There are a lot of autoresponders nowadays, including free and very expensive, self-hosted and professional. However, the choice is so big that you are not sure which one is the best. So, what to do? Let’s start with free autoresponders. Free autoresponders are a bad choice for your business if you take it seriously. Why? These autoresponders often include advertisements inside your emails. Besides, your emails will be mostly delivered into spam folders, but not inbox folders. Or very often your emails will not be delivered at all. Why? Because many IP addresses of these free autoresponders are already blacklisted or blocked. These responders can also limit the number of your subscribers or/ and campaigns. Therefore evidence suggests that free autoresponders cannot be used for serious businesses in any way. The biggest concern about them is they will never look professional in the eyes of your potential customers.
Now let’s talk about self-hosted autoresponders. This email management solution is better than free autoresponding services. However, it is not ideal as well. As a rule, self-hosted autoresponders don’t include advertisements inside your emails. Good self-hosted autoresponders are much more flexible than all other responders and responding services. There are even good free self-hosted autoresponding scripts on the Internet. But, of course, you can also find expensive self-hosted autoresponders. However, you have to know how to install them in a proper way. Sometimes it is not very easy, and therefore you will have to learn a lot of things to install the scripts in a proper way. Or you will want to hire someone to install them for you.
Next, most people don’t advise to run self-hosted autoresponders on a shared hosting. Because your shared hosting account can be easily closed if a few subscribers report you as a spammer, even if you have not sent spam in reality. That’s why a better solution for your self-hosted autoresponder is your own dedicated or virtual server. Another thing you will have to deal with is a constant monitoring of your IP address. Why? Because when a few people report you as a spammer, your IP address will be blacklisted. And a blacklisted IP means you will not be able to send emails to your customers and prospects. Why? Most of your emails will be sent directly to spam folders or won’t be delivered at all. Who wants this? Who needs this? – Nobody! Therefore you will have to monitor your IP all the time. And in case of blacklisting you will have to whitelist your IP address yourself.
Now let’s talk about spamming. It is a very important aspect of your autoresponder’s deliverability. If you treat your business seriously, you are not going to spam people at all. But even if you don’t spam at all, this does not guarantee that you will not be reported as a spammer. – Absolutely not! Because some of your prospects may dislike your email or even forget that they signed up to your newsletter in the past etc. Therefore they can hit a ‘spam’ button without thinking much. In the world of Internet business spam reporting is a usual thing. That’s why you have to be ready to fight with it.
What is the conclusion here? Can you use professional high-quality self-hosted autoresponders for your business? – Yes and no. It depends on your wish. If your list is not too big (over 3000 of people), then you can use it. But do avoid using shared hosting accounts. And be ready to solve all your autoresponder problems yourself: low email deliverability, IP address blacklisting etc. Also be ready to learn all the technical stuff here, including SPF, domain keys, DNS etc. What will you have in return for a good self- hosted autoresponder? You will not have to pay your monthly fee (10-70 dollars). And you will get a very flexible autoresponder with lots of great features.
Now let’s move on to professional autoresponding services (e.g., Aweber, TrafficWave, ConstantContact etc). Are they the best solution for serious businesses? What are their pluses? The most important advantage of these services is that they whitelist their IP addresses themselves, and therefore they guarantee a high email deliverability. Namely whitelisting is the best thing you will get using these services. You won’t have to deal with blacklisting yourself. However, these services are not so flexible and rich in features as good self-hosted autoresponders are. Plus be careful: not all autoresponding services are of the highest quality. So, choose carefully.
To conclude, in this article I’ve described some advantages and disadvantages of current autoresponders. But you may ask: what is my own solution? What autoresponder do I choose myself? – My preference is the following: for a small list which is less than three thousands of subscribers I can choose either a high-quality self-hosted autoresponder or a professional autoresponding service that charges a monthly fee. And for those who don’t want to deal with all problems and technical stuff, I recommend to pay for a high-quality professional autoresponding service. However, who knows: probably your self-hosted autoresponder will grow into your own professional autoresponding business tomorrow?
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