What are autoresponders?
An autoresponder is a script that automatically replies to emails sent to a specific email address. It may be used for away messages, email confirmations, or for several other purposes.
Autoresponders can be configured on a mail server or using an email client. When configured on a mail server, the server automatically sends response emails while the autoresponder is active. Server-based autoresponders are often configured using a webmail interface. For example, Gmail provides a “vacation reply” for this purpose. They can also be created by a server administrator for one or more email addresses. cPanel, a popular web hosting platform for Linux, allows admins to manage autoresponders by logging into the control panel for a specific account and selecting Email → Autoresponders.
What to Look For In an Email Autoresponder?
Before we go further, allow me to point out a few main things I look for in top autoresponders.
The first thing to look for is how simple is it to segment your list. Segmentation is super important in email marketing because it allows you to fine-tune emails in a much more targeted way.
You’ll notice, the more targeted your emails, the more engagement you will receive (open rate, conversions) because each email will resonate better with the people in your contact list.
Most email autoresponders use labels known as tags for segmentation. You can use these tags to attach to any lead. Let’s say someone purchases a service or product from you, you can then tag them with a “buyer” tag.
Now you can send one set of emails to those leads with the “buyer” tag on how to use the product or service they just bought. And another set of emails to those without the tag to try and convince them to buy what you’re selling.
The leads in each of the segments you create will vary in mindset and will respond differently to your emails.
The second thing I look for is the capability for marketing automation which is the life-blood of an email autoresponder.
Marketing automation is a very popular feature, and for good reason. You can use them for simple workflows like drip campaigns, content upgrades and you can even use feature called email list hygiene. Which automatically cleans your contact list of people who are no longer engaged (don’t open emails) in your campaigns.
With the use of some creativity, automations can save you time and also help to increase your conversion rates.
Finally, I also consider pricing, ease of use and additional features when I evaluate each email autoresponder service.
Here’s a list of the best autoresponders you can use:
ActiveCampaign is one of the most popular email marketing software to date. It’s also the current service I use for this site. It has one of the best combination of features and value in an email service that I’ve ever seen.
They use a list-based system, but use tagging extensively for segmentation. Tags can be added either manually or through automations.
All subscribers that enter your lists go into a single index of contacts so you avoid the hassle of having duplicate contacts across multiple lists. Also you don’t get charged for contacts that unsubscribe which is pretty cool.
ActiveCampaign has a nice drag and drop email builder to create nice looking newsletters. The form builder though is nothing to be excited about, it’s just alright.
The interface is easy to use allowing you to build quick and simple automations, and it offers an extensive set of triggers and conditions. Depending on your business needs, this allows you to build both simple and complex workflows.
It’s also one of the email autoresponders on this list that allows you to split test your automation workflows.
With all these features, you might expect ActiveCampaign to cost you a pretty penny. But there price is actually quite reasonable. I tried out the Lite Plan and it handles the needs of most small businesses.
Plus, as your business grows, you can also upgrade your ActiveCampaign to the Plus plan and add features like the CRM with sales automation.
ConvertKit is one of the fastest growing email autoresponder services to date.
It specifically is targeted towards bloggers and creators, and it does a great job focusing on that group. So while it doesn’t have as many features as ActiveCampaign, the ones they do consist of work very well.
ConvertKit’s focus from the beginning has been to be a tag based email autoresponder. This allows them to offer a ton of awesome ways to segment your leads. That means in both sending your emails and automations.
They also include some pretty cool features like conditional email content and auto resend broadcast to un-opens. Both will definitely help increase the ROI of your emails.
ConvertKit has also got one of the cleanest visual automation editors in the market. ConvertKit’s editor is perfectly designed to do this within the automation editor itself.
It makes everything flow just right so you don’t track of what you are doing while creating automations.
The only drawback to ConvertKit’s automations is that it has no list management features. So you can’t unsubscribe contacts from an automation which I find unfortunate.
When it comes to price, ConvertKit just recently added a free plan for up to 500 subscribers. This makes it a no-brainer to test out the service, especially if you’re just getting into the game.
SmartrMail is great if you’re running an e-commerce store. Unlike others on this list, it’s been built purely with merchants in mind.
When you first sign up for SmartrMail you’ll find a list of pre-made best practice segments and email flows for ecommerce such as abandoned cart emails. But you can also built your own segments and flows with the tools in the app.
Given its narrow focus, the segments you can build mostly centre around factors like subscribers’ past purchases, which products they’ve browsed on your store, whether they’ve left items in their cart etc. There’s also standard segmentation based on demographics such as where a subscriber lives and their engagement with your emails.
The email composer and flow builder isn’t going to win any design awards, but if you’re looking for easy-to-use email marketing for your e-commerce store, SmartrMail is definitely worth checking out.
SmartrMail also has a built in feature called Winback Emails. Something you don’t commonly see within email autoresponders.
MailerLite is an email autoresponder I use to use on this site. MailerLite still has one of the best combination of features and prices in an email autoresponder I’ve seen.
When people think of low-cost email marketing software, usually their first thought is MailChimp and the Forever Free plan. But MailChimp has their limitations, such as capping you at the number of emails that can be sent per month.
But one autoresponder service that is truly offering the Forever Free plan is MailerLite. It has no limits and can be used for up to 1000 subscribers. This makes it the perfect solution for anyone just starting out in email marketing.
Now just because MailerLite is cheap doesn’t mean they’re sacrificing on their capabilities. They are a full-feature email autoresponder service that also includes marketing automations.
MailerLite uses segments and groups to assist you in segmenting your subscribers. Segments are rules where subscribers are added or removed automatically based on a particular rule. Groups are just another name for tags in MailerLite.
MailerLite also has a nice and extremely simple automation editor.
Overall, there is plenty to like about MailerLite, and if you are on a budget, then it’s one of the best budget autoresponder services out there.
GetResponse has been around for a long time, but hasn’t been getting much traction in comparison to the newer autoresponder services.
So GetResponse is a list-based autoresponder. But you can still add tags to subscribers through automation, but unfortunately you can’t add them manually.
Though it has this cool feature called Perfect Timing, which delivers emails to your subscribers at the most optimal time (based on their past behaviour).
It also has a feature called Time Travel, which sends emails to your subscribers based on their local time.
The visual editor is nothing to brag about, but it is drag and drop so you can put automation blocks anywhere and then connect them.
But the main issue with GetResponse is that they don’t stand out amongst the crowd. The have good features, but none of them are best in class. They seem to be getting by, by just playing safe.
The best part about GetResponse is the pricing. It’s on the lower end of the spectrum when it comes to autoresponder services, and they offer a 30-day free trial with no credit card requirement.
Aweber was once the most popular email autoresponder service going back several years. And then it wasn’t. They seem to be taking their time to implement some of the same features as the other autoresponder service I’ve already mentioned, and now they’ve fallen way behind.
Aweber is a list-based email autoresponder service. So guess what that means? You’ll have to pay for duplicate subscribers. Also, you’ll have to pay for unsubscribes on your list, which many people dislike.
Aweber rolled a simple automation feature called Campaigns, but it simply can’t compete with the other autoresponder services.
Their automation editor allows you to create linear automations, while quick and easy, it has no support for conditional branching. Which shows a lack of innovation.
Tags are also limited in use, so if you want to send a broadcast email, you’d have to send it to the entire list or a pre-made segment.
Overall, Aweber isn’t a bad autoresponder service, but there are much better options out there.
So here is the summary of all the autoresponders discussed above:
- Best Email Deliverability
- Robust Marketing Editor
- Ability To Split Test Everything In Automations
- Share Your Automations With Other Users
- 14 Day Free Trial – No Credit Card Required
- Steep Learning Curve
- List-Based System
- Not Affiliate Marketer Friendly
- Easy To Learn
- Easy To Use Editor
- Easily Send Re-Broadcasts To Un-Opens
- Free Plan for up to 500 subscribers
- No List Management Actions In Automations
- Difficult To Use Email Templates
- Doesn’t Work Well For Live Events Or Webinars
- Template Builder Will Automatically Match Styles For Your Site
- Automated Product Recommendation Emails
- Smart Abandoned Cart Emails
- Automated Email Targeting
- Free Plan (Up To 1000 Subscribers)
- E-Commerce Focused Only
- Limited Platform Integrations
- Easy To Use Visual Automation Editor
- Good Segmentation Options Using Rules and Groups
- Clean Editor For Building Forms, Pop-Ups and Landing Pages
- Forever Free Plan (up to 1000 subscribers)
- Cheap Tier Plans
- Strict Approval Process (Affiliate Marketers Beware)
- Limited Templates
- Not Many 3rd Party Integrations Yet (use Zapier)
- 30 Day Free Trial – No Credit Card Required
- Form Editor Allows For a Variety of Opt-In Form Creations
- Perfect Timing and Time Travel Features
- Affordable Plans
- Excellent Customer Service
- List-Based System
- Outdated Form and Email Templates
- Deliverability Issues
- Nice Interface
- Plenty of 3rd Party Integrations
- Affiliate Marketing Friendly
- Good Customer Support
- List-Based System
- Outdated Form and Email Templates
- Very Basic Automation Capabilities
- No Split Testing Support
Autoresponder Price Comparison
For some of us, price just doesn’t matter. We just want to choose the best autoresponder service for the job.
But for others, cost is the most important factor. Also, you will likely stay with your chosen email autoresponder for a long time. So the autoresponder service you use will need to be factored into your business budget.
So here is a price comparison chart for your reference, keep in mind that these are for monthly subscriptions.
Most services like ActiveCampaign, Drip, ConvertKit and MailerLite offer a discount for annual plans.
This list was brought to by Adstuck which itself is an email campaign service provide.
Adstuck: Adstuck is a digital marketing practice agency working from all over the world with four locations India, Singapore, Estonia and US. Its mission is to provide instant access to a talented workforce to enterprise. They have 491 clients and worked over 700 projects, with 30 fortunes 500 firms.
Adstuck provide services in:
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It is a strong and leading digital media marketing service provider which can help you with cost cutting, plan execution, perfect reporting, strategy making, data collecting, and response collection from consumers. It handles all the aspects of your business. They don’t focus only on new on emerging brands who wants entail success and distribution in the market but also on brands that have successfully established the customer retail space, and need some assistance in managing their business.