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The Dynamic Duo: E-Mail Forms and Autoresponders

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Posted July 2, 2001 By Jean Munro     Feedback

I am your customer -- or at least, I may be in the near future. I'd like to tell you about something you can do for me, and all your other customers, that will make me more likely to remember and do business with you.

I am your customer -- or at least, I may be in the near future. While I work in an Internet-based industry, I am also an Internet consumer. I'd like to tell you about something you can do for me, and all your other customers, that will make me more likely to remember and do business with you.

The power of autoresponders is no secret these days; you know how useful these can be in any type of online business. Whether it's product information, technical support manuals, newsletters-on-demand, employment opportunities or sales contract previews being offered, sites everywhere are capitalizing on the force of automated, instant mailers.

Likewise, more and more Web sites are realizing the value of feedback forms over simple e-mail links. A feedback form encourages and entices me in a way no e-mail link ever will. The form-input boxes stand out and catch my eye. The presence of the form lets me know you really want to hear from me. The available form fields relieve me of having to try to figure out how to best communicate my message to you or remember what information I need to provide you with.

So why don't you offer me a form to reach your autoresponder?

Sure, you have autoresponders. But what if I want the information sent to me at home instead of at work? Throughout my workday, will I remember that I want to find your site again when I'm at home so I can request an automated mailer? Probably not. I'm busy and I have a lot to think about. What if I'm not on my own computer and e-mailing your autoresponder will only get the information I want mailed to someone else? I'm out of luck and so are you.

When you use forms in conjunction with autoresponders, you eliminate all these problems. I can request the information from work and have it sent to me at home. I can request the information from a friend's or colleague's computer and have it sent to my own e-mail address.

If you're really savvy, you may even include a small check box for me, asking if I'd like to be remembered in future mailings like the one I'm requesting -- essentially asking me to sign up for your mailing list. I'm not likely to reply to an e-mail address in your automated message only to sign up for your mailing list, but I'll probably check the box that means I'm going to get more of the kind of information I want.

If you want to put all your information at my fingertips without making me work very hard, you can offer me a series of checkboxes that cover all the instant mailers you offer. I'll only have to go through the hassle of filling in my information once, and I'll get several instant mailers instead of just one. I like it when you make it that easy for me to find out about you and what you're offering me, and I like it when I get to decide what information I'll be getting my mail.

If you'd like me to be able to send your information to a friend or colleague of mine I know will be interested in what you're offering, you can offer me a form for that too. You can even give me a place to include a short message to my associate, so they'll know you didn't just send them SPAM.

If you're the kind of person that follows up on requests for information sent to your autoresponders, you can ask me for a little more information than just my e-mail address. You can request my name, my location, my date of birth or anything else you need to know -- stuff you aren't going to get if I just sent a blank e-mail to your autoresponder address. Then, when I see your follow-up e-mail addressed to me personally instead of just to my e-mail address, I'll know you're serious about our relationship. If you save my information and send me a birthday greeting, I'll know I was important enough to you to remember. If I've forgotten about you in our time apart, I'll be reminded that you're still there for me.

I've spent this entire article talking about what you can do for me, because ultimately that's what every customer is interested in from everyone they do business with. If you've been reading carefully, you've figured out how using these two tools terrific tools together can produce powerful results for you.

Getting more information about your visitors, getting more sign-ups for your opt-in newsletter, getting more information to your potential customers, getting more site referrals -- all these things can be done at the same time by combining forms and autoresponders. No matter how you look at it, putting these two tools together creates a dynamic duo that increases customer awareness without decreasing the quality of customer service.

So what are you waiting for? Go make those forms for me.

Reprinted from internetday.

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