What is an Email Autoresponder

A common question asked is: “what is an email autoresponder?” Sometimes terms like opt email advertising, opt email lists and others are used to describe this extremely important piece of automating your marketing.

what is an autoresponder

Rather than coin my own definition, this is how Wikipedia defines an autoresponder:

“An autoresponder is a computer program that automatically answers e-mail sent to it. They can be very simple or quite complex.

The first autoresponders were created within mail transfer agents that found they could not deliver an e-mail to a given address. These create bounce messages such as “your e-mail could not be delivered because…” type responses. Today’s autoresponders need to be careful to not generate e-mail backscatter, which can result in the autoresponses being considered E-mail spam.

Autoresponders are often used as e-mail marketing tools, to immediately provide information to their prospective customers and then follow-up with them at preset time intervals.”

I’ll expand on this definition a bit as it’s a little over-simplified. Basically an autoresponder will automatically send out emails to a list of recipients. Typically an email address gets put on a list when you “opt in” by filling out a form on a website. Vendors will also add your email address to a list when you purchase something. The first email sent out is usually some form of a thank you; for buying something, joining a group, a newsletter subscription, etc. Once on the list, the list owner can send emails out to everyone on it at the push of a button.

See how it works:


You wil get an email at the email address that you entered above. This is a very basic opt-in form for demonstration purposes only.

Often a series of follow-up emails are sent to people on a list for various reasons with the most common being an offering of some sort. This can be an entirely different item or offering than you initially expressed interest in but often it’s for the exact same item that caught your interest and got you on the list to begin with. Many studies indicate that a person needs multiple exposures to a product or service before making a purchase decision. Follow-up emails may stress individual benefits, offer a better price, bonuses, free shipping and other incentives in an attempt to make a buyer out of you.

Here are a few examples:

1.  A website visitor subscribes to a newsletter and they get an email saying “Thanks for subscribing” and a short paragraph telling them about a special offer on a product or service related to the newsletter subject and how it might benefit them.

2. A website visitor subscribes to your “free e-course.”  Every day an automated email with a short article is sent out. Within each article, there are links to a sales pitch for various products. This is often an add-on product for the course or products which you’re an affiliate for. See to learn about affiliate marketing.

3. A website visitor buys one of your products and gets a “thank you” email. Since they have just bought something, suggesting something related or a step-up version of what they bought but at a “special price” is very common.

4. Once a person has become a buyer, an email asking how they like the product is a good opportunity to stay in touch and expose them to a new offer. A periodic “how are you?” email can also be automatically sent and each one includes some marketing message or suggestion with links to some kind of an offer.

In all of these situations you can preset the time interval and use a series of emails a day or two apart or any other intervals that you choose. As people are put on the list, the series of emails which you have set-up begins from the beginning of the process. Marketers typically have many lists with subscribers from different opt-ins. Subscribers can also be automatically be moved to a different list after an event. After a purchase is made a person will typically be moved to a different list because the message being conveyed is now different.

Auto-responders are an efficient way of building relationships with your clients. The emails which they send, remind people about you, your products and services. Attempting to do this manually would be a nightmare, take crazy amounts of time and be virtually impossible to keep track. The autoresponder service keeps track of everything from the rate that your emails are opened to the number of clicks on the links inside them.

When people join a list, they are said to “opt-in” as it’s not legal to just send out emails to people who don’t subscribe to the list. This would be spam and there are laws (CANSPAM) which define and attempt to control spam. Many marketers also abuse their lists even though they may be within the law. Bombarding people with many emails, especially messages with no real value will have people opting out of the list quickly. By law, every email sent needs to have a way for the recipient to opt-out which means to be taken off the list. Not all marketers include this and other legal requirements and they are spammers too.

There are many autoresponder services and some are even free. Most have similar features although there is one service which is head and shoulders above the crowd. Check out the best autoresponder service on the planet!

What is an Email Autoresponder
Article Name
What is an Email Autoresponder
One of the most basic forms of business and marketing automation is the email autoresponder. Discover all the benefits of using an autoresponder for your business, how they work and some common issues with most of them.

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