The necessity of marketing your business is a hard fact. People need to know your business exists and what you have to offer. Maintaining contact with your customer base and/or prospects is an invaluable part of marketing that most successful Internet-based businesses employ. This is where auto-responder services can play an important role in the growth of your business. Many internet businesses have discovered the power of repeat email communications with customers and prospects and doing so in a volume-based manner.

The problem, of course, is the time it takes to send an individual email to multiple addresses. Autoresponder services allow you a way to avoid this time drain by doing for your business for some nominal fee.  Essentially, these services handle and oversee your email marketing campaigning and ensure compliance with the CAN-Spam Act. But, before you consider signing up for a free autoresponder service, there are a few important things you need to know.

The CAN-SPAM Act makes free autoresponder services generally a bad idea. As you learned above, you have to follow certain guidelines when using commercial emails to market your business. These guidelines cover message content, un-subscription processes, header and subject line content, etc. The laws are strict and the penalties can be harsh for non-compliance.

The problem with most free services is that you will have to police yourself and regularly monitor your email communications. You’ll have to strictly follow the regulations, or you could face stiff penalties, as mentioned. In some cases, you’ll be required to manually unsubscribe people who request to leave any type of subscription or email list you have created. In addition, you should keep in mind that many ISP’s have regulations regarding spam that may differ from CAN-Spam laws.

However, if you use a paid provider of auto-responder services, that provider generally monitors your communications on your behalf to make sure they are delivered and in compliance. These services also typically handle unsubscription requests along with any complaints from subscribers. A paid auto-responder service provides many other useful features such as unlimited number of mailing lists, confirmed opt-in services, automatic delivery of follow up messages, etc. Any credible paid provider will should guarantee that all communications falling under the scope of the CAN-SPAM Act will be in compliance at all times. Use of these services will allow you to effectively manage your time and outsource a valuable business function that you will need to perform.

TIP! Maintain complete control over any auto-responder services you choose to use. There are plenty of good open source auto-responder applications you can use and control yourself.


Handling Spam Complaints

Also you will likely receive spam complaints from time to time even if you do use auto-responder services. There isn’t much you can do, provided your business is not actually in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act. These complaints usually arise due to your site visitors marking your emails as spam, in error, or making a spam complaint against you instead of simply clicking the unsubscribe button.  So long as you are not in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act or any other laws, I would not be overly concerned.


Email Subscribers & Opting-In

Another question arises when considering how your email subscribers should opt-in to your auto-responder service. The easiest and most business friendly method of opting-in is to use the single opt-in method. Once a visitor to your website or blog subscribes to your email list by entering his/her email address, they are automatically subscribed to your email list.  The auto-responder message is sent to that email address without any sort of verification process. This is advantageous from a business standpoint since some subscribers will not check their emails and/or click on the link contained in the confirmation email to verify their subscription.

However, the double opt-in method is better from a legal standpoint. This method requires your subscribers to click on a link they receive in the confirmation email sent by your auto-responder service in order to verify their subscription. They are not simply automatically subscribed by entering their email address. The conversion rates tend to be much lower when the double opt-in subscription method is utilized. This is the reason most Internet marketers prefer the single opt-in method. But, most if not all of my clients who have created and use the lists have reiterated to me that the double opt-in method actually qualifies the customers as solid prospects. After all, subscribers who won’t take the time to confirm their subscription to your email list may not be the most interested customers on the block.