In-Touch Auto Responders - Description, Instructions & Demo

NOTE: if viewing this page while setting the responder, position and size this help window and the responder window so that both can be viewed simultaneous then you be able to follow these instructions while applying them to the responder

WHAT IS AN AUTO-RESPONDER?

The standard simple responder provided by most ISP’s merely respond to received emails by sending a confirmation email that the emails been received. Personally I do not use these preferring to assume that it has been received unless notified of a bounce.

Our responder is designed to cut out the manual work of building a list of prospects/members and then sending emails to everyone on that list. Many lists can be built, each one sending different messages on pre-set periods. The aim - is to automate your emails as much as possible so minimising your efforts, saving time and therefore maximising your profits.

It is NOT a spamming tool. Like most people, I hate spam. Spam is also illegal.

Brief description - from a form on your website it collects names and email addresses which are saved in a list. This list is then used to send emails to the people with whatever they have requested at preset periods, or updates instantly.

Uses- sending newsletters and articles, reminders for subscription due or overdue, automatic replying to prospects request for information, sending lessons on regular periods. More...

GENERAL NOTES

So that everyone understands these instructions, I have assumed that the reader is new to computing to make it easy. Most readers will already know some of these general instructions.

BUTTONS COLOUR CODED GREEN = Must click to SAVE or to ACTION, BLUE = GENERAL OPERATIONS, RED = DANGER use with caution No Un-Do.

NOTE: To keep things simple, Clients, Members, Customers future Prospective customers, etc., are referred to here as "prospects". Obviously their title will depend on what the responder is used for. Text in quotes ie "ADD ACCOUNT" refers to an actual item in this case the add account button.

This might seem a lot to take in and bit bewildering at first glance but it's really simple if you follow it logically you will find it quite straight forward. Take one step at a time. Plan out what you are trying to achieve have a look as the "sample cases" for ideas. Its easier to learn by using it. Set up a trial run and test it on your friends first. This can prevent embarrassments if you test it on your real prospects!

Have a good read though, try it out the demo control panel and give it a test drive, then if you have any questions feel free to email me.

Screenshot of Autoresponders settings

Note: light blue area above only used on Double opt-in option.

I offer two levels of service:-

  1. The Complete Service where every thing is done for you. The benefit for you is that you can concentrate on your own business and your website is functioning quicker.
  2. D.I.Y. for those who wish to do every thing for themselves and save money. Help is always available should you need it.

or a combination of the above I can set it up and then so you how to maintain it. Or you try the diy option and if you can't complete for any reason I can finish it off for you.

SAMPLE SCENARIOS

DEMO IN-TOUCH CONTROL PANEL Password is "demo" without quotes, lower case and no spaces. As everyone has access to the controls the send has been disenabled to prevent abuse. However, you can "play" with the settings make new accounts, save, add and delete prospects etc. to get the feel for it without any fear of sending out loads of junk emails.

TEST DRIVE IN-TOUCH by signing up for my Business Club and you will receive good tips and ideas also you will see it in action from your prospect's point of view. You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link. Note: This "demo" is an actual working auto-responder programmed to promote my services and business. Just that how it appears to your prospects/clients is entirely down to how you set it up. You can either set this up yourself or we can do it for you. Click here to join our business club.

ACTIONS NEEDED TO SETUP THE AUTO-RESPONDER

LOGIN

FIRST CREATE AN ACCOUNT OR EDIT AN EXISTING ACCOUNT

ACCOUNT SETTINGS

CREATE OR EDIT THE MESSAGES TO BE EMAILED

SETTING THE PERIODS FOR WHEN THESE MESSAGES ARE TO BE SENT

CREATING THE SIGNUP FORM

MODIFYING THE FORM TO SUIT YOUR PURPOSE

PERSONALISING YOUR MESSAGES

ADDITIONAL PAGES NEEDED

EXPORT PROSPECTS

IMPORTING PROSPECTS

DELETE PROSPECTS

EXAMPLE SCENARIOS


START THE PROGRAM AND LOGIN

To prevent unauthorised access you will need to login by typing your password and clicking "LOGIN". These private details will be given to you when your responder is installed. Once logged in you will see a list of your accounts (if you have any)

Demo login password is "demo" without the quotes, lower case and no spaces.

Login to your In-Touch Auto-Responder with the details in your welcome email.

Either create a new account or click on an existing account name you wish to work on.

 

FIRST CREATE AN ACCOUNT

Enter an account name under the "ADD ACCOUNT" button (3 to 8 letters, digits and underscore but no other symbols) click "ADD ACCOUNT".
Note this name is hidden and not seen by your prospects and is only used to ensure that the details from each form are directed to the correct account.
The responder does not limit to the amount of accounts you can have but obviously there is a practical limit. This will create an empty account. Click on the new account and fill in the details, see edit below..

EDIT ACCOUNT SETTINGS

Select the account by clicking on the account name. Initially you will be presented with a blank form. The details filled in below are to give you an idea of what's required. The details in the light blue shaded section are only needed if you are using the double opt-in option. On your website you will need a form page on which your prospect fills in their details, a page to which the the surfer's browser is redirected on after filling in your form page and if you have chosen to use the double opt-in option a confirmation page where the prospect's browser is redirected after clicking the "Subscribe" link. If you have not set these pages yet leave them blank for the moment. An error message to remind you to do this "Redirecting URL has not been specified!". This will be dealt in more detail later, one thing at a time!

The above will give an idea of what's required. The actual details will depend on its use.

NOTES: This is just that, a place to put any notes that you might have or wish to make as a reminder. It has no effect on the running of the responder and can remain blank.

From name: How you wish the name is to appear in your prospects email box.

From email: This is the email to which you which any replies to be made to and will be used if your prospect replies to an email (control R on most browsers)

Add unsubscribe link: Ticking this box will add an unsubscribe link to the bottom of every email sent out I recommend that you make use of this special automatic feature save you the trouble of doing this manually and help to keep you on the right side of the law (anti Spamming). No point if the email is a one-off.

Admin Report: Ticking this box sends you a report every time a prospect subscribes or unsubscribe.

Redirect after registration to: This is the address of a web page to which your prospect's browser is redirected to after pressing the "Submit or Join" button on your form.

Redirect after confirmation to: Only used on double opt-ins, again this is a web page to which your prospect's browser is redirected to after pressing the "Subscribe link" on the Double Opt-in Confirmation email.

Double Opt-in Confirmation Subject: Only used on double opt-in. This appears as the subject on the opt-in email. The body contains the message for confirmation email. Note: background coded light blue.

Plain or HTML Webpage Confirmation Email: This selects Plain Text or HTML Webpage. On HTML any valid code can be used ie <b> Bold text cancelled by</b> normal newlines will be ignored the code <br> will give a new line. The text can be created easily in a any webpage program then the resultant code copied and pasted into the above text area box.

DO NOT FORGET TO CLICK THE "SAVE SETTINGS" button before moving onto the next item.

The "FORM CODE" button generates the necessary HTML code for your form which you paste into your webpage

"EXPORT PROSPECTs" displays the current prospects so that the required prospect can be selected (highlighted) and copied (control C) and pasted into a different account or a different program.

"STATUS" Shows each prospect's status- name, email, next message to be sent and the date joined. To delete a prospect, click on that prospect.
Can't find Status window? On clicking the STATUS button and nothing seams to happen, the reason is that the window is already open and it's hidden under other windows. Easiest way to find window hold the "ALT" key down and keep pressing tab key looking for "STATUS" in the description box under the icons for the open windows, releasing the keys when found.

CREATE OR EDIT THE MESSAGES TO BE EMAILED

There are two options - Plain Text or HTML/Webpage Emails

YOU CAN PERSONALISING YOUR MESSAGES by merging dynamic details in the subject or body text. See details below

Plain/Normal Email - Sample below. This is the easiest and safest option as it can be read by any prospect and not dependent your prospect's email reader settings.

Screenshot of message text edit box

HTML/Webpage Email - Sample below.

Screenshot of message HTML edit box

Advantage HTML/Webpages is that you can take advantaged to the style the text ie bold, italic etc. and other features provided by HTML like "hot links". However the effect of this code will not be seen until viewed in a HTML enabled viewer.
While this code can be typed in directly into the body box, it is easier to use your favourite webpage editing program ie FrontPage, Dreamweaver etc. This way you can preview the code and see exactly what the final results will look like. When you are happy with the results, copy and past the code directly into the "Body" box.
Disadvantage is your prospect may have this feature disenabled on their email reader and will see the text and code (as above) and not your beautifully designed layout. May also have to right click the blank picture box to display the picture. A way around this is to add a link at the top of your email the the effect "IF THIS MESSAGE IS NOT DISPLAYED CORRECTLY PLEASE CLICK THIS LINK www.yourdomain.com/address-of-webpage-version" TO READ ONLINE. If you do use this option don't forget to place an extra copy online!

TIP: best to use both physical text newline (by pressing the enter or return key) and the newline HTML code <br> this will give a newline on both text and HTML readers.

PERSONALISING YOUR MESSAGES

Including a variable below when the message is sent it will be personalised by substituting the variable or the current data. These variables can be used in both the subject and or body text.

  • [FIRSTNAME] will merge your prospect's first name.

  • [FULLNAME] will merge your prospect's full name.

  • [EMAIL] will merge your prospect's e-mail address.

  • [DATE] will merge current date in dd/mm/yyyy format.

  • INSERT IMAGE (HTML/Webpage only) on <img border="0" src="images/1stop-black.jpg" width="300" height="400"> substitute your domain, path and image.

  • INSERT LINK (HTML/Webpage only) <a href="http://www.1stops.co.uk">link text </a>

  • INSERT LINK (Plain/Normal Email) just insert link ie "www.1stops.co.uk"

  • NEW LINE (HTML/Webpage only) <br> Note: this not give a newline in this window. See "HELP" for more info.

  • DELETE PROSPECT In the subject box put "THANKYOU" will DELETE the prospect. See "HELP" for more info.
     

TIP 1: Using the computer's copy and paste keys avoids typing errors.
TIP 2: On involved HTML pages best to make the page in a web page creator and test the page. Then when you are happy with the result copy and paste into the above "Body" window.
For further help click the help button this will open up in a new page so that you do not lose your work.

DO NOT FORGET TO CLICK THE "SAVE SETTINGS" button before moving onto the next item.


SETTING THE PERIODS FOR WHEN THESE MESSAGES ARE TO BE SENT

Screenshot of message list

Under the main setting it the above where you edit, delete or set the day on which your messages are sent.
Initially it will show "You have no messages!" Click on "NEW MESSAGE" and Message 1 send on day 0 will appear plus "Subject"
day "0" means that the message will be sent immediately any prospect signs up, so this is normally a welcome message.
If you wish your "Message 2" to be sent a week later then put send on day 7. The subject is show to the left for easier to find your message for editing (note limited first 40 characters).

DO NOT FORGET TO CLICK THE "SAVE SETTINGS or SAVE PERIODS" button before moving onto the next item other.


CREATING THE SIGNUP FORM

To make it easier to generate the form code just copy from the either of the form code boxes then paste into your favourite HTML editor to personalise or modify it to suite your individual purpose rather than starting from scratch, two templates are provided 1. Double Opt-in 2. Standard Opt-in.

Only three parts required, Name, email and validation number. Validation number/word can be set to anything, could what colour? word?
I am currently using What's: 2+2= Please enter the answer to prove you are a human and not a spam bot.
It needs to be something simple. The validation code is set in the configuration file and can be changed to anything you wish to match your form.
Should a spambot start spamming your form the you just change the validation code on your forms and in the configuration file.
The message box can be deleted if not required or just left it is not checked so will return a blank variable if nothing is entered. Also you can incorporate upto 10 extra data variables into your form. These are called data1 data2 ... data10. You cannot change the variable name but the label can be anything you wish.

Click the "FORM CODE" button on the main setting page.

Skipping the top section for the moment, we have the DOUBLE OPT-IN FORM CODE and lower down the STANDARD OPT-IN FORM CODE

Which is best? That's a matter of opinion and a great debate. Some feel that having a double opt-in looses some prospects - my feeling is that if they are not that keen then they will be time wasters.
If you are simply using it to just to automate enquiries then there is no point in forcing them to confirm their intentions so use the standard form.

The double opt-in stops other people entering persons name without their knowledge so you can't be accused of spamming as they have to confirm from that email address.

The choice is yours.

CHANGING THE OPT-IN OPTION WITHOUT REDESIGNING THE FORM

Both generate the same looking form. The only difference is the hidden input name="mode" value="register" on this form and name="mode" value="optin" so if you change your mind just change the "register" to "optin" or visa versa. So you can just change this option without starting from scratch again! NOTE case sensitive and no spaces before or after the quotes.

Note: If using or changing to the "Double opt-in" form don't forget to fill in the light blue background section on the "Autoresponder Settings" page. The sections with the light gray background are common to both Standard and Double opt-in.

Screenshot for form code

MODIFYING THE FORM TO SUIT YOUR PURPOSE

It's beyond the scope to give detail instructions on HTML there are plenty of books and online help on this.
If wish me to design a bespoke form for you, just send your requirements to bob@stops.co.uk for an estimate.

REDIRECTION PAGES NEEDED ON YOUR WEBSITE

The prospect's browser is directed to the responder and when it has finished it needs to know the address of the next page, this information is provided by the setting page "Redirect after registration to:" and needs to point to your "Thank you" page and Redirect after confirmation to:" to your conformation page.

If you do not provide this information the responder will not know what's next so it will send an error message.

Examples: On double Opt-in I am using Registration sample page for a standard opt-in this would normally be a straight forward thank you page (or even your home page not recommended) since there is no confirmation.
Redirect after confirmation to: This is only needed on double opt-ins Confirms the prospects registration I am usingConfirmation sample page.w

When you have made and loaded your redirection page(s) you then need to change the settings "Redirect after registration to:" to your url for that page and if using double opt-in change the "Redirect after confirmation to:" to your url for your confirmation url.

MANUALLY ADDING OLD CLIENTS/PROSPECTS

Manually typing into the box in the format "firstname secondname|name@domain.com each entry on a separate line.

Screenshot of manual addition of prospects

I must stress that since this bypasses the validation and opt-in process there are no checks on the email, name or entry format.

I must also stress again as this is so important, you must have permission from the owner of the email address to use their email and should the owner withdraws their permission, this must be honoured. Apart from the anti spamming laws it will not give your organisation a good image.

Screenshot of Export ProspectsBy default IN-TOUCH will start with Message 1 with a joined date will the current date. Should for any reason you wish to start with a different message set the "Starting with message number" to the number to which you want. If they are an old prospect you can set the "Date Joined" to the actual date joined instead of the current date. If each batch must have the same "start message" or "date joined". When entered and checked, finish by clicking the "IMPORT PROSPECTS" button and the import box will clear ready for the next batch.

NOTE: If only email is entered the default name "Friend" will be used. This name can be changed in the configuration file (see your welcome email for details). There can only be ONE space used to separate the maximum of TWO names before the bar ("|" character (next to Z) + shift key). NO punctuation or other symbols. No spaces in the email. The email is not checked for correct format.
So be very careful when entering manually double check before clicking the "IMPORT PROSPECTS" button. Once entered you cannot edit any errors only delete and redo the entry

"Starting with message number" & "Date Joined" are used if the prospect actually joined at a previous date ie accidently deleted and you are reinstating them and so that the sequence starts from the correct message the next message number is put in the box otherwise it will restart from the first message and repeat the messages that they already received. Other usage if you wish to send out a reminder of years membership due say 30 days before they are due then you would make the joined date 30 less ie renewal date 30 April 2010 then make the date 30 March 2010. Therefore the first letter will be sent on the 30 March reminding them that they membership need renewing in 30 Days time. This would be message number 1 which will be send out on day 0. Should another reminder to be send out say 7 days before renewal then Message 2 period will be sent on day 23 (30-7 = 23). Message 3 sent out on the actual renewal day 30. and should you wish to send a overdue Message say 7 days over due then Message 4 sent on day 37. Remembering to remove the member from that list and put them on the list for the next year.

EXPORT PROSPECTS

On the Main "Auto-responder Setting" page click the "EXPORT PROSPECTs" button will give the screen shown on the right. Hi-light the required prospects copy (control C). Switch to the account or program you wish to import these prospects into. When ready paste (control V).

NOTE: You cannot move prospects directly. You have to do this in two stages, first import prospects to the responder where you wish to move them to. It is safest to check if copied correctly when satisfied that they are then delete from the original account.

IMPORTING FROM SPREADSHEET or A TEXT DOCUMENT

Microsoft spreadsheet import prosectsThe easiest way is to first enter the data into a spreadsheet and check your typing on the spreadsheet and when happy everything is correct then copy and paste directly from the spreadsheet into the "MANUAL ADDITION OF PROSPECTS" box. (all must start with same message and joined date. Save the spreadsheet as a backup.

If you already have the names and email in a spreadsheet together with other (unwanted for this purpose) information ie telephone, postal address etc. Move the name and email columns so that they are next to each other and only hi-light these columns and copy and past from that. If the spreadsheet has the names split into two columns then you will need to merge the two columns in to one column.

If you only have a few to do then combine the two by just cutting and pasting from one cell to the other one by one. Save the spreadsheet first if to wish to keep the original format.

If you have many to do, then considering setting up a mail merge from the spreadsheet into a document then copying from that document. Remembering to use the tab as a separator NOT comma.

Any text document can be used so long as a single tab is used between the name(s) and the email. There can be no more than TWO names separated by ONE space.

The import can be done in batches or in one go. Clicking the "IMPORT PROSPECTS" button will import them ant they will disappear from the window. To check if imported correctly click the "EXPORT PROSPECTs" button and all prospect will be shown.

To move prospects from one account to another, click the "EXPORT PROSPECTs" button hi-light the prospects you wish to copy control C and switch to the account you wish to add them to. NOTE: you cannot move prospects only copy, should you wish to move them you must copy to new account then delete them.

Screenshot of delete prospectsDELETE PROSPECTS

click the "STATUS" button (on the account settings page).
This will show all prospects, the next message to send and when they joined.
To delete a prospect just click on their name and a confirmation in a separate window will appear. If you have many to delete, position the windows so both can be seen at the same time. See below. Normally the prospects are shown in blue on when clicked change to red.
In order to show the current status, update by pressing F5 key (refresh) and the deleted ones will disappear.

 

Screenshot showing responder's acknowledgement


AUTO DELETE PROSPECTS

On some sequences have a limited life ie after sending out the course then that is the end and no point of keeping them it just add unnecessary clutter to list. To use this special function to auto delete prospect when the sequence is finished. On the last message subject box insert "THANKYOU" note: no quotes, spaces or additional characters to prevent accidental deletion must exactly as shown all capitals. Your prospect will receive this email with the subject "THANKYOU" which is why this was chosen as the key word so that it will not give offence. This word can be changed in the configuration file. I recommend that this message is used to thank them for their participation and possibly introduce other courses etc and inviting them signup for more.

NOTE: Although deleted from this account their details are still retained on the main list.

OPTIONAL REPORTS

Two optional reports are available.
Global Daily Mailing Report which lists each account, name and message sent and if this one is the last one (marked with EOF). This is turn on or off globally in the configuration file (effects all accounts).
Account Report This notifies you when prospects subscribe or unsubscribe. Each account has its own option to turn on or off this report.

EXAMPLE SCENARIOS

Example A:- a person sends you a request for information on your products.
1. You could spend time opening and reading this email. Then you would need to send time replying and sending the information requested. Then this should be followed up at a later date (if you don’t forget or get too busy).
2. Or do this automatically. The enquirer fills in a form on your website requesting the information on your product. The form contains hidden the name of the responder account so that then the form is received by the responder it know what it need to do and sends the requested information. A follow up can be automatically sent after a preset period of days. Imbedded within the message can be links to your order page, email links, pictures and web pages. The system is designed to be very flexible so it can be adapted to suite most requirements.

Example B:- Sending of newsletters, periodic updates of your products special offers
1. You can use Outlook but this shows your mailing list to your prospects which is not very professional.
2. Use "IN-TOUCH" and automatically composes each email personalised with your prospects name(s) and is individually sent this way it doesn't show your other prospects.

Example C:- Yearly renewal of subscriptions
1. Keeping a check clients/club members can be time consuming, time which could be spent on more profitable things.
2. Or do this automatically using IN-TOUCH once each date of every client is entered, it will check automatically their anniversary date against the system date on a daily basis. Ideally set up so that sends out a friendly reminder say 30 days before it is due. The further reminders could be sent out say 7 days before the due date when actually due and overdue dates. Each message would need to be worded to suit the period before or after the due date. Each message could have a "pay now" button. when the client actually pays IN-TOUCH is reset ready for next years renewal. If their contract is terminated then their entry is deleted to prevent further message being sent out. If the Daily Reports are tuned on you will automatically receive on the report a list of who is sent a message and which message.

Example D:- Online e-courses ie series of 10 lessons
1. Doing this manually would be a nightmare since each person would have started their course on a different day and be on a different lesson. Remembering who is on what lesson and on what day, would be both difficult, time consuming and very prone to errors.
2. The can be done totally automatically. Your client signs up directly for your course, a welcome is sent first followed by each lesson every week. The last email thanks them for their participation and offers them further courses for their consideration.

Payment can be by PayPal and the successful payment link could be your course signup page.

This page could have a dropdown list of different courses for your client to chose from. Selecting the course automatically selects the responder. See "Drop Down Box Properties" on right. the correct auto-responder is selected by the hidden "Value" ie C05. giving client a choice from a drop down list ensures that their are no typing errors and the correct responder is used.
The first choice is disallowed by the settings of the Drop Down Box and also prevents a non selection.
Radio buttons can be used in a similar fashion.

The optional reports can be set to notify you of new clients also the daily report would notify on the stage of each client.

This idea can be utilised in many other ways ie select which product, hobbies newsgroups etc. It's only limited by your imagination and inventfulness!

 

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10/04/2015