a freelancer for a financial media company in New York). Seeking online earning opportunities since 2009, blogging since 2014. Owner and creator of adrianshub.com. My mission: to grow myself, then teach and help others to step up and inspire them to offer help at their turn.

14 Comments on Autoresponder Features: Essentials, Important and Others

  1. Yes, Its absolutely right & very nice.

  2. I use trafficwave as my autoresponder I have many list built on trafficwave.once they join my list I have there email for my keepings.Then I copy it into validated email addresses and send it to them. From being at trafficwave I can see where I,m getting the hits once I see that I go surf that site to get more credits.Then I will ad the credits to my trafficexchange to get more hits.

    • Ok John, I’m glad it works for you (I’m still using it too). There aren’t universal choices that work great for everyone. It is also a matter of evolution. What works for you now, may not work a few years down the road. I wrote this blog post in the hope some will have a more informed decision right from the start, or make fewer adjustments on their journey.
      Adrian Gurgui recently posted…Follow Tracking In Action!My Profile

  3. Hi Adrian, I enjoyed reading your article and the very valid points you make.

    I noticed in one comment you talk about evolution. I’ve often thought about doing an article just on that. As you evolve your tools do too. What may work well for you in the beginning may not meet future needs.

    It’s important to recognize that it’s okay to change those tools when the time is right. We need to do what is best for our business right now.

    Nick

  4. Hi Adrian, The article was a good on many points and maybe a tiny bit short in others. I have a deep seated fear that If I enter information or a code in the wrong place i will mess everything up, or even worse: lose all my contacts: aahhh help!
    Don’t get me wrong the article made great points. I wish it would have delved a bit deeper into the guts of how things actually work. When it comes my worst fear, Autoresponders,make me a bit stupid. AR’s scare and confuse me and I do have an above average IQ. I have read all kinds of ebooks and articles, they all fall short in giving me the specifics i really need.
    Maybe you have an Idea on how to help an idiot?

    • Hi Gary, glad to see you back!

      Oh yeah, we all look silly when we are afraid of something to those who have no such fear.

      Someone can offer excellent guidance to the basic or even more advanced usage of a particular autoresponder, but that won’t make you overcome your fear.

      You would have to conquer it step by step. Most paid autoresponders offer a 30 days free trial period. You can use those 30 days to foul around and learn at the same time. Either follow a guide or set goals and look up how specific tasks can be accomplished: today I get acquainted with the interface and create a campaign, tomorrow I will create a basic followup email series, the next day I will integrate the html or javascript capture form code associated with my campaign into a basic landing page that I’ll create for testing purposes.

      If all of the above seem complicated, take relief in knowing you will be the only one seeing them (until you become more confident). For that, subscribe to your own campaign using the above created landing page, but don’t promote it. You are just testing for now. To see how everything works, and if your understanding of things is the same as the result produced.

      If you will use a double opt-in autoresponder, pay attention to how your confirmation and thank you pages look like (you should learn to create custom ones). Read your email series too.

      Little by little, your fear will be gone or at least diminished a lot, and working with your autoresponder will become a routine.
      Adrian Gurgui recently posted…Systems Work, People Fail?My Profile

  5. Thank You so much Adrian. I will follow your advice and I amsure I will be more confident about what I am doing!

  6. Cheryl Fitzjohn // August 16, 2017 at 6:10 am // Reply

    So does autoresonder. help u get list or do i need a list first? cause i know place i get one and it ask my list so I don’t get unless their is url from that site that would help me get a list?

    • Cheryl, with an autoresponder you build a list from scratch, or you can import a list from a different autoresponder if you switch from one autoresponder to another.

      There are sites where you can build a list in your autoresponder while using the site. The most well known examples are tePays and recently Your Viral List series. These sites work on this principle: someone joins the site in your downline and they are automatically added to your autoresponder list as well.
      Adrian Gurgui recently posted…New Add-On Tease Plus RewardMy Profile

  7. Cheryl Fitzjohn // August 16, 2017 at 11:46 pm // Reply

    Oh ok i think i get it. what about leadsleap? so i need a downline first.

    • You don’t need a downline FIRST, you need it AT THE SAME TIME, if you want to use this type of sites which offer to build your autoresponder list. This is a win-win situation: the site you use gets more members, you get more subscribers to a list of yours in your autoresponder.

      Pros for using this method:

      It’s an easy way to get subscribers to a list you own, using professional marketing materials and sites people want to use. You will still have to bring new members to the site as your referrals, it’s still your part of the deal. Any offer to build your list without you doing anything is a scam, at least shady or worthless (even if you pay for it!).

      Cons for using this method:

      People sign up to use the site, not to be on your list! You will have to convince them you have something of value to offer them to keep them interested as your subscribers.

      About LeadsLeap, it doesn’t really have an autoresponder, so don’t bother trying to use it. Use a real (and paid) autoresponder service instead. LeadsLeap is a great traffic source, however.
      Adrian Gurgui recently posted…Best Traffic Sources: Yours Same As Mine?My Profile

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