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Autoresponder Challenges: Unexpected Differences Left Rookie Marketer With Egg On Her Face

May 29, 2008
My autoresponders seemed to work exactly alike. Sure, if I had tested and used the diagnostics, I would have noticed sooner that something was amiss, but I was too busy just keeping up with the newsletters...

My first autoresponder was Aweber. It's extremely user friendly and I quickly learned how to work it. My list grew too, albeit at a glacial pace.

To speed things up, I decided to acquire some additional leads by way of co-registration, which meant that basically the service advertised my newsletter and people signed up. Then it sent me their information, and I was supposed to import them into my autoresponder.

But there was the rub. Aweber won't allow that.

So I needed a second autoresponder. As it happened, I figured I would need a shoppingcart system anyway, at least eventually, so I signed up for a shopping cart system that came with an autoresponder and that did allow importing my new subscribers.

All was well, or so I thought. I fed in the names, I wrote newsletters, but the response I got was zero.

I attributed that to the source of the list and stopped advertising my newsletter.

Until recently... when I decided to give it another shot, especially since my newsletter had gotten a lot better lately.

I also decided I should sign up for my own newsletter (a bit belatedly), and was puzzled when I got bunches of my messages all at once, and then... nothing. What the heck?

When one of my mentors mentioned that he sent out "birthday" greetings (with a special offer) to his list members on day 365 since they joined his list, I thought, hmm, won't that take quite a bit of math to tally up all those numbers?

And then it hit me: Aweber and my shopping cart require different labeling systems:

Aweber wants me to tell it how many days after the LAST message the new message should be mailed. So I typically added a "3" or a "4." And it worked beautifully.

I did the same with my shopping cart autoresponder. Alas, that's why I got them all at once. The shopping cart sent me all messages labeled with a "3" on the third day, the ones labeled "4" on the fourth, and the ones labeled "5" on the fifth.

That clearly was not what I had intended.

As it turns out, the shopping cart autoresponder wants its emails labeled by the number of days since day zero, i.e., the welcome message!

I also discovered that if I added a message with a number that was lower than the number of days a person had already been a member of that list, he or she would not get that mailing at all. Which means, hardly any of the follow-up messages actually reached their intended audience since I had added them with considerable delay. Not a problem for Aweber, but a big problem for my shopping cart.

So I sent a very apologetic broadcast to my list and went about fixing things. I renumbered all the messages and then manually reset the affected list members to the approximate date where they had stopped getting messages to get them caught up with the back messages.

Hopefully, they will forgive me and remain on my list. Those that do will probably be a whole lot happier with my newsletter now that it will actually arrive when it is supposed to.
About the Author
Want a user-friendly, affordable autoresponder? Check out my favorite autoresponder

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Get more of Elisabeth's tips and recommendations at her web stuff blog.
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