What Every Marketer Needs

Lead Capture and Autoresponders

by K Hicks

So you're starting your own online business? That's great! Or maybe you're joining an affiliate program that promises you $50,000 by next Tuesday. Well, that's good too, however unrealistic it may be. You've made the decision to be the boss of you, and now you've got to go forth and produce. There are so many things that you can do to ensure that your business will be up and running in record time. For this article, we will focus on two of the most important things you can do, which are to set up lead capture and an autoresponder series.

Lead capture is any way by which you can capture the person visiting your website. Usually this is a accomplished by a web form, although another way to capture a lead is through email, having your prospect send a blank email to your autoresponder email address.

Which brings me to the second big word - autoresponder. An autoresponder is a simple lead database and mailing program that will send a series of emails to anyone who subscribes to it. So when used with a lead capture form, it is a very powerful way for you to stay in touch with your prospects, and keep your message fresh in their minds.

What's a good example of a lead capture form? Well, check out my website, http://www.vpwn.com and look towards the bottom of the page. That lead capture form is tied to an autoresponder that automatically sends out messages. And through the beauty of modern technology, all of this is totally automated! Now, setting it up can be tricky, especially if you are using a more difficult program. However, once you spend a couple of hours getting everything perfect, you won't have to worry about it again!

But, where can you get a lead capture form and autoresponder? That's easy. They're just about everywhere on the net. Many are included with pay subscriptions to safelists or other marketing tool packages. Others are free with the understanding that every message you send out will have an advertisement in it. Two that I've used are SendFree (a free one) and Your Net Source. Your Net Source is one of those paid package deals, but I love it because I get unlimited autoresponders (with an interface that's easy to use) and all kinds of other great marketing goodies, like bulk mailer service, 5000 leads a month, and much more. The URLs for more info are

Sendfree: http://www.sendfree.com
Your Net Source: http://www.yournetsource.com/members/hicksk/home.htm

Both of these programs have an option that will generate the code for the lead capture web form, so you can copy and paste it into the HTML code for your website.

Now hold on a second, K, you say. I have an affiliate program that does all that for me. I don't have to worry about that lead capture or autoresponder nonsense.

Oh contraire. I fell prey to that once myself. The affiliate program I was marketing had a lead capture site and an autoresponder setup with it. Just for grins, I signed myself up at my own site. I got the first message, great. It was interesting, although definitely not the ad copy I would have used. But then the next message came. And came. And came. And came. And came. I think I got 6 copies total of the same message. I had to ask myself, gee, if I were a prospect and I signed up on this webpage wanting more information about this business opportunity, would I think a) what kind of crazy program is this that sends me 6 of the same message in one day? I can't have my mailbox fill up with this junk, or b) wow, what a great operation this is, I think I'll join this opportunity now! ???? I determined that a) would in fact, be the appropriate response, so I vowed never to trust a company-controlled autoresponder again. Not to mention the lead capture site went down for more than two weeks. That's not to knock the company, these things will happen, especially when it's a new company. However, you should always have total control over your own lead capture site and autoresponder.

And that's a good thing, too, because you can put your own personal touch to it. People feel more comfortable with someone they can relate to, or in my case, at least laugh at. It is easier to write me now that you know I'm a real person with an underdeveloped sense of humor, for example. And on my customizable lead capture site, I can advertise my banners, so that even if the prospect doesn't sign up for my autoresponder, they will at least have served a purpose in having my banner displayed on a banner exchange I'm set up with.

So just how do I get people to willingly give me their precious personal information? Well, that's simple. Offer something FREE! FREE, the golden word. FREE is one of the most powerful marketing terms, responsible for thousands of emails being opened, because that small word is in the headline. I offer FREE ebooks and marketing tools on my website. How did I get these? Well, some of it was from other FREE sites! I give my information and get FREE stuff! Some of it came with programs I've joined, some of it I've paid for outright. Have you noticed how I've capitalized FREE every time? It's hypnotic, isn't it? That's how people see the word anyway. Now do you understand the power of FREE?

So those are the basic ins and outs of why it is absolutely crucial to have your own lead capture site and autoresponder. Here are some other sites you can go to get a free website and hosting, if you don't already have a website setup:

Free website templates: http://freesitetemplates.com/
Free website hosting: http://www.netfirms.com

So here's what to do to get setup with a handy-dandy lead capture and autoresponder without any out-of-pocket expense: Sign up with a free autoresponder and set it up with your information and messages. Be sure to generate the lead capture form HTML. Get a free website template, customize it with your information, ensuring to copy in the html code for your lead capture form. Set up a free subdomain with free hosting. Upload your website files to the hosting server, and voila! You have a lead capture form set up that is linked to an autoresponder. Of course, as you get more seasoned and have a little more money to spend, it's a good idea to get an ad-free autoresponder, and your own personal domain - it just looks more professional and you won't lose anyone to an ad in your message.

About the Author

K Hicks is a home-based business entrepreneur and editor of Newbie Ebiz Education Ezine - Neee!, a marketing ezine that's both educational and fun. Every issue offers online business marketing tips and a free ebook! http://www.vpwn.com/neee.html

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