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EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 64 - February 17, 2002 - ISSN 1528-6703     3 of 8

Online Auction Marketing Tips: Using Autoresponders

By Jim Crawford

February 17, 2002

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What is an autoresponder? Simply defined, it's a special email address: when your customer sends an email to it, any email, it automatically sends an email back to them. You've probably received one before when you registered or asked a question at a large Web site.

Online auction sellers will find many uses for autoresponders. The good news is, you don't have to have a Web site to use them. For example, you can put the autoresponder email address in your email signature file (the message displayed at the bottom of your outgoing email).

The primary advantage to using autoresponders for your sales message is that they are immediate, automatic and measurable. The sender receives your message instantly, with no extra effort on your part. You will also receive a message confirming that someone has used your autoresponder, along with their email address. Note: this is not your invitation to send them Spam. Be respectful.

The second advantage is that it puts your information into your customers' email box. This is invaluable. People spend the majority of their time online working with email. Your autoresponder message is something your customer has requested, so hopefully they won't delete it. You should spend some extra time composing a compelling and descriptive subject line so they won't.

There are all kinds of ways can you utilize an autoresponder to your advantage. Here are a few ideas...

  • Offer an autoresponder coupon, discount or special deal.
  • Prepare a complete listing of everything in your current or upcoming auction, yard sale or estate sale. You can easily update the content of your autoresponder as your inventory changes.
  • Provide driving directions. Include a link to a map, hours of operation and contact information.
  • Create an autoresponder with your complete contact information and your policies.
  • Write a message with complete descriptions about the item you are selling; include links to more pictures and a product history. You may not want to create an autoresponder for everything you sell, but if you have a large ticket item, it might be worth your effort.
  • Let people know you are on vacation or otherwise unavailable, and let them know when you will return.
  • Use an autoresponder to deliver complicated information. I use an autoresponder on one of my tips and tricks pages to show people how to use a java script to get people to bookmark their Web site. You can see it here http://www.crawforddirect.com/bookmark.htm. The script itself is somewhat complicated and not that attractive for my page. It's much easier just to create an autoresponder to share the information.
  • Use autoresponders to welcome new subscribers to your newsletter, if you have one.

Autoresponders will tell people what to expect from you, so make a good first impression. Be friendly and conversational in your message, and include all the important information.

So where can you get an autoresponder? The first place to check is with your Web host or Internet Service Provider. My ISP offers them for free, and they’re fairly easy to set up. There are also many Web sites that specialize in autoresponders, and a simple search at http://www.google.com will provide you with a list of industry leaders. Most of them have free offers, but you will have to tolerate small advertising messages attached to every message you send. These can be eliminated for a fee.

Remember, any effort you put into getting your company information and link into your customer's inbox (without Spam) is time well spent.

About the author:

Jim Crawford is a stay-at-home father, entrepreneur and Internet Marketing Consultant. He likes to think of himself as a "creative resource." Jim spends a considerable amount of time reading publications and researching Web sites in both the collecting and marketing industries, and enjoys networking with leaders in both. His Web site, The Collector's Marketing Resource Center, provides information about Web site design and marketing for the highly competitive antiques and collecting industry. Stop in for a free consultation http://www.CrawfordDirect.com. If you have a question about marketing your Web site, email him at jim @ crawforddirect.com

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