Autoresponders – Why Not Host It Yourself?
I’m on the mailing list for a number of Internet marketers, and every week, I receive messages about the latest and greatest “must have” Internet marketing products.
One type of product that I’m seeing offers for increasingly often is for a self-hosted autoresponder.
What’s an autoresponder? I’ve written a lengthy article about autoresponders here. (new window)
In short, and autoresponder is a service that allows you to create and manage a mailing list. It lets you collect names and email addresses and allows you to send messages to your list whenever you wish.
There’s an old saying in Internet marketing – “The Money Is In The List.” It means that if you have a Website that sells products, you can make money selling them, but if you have a list of customers, you can market to them over and over.
A properly managed mailing list can be profitable, and there are some marketers that have lists of more than 100,000 customers.
With an autoresponder, sending email to 100,000 people is no more difficult than sending a message to a single recipient. You just type up the message, select “all” recipients in your autoresponder’s dashboard, select the time you want the message to be sent, and click “send.”
Problems with Commercial Autoresponders
Anyone who is serious about making money online will make use of an autoresponder in order to build a mailing list. I’ve got one; and if you sign up for my list, you’ll receive messages automatically from mine.
Commercial autoresponder services are Web-based; you log in at their Website and do all of your business there. They store your mailing list and your email messages and they use their email service to send the messages out.
What people don’t like about them is that they cost money, and sometimes a lot of money.
Most autoresponder services charge a subscription fee – you pay a monthly price to use them. Most are not particularly expensive, but most of them charge based on the size of your mailing list.
GetResponse, perhaps the best-known of these companies, charges as little as $15 per month, which most people would agree is reasonable.
But if you have a list of 100,000 people, the cost is $1200 per month!
That’s a lot of money!
That’s where self-hosted autoresponders come in, and I’ve been seeing a lot of advertising for them lately.
Instead of subscribing to a service, you install a self-hosted autoresponder on your own desktop computer, and you use your own email account or Web hosting service to send the messages out.
Instead of paying a monthly subscription fee, you pay a one-time fee to license the software. I received a sales pitch for such a product last week, and the asking price was $42.
That’s $42 one time, as opposed to up to $1200 per month.
Yes, that’s a big savings, and I’m sure that the product, called Sendiio, is doing quite well in terms of sales, as the thought of paying just once, rather than every month, is appealing.
In my opinion, however, you should never use a self-hosted autoresponder.
Why not? You’ll safe a bundle, right?
Maybe. And maybe not.
Why not? Spam email.
Most of the better-known autoresponder companies have been doing business for years. They have hundreds or thousands of customers and they send out millions of email messages every single day.
These companies are not only well known in the Internet marketing community, but they’re well known among Web hosting companies, as well.
These companies have established relationships with the larger Internet Service Providers to make sure that those providers actually deliver those millions of email messages to their customers, rather than marking them as spam and discarding them.
Part of these agreements is that the autoresponder services agree to take steps to ensure that they are not sending out spam email messages and those companies create policies for their paying customers to ensure that the messages they send out conform to the law.
If you have a subscription with an autoresponder service, you’ll agree not to send out spam and you’ll usually have to agree to what is known as “double opt-in.”
When someone signs up for your mailing list, they’ll receive an email message asking them to click a link to confirm that they want to have their name added to the list.
So it’s not enough to simply sign up; you also have to confirm that you asked to sign up.
This prevents people from just randomly adding the email addresses of strangers to their email lists. With double opt-in, only people who confirm that they want to be on the list are added.
When you have a self-hosted autoresponder, you don’t have to require double opt-in for your mailing list. You may if you like, but you don’t have to, and you’ll get a larger mailing list if you only ask people to sign up, rather than asking them to sign up and confirm.
But you’re likely to run into problems when you start sending out email messages in bulk, and you’re going to encounter two kinds of problems:
Problems with your Web Host – Most Web hosting companies don’t expect their customers to be sending out thousands of email messages on a regular basis.
When your host sees that you’re suddenly sending out thousands of email messages when you used to only send out a few messages per day, they’re likely to assume that you’re either a spammer, or that your account has been compromised by someone who is a spammer.
Your Web host may shut down your account.
Problems with email delivery – Since you don’t have a relationship with the major Internet Service Providers, such as Google, Comcast, Verizon or AOL, your bulk mailings may be seen by the hosting companies of your recipients as spam.
What happens then? They’ll likely just block delivery, and you’ll start to receive hundreds or thousands of messages from those companies telling you that they did not deliver your messages because they consider them to be unsolicited commercial email, or spam.
You’ll be blocked, and that is that. You won’t be able to send messages to those companies again.
Solutions to the delivery problem
The Sendiio product that I heard about last week had a solution for that – you can use their own SMTP service to send out your messages….
…for a monthly fee.
At that point, this self-hosted autoresponder becomes a subscription model, just like all of the other ones out there.
If that’s the case, why not just get a subscription autoresponder and be done with it? You’ll be doing business with a company that has a history of reliable delivery and you won’t have to worry about it.
You can do this without spending a fortune, too. The company that I use, Trafficwave, has a single low monthly price that covers a mailing list of any size.
I’ve been using them for years, and they deliver my messages reliably, and the price is low enough that it’s affordable for just about anyone.
You can read my review of the Trafficwave autoresponder here.
Sometimes, what looks like a bargain can turn out to be wasted money. If you’re going to use a self-hosted autoresponder system, that’s what’s likely to happen.