A web site with no traffic is not a business asset; it's a liability. The cost in money and time to create and maintain a web site is just the beginning. There is the further investment of resources to get traffic. With the goal of profitability in mind, the central question a web site owner must address is how to maximize the value of visitors once you get them to visit the site. One important element of the strategy is to make use of an auto- responder.
A brief definition of an auto-responder: by email, an auto- responder sends an immediate reply when a person buys something online, sends to a specified email address, or fills out a website form. The content of the auto-response message could be information, an electronic receipt, an e- course, and so forth. When people go online, they are often searching for information, and auto-responders gratify them with instant delivery of material they've requested.
What makes an auto-responder such an effective marketing tool is that when prospects make requests for information and give their email address, that allows you to send follow-up emails.
How do auto-responders enable you to follow up with prospects? If you have properly set up opt-in plus an auto- responder series, you aren't personally involved in follow up. The auto-responder contacts the prospect with the initial reply and beyond, becoming in effect your constantly at work, automated sales force. All you have to do is set it up one time. Write the follow up messages, program the intervals at which you want your messages sent, then the auto-responder set-up works for you again and again on auto-pilot.
What is the best content to present in an auto-responder series? Each set-up would contain messages relating to the initial request for information made by the prospect. Example: a visitor at a site about dieting fills out a form requesting a special report (a page or two in length) describing some effective foods and food combinations that inhibit blood sugar from turning into fat. The prospect gives their email address to receive the report, and the auto-responder tied to the form sends the fr~ee information immediately. Furthermore, the visitor learned at the site that in addition to the special report, they will receive further weight loss suggestions and encouragement in a series over the next few days or weeks, whatever time frame is suitable for the type of products in question.
How are sales boosted by an e-course or auto-responder series? The email component of online marketing is very important, and sending only one email message to your prospects is simply not sufficient. Conventional wisdom about marketing in any area is that the majority of people don't take action on a new advertising message unless it has been put before them from five to seven times. They need repetition, and any business that hasn't got a system for timely and consistent follow up from five to seven times is losing money.
What is the recommended ratio of information and marketing in the auto-responder series? Always keep in mind that the visitor isn't interested in your objectives. They only want to know what is in it for them. They've given their email address mainly because they want to get information, not so they can read your advertisements. So give them what they want: accurate and useful information on a particular subject. Earn their trust. Then, you can tell about how your products and services could benefit them. Keep the ratio of information to marketing at a maximum of 75% to 25%. If you don't give good content, prospects won't keep opening the emails in your series. Make it a win-win. They get good information and you get a well qualified prospect thanks to your auto-responder messages.
Consultant and Author Loren Beckart is Marketing VP for ClickTracs Advertising
Articles by Loren can also be found at Yes Education