Whether you are selling products, services, or simply running a blog, it is always important to stay in contact with your clients or readers. Social media has made this relatively easy, but at the same time, it can be hard to make sure your posts get noticed in news feeds that are refreshed ever thirty seconds. Before social networking exploded, people who communicated online did so via e-mail, and this was the best way for businesses to stay in contact with their clients. Though social media has transformed and enhanced the way we communicate, e-mail remains the best way to make sure that whatever it is you are sharing gets noticed. For a business, the most efficient way to do this is through an autoresponder. Autoresponders allow your readers and clients to sign up for e-mail updates, and allows you to send news about your services to all of your clients in a quick and easy fashion, and it helps you build a client list. Not all autoresponders are equal, though, so here is a list of the ones I think are the best on the market.
In the spirit of full disclosure, let me preface this by saying that I am an affiliate with Aweber, but I am not placing Aweber on the top of my list for that reason. Rather, the reason I am affiliate with Aweber is because it is at the top of my list. I could have signed up with any and all of these autoresponder, but I’ve done affiliate work with a number of businesses, and before I try to sell anybody anything, I want to know that it works and that it works well. I am interested in protecting my brand, and I want people to trust me, so I only promote products that I think are of high quality. There are four reasons why I like Aweber so much. The first is the cost. At less than twenty dollars a month (or just over $16 with an annual commitment), it is competitively priced. It is also the only autoresponder that I know of that offers a $1 trial, giving you a full range of access to the service for a month for less than the cost of a cup of coffee. I also like Aweber because it is a respected brand name. I’ve mentioned in my posts about securing your own hosting and having your own shopping cart how important appearances are. When you have a brand like Aweber, that is trusted by so many, it’s like showing up to a meeting in an Armani suit. The functionality is what is most important, though. Aweber is an extremely flexible and has a lot of options, and it also has unlimited e-mails, which cannot be said of all autoresponders.
2: Infusion Soft
Most people who start with Aweber stay with Aweber, but there are some who end up moving over to Infusion Soft. This usually doesn’t have anything to do with the service, but rather because some marketers require expanded services. Infusion Soft, for instance, allows for list segregation, which is a great feature if you are running multiple businesses and don’t want to confuse client lists. Perhaps you are running three blogs: one on sports, one on food, and one on vacation spots. You don’t want to be sending an update about the Rajob Rondo trade to people who are looking for information on travel locations. This is geared more for large companies and not so much independent marketers or entrepreneurs, and as a result, the cost for this service can be astronomically high compared to Aweber, running anywhere from $199 a month, to close to $400. Needless to say, this is excessively expensive, and though a business that is handling lists in the tens of thousands or even millions may need this, Aweber is far more practical and affordable than Infusion Soft if you are an independent entrepreneur.
3: Get Response
Before I signed up for Aweber, I was using Get Response. I was generally happy with the product, but came across Aweber and just thought it was a better overall product. The pricing is not much different than Aweber. If you commit for the year, Get Response will charge you $15 monthly, which is slightly less than Aweber. As your list grows, however, so do the costs, and Aweber’s pricing is far more competitive with a greater number of clients. If you are just starting out, Get Response may be the better option, but if you plan on growing your business to a significant size, then Aweber has better pricing for your long-term needs. Coupled with this, I didn’t find they had as many options as Aweber did when I switched over. Get Response also doesn’t have the brand appeal that Aweber has, though it deserves some kudos for helping non-profits as it gives charitable organizations 50% off. If you are running a non-profit, then Get Response or iContact may be your most affordable options.
If pricing is your biggest concern, iContact may be your best option. They will handle a list of 250 for only $10 a month, and most other autoresponders do not have pricing for a list that small. As the lists get larger, their pricing remains competitive, outdoing even Get Response. However, the pricing difference between iContact and Abwer all but vanishes when you reach 5 000-10 000 subscribers, unless you make an annual commitment. Though I admittedly haven’t used iContact myself, reviews have ranged from lukewarm to favorable, where as Aweber and Infusion soft get consistently high reviews. They also require you to use the Salesforce application to get stats on your conversion rates. Doing a cursory exploration of their services, they don’t seem to offer as many options as Aweber, and also seem a little less flexible, but for a strapped budget, iContact is a reliable option. Because their monthly payments are lower than Get Response, even without an annual commitment, it doesn’t hurt to try them out because there is no commitment required. That said, shifting your lists from one service to another can be a pain, so planning for the long term is a good idea.
There are a host of other services. As is always the case, it is best to do a little research. Check out the options, the services, and the pricing, and always be sure to find out if an annual commitment is required before signing up. If you want some other top providers, check out ConstantContact.com, MailChimp.com and Ontraport.com (formerly known as Office Autopilot), and see what others are saying about various autoresponders, here, here, and here. I cannot stress enough how much more effective e-mails are than social media when it comes to contacting subscribers. When I post something on Facebook or Twitter, I get very little traffic, which is why I focus on building my e-mail list rather than followings on Facebook and Twitter. For every 10 subscribers I send e-mails to, I get 4-6 clicks. When I blast out the same post on social media, I might only get a conversion rate of 1%. When you have time sensitive deals, like specials at a restaurant, or a sale on a particular item, it is important to directly contact your customers to get the immediate response you need. You do not want your latest post, or hot new item to get lost in somebody’s news feed. If it shows up in their e-mail, they are far more likely to see it, and that is half the battle.
If you enjoyed this article, be sure to get updates on my latest posts by following me on Twitter @MikeBashi. And if you decide that you are ready for an autoresponder and go with Aweber, sign up through me here, and I will help install the autoresponder on your site. If you don’t have the funds to pay for an autoresponder, check out this post to see about some free alternatives that can hold you over until you develop a large enough client list to make an autoresponder worth your while.