If you’ve ever set up your e-mail account to send an “Out of the Office” or “I’m on Vacation” e-mail reply, you’ve used an autoresponder. In its simplest form, an autoresponder automatically responds to e-mail messages it receives.
Autoresponders are also used as e-mail marketing tools, immediately providing information to prospective customers and then following up with them at preset time intervals. They can also handle e-mail list subscriptions, confirmations, unsubscribes, and e-mailing to lists in bulk, like your e-zine or information announcements.
Here are examples of how authors use autoresponders:
You can sign up for my zine, The Fabulist Flash, by filling in your name and e-mail address on my Web site—just like most zines. When you hit the “join list” button, your information is sent to my autoresponder, which adds you to my list and sends a follow up confirmation and then an e-mail link with download instructions for the e-book you get as a joining incentive. Each week I send my zine out to my list via autoresponder, without having to worry about individual e-mail addresses, nor who has subscribed or unsubscribed to my list.
Lars Clausen, author of “Straight into Gay America”
Straight into Gay America has an excellent marketing concept. It may seem counterintuitive to give your book away, but that’s just what Lars does. He sends his book to his autoresponder list, one page a day. He’s enjoyed great sales with this model because people decide they want the whole book at one time.
Australian author and freelance journalist, Cheryl Wright, offers free mini-courses via autoresponder. After signing up, you receive course lessons spread out over a period of time, one section of the course in each e-mail. Cheryl offers readers information they’re interested in, while at the same time putting her additional paid courses and products repeatedly in front of her niche audience. (For details on how to write your own mini-course to deliver via autoresponder check out “How The Heck Do I Write An Online Course” (http://www.howtheheckdoi.com/write_a_course.htm).)
Autoresponders are the perfect way to extend your niche-topic expert position and increase your readership and following. When set up properly, they’ll also increase your earning potential. And, most autoresponders are easy to use.
Find a service you like. I use and recommend GetResponse, but doing a Google search for “autoresponder” will result in dozens of potential options. Like my earlier advice about Web sites (WOTR February 2007), it may be worth trying a free service just to kick the tires a bit, but you’ll appear more professional using a paid service that doesn’t include outside advertising in your autoresponder e-mails.
After signing up, follow the simple instructions for setting up your autoresponder. Your service provider will also explain how to include clickable text links or more detailed HTML sign-up boxes on your Web site or in your e-mail signature.
Gregory A. Kompes (www.Kompes.com) is a writer, speaker, mentor and coach. He is the author of the #1 bestseller 50 Fabulous Gay-Friendly Places to Live, The Endorsement Quest, Turning Your Writing Hobby into a Writing Career, and The Everyday Gay Activist. Gregory is the editor of The Fabulist Flash, an informative newsletter for writers, founder of LAMOO Books, and Coordinator of the Las Vegas Writer’s Conference. The author holds a BA in English Literature from Columbia University, NY, and is currently a MS in Education candidate at California State University, Eastbay.