Have you ever received an email telling you that the person you emailed is on vacation and will not be answering his email for the next week? What about a company that answers with an email thanking you foryour interest and that they would get back to you in a day or two? Or even an email saying that the email you tried to send could not be delivered?
Each of these is a different version of what we commonlycall an autoresponder. An autoresponder is simply that, acomputer program that automatically answers email sent to it. This simple definition, however, belies a world ofdifference between the different types of autoresponders in use today.
The first auto responders were incorporated into mail transfer agents or email providers. When they could notdeliver a piece of email, they would send an autoresponse to you letting you know as much. These types of emails were helpful, but not particularly sophisticated.
That has all changed radically in recent years, as autoresponders have been incorporated into the marketing strategies of many companies. Today autoresponders are used by companies to immediatelygive feedback and information to prospective clients. Thismight include sending an autoresponse to email inquiries which include pricing information, more details about a product, and a timeline for when they can expect someone from the company to get back with them.
Autoresponders are setup primarily in one of two ways,with an outsourced ASP model, and a server-side model. The Outsourced ASP model involves the company orprovider who would like to incorporate an autoresponder into their business model contracting with an outsideprovider. The outside provider will then typically providethe user with access to a web-based control panel. Fromthere the company or individual can dictate exactly what they would like the autoresponder to say to each email received as well as how to deal with different types of emails and other variations. For these services, the company typically pays a monthly fee to the autoresponder provider.
The second category of autoresponders is server-side.Server-side autoresponders simply refers to programs that instead of paying for someone to implement for you on a monthly basis, a company can install the system on their own server and run it for themselves. While this processis typically not as simple as purchasing a program out of a box and uploading to the server, it has become significantly simpler in recent years.
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