Q & A: Is It Smart to Use a Free AutoResponder?

Q. Is it really necessary to use paid Autoresponder services like Aweber? I don’t wan to pay for a service when free options are available.

A. To be honest, I would never trust a free autoresponder.  Your mailing list is too important to your business to risk using a service that could very easily be gone tomorrow.

There are a few problems with using free autoresponders.

1. They might not have all of the features you need – they could just have the bare bones and leave you needing more.  You’ll need features such as link tracking (unless you are using an outside script). being able to remove someone from one list when they sign up for another (like when you need to move someone from the prospect list to the customer list), double opt-in confirmation, and one-click unsubscribe.

2. Free autoresponders don’t make any money directly from you.  They have to make it worth their time and resources to maintain the service, so they need to get money from somewhere.  Some free services do this by putting their own ads at the top of emails you send out.  This is a great way to kill any response rate, and can harm your credibility.

Free autoresponders need to make money somehow, so be sure to find out how that is if you absolutely must go with a free service.

3. Paid autoresponder services spend more time making sure they get high deliver rates.  The good services are able to keep off any blacklists and spam lists that free autoresponder services can’t.  If you use a free service, but your emails aren’t getting through, what’s the point?

4. Free autoresponder services don’t give you the security you need.  A free service really has no obligation to maintain the service – they can just close the doors any time they want and not have to worry about angry customers or giving anyone a refund.

This actually happened to me when I was first starting – I was using a free service, and one day they just shut down and dissapeared.  My list was gone, and there was nothing I could do about it.

Your list really isn’t something you want to mess around with – if pick the wrong one the first time, you risk losing all of your subscribers and hard work.  If you don’t have the money to go with Aweber or GetResponse, there are plenty of other options out there that are more affordable.

Just remember to do some research to make sure they are stable.  Check to see how long they’ve been in business, look for reviews (try checking forums like The Warrior Forum, they also probably have a list of autoresponders somewhere), and make sure they offer all of the features you need.

If you go with a free service to start with and want to move to another (paid) service later, you might have problems importing your list to the new service without losing most of your subscribers.  Many places won’t allow you to import your list at all, while others may force your subscribers to opt-in again – and many won’t.

Services I Use:

I use Aweber.com and GetResponse.com.  I’ve used both for many years, and have very few problems with either of them.  So I would definitely recommend going with one of those.

If it makes a difference to you, GetResponse has an iPhone app while Aweber does not (at the time of writing this).

I have also used the autoresponder from eBizAC.com (they also give you a lot more, including hosting, affiliate tracking, support desk, etc) and EmailAces.com.  I haven’t used them in a few years, so I can’t speak to their current usefulness.  But both were reliable when I used them.

Like I’ve mentioned, your mailing list is one of the most important parts of your business.  So treat it as such.  The money you spend on your autoresponder will be made up from your list, so it is an investment you should really consider.

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