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The Birth of a Successful Internet Business : Part Eight of Ten -- Automating Your Business

Author: Shelley Lowery

Running a successful Internet business can be a very time consuming venture. Not only must you design and market your website, but you must also develop your products, fulfill your orders and answer customer support requests -- the list goes on and on.

Although there will always be daily tasks that you must handle personally, there are a number of your daily tasks that you can automate or at least partially automate.

For example, if you're receiving the same basic support requests or questions over and over again, there are two different ways you can automate your answers:

1) Create a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page for your website and/or products. Your page should include a list of commonly asked questions and provide the answers for each.

2) Create a text template for each of your frequently asked questions that contain the answers. When you receive a commonly asked question, simply open your text file and copy and paste your pre written answer into your email message. You can then customize your message for each recipient.

The above example will assist you in partially automating some of your daily tasks. However, there are some tasks that can be completely automated simply by placing your information within an autoresponder.

Autoresponders are one of the top promotional tools available online today. They are also known as mailbots, automatic email and email on demand. They were derived from the very popular fax on demand and designed to automatically respond to any email message sent to it with an automatic response.

Autoresponder programs vary from software set up to run with your desktop email program to a script that runs on your server. The script may run a web-based autoresponder system that utilizes a web page form, or it may run with your pop email account on your server. It is programmed to automatically send out a predetermined message when a message is received to a specified script address or email address.

Below is a list of tasks that you can completely automate:

=> Articles

If you're writing articles to promote your business, you can place them within an autoresponder. This will enable your visitors to quickly and easily retrieve your articles on demand.

=> Ad Rates

If you're selling any type of advertising space, you can place your ad rates within an autoresponder to enable your visitors to request them at any time.

=> Business Opportunities

If you're promoting a business opportunity, you can provide your potential customers with further information via autoresponder.

=> Free Courses

In addition to the standard autoresponder systems, there are also autoresponders that can send an unlimited amount of follow-up messages. These follow-up messages can be set up to automatically be sent out at predetermined intervals. In other words, you can set up your autoresponder to automatically send out a new message each day for as many days as you would like.

Follow-up autoresponder systems will enable you to set up a free course used to increase your sales. As you may know, it may take up to seven contacts with a potential customer before closing a sale. By setting up an autoresponder and offering a free autoresponder course, you can completely automate a portion of your marketing efforts.

The examples above can be set up with any of the following autoresponder services:

GetResponse http://www.web-source.net

SendFree http://www.web-source.net

AWeber http://www.web-source.net

In addition to autoresponders automating some of your daily tasks, there are also scripts that can be used to automatically respond to form submissions. For example, if you're processing your customers' orders yourself (with a merchant account, secure server, etc.), you can use a form processing script to not only process your customers' information, but to also do all of the following:

• Send out an order confirmation message

• Add your customers' information to your database

• Send out download instructions

• Send you a copy of the order

If you're using a third-party credit card processing company, there is a way you can automate your ordering process as well.

Third-party processing companies require that you provide a web address that is used to direct your customers to once their payment has been processed. This page is usually used to provide your customers with download instructions. However, you can use this page to collect your customers' information prior to directing them to your download page. Simply use a script like the one mentioned above.

Please keep in mind, there aren't many form processing scripts that will send out an autoresponse file -- most won't. However, the following form processing script will: http://bignosebird.com/carchive/bnbform.shtml

In addition to using a form processing script to automate your ordering process, you can also use a web based mailing script.

Instead of setting up your "download" page with the above form, place a subscription form within the page. This form will be used to collect your customers' name and email address. Once completed, your customers' information will be added to your database and an autoresponse message will be immediately sent out. This message should be used to thank your customer for their purchase, and provide them with download instructions.

The great thing about this technique is that you can personalize your autoresponse message with your customers' name. In addition, they are automatically added to a database, which will enable you to send out product updates or introduce new products.

Please keep in mind, not all web based mailing scripts will send out an autoresponse message or enable you to personalize your messages. However, the following scripts will:

1-2-All Broadcast http://www.12all.com

A complete list management system including HTML or plain text newsletters, MySQL database, personalization features, automatic removal links and more.

AutoResponse Plus: http://www.web-source.net

Complete list management including unlimited lists, HTML or plain text mailings, MySQL database, customizable auto-personalization of messages, automatic removal links, unlimited folow-up autoresponses and more.

Automating portions of your Internet business is an essential part of your success. Not only will it lighten your workload, but it will also free up your valuable time.

Copyright Shelley Lowery

About the Author:

Shelley Lowery is the author of the acclaimed web design course, "Web Design Mastery" ( www.webdesignmastery.com ) and "eBook Starter - Give Your eBooks the look and feel of a REAL book" ( www.ebookstarter.com )

Visit www.Web-Source.net to sign up for a complimentary subscription to eTips and receive a copy of Shelley's acclaimed ebook, "Killer Internet Marketing Strategies."

You have permission to publish this article electronically, in print, in your ebook, or on your web site, free of charge, as long as the author bylines are included.

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