Archive for April, 2005

Unloving the Autoresponder

One of the most frequently offered suggestions I have heard on mastering affiliate techniques is to learn to the love the autoresponder. An autoresponder will send a series of newsletters to the inbox of prospective or current customers, in any order or frequency that you specify. There are a number of e-mail marketing companies with competitive pricing that will help you design and schedule these e-mail messages. All you need is the e-mail addresses of your customers.

The theory behind e-newsletters is to establish a relationship of trust with a potential customer, thus increasing the chances that they will buy a product you have recommended. Plus, most people, once they sign up for a newsletter, will continue their subscription indefinitely, which increases your chances for making a sale with persistent, convincing promotions. All you need is a well-written sales pitch.

E-mail marketing is a cost-effective tool for affiliates for sending out daily or weekly newsletters to every client. You can schedule the first e-mail to go out on the day the customer signs up, and the second e-mail to go out 24 hours later, and the third e-mail will go out 24 hours after that and so on. The automation of the process means that you need to do very little after the initial set-up of your autoresponder.

To make it work, you need the following tools.

1) The pitch page that sells the product
For many affiliates, this is the web page provided by the product’s publisher.

2) The squeeze page
This is the landing page that all customers come to first when they click on a link for the product you are selling.

The main purpose of the squeeze page is to get potential customers to sign up for a newsletter. In order to entice them, you can offer insider information, a free gift, even a free product that they can receive as soon as they sign up. Whether or not the customer then immediately views the pitch page, you have established a relationship with them that you can use to offer your promotions via e-mail later on.

3) An autoresponder
You can utilize an e-mail marketing program like iContact if you want the maximum amount of assistance setting up your autoresponders.

4) Content for each e-newsletter
That’s it! Each newsletter you send is an opportunity for your potential customers to visit your promotions page. The more often they come to promotions page, the more opportunities for affiliate sales you can generate.

Though there are potential pitfalls to this type of marketing, I want to mention when an affiliate expert tells you to not be afraid of designing a webpage or an autoresponder, they are absolutely right. Whether you know anything about web design or not, there are enough companies now that will walk you through a step-by-step process of designing your own website. Godaddy offers webpage creation with every domain you purchase. And when you sign up with an e-mail marketing company, they too will walk you through creating autoresponders without knowing anything about how to create them. All you need is the content and the e-mails.

And that is where you might have the most problems. Don’t forget that the publisher of the product you are selling is probably also building their own e-mail lists. If so, that means you are competing for the same customers. Then you must distinguish yourself in your newsletter, both with what you are offering, and how you offer it.

Affiliates who use autoresponders need to also be aware of how federal law inhibits your business practices. The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 has placed pretty severe limits on how businesses can send e-mail. The law mandates the use of opt-in marketing, prohibits deceptive subject lines and header information, and requires that recipients be allowed to opt out of contact at any time. If you sign up for a legitimate e-mail marketing company, they should be fully aware, and in full compliance with, the CAN-SPAM Act. And it doesn’t hurt you at all to know something about the law yourself.

Autoresponders are a great tool for making regular contact with your customers by e-mail. But like many affiliate tactics, in and of itself, it does not help you convert sales. That’s why, though you might love the autoresponder, don’t forget that there is more to affiliate sales than just sending out e-mails day after day to your client

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