Practical Business Common Mistakes When Choosing Autoresponders In the last article, I addressed all the various technologies and tools you needed to make your autoresponder process work. Today we will talk about what to consider when you specifically selecting your autoresponder software. Trust me, this is important. I may or may not have mentioned that I have used several. Your email autoresponder is one of the most critical pieces of technology you will invest in if you are trying to build a list of subscribers, with the one exception probably being your website. You can earn a reasonably high ROI via email marketing and so I would be neglectful in my information sharing if I underestimated the importance of this one system for your business. Some entrepreneurs earn between $38 — $42 dollars on every dollar they invest in email marketing. So, let’s help you avoid the common mistakes that will leave money on the table. Mistake #1 — Not Knowing Your Email Marketing Goals This seems pretty rudimentary, I know. However, how many investments have you made in your business with the goal of making money? That is a fine goal, but it is not specific enough to select the right tools. Wanting to build your list isn’t specific enough either. Why do you want to build your list? Why do you want these individuals on the list? Do you want to build a long-term relationship? Do you want to sell low-content / low-relationship offers? Do you want to build awareness or inform? Most likely, if you are reading this, you want to build a long-term relationship with the individuals on your list to help them choose to buy your products and services. If so, that is much different than just sending out daily affiliate offers or quotes. Be sure you know what you want from the list and create content accordingly. Mistake #2 — Focusing Too Much on Price I get it. When you are first starting out or maybe when you are starting to create a side gig, you don’t have a ton of disposable income to invest. Yet, if you focus only on the freemium or low-priced products and you don’t look at the features you need to meet your goal (see mistake #1), you will miss out on getting the right technology for the job. There will be some very expensive tools, like the Actionestics add-on for ClickFunnels, that may be well above your ability to pay right now, but there is going to be something more reasonable that works for you near-term and mid-term goals. Remember, what is your goal. Then, what is the functionality you need to meet that goal? Then you can narrow it down further to what you can afford. Mistake #3 — Not Caring About the Company Reputation Look, I like the underdog just as much as the other guys. Yet, the services you choose need to have a good reputation. I am not saying they have to be the captain of the football team type popular, I am saying they need to do what they say they will do when they say they will do it. For example, I started out with the “popular” web hosting company, even though my knowledgeable friends and colleges said they had terrible customer support. I figured it would be unlikely that I would need much of that support until I did. It cost me a lot of time and a lot of money. The point is it doesn’t take much to ruin the trust you have worked too hard to build with your audience. If you choose a company that has a reputation similar to the one you want to have, either way, it will rub off on you someday. Protect your rep! Mistake #4 — Not Reading the Terms of Service (Fine Print) Ugh. Can I say how much I hate this one? Each service has its own terms of service (TOS) or service level agreement (SLA). These are rules that you must pay attention to and the ones that they pay attention to. You don’t own this service or have much influence over them other than what they are legally obligated to do. If you mess up, they can easily cut you off and don’t even have to give you much of an explanation. For example, there was a requirement to not sell supplement products with one provider I used. Turns out they considered essential oils (includes digital download information) as a nutritional supplement and they shut off my entire site and my service, but happily continued to charge me. Therefore, pick the right choice that allows you to do what you need to do with the software. See Mistake #1. You need to be clear what your goal is with the product and that you are allowed to use it in service to that goal. For example, if you want to do a lot of affiliate marketing, don’t pick one that makes that hard. So yes, read the fine print … with a cup of coffee … or two cups of coffee. Mistake #5 — Not Concerning Yourself with Deliverability I will assume that the only reason that you don’t concern yourself with it is that you didn’t know to consider it. I mean why would you take the time to craft long nurture sequences or lead sequences only to have the emails not get delivered. Seems silly right? Some services have better records of their deliverability than others. Active Campaign has one I really like and find helpful. Read the fine print to find out. (Yes, more reading of legal crud, but it matters.). Test out the service when you use their free version to find out if they are accurate in their deliverability claims. Ask others who use the software is they have had any issues in the past. Find out if that email service provider is often used by your audience or your industry. Clearly, I like and use Active Campaign. Maybe you have a college that loved Mailchimp. Just do a little homework so you are not left with a lot of effort wasted. Mistake #6– Not Testing the User Interface Should I admit my arrogance here? Yes, yes, I should. I guess I figured since I spent 20+ years in technology — often as a software developer — that all these things should be easy, and I would be fine. Ummmm…. Maybe not so much. No matter has fantastic the service is, if you can’t figure it out, it’s not amazeballs — umkay? Choose a service you can figure out or that is easy to teach a virtual assistant. I will admit, these things are more complicated than I gave them credit for. I thought I know how to email, right. Well, there are sequences and tags and conditions and lions and tigers and bears — oh my. So, really. Use the trial person. Follow their tutorials. Do the work. Otherwise, you will have three or four of these things all half-working … or maybe I am projecting a bit? Mistake #7– Ignoring the Availability of Important Analytics Your autoresponder platform will have analytics. Some systems offer more than others. Ensure the choice you pick has the information available that you need or a way to integrate with another software to get those analytics. Be careful here though. If you read the last article on all the various technologies and tools you needed to make your autoresponder process work you will know that you can quickly end up with three to ten systems just to run things. If you don’t have to add another integration software — don’t. If you do, consider something like Zapier that is used often and there are others that can support it if you can’t figure things out. Mistake #8– Not Understanding and Knowing the Terminology There is a lot of new stuff to learn when you start using autoresponders and email marketing. If you understand the terms you will feel much less lost. Again, I was a 20+ year technologist … and well … you know what happens when you assume, right? HubSpot has an excellent glossary of important email marketing terms to get to know so you don’t end up looking like the right side of assume — you feel me? When you choose your autoresponder and system that you want to use to build your email list so that you can get your first 1000 subscribers, you are finally ready to get started, so don’t dottle! Remember that you need to create a business email to use your autoresponder as well as an address that will be included automatically on each email. It’s the law. You can get a virtual business address and phone number via sites like Rovva.com or Regus.com, and others. If you use self-hosted WordPress, you can create as many unique email addresses as you need via your website host. Mine is www.jackieschwabe.com and my email is coachjackie@jackieschwabe.com. You can also get a google voice phone number if you don’t want folks calling your cell phone directly … but those are topics for a different article. Did you miss the first few articles in this series? Now worries … I pasted the links of a few below for you.