Even though I like to think of myself as text mail subscriber who’s not easily fazed by technical matters online, I’ll admit that there were one or two things I found rather confusing when I first started using autoresponders on 1ShoppingCart.com a few years ago. So in a bid to save you from the same confusion as you start out, I’m going to cover them in this article.
The first thing that foxed me was the difference between autoresponder and broadcast messages. If I wanted to send messages to people on my mailing list, I wasn’t clear which form of message I should choose. What I eventually learned is that the messages themselves can be exactly the same, but what is different is the way that you send them.
An autoresponder is an email message which is sent automatically when someone enters their name and contact details on your website and clicks on the Submit button. It is an automated response.
A broadcast, on the other hand, is an email message initiated by you and sent out at a time of your own choosing. Broadcast messages are usually sent either to your entire mailing list at once or to a sub-set of subscribers.
When my subscribers originally sign up to receive my free bulletin, they receive some autoresponder messages from me. They initiate that particular process and they are the only ones who receive those messages at precisely the time they do. When I send out a newsletter, though, it is a broadcast message and I send it to my entire mailing list at the same time. This time I’ve initiated the communication.
When you send autoresponder or broadcast messages you have the choice of two message formats. Each has its pros and cons…
The plain text format has the advantage that you can simply type your messages and send them out with no need for any formatting. It’s very straightforward. It’s also said that plain text messages have a greater chance of being delivered and not rejected as spam, although I don’t have any statistics on this.
With HTML messages you have much greater scope on the presentation side of things. You can use colour and pictures, you can make the layout look the same as your website… a great way to establish a recognizable look or brand for yourself. HTML emails are certainly more visually attractive, but they do require someone with a bit of design and coding skill to format them.
There are many VA’s who can do this as well as website designers, so don’t despair if you want to send out HTML formatted messages but don’t have the know-how yourself. Alternatively, if you use AWeber.com and want to have a go at doing it yourself, you’ll find over 100 HTML email templates to choose from.
One less immediately obvious advantage that HTML messages have over their plain text counterparts is that you can track the number of HTML broadcast messages that are received and opened by your subscribers. The ability to track your results is a big plus. It enables you to experiment with the best days and times to send out your broadcasts. And to learn about the kind of message titles that generate most interest in your readers.