What’s the Difference Between Autoresponders and Broadcast Emails?

In our previous article we discussed the autoresponder services that can help you become significantly more efficient with your e-mail marketing efforts. It gets confusing when we use the phrase “autoresponder services” and then talk about “autoresponder messages” and “broadcast messages”, but an autoresponder service can generally send both types of messages. So don’t worry, once you have chosen an autoresponder service, you’re ready to use both of these different techniques.

Comparing Broadcasts to Autoresponders

Let’s discuss some of the differences between autoresponders and broadcast emails, so that you know what type of communication is likely to be better suited to each of your promotional campaigns.

Autoresponder Messages

Autoresponder MessagesAutoresponder e-mails are a series of messages that are sent to a subscriber at predetermined intervals once they sign up for your mailing list. The interval term is generally somewhere between a few days and a week or two, depending on the nature of your content. This allows you to build a relationship with each subscriber over time, and position yourself as a trusted source of information.

Pros:
• Autoresponder messages are relatively easy to administer. Once you’ve prepared a series of e-mails, you can use an autoresponder service to have them sent out at predetermined intervals to each new subscriber who signs up.
• Autoresponders can strengthen the relationship with your readers because they allow you to communicate with those individuals over an extended period of time.

Cons:
• Autoresponder messages may grow stale. Even though your messages can be reused for multiple subscribers over time, you still need to periodically assess whether the text of those messages needs to be revised in light of developments within your niche or industry.
• Autoresponder messages, if not drafted properly, can come off as impersonal and perhaps even having too strong of a sales message.

Broadcast Messages

Broadcast MessageBroadcast messages are those that occur outside of an autoresponder series of e-mails. One of the key features of a broadcast e-mail is that it can be highly topical and relate to “breaking news” type events. Broadcast e-mails can also make your mailing list aware of a new item or new promotion that you may be running.

Pros:
• Broadcast messages can be highly specific and targeted to some or all of the individuals on your email list.
• Broadcast messages don’t require the reader to commit to reading a series of emails over time; each message is a self-contained marketing message.

Cons:
• In contrast to autoresponder messages – where your subscribers have signed up specifically to receive them – you don’t always know when your subscribers will find a broadcast message interesting or valuable.
• It can sometimes be difficult to determine “how much is too much” when it comes to broadcast e-mails. The last thing you want to do is have one of your broadcast e-mails cause someone to unsubscribe from your list.

Now that you have a better idea of when to use an autoresponder series and when to use a broadcast message, you can decide what techniques you should use to build your mailing list and that’s exactly what we’ll talk about next time.


Choosing an Autoresponder Service or Software

Autoresponder DecisionAh technology. It’s such a great thing, but sometimes can be frustrating to figure out what exactly we need and then how to use it. Let’s explore some of your options when it comes to email marketing and hopefully things will become a bit clearer.

As your mailing list grows, it should quickly become apparent to that you don’t want to try to manage it manually. Not only will it become a significant administrative burden, but sending emails with more than a dozen or so recipients can greatly increase the likelihood that your autoresponder messages will be marked as spam, and never reach your intended audience.

An autoresponder service can help accomplish the dual goals of freeing you up to work on other important tasks within your company, and making sure your email messages reach their targets. Here is a summary of a few of the leading services, and the pros and cons of each.

Aweber

Aweber is one of the leading services for automating the process of building your mailing lists, and sending emails to everyone on your list.

Aweber

Pros:
• Aweber has a very reliable delivery mechanism.
• Aweber offers strong support for autoresponder series, including conditional moving of subscribers from one list to another. For example, if someone buys the product you’re promoting with a particular autoresponder series, you can configure Aweber to move them from that autoresponder series to a different one immediately after their purchase (after all, you don’t want to continue promoting the product after they’ve already purchased it).

Cons:
• Aweber does not offer a free trial (although it does offer the first month of service for just $1, with a money back guarantee).
• They have changed their interface a lot recently and many complain that it has become more difficult to

arpReach

arpReach, formerly known as AutoresponsePlus, takes a somewhat different approach to the other major services in that it offers downloadable software that you pay for once, rather than an online service that you pay for each month.

arpReach

Pros:
• One-time cost; there are no monthly fees, and your initial license fee is not tied to the number of addresses on your list or the number of messages you send.
• Full control over your list with the ability to import subscribers as you’d like.

Cons:
• The arpReach software must be installed on your web server, but you can pay one of their recommended installers to install it for you.
• arpReach is currently not compatible with GoDaddy hosting services.

Constant Contact

Constant Contact has rapidly become one of the most recognizable services for email marketing, and has a strong customer base that includes some very large companies.

Constant Contact

Pros:
• Constant Contact allows you to run social media campaigns to supplement your email marketing efforts.
• A free 60 day trial is available for a mailing list of up to 100 names.

Cons:
• Potentially more expensive than other services as your list grows.

iContact

iContact, formerly known as Intellicontact, provides email marketing support services as well as higher value advisory and strategy services.

iContact

Pros:
• A large number of highly stylized email templates.
• The ability to create custom messages with the proprietary MessageBuilder and MessageCoder applications.

Cons:
• Only larger customers with Premier Accounts can use Google Analytics and split testing features.

If you’re looking for your first autoresponder service or software, the best approach is to try a few of the ones on this list before making a commitment.

Next up, we’ll be talking about the difference between autoresponder and broadcast messages. Both have their benefits, so let’s take a closer look at that.


Why Email Marketing is Important for Businesses

Why Email Marketing is Important for Businesses

Why Email Marketing is ImportantI promised to be back and here we are, with possibly the most important discussion about why email marketing is important for business. Let’s get right into that.

Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets have certainly become important avenues for online marketing campaigns, but good old fashioned email marketing still holds a great deal of value for organizations and businesses of all sizes.

In fact, email marketing even has a number of advantages over some of the more “cutting edge” marketing techniques that some tend to focus on. Here are a few of the top reasons why email marketing is important for businesses today.

Email Marketing is PersonalEmail Marketing is Personal

Email is a personal and direct way of initiating a “one to one” conversation with prospects and existing customers.

Based on the information you request on a sign-up page in addition to the email address, you may be able to make sure you’re targeting that individual most appropriately.

For example, you might ask a prospect to check boxes indicating their areas of interest while signing up, and then use this information to decide what types of email messages to send to them later.

Email Marketing is Trusted

Since reputable businesses only engage in email marketing to individuals who have signed up to receive emails, this marketing channel is inherently trusted by the recipient. The individuals you’re marketing to have already decided that your business is one they’re interested in hearing more from – that’s why they signed up for your email list. (Don’t be tempted to send unsolicited emails to people who haven’t signed up with you; you may find yourself on a spam list, and getting off that list can be very difficult.)

Email Marketing is Measurable

Measure Email Marketing

Because the action items in each email generally consist of links back to your website (or to your Facebook page), you can set up special landing pages in order to measure the “click through” rates for each of your communications. On average, click through rates are generally in the 4%-5% range, so being able to measure your response rates and improve performance even slightly can have a significant benefit to your bottom line.

Email Marketing Works

This is perhaps the most important factor for a business to consider when deciding whether to use email marketing is its effectiveness. Industry surveys continue to confirm that email marketing generally has the highest return on investment of all other marketing tactics. Simply put, email marketing works.

Email Marketing is Affordable

Email Marketing is AffordableIn relation to the benefits you’re likely to receive back, email marketing is one of the most affordable methods for marketing your business. If you have a very small list you can consider administering it manually. However, once your list grows to a certain size you may wish to take advantage of a professional email list management service. Most of these services are quite affordable, and provide you with a variety of pricing options.

In the next post we’ll take a closer look at some of the leading services, and the pros and cons of each. It’s not always easy picking the right service (hint: there probably isn’t a perfect autoresponder unless you code it yourself), but at least we’ll cover some of those details so you can make an informed decision.