How many times were you out of the office or in vacation? How many times your clients sent inquiries but received replies after a couple of days because your were not there?

The answer to this problem is simple: autoresponder. According to Wikipedia, an autoresponder is a “computer program that automatically answers e-mail sent to it”. The first autoresponder was created because some emails could not be delivered. In this case, the sender received a standard “your email could not be delivered” message.

Basically, if you have an email account, and you can configure the autoresponder program to send an instant notification to the sender each time you receive a new message. That notification can be a simple one, with a message like “I’m not here”, or you can design a much complicated notification with images, video and other resources embedded.

There are several autoresponder solutions available, but the main categories would be desktop based software and server located scripts.

The first category, desktop based software includes programs that manage mailing lists and also have an autoresponder option. The best thing about those products is the fact that you have total control. You have the emails list on your PC and you can tweak settings locally. A downside of a desktop autoresponder is that is usually useful when you send newsletters and other bulk emails.

Server based auto-responders are basically scripts that are located on your server or a remote one, and handle the task of sending a predefined email to the sender of your email. If you have an email account on a server, you can login to cPanel and configure an option to send an autoresponder each time you receive an email.

If you use a contact form on your website, you can search for freeware scripts that will do this task. However, installing and using an autoresponder script can be a hassle for those without a certain level of technical experience. In this case, my suggestion is to turn to a third party solution. If you goggle a little you will find several contact form generator services. Those services will help you make a web form that you can include on your website, but all the processing will be remotely done by them. All you have to do is find one email form maker service that will let you use an autoresponder option. This way you will have a contact form that will automatically send a confirmation/ notification email to the client that fills it.

Our suggestion is 123ContactForm, a free web form generator service that has the option of setting up an autoresponder. The free service plan has access to only one, but the paid plans can define unlimited autoresponders. Among the autoresponder feature you can benefit from options like custom recipients, HTML blocks, payment integration with Paypal and Google Checkout, field validation, file attachments, password like fields, reference id, custom “thank you” page, anti spam defense, HTML templates, multiple recipients for the same form and messages archive.

Ted Peterson writes for 123ContactForm. Using their web form generator service you can make an autoresponder for each of your forms.
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