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How to Boost Web Sales with an Auto-responder

By Loren Beckart

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.

Auto-responders - a definition: an auto-responder sends an instant response via email when somebody makes a purchase on-line, sends an email to a particular address, or fills out a web site form. The auto-response might contain an electronic receipt, an e-course, or information. Prospects are gratified by immediately being given the information they have asked for at a web site.

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 does an auto-responder make it possible to effectively follow up with visitors? With an opt-in and a series of email messages that are set up properly, an auto-responder will automatically communicate with the prospect from initial response throughout the email series you've created. Your messages are pre-written and pre-programmed. They are sent at intervals you've decided to use. In effect, the auto-responder becomes your constantly working sales force, tireless and limitless after you've set up the sequence one time.

What kind of information should be included in a series or e-course by auto-responder? Every series that you set up would contain messages directly related to the initial inquiry for information the visitor made. For example, someone visits a fitness site that sells exercise equipment. The visitor fills out a form requesting the fr~ee special report that describes ten effective stretches that together address all muscle groups and help prevent injury. The form is tied to an auto-responder which immediately sends the requested information. In addition, the visitor learned at the site that over the next several days or weeks further fitness tips and inspirations would be delivered in a series.

What does an e-course or auto-responder do to increase sales? All effective online marketing makes use of email somehow. But a single email is not enough contact for most prospects to feel a sense of trust and then take action. Marketers in any arena usually expect to put something before prospects from 4 to 8 times. The majority of buyers need repetition before they really 'get' a new advertising message and decide to entrust their money by acting on it. You are losing money if you aren't using some kind of system for 4 to 8 follow-up messages that are consistent and timely.

What is a recommended balance in the auto-responder series between information and marketing? Generally, when visitors give their email address, they want to receive targeted information, and maybe to receive notices about special promotions. Just keep in mind that they aren't interested in your objectives, but only in what is in it for them. So, give them what they want - useful and accurate information. A ratio of about 75% information and 25% marketing will keep people opening the emails in your auto-responder series.

Author and Marketing Consultant Loren Beckart is Vice President at ClickTracs, a premier advertising service, specializing in driving highly targeted visitors to internet businesses. For information:

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