In case you're not already aware of what an autoresponder is, basically it's a web based email marketing software service which you use to contact your newsletter subscribers (aka email leads) with updates and promotions.
An autoresponder enables you to store and manage your email leads and create subscription forms (opt-in forms) for collecting peoples' contact details, such as their names and email addresses, in a spam law compliant way so that you can follow up with them in the future.
Autoresponders also give you the ability to follow up with your leads automatically via prewritten email sequences, hence the name ‘autoresponders'.
So why do most (successful) affiliate marketers use an autoresponder?
There is a saying which goes something like this:
“The MONEY is in the List but the FORTUNE is in the Follow Up.”
People usually only buy a product after multiple exposures to it. They also prefer to buy things from people or companies they know and trust. Having an autoresponder gives you the ability to recommend products to people via email whenever you want and however many times you want. It also enables you to communicate with your email list and build a relationship with your audience.
With regard to setting up your autoresponder, there are a lot of autoresponder companies out there. You could even host your own if you have the right script and hosting.
Personally I choose to use a premium 3rd party autoresponder service as they have people working for them whose job it is to keep your emails arriving in the inboxes of your leads and customers instead of their spam boxes by maintaining good relationships with major personal email providers such as Gmail.
Also, most hosting companies have limitations on the number of emails you can send, which means that managing a large email list with your own autoresponder script is usually not a viable option.
You have 2 options when collecting email addresses with an autoresponder: double opt-in or single opt-in subscriptions.
Double opt-in subscription requires your subscriber to log into their email account and confirm their email address by clicking a link in the confirmation message automatically sent to them by your autoresponder.
Personally, I only ever use a single opt-in system for capturing leads as I think double opt-in systems are more for the benefit of the autoresponder company than you, and a single step system (without the need to confirm your email address) gets you more leads more quickly.
Once you have an chosen an autoresponder system you need to put it to work.
Inside a typical autoresponder back office there are various tools for creating email marketing campaigns including an email opt-in form creator which you use to put opt-in forms into your webpages, thereby enabling you to harvest email leads.
You also have a follow up email builder enabling you to write media-rich email messages which are set up to be sent to your leads according to your chosen schedule eg. every day, every 2 days or whatever you prefer.
The other important function your autoresponder has is the ability to send ‘broadcasts' to your lists.
A broadcast is a ‘one-off' email such as a product recommendation.
When a new product launch occurs in the internet marketing niche, some of the top affiliates will bank 20000 USD in commissions with just a few broadcasts (email blasts) to their lists.
Results like these are possible because these affiliates have large responsive lists they built using an email autoresponder, which they can message whenever they want with an email promotion that makes them in a few hours what most people take months to make.
If you ever want to be able to create that kind of hands-free income, then you are going to need a professional autoresponder service.
I use Aweber because they get my mails delivered very efficiently, the user interface is easy to use and intuitive, they have first rate support and the cost is very reasonable for the service they provide.
As I said earlier, there are numerous other autoresponder companies you can use such as Get Response and Mail Chimp, along with several smaller companies. Aweber is just the one I chose, which has worked well for me. That is why I recommend it.