How To Improve Your Email Delivery Rate
Although there are many free autoresponder services out there, and you can down load autoresponder applications and run them yourself, you're far better off paying the monthly fee charged by the leading autoresponder providers. You'll be protected from prosecution under the Can-Spam Act and you'll get better delivery rates. Here's why.
Q. What's the problem with using free autoresponder services or downloading and installing your own free autoresponder application?
A. Because using one of the free services will almost certainly cost you more over the long term. Possibly much more.
In my view it's an absolute no brainer to use one of the big, well established autoresponder services. You'll get:
* Higher delivery rates - important because you've worked hard (and maybe paid a lot) to get people to opt in to your newsletter.
* Real time management of your customer database - important because the Can-Spam act requires that you only send emails to people who've asked for them and you immediately unsubscribe people on request. (Among other things)
* Total compliance with the Can-Spam Act - important because failure to comply will cost you an arm and a leg (and possibly your business).
The monthly fee varies around $20 and it's a pittance to pay for the service they provide. Here's why:
Email marketing took off in the late 90's because it was a highly cost-effective alternative to Direct Mail. This led to such high volumes of Unsolicited Commercial Email (Spam) that the Can Spam Act was introduced in 2003 to control it.
Can-Spam requirements are tough - but the Can-Spam Act is also the genuine and professional email marketer's friend.
Can-Spam imposes a number of requirements on email marketers, including what you need to do to avoid being considered a spammer, what information you need to have in the footers of your emails, how you should handle complaints and unsubscribe requests and more.
And you will be heavily penalised if you don't adhere to these requirements!
For this reason alone it's worth paying for the services of a professional autoresponder service.
Not only are the professional Autoresponder services fully Can-Spam compliant (and they will force you to be as well) but they will always be up to date with any changes in legislation that affect email marketing.
There are other benefits too.
The ISP's themselves are very harsh on Spam.
Yahoo, AOL, and MSN, among others, are particularly strict. They all provide a 'Mark as Spam' button (as do most Email providers) that enables customers to dump emails they don't want (even if they've opted in for them) into the Spam category.
However, the good news is that the big professional Autoresponder services all maintain close, co-operative relationships with the Internet Service Providers.
After all, it's in the interests of both parties that end users get email they want.
As a result of this co-operation they get a way better delivery rate than the free autoresponder services do.
Here's an example from my own experience: for my own business I use one of the best-known autoresponder service providers. The cost is US$19.95 per month and I get a 98% + delivery rate.
They automatically handle any unsubscribe requests and any complaints from my subscribers. They keep records of all subscriber opt in details and, should anyone try to accuse me of spamming, they will provide me with all the evidence I need to prove my innocence - in a court of law, if necessary.
I'm also an affiliate for 2 other businesses who use their own Autoresponder systems. In one case I had to be responsible for personally removing customers who unsubscribed. This put the legal responsibility onto me.
Luckily (but only in so far as this issue is concerned!) that service had a delivery rate of 0%. I'm dead serious - every email sent out on my behalf by that system was returned as undeliverable. But at least I didn't have to worry about handling the unsubscribe requests!
In the second case the unsubscribe requests were handled automatically, but the delivery rate was just over 30%.
Since you need to do a lot of work and, sometimes, pay good money to get people on to your list you don't want to waste all that effort by having your emails rejected by the ISP's!
So what services can you expect from the big Autoresponder service providers?
The biggest and most well-known Autoresponder service providers all charge around US$20 per month.
For this you will get:
* The ability to set up an unlimited number of mailing lists (you may want different mailing lists for different products or businesses that you have).
* You will be provided with confirmed (or verified) opt in, where the IP address, time and date that your subscribers confirmed their request for your newsletter is recorded and filed in case of troubles in the future.
* You will be able to set up as many email messages as you want in each list (I have one list containing over 40 pre-written emails, which are delivered over a period of around 9 months)
* You will be able to send ad hoc broadcast emails (as many as you like) in addition to the scheduled messages.
* You will have access to powerful reporting tools that will allow you to do extensive analysis on your customer base
* You will be able to isolate segments of your customer base and send emails specific to each segment. For example you could send Thanksgiving Holiday greetings to US based subscribers only.
* All unsubscribe requests will be handled automatically
* All complaints will be handled automatically
* All provisions of the Can-Spam act will be met - and they'll ensure that you provide whatever information you need to provide to comply as well.
* They will provide tools and support to help improve the effectiveness of your email campaigns
And if Can-Spam compliance and delivery rates were not enough, here's another reason why I use my autoresponder service provider:
'The money is in the list' is a statement that you hear again and again.
Once you have a subscriber list (or customer base) you'll be able to market products to them with far greater success than if you were marketing to a cold market. And since you won't have to pay for any advertising it will also be a lot more profitable!
Build a list of several thousand loyal subscribers and you will have an asset that will earn you income for as long as you have your business.
You manage that asset with the autoresponder. And that's the primary reason why I will never compromise on the quality of the Autoresponder service I use.
Article Tags: Delivery Rate, Free Autoresponder, Autoresponder Services, Important Because, Unsubscribe Requests, Professional Autoresponder, Autoresponder Service, Handled Automatically, Customer Base
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I'm a webmaster who writes a business blog providing help, support and resources for people running a small, home or online business. I grew up in Zimbabwe and now live in Hong Kong. For more information visit: http://www.wealthydragon.com/blog