Autoresponders

Last updated April 16th, 2018

Can I send out sequential emails (Autoresponders) when a user subscribes to my contact list?

Of course. Interspire Email Marketer supports sending of automatic sequential emails that are triggered when a user subscribes, sent in specific time intervals, eg. After 1 hour, or after 2 days etc.

These sequential emails are referred to as Autoresponders, and can be accessed using the Autoresponders section in the Interspire Email Marketer control panel.

Interspire Email Marketer also supports custom Auto Responders that are triggered by specific custom fields. Lets say for example, that you have a custom field called "Sex" and an Autoresponder setup to send out a specific email to a Male contact. When the contact fills in their details in the subscription form, and selects Male from the "Sex" option, they will receive this Autoresponder. You can then create different Autoresponders for females and so forth.

Can I automatically send out emails at some time interval after a user joins my contact list?

Yes, such automated emails are referred to as Autoresponders. Interspire Email Marketer allows unlimited autoresponders that can be setup to send emails after a user signs up to the newsletter and a period of time has lapsed.

Interspire Email Marketer currently works with a delay based on hours after your contact joins your contact list. You can make this into days simply by adding together the hours. That is 24 hours is one day, 72 hours is 3 days and so on.

To do this, simply click on the Autoresponders tab in the control panel. Here you will be presented with the option of managing your existing autoresponders as well as creating a new one. Clicking "Create Autoresponder" will prompt you with an easy to follow step by step wizard in creating your autoresponder.

If you already have imported users into a contact list, you can send them autoresponder emails too! When editing your autoresponder, check the box labeled "Send to existing contacts?". Email Marketer will do a one-time check for any existing users who meet the time interval requirements you have set, and queue them to receive the autoresponder also. This option will not save, so next time you edit that particular autoresponder, it will be unchecked, enabling you to do it again.

For you to be able to use autoresponders and scheduled sending you will need to have set up Cron on your server.

How to Setup an Autoresponder

An autoresponder lets you send an email to your subscribers a specific number of hours or days after they have subscribed to your mailing list. For example, if John signs up to your mailing list today, you can create an autoresponder to automatically send a welcome email to him 24 hours after he subscribes.

Autoresponders are often called the "marketer's dream tool", and in this article I'll show you how to setup a basic autoresponder to send an email to your subscribers 24 hours after they join your mailing list.

Important Note: You must have cron (the scheduled sending system) support enabled from the settings page in order to create and send your autoresponders, so make sure you check that before continuing. If cron isn't setup please contact your administrator and ask him/her to set it up for you.

To create an autoresponder, start by moving your mouse over the "Autoresponders" tab and clicking the "Create Autoresponder" menu option, like so:

To create an autoresponder, click the "Create Autoresponder" option under the "Autoresponders" tab.

The "Create Autoresponder" page will appear. Choose the mailing list you want to create the autoresponder for and click the "Next >>" button. Complete the autoresponder details form. The only required field is a name for your autoresponder, which is used to identify the autoresponder in the control panel. This name is not shown to your users.

You can optionally filter the email addresses in your subscriber list using the other options on the form, but for our example we will send to everyone on the list. Click the "Next >>" button when you are done.

The only required field is the autoresponder's name field. All other fields are for filtering the subscriber list, so we can skip those for now.

When the page loads, complete the form. Pay particular attention to the "Bounce Email" and "Hours Delayed" fields. The "bounce email" field is the email address where emails rejected by your subscribers mail servers will be sent. The "hours delayed" field tells the scheduling system how many hours after someone subscribes to your mailing list to send them the autoresponder email. "0" means it will be sent straight away.

Optionally, complete the rest of the form. If you're unsure about any of the options just move your mouse over the help tip to learn more. Click the "Next >>" button to continue.

On this page you can create the content for your autoresponder email. Enter a subject in the subject field. This is the email subject line your subscribers will see in their inbox. Enter the content of your newsletter in the editor too. Use the "Send Preview" option at the bottom of the page to send yourself a preview of the email before clicking the "Save And Exit" button.

Congratulations, you've just created your first autoresponder! Remember, you can create as many autoresponders for each mailing list as you like, so why not get creative and use autoresponders to your advantage?

Bonus section: Ideas for autoresponders:

  1. So how might you use an autoresponder in your business? Here's a simple idea that's quick and easy to implement. In this example let's assume you sell poker chips online from your eCommerce website. Create a new autoresponder that's sent 24 hours after someone subscribes to your newsletter. In it, include text and images describing your top selling poker chips and at the end include a link to "See all Top Selling Products at MyPokerChipsSite.com"
  2. One week later schedule another autoresponder to your subscribers. In it, include links to articles on your web site that teach them how to improve their poker/roulette/blackjack game. Nothing draws people back to your web site like free articles do.
  3. Finally, create a new mailing list and autoresponder to be sent out after 48 hours to those who order from you. Include your customer support details, including how they can contact you for help, a link to your knowledge base and any product warranty details they might want to know.

Of course this is just one example, but hopefully it's given you some new ideas as to how you can use autoresponders to improve your relationship with your web site visitors/customers.

Can I set the From, Reply-To and Bounce back email addresses?

Yes, whenever you send a newsletter or autoresponder using Interspire Email Marketer, you will be presented with the option to specify what email addresses you would like to use including the From, reply-to and bounce-back email address.

This can be different for every newsletter and if using Interspire Email Marketer in a multi-user environment then each user can have their newsletter sent out using his or her own name, domain etc.

My Autoresponders and scheduled emails aren't being sent.

The most common reason for your autoresponders and scheduled newsletters not to be sent out even though you've created them is because you haven't got Cron installed.

Cron is a Linux feature where a program or script can be run at regular intervals (for example at 5 minutes past the hour every hour, or once at 4am). This allows us to setup scheduled sending and also autoresponders. If you are familiar with "Scheduled Tasks" in the Windows environment, then cron provides the exact same functionality in Linux.

To setup Cron you will need SSH access or Control panel access (Such as Plesk or Cpanel).

Why do my confirm links display my own URL when the subscription from is hosted with my clients domain name?

This is because you have the application hosted at your site. We need to send people there for any of the Interspire Email Marketer processes to work.

You can make the link less obvious by setting your email links up like so:

<a href="%%confirmlink%%">Click her to confirm</a>

This will hide your URL from showing in your HTML emails.

Alternatively you can purchase multiple domain licenses and then install your application on your individual servers. This way you will be able to have all of your links coming from the domain that you wish.

How does the Scheduling Email work in Interspire Email Marketer?

Cron works by running a file at certain timed intervals. Generally these are set up at about 10 minute intervals by us for Interspire Email Marketer but they can be set to anything you like.

When you use cron to send your email campaigns Interspire Email Marketer will make a list of when you want to send that email. Each time cron runs the file Interspire Email Marketer will check these scheduled emails and if there is one (or more) there that are due to be sent it will start to send.

If a contact changes their details before an Autoresponder or Email Campaign gets sent will they still receive it?

When a cron job triggers a send, Interspire Email Marketer will look to see what contacts are due to be sent the autoresponder or email campaign, then it will check to see which of those contacts meet your filtering requirements.

So in short, yes, if you change details after sign up and they then qualify for the autoresponder when it is due to be sent then they will receive it.

If however if they did already qualify for the autoresponder or email campaign and they change their details and then become invalid at the time of the send they will not be sent it.

I want my autoresponders to send out immediately after sign up. Does my cron being set to 20 minutes affect this?

The way autoresponders and CRON work together is this:

  • You set up your auto responders to be sent out at intervals of your choice (immediately, after an hour, after a day etc.)
  • You set up CRON to run at certain intervals like every 20 minutes.
  • CRON will trigger the autoresponder PHP file to run at this interval.
  • Setting the autoresponder to send immediately after they sign up (0 hours) will place the contact in a queue to be sent the email.
  • Every 20 minutes (or what ever you have it set to) your cron will run and look at this queue. Interspire Email Marketer will then send the autoresponder to all contacts in that queue.
  • The maximum delay that should occur is 20 minutes. This would happen if someone signs up just as cron has been triggered to run. They will miss out on this send, but be sent the email on the next run.

How do Autoresponders work?

Firstly, to be able to use Autoresponders you will need to have CRON or Scheduled Tasks set up on your Server. For instructions on how to do this please read these knowledge base entries on setting up CRON and setting up Scheduled Tasks.

Once this is set up you will have to tell Interspire Email Marketer that you wish to use this feature by selecting 'Cron Support' from the settings page of Interspire Email Marketer.

This will display a warning that will disappear once Interspire Email Marketer detects a successful CRON/Scheduled Task running.

Now you can use Autoresponders. Once you have created an Autoresponder Interspire Email Marketer will use the cron.php file, when it runs, to check what contacts match the criteria for the Autoresponder (time after signing up in particular). Interspire Email Marketer will then send to all the users that match this criteria.

This will happen every time the cron.php file is run.

I clicked 'Send to existing contacts' and only half my contacts received the email. What did I do wrong?

This can happen if you have set the autoresponder to send out after a long delay.

Interspire Email Marketer will search all of your current contacts for all contacts that have been on your contact list for longer then your autoresponder is set to.

That is if your autoresponder is set to send to all users after 14 days of being subscribed and you click send to existing contacts then all of your current contacts that have been on your list for longer then 14 days will receive the email straight away.

For the rest of your contacts, they will receive this email when they reach the 14 day limit.

I have set Force Unsubscribe What does this do?

If you enable 'Force Unsubscribe' and you do not remember to add an unsubscribe link to the bottom of your emails then Interspire Email Marketer will add this for you.

This is simply a failsafe to make sure that you allow your contacts to always be able to unsubscribe from your contact lists.

Is it possible to send a reminder to unconfirmed contacts so they subscribe?

Yes you can.

Set up an autoresponder for your contact list.

When you are creating it, make sure you set the first page (with all of the filter options) to send to UNCONFIRMED contacts.

Then inside the autoresponder content, include '%%CONFIRMLINK%%' somewhere and Interspire Email Marketer will pick that up and change it into a link they can click to confirm their details.

My contacts aren't receiving my email campaigns or autoresponders. How can I fix this?

The most common reason for your contacts not receiving your email campaigns or autoresponders is because of incorrect match criteria.

If your contacts are signed up as only wanting to receive HTML emails and you have also made your sign up form only allow users to subscribe as 'HTML' then you will have a list of contacts that will be stored as 'HTML' contacts. When you created your autoresponders, if you have set 'Match Format' to 'Text' this will look at all of your contacts and send to only those contacts that have chosen to receive 'Text' emails.

To fix this, simply change the 'Match Format' option to 'Either'.

When I send a test email to myself the custom fields do not get replaced with the correct data.

When you send a preview email to yourself you will simply see the custom field place holders. This is because at this stage there is no contact list associated with the email at this point in time. The place holders simply show you where data will be located.

If you would like to see the data instead of the place holders you will need to add yourself to the contact list and send an email to yourself as a test.

What is an Autoresponder?

An Autoresponder is an email that you can set up to be a stand alone, or one of a series, that will be sent out at a set time after a person subscribes to your contact list.

For example you can set up an autoresponder to be sent immediately (0 hours) after the person signs up to let them know about a promotion you are having for new users.

You could then set up one to be sent 72 hours, or 3 days later see how they felt about your offer.

When I send a preview newsletter, the unsubscribe and custom fields don't show up. What's going on?

The unsubscribe link and all other custom fields do not show up in your newsletter when you send a "Preview", and only their respective placeholders will. This is because you are previewing the newsletter, and technically, there is no real data attached to this newsletter. When the newsletter is sent to your contact list, the unsubscribe link will show up, as well as all other custom fields.

Is it possible to resend an email to a contact list but only to the contacts that have joined after I sent it first?

Yes you can. Here's what you do:

  1. Select the newsletter and send it as normal.
  2. You can then use the "Filter" option and "Filter by date subscribed" This will give you a date field that you can select.
  3. You select the date that you want to filter by, so it would be something like: Contacts that have subscribed after 20 Oct 2007.
  4. Send the newsletter as per normal. It will only be sent to those that have subscribed after a particular date.

This will only send the emails to people who have subscribed after you have sent the email the first time.

Another alternative to this is to create an autoresponder instead of an email campaign. You can then set the autoresponder to be sent immediately after subscription and make sure you select to send to existing contacts.

What this will do is send the email to all the current contacts on your contact list and then will send to anyone who signs up after.

Can I create an autoresponder that sends the new contact the latest email newsletter that is associated with the contact list that they've just signed up for?

You can set up an autoresponder to contain the latest newsletter and then set that up to be sent immediately after sign up.

From here what you can do is send your newsletter out when it is due to be sent and then update the autoresponder to be this newsletter. This way all of your existing contacts will receive the email when you send the campaign and all your new contacts will receive the newsletter by way of autoresponder.

What does the 'Yes, send to existing contacts' do?

If you select 'Yes, send to existing contacts' when you create your autoresponder you will send the email to all the current contacts that meet the filtering options you select on your list regardless of when they sign up.

After this initial send the autoresponder will start to behave like a normal autoresponder in only sending to those contacts that meet both the filtering options the time delay that you have set.

How do I add more predefined years to delay for the autoresponders?

You will need to do the following:

First add:

<option value="X">%%LNG_4Years%%</option>

<option value="X">%%LNG_5Years%%</option>

<option value="X">%%LNG_6Years%%</option>

etc to the admin/includes/templates/autoresponderformstep3.tpl file. Where X is the amount of hours in that amount of years.

Next, add them to the bottom of the admin/language/language.php file:

define('LNG_4Years', '4 Years');

define('LNG_5Years', '5 Years')

define('LNG_6Years', '6 Years');

and repeat this for the total amount of years that you wish to add.

The "Browse" button for selecting a file from my PC (Uploads, Importing) doesn't appear. Why?

This is because uploading has been disabled in your PHP settings. To enable this you will need to modify your php.ini file to allow file uploading.

Make sure this line is visible and is not commented out: file_uploads = On

Note that if there is a semi colon (;) at the beginning of that line, you will need to remove it.

If you do not have access to your php.ini file, then please contact your web hosting provider to enable file uploading.

I just imported my HTML and do not see any images. Why?

If you create a new template or email and the images are not referenced absolutely, you will need to upload your images using the editor.

By this I mean that if your images do not look like this:

<img src="http://www.domain.com/imagelocation.jpg" />

but rather like:

<img src="imagelocation.jpg" />

then you will need to upload your images using the editor and insert them that way or store them on your server and point to them in that location.