Autoresponders and Newsletters

Nov 10 17:08 2007 Christine Anderssen Print This Article

Newsletter or Autoresponder - what are the difference and which one is the best to use?

I am often requested by my website design clients for 'some type of newsletter facility'. I normally groan inwardly since I know I will have to embark on a extended explanation. So here is the explanation of the different types of newsletter type facilities – what they are and what the pros and cons are of each. Please note that a newsletter is also sometimes referred to as an 'ezine',Guest Posting so these terms are often used interchangeably.

~Newsletter or Autoresponder – what is the difference?~

Unfortunately there are two types of Autoresponders, so it is valuable to spend some time looking at the difference between the two. Most hosting packages come with an 'autoresponder' included. This type of Autoresponder sends an automatic reply back to anyone sending an email to a specific email address. You can therefore set up an email on your hosting account with the name catalogue@some-domain.com and if anyone sends an email to this email address, the Autoresponder will automatically send them an email in return. When you set up this automatic email reply, you can attach your product catalogue to the message, so that the person sending the message to the email address receives the catalogue in reply. This is the simplest form of Autoresponder and frankly, not much use.

The second type of Autoresponder is more commonly used, and it is still a case that when you send an email to an autoresponder email address, that you automatically receive a reply, however, with this type of autoresponder you also have the option of sending further automated follow-up messages. In other words, you can set up a series of messages, spaced a couple of days apart, that the person who signs up for the autoresponder service, will receive.

A newsletter, on the other hand, is sent out to a list of subscribers by the owner of the newsletter – and this is basically a manual process. The owner of the newsletter decides that he wants to send out a new edition of the newsletter, he composes the newsletter and he sends it out. The biggest difference between the newsletter being sent and an autoresponder is that when a newsletter is sent out, is has gone. New subscribers do not receive previous newsletters; they just receive new newsletters as they are sent out.

Subscribers to an Autoresponder service on the other hand, take delivery of each and every message that was sent out as part of the Autoresponder message sequence. New subscribers to an Autoresponder list would therefore take delivery of ALL the messages in the Autoresponder sequence, from the first to the last.

If you are the owner of an Autoresponder list therefore, you can set up a mini course with various installments. Each subscriber to the Autoresponder will receive each of these messages.

~Advantages of an Autoresponder versus a Newsletter~

The Autoresponder messages are sent to new subscribers whether you are present or not. It is completely automatic. You can therefore set up a pre-defined sequence of emails that will go out to the list even if you are on holiday. With a newsletter, you have to write original content all the time to send out, and only the subscribers on your list at that point will receive it.

~Disadvantages of an Autoresponder vs a Newsletter~

Seeing that the messages are set up in advance they might get dated. In other words, you cannot proclaim special offers, or have date related news in an Autoresponder. An Autoresponder should therefore rather be used to deliver a sequence of messages that make a logical whole, such as a mini-course, rather than news of an immediate nature. You cannot advertise anything in an Autoresponder with an expiry date, for example, since new subscribers will also receive these messages and will try and respond to them.

~Which one is the best to use?~

Frankly, I prefer to use an Autoresponder since it means that one can set up an immediate response when people sign up for a list, as well as a sequence of emails that will immediately help to build up a relationship with your subscribers.

The most significant point to keep in mind is that most Autoresponder services ALSO offers a 'broadcast' ability, which means that you can send out ad-hoc messages to the list as well as just a pre-defined sequence of messages. One can therefore get the best of both worlds – an Autoresponder and newsletter service combined!

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About Article Author

Christine Anderssen
Christine Anderssen

Christine Anderssen is the CEO of Tailormade4you Web Design and Web Hosting which provides web design services for small to medium businesses in South Africa. Visit http://www.internet-web-hosting.co.za and download your free '10 Essential Strategies For A Successful Website' - if you want your website to succeed!

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