Writing for the Web: Autoresponder Basics

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Writing for the web doesn’t just mean blog posts and article marketing. Successful and smart internet marketers know that keeping in touch with customers is crucial. It not only helps you build relationships with them, but it also serves to brand you as an authority and build up their trust in you.

And while keeping in touch is an admirable goal, if you’re like me, you chose online marketing because you wanted a business model that would let you earn money without you becoming a slave to the process. And that’s where autoresponders come in.

Building a list via an e-mail marketing platform is an important part of the process of building up your online business, and something that sets apart amateurs from the pros. By creating a list and nurturing relationships with your customers, your list (a database of customer e-mails) becomes a tangible business asset.

An autoresponder is an e-mail that is sent automatically to your list at certain intervals (chosen by you.) So when someone first signs up for/opts into your list, they would receive message one (generally a welcome e-mail). You could then follow up with them the next day, the next week, or even the next month – all automatically, with no further work on your part (save the original time you spent creating your autoresponder series.)

BEST PRACTICES IN EMAIL MARKETING: THE DOUBLE OPT-IN

Best practices in email marketing dictate using a ‘double opt-in’ instead of a ‘single opt-in’. With a single opt-in, you just fill your e-mail address in and are automatically added to the sender’s list. However, the problem with this is that unscrupulous marketers were randomly adding unsuspecting consumers’ e-mail addresses (not to mention an abundance of disgruntled ex-spouses signing up their ex for an array of unwanted spam.)

That’s why the double opt-in feature is the industry gold standard for permission-based e-mail marketing. When you sign up for an e-mail, you are not automatically added right away. Instead, you must log in to your e-mail and check for the second part of the opt-in procedure – usually a link you have to click that confirms you are the rightful owner of that e-mail account and are giving permission to receive future e-mails from that particular sender.

The double opt-in format is just one more way you can adhere to ‘best practices’ for e-mail marketing, and most reputable e-mail companies utilize it.

WRITING FOR THE WEB: BAN SPAM, AND STAY CAN-SPAM COMPLIANT

Additionally, autoresponders, much like other technologies, can be used for good, such as automating an entrepreneur’s daily tasks. Sadly, many unscrupulous people also found more nefarious uses for it, thus necessitating regulatory intervention.

In 2003 – in response to widespread abuse by spammers and marketers utilizing poor e-mail business practices – the United States federal government passed the CAN-SPAM act, which regulates and sets standards for e-mail compliance.

While there are numerous components to this act, the major points are:

  1. FROM INFO, TO INFO & HEADER INFO: Must be accurate. Use valid and accurate information to correctly reflect who the e-mail is from and who it is intended for. Do not mislead the recipient in any way.
  2. SUBJECT LINE: Must accurately reflect what the e-mail’s contents is about
  3. IDENTIFY THE E-MAIL AS AN AD: While the law gives you a lot of leeway in how you do this, you must indicate clearly and conspicuously that your e-mail is an advertisement.
  4. PHYSICAL ADDRESS: E-mails must contain a valid true and correct address – either your home or office address, or a valid P.O. Box where you are able to receive correspondence.
  5. OPT-OUT FEATURE: Recipients must be able to opt out easily, and you must quickly honor any requests to do so.
  6. MONITOR EMAILS SENT ON YOUR BEHALF: If you hire another company to manage your e-mail campaigns, you are still responsible for the things they send out on your behalf.

This is just a quick overview of some of the duty of care you are tasked with when writing for the web via email marketing. Always uphold best practices when utilizing e-mail marketing in your business, so that you, too, always market with integrity.

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