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XSitePro Email Autoresponders Review - Finding The Best Auto Responder To Boost Your Sign Ups and Make You More Money

Brett Simpson - XSitePro Expert 

Let's face it, if you want to succeed with email marketing you are going to need a sequential autoresponder, and you better know how to use it! The problem is usually that there are too many choices, and not enough good 'fact based' research available to help you decide which Autoresponder is best for you and which one will work best with XSitePro.

If you want to succeed with email marketing you are going to need a sequential auto responder...

Just to keep things in perspective, see this graphic to get a real good understanding on how valuable email marketing is (and should be) to your business:
http://rww.readwriteweb.netdna-cdn.com/cloud/assets_c/2011/09/infographic_abs_final-33590.php

Usually the spiel goes: buy Aweber and your problems are solved! Yikes. I can tell you from 13 years online, and running my own personal mail servers that Aweber is not the only game in town - though it is quite good at what it does.

What exactly is an Autoresponder? Keep in mind that there are a few different varieties, some autoresponders will only respond to an email sent (and save the email address of the recipient), while the more important kind is called a sequential autoresponder because it will continue to send out a 'set' of emails (more than 1) over a period of time defined by the administrator. 

This makes the 'old fashioned' Autoresponder variety seem extinct, and it should.  What you want is a sequential autoresponder, but keep in mind that many companies that sell these services will still call their service a: Autoresponder, even though it does provide Sequential Autoresponders.

Autoresponder: A email sending service used to send out a pre-written email to anyone that first sends an email to it: 'autoresponding'. 

Sequential Autoresponder: A email sending service that can send out a pre-written email to anyone that first sends an email to it - and that can continue to send 'sequential emails' to the same person until an entire 'sequence' (or days) have passed, for example: Immediately: 'Welcome...', Day 3: 'More information about..., Day 5: 'My Last piece of information about...'

Now that you understand exactly what you are looking for - just make sure the service you purchase can provide sequential sending, and go from there, here's how to choose the best service - and how to integrate it properly into XSitePro.

Your first step should be to get an idea of how many Opt-ins (signups) you will expect over a 30 day (monthly) period. If you are looking at a low-level of signups, let's say 200 or 300/month (this is up to 10 a day) then you do have some free options such as Mail Chimp, and you could use one of the 'free' services, just to get your feet wet. Follow my instructions below and I'll show you which to use. 

The most important aspect of any Autoresponder is #1 - Deliverability

It's true, many autoresponder services still run from servers which may have been black-listed, or may cause you serious trouble in the end because they are not setup properly and what this comes down to is that you are not going to get your important email delivered! As you can see, if the email you are sending ends up in your customer's trash, or spam folder, there is no way they are going to find it, or open it, and that means a very poor chance that you will ever get your email read!

So, stick with a 'big name' service, because those services have paid the fees, and taken the time to get white listed properly with the big 4 mail services: Yahoo, AOL, Google, and Hotmail (now Live Mail).

There is one more decision to make - if you are expecting to run a large list (over 10,000 names) things can get very expensive on a monthly basis, in fact it may eat up all of your monthly budget just to send email. When this happens, there is one other option you should consider - operating your own dedicated Mail Server, basically a separate domain name from your current web site that you use only for sending email from. There are only 3 good choices when it comes to running software on your server - 1.) ListMailPro, 2.) Active Campaign, 3.) OEMPro, 4.) PHPList, 5.) Omnistar Mailer. Because many of you would prefer not to get involved with running your own mail server, I will cover this in more detail after I discuss the online services that are available to you (below)...

The big name services I recommend are:

1.) Aweber (sorry, the white label Aweber services are no longer available)

2.) Imnica Mail (a lower cost alternative).

3.) campaigner (finally a company offering decent prices for larger lists)

4.) MadMimi (a new service that is without list importing restrictions, great)

5.) GetResponse (offers what all the others have, and they also include audio/video hosting, nice)

6.) MailChimp (up and coming, they are doing everything right, and offering tight social media integration with FaceBook, etc)

7.) NetAtlantic (I used them for a period of time, very good deliverability, fast, and excellent service)

8.) iContact (one of the best, I just wish they would allow post-backs, and sending the user to a custom URL after signup: these things may be fixed now?)

9.) 1SiteAutomation.com (this excellent all-in-one shopping cart also includes Autoresponders for up to 10,000 subscribers).

And that just about covers it! You're right, there are not many that you can fully rely on to deliver your email. But that's ok, as it makes your choice easier. The pricing and advantages of each service are discussed below:

  • Aweber ($19.00/month for 500 subscribers) - the cadillac of autoresponders, has just about everything you would want, including email to responder, detailed statistics, RSS Feeds, Blog/Social Media integration. 
  • Imnica Mail ($26.00/month for up to 10,000) - This company offers a much lower pricing model when it comes to larger lists, which is the way it should be. You can build a list size up to 50,000 subscribers for $95.00/monthly, and up to 100,000 subscribers for $173.00/monthly. In some situations this is less than it costs to bother with setting up and maintaining your own server.
  • campaigner ($10.00/month for 1000 subscribers, $55.00 for up to 10,000) - a cheaper alternative that is also loaded with features, or go with your own mail server (see below).
  • MadMimi ($8.00/month for 500 subscribers) - yes, a real alternative at a lower price and without list import restrictions, you cannot go wrong with MadMimi.
  • GetResponse ($8.16/month for 250 subscribers) - GetResponse has updated it's pricing schedule recently, but they are still an excellent bargain as they also include audio/video marketing & file storage.  In other words you can create audio/video postcards and send them to your list, storing/serving the larger files from GetResponse servers - an excellent deal. 
  • MailChimp (free for up to 1,000 subscribers) - If you just want to test the waters, or you have a low volume list, start out with MailChimp, you cannot go wrong. New features are being added included a Golden Monkeys iPhone App that tracks your best customers - brilliant.
  • NetAtlantic ($15.00/month for 500 subscribers) - They've been in business a long time offering email services. I would trust them with any job, their tools also include a survey tool, something very useful for retaining customers. 
  • iContact ($8.46/month for 250 subscribers) - They just added a new iPhone Mobile list management App that looks really sweet. Full services include surveys, and other goodies. 
  • 1SiteAutomation.com ($29.00/month for up to 10,000 subscribers) - An excellent shopping cart bundle, you can use their autoresponder services by themselves, or for a little more sign up for a cart.  They support many payment processors, and provide tutorials, upselling, and membership site integration build into the cart.

Do you want to avoid the month charges and run your own Mail Server?

This may not always be the best choice, for several reasons, 1.) time consuming, 2.) technical knowledge required, or a budget to hire someone to do it for you, and 3.) monitoring must be done frequently to ensure that things are running properly.

So, why am I talking about running your own Mail Server at all?  Because I have found that even with the extra requirements it can still pay off, in the long run. You see I've been running my own mail server for about 7 years now. I recently did a case study to compare my conversion rate(s) with those that I got from one of the big name services, just to see if they were equal, about the same, or different.  What I found kind of astounded me.  Using my own mail server shows that I can get a 50%-70% higher conversion rate compared to the rate from using a big name service.

Wow, an important stat, but keep in mind, I've been doing this a while so I do have a server that has been 'hardened' and is running exactly the way I want (throttled to the correct speed, etc), and also that my mail may have been a bit different to my Big Name service list, as in 'less promotional' and more 'informational'. In other words I have probably trained my Big Name service list to get information from my emails, instead of getting inspired to make a purchase.  Keep that in mind as you look at the top mail server software I recommend for running your own mail server.

The software I recommend for running your own Mail Server:

1.) ListMailPro (it is now free - what a deal, I've used this software myself to run mailings lists with up to 250,000 addresses)

2.) Active Campaign (a nice package, but additional services much be purchased such as: RSS integration, Reminder services, and Surveys).

3.) Oempro (excellent email management software, now integrates with Sender Suite)

4.) Omnistar Mailer (great feature set)

5.) PHPList (if you're a do-it-yourselfer this will do everything you want)

Now that you've chosen the service, or method you will use to deliver your email, it's best to think about a strategy - in other words: 'What works in my market', and why. There are tons of pundits that will cover this from about every angle you can image including Eben Pagan and his 'Psychic Salesletter' philophy, see it at:

Psychic Salesletters - how to use surveys and polls to form a relationship with your customer, download free software to create a 'psychic salesletter'.

Frequency versus Loyalty - how frequently should you be sending to your customer, and how you can increase frequency for those that request it.

How to let your customers sell themselves - excellent discussion on how to setup your customers to sell to themselves.

The best time to send your messages -  you may see a huge increase in conversions if you can find the time when your customer is most responsive (this depends on the market you are in).

Graphic design and your email sending template - should you match your website design, and to what degree.

Using surveys - learn what your customers want from your emails.

Boost your email clicks and conversions - 3 hot tips to get more signups, and sales.

Bronto - Find out what a respected emailer in the industry has to say about email topics. Whitepapers, excellent blog,and other info.

SPF Records and how to set them up - especially if you run your own mailing list, rather than let someone do it for you.

Well, that covers Autoresponders (Sequential Autoresponders). Contact me directly if you have more questions, or ideas/concepts you would like to add.

Stay tuned for more XSitePro Expert articles to follow...

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