Keeping in touch with your prospects / customers / clients is vital to just about any business. But it can be very time consuming if you have to manually e-mail or call each person individually. That’s what’s great about a good email followup system – it automates most of the process. Today I’ll be reviewing one of my favorite e-mail autoresponder / follow-up systems: Aweber.

A good email autoresponder system should do two things primarily:

  1. Give people a way to get more information from you automatically (without any work on your part)
  2. Give you a way to contact all your prospects, customers, or clients at once by sending only 1 e-mail

Aweber does those things well. They make it easy to create an e-mail mailing list and create code you can put into your website to allow people to sign up to receive more information, whether that be in the form of a free report, newsletter, etc.

And whenever you want to send out an e-mail to your entire list at once (called a “broadcast” e-mail), Aweber makes this very easy.   They also include Spam checking so you can make sure your message won’t be mistaken as Spam.

While there are some services that may be a little cheaper, you have to be careful about who you use for an email autoresponder service.  One important factor is deliverability.  What I mean by that is basically whether your e-mails make it through to people’s inboxes.

An e-mail autoresponder / follow-up service sends out many thousands of e-mails every day from their server and all the major e-mail service providers (like AOL, Yahoo, MSN, Verizon, Comcast, etc.) want to know why all these e-mails are coming to their users.  They try to do their best to protect their users from Spam (junk mail) and when they see lots of messages coming from one server, their immediate conclusion is that it’s likely Spam.

A good e-mail autoresponder / follow-up service usually has people dedicated to doing nothing other than maintaining good relationships with these e-mail service providers and Internet service providers.  If there are complaints, they have to handle them.  If a particular user is getting lots of spam complaints, they may put restrictions on the user’s account such requiring the user to use e-mail verification (double opt-in) on all their mailing lists.  This protects all the other users of the autoresponder service.

I’ve used some e-mail autoresponder services that didn’t focus enough on maintaining good relationships with the different e-mail service providers and they would get blacklisted by a particular e-mail service provider.  Let me give you an example of what this means and what impact it has.

Let’s say lots of AOL users complain that they’ve received Spam e-mails.  AOL looks into it to see where these e-mails came from and lots of them are traced back to a particular server on the Internet, probably all from a certain IP address.  From AOL’s perspective, this looks like whoever owns that server is a Spammer, blasting out junk mail.  But in reality, it may be an e-mail autoresponder service.

Let’s just make up a name for this autoresponder service.  We’ll call them XYZ Autoresponder.  If XYZ Autoresponder had maintained a good relationship with all the major email providers such as AOL, then AOL would know why so many e-mails were coming to them from XYZ’s server.  In reality, it’s not just one user sending out all these e-mails, but it’s lots of different users sending out the e-mails.

So if XYZ Autoresponder service didn’t have a good relationship with AOL, AOL is going to assume it’s a spammer and they will add XYZ Autoresponder’s server to their “blacklist”.  What this means is anytime an e-mail comes to AOL from XYZ’s server, it is automatically rejected and whoever it was sent to will never see it.

This is a serious issue because it means any user of the XYZ Autoresponder service who tries to send out an e-mail to their mailing list wouldn’t be able to reach anyone on their list using AOL.  This could potentially be hundreds or thousands of people on your mailing list that you’ve worked hard to get there that you can no longer contact.

So e-mail deliverability is very important.  If you go with a company that doesn’t have the resources or knowledge to maintain good relationships with all the major ISPs and e-mail providers, there’s a good chance your e-mails won’t make it through.  And if you’re e-mails aren’t making it through to people, what’s the point of sending them?

Aweber is one service that I’ve never had issues with when it comes to e-mails getting through.  Of course, you have to be careful with the wording you use in your e-mails so they’re not mistaken for Spam, but that’s a topic for another day.  So you have to do your part, but you need an e-mail autoresponder service who will do their part as well.

All in all, Aweber has been very reliable.  Their pricing structure has changed, which I’m not crazy about, but they’re still reasonable.  Their service, at least as of this writing, starts at $19/month for up to 500 subscribers.  Then it goes up from there depending on how many people are on your list.  The good thing about it is that if you’re properly monetizing your list, the more people you have on your list, the more money you should be making.

While there are several autoresponder services that are decent, I feel like Aweber is about the best when it comes to e-mail deliverability, and that’s really one of the most important things.  So for a while now, they’re my top pick when it comes to an autoresponder service.

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