How to Use an Autoresponder for Small Business Email Marketing

The best customers come back to buy from you again. Making a list of customers and using an autoresponder to send them emails about sales and other promotions is an easy way to attract repeat business. Learn how to set up an email list and use an autoresponder to stay in touch with that list.

By Nathan Segal
Thu, February 07, 2013

CIO — Building a business is a time-intensive activity. At the heart of the matter is the task of finding and attracting new customers, and much of that happens online.

However, many businesses only look for new customers, ignoring those who purchased from them in the past. This is a huge mistake for several reasons:

  • While a website makes the front-end sale, you'll miss out on 90 percent or more of the profits if you don't use email to "fan the flames," according to Maria Veloso, author of Web Copy That Sells. The real selling starts when you use follow-up emails to turn that first sale into many, many more sales.
  • Veloso notes that it costs up to 10 times as much to find a new customer as it does to retain an existing one.
  • It's easier to sell to someone who has already bought products or services from you. The customer could stay with you for many years, which could add greatly to your bottom line.
  • Over time, your email list could become more important to your business than your website. While the website will help you gain a customer, effective email marketing strategies could make you many more sales over the long term.

Autoresponders Help Convert Prospects Into Customers

Email is one of the best ways to keep in contact with your customers, and one of the best ways to keep in touch with clients via email is through an autoresponder, which lets you collect email addresses, place them in lists and send predetermined messages. Examples of third-party email services include AWeber, iContact and Constant Contact.

How-to: Build an Online Business From Scratch

With an autoresponder, you can either add email addresses manually to a list or use Web forms to do that for you automatically. For the purposes of this article, I'm going to use iContact, but there are several other programs you could choose.

In iContact, you add email addresses in four ways: Upload from File, One at a Time, Copy and Paste, and Sign-up Forms. When you create lists, you'll want two for your business: one for prospects and the other for customers. The intention of the prospect list is to convert them into paying customers. The customer list, meanwhile, comes into play after the customer pays for a product or service. In this case, you need to add the customer information to your list. One way to do this is with an email form that customers fill out after making a purchase.

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