Email Marketing and the Trouble With Auto-Responders

Last Updated: April 13, 2023By

The potentials of digital marketing are enormous and remain relevant in modern marketing efforts. Auto-responders allow you to send an already prepared message to your contacts each time an email is sent to you. It is usually assigned to the specific email so you send different messages for different email accounts.

Further reading:

An auto-responder is usually one feature of every web hosting control panel and there will hardly be any hosting environment without this feature.. It is a good way of making your website more interactive and could be used to provide some basic answers to some of the important questions your clients may want to ask.

But auto-responders have its downside. Advances in web building tools especially the development of content management systems and the exploitation that come with it when spammers take advantage have further created a disincentive to the use of auto-responders. Auto-responders can hurt your business when it is exploited by spammers and we will advice that they are used with caution. The following reason point to the downside of auto-responders and informs our advice.

Imagine that someone contacts you through your contact form and he is a spammer. He sends you a message and enters a fraudulent email in your contact form. Your email receives the message and and triggers your courtesy well prepared message to the fraudulent email he has entered in the contact form. If this happens when your contact form is exploited as is with most outdated content management systems, you will find yourself creating a problem of server IP address being blacklisted for spamming. That could lead your web host to suspend or even delete your account.

One good way to address this is simply to remove the auto-responders. Doing so is to eliminate the problem created by them. The next thing will be to find a way to address the problem – Find the root cause of the spamming and fix the problem. With most Content Management Systems, this could likely be due to bad plugin or any other extension requiring an update.

Where your project will require an auto responder and you think it is particularly important to use one, We will recommend the installation of an opt-in plugin to ensure that all emails are properly verified before responses are automatically sent to them.

An acceptable approach is for massages to be sent from registered email addresses. That way, you avoid a contact form which gives room for the use of unverified email addresses. As a replacement for auto-responders, an opt-in system should be put in place.

The Solution: Email Opt-In System

Email opt-in is simply an email system which allows you to choose whether to receive an email or not. You are given the option to accept to receive the email or not. This is a measure against unsolicited emails or spam. There are two ways to implement the opt-in system on your website:

  • Single opt-in
  • Double opt-in

Single Opt-in

The single opt-in system is a one way sign-on. it means that a user does not need to confirm that he or she signed up to receive emails from the system. All he or she is required to do is to enter his email address into the sign-up or join box and no further confirmation is required to be added to the email list. The subscription is automatic once the email is submitted and the user instantly starts receiving emails from the system to which he is subscribed.

Double Opt-in

Flowing from the explanation given above for single opt-in, you can understand that the double opt-in system requires you to confirm your subscription after submitting your email to the system.  A double email opt-in sign-up requires that a user confirm that he or she has deliberately and consciously joined the email list.

This is done by generating an email to the user after the signs up. That email then requires the user to click on a link in the email in order to confirm the ownership of the email address and to acknowledge that the email owner is actually willing to receive emails from website to which the subscription has been made.

This process eliminates some of the many “bad” email addresses that get entered into a system especially as regarding errors in typing the email address and incorrect email addresses as well as cases where somebody may be taking “revenge” on another person by using their email address to sign up for numerous email marketing lists. The double opt-in system ensures that the new subscriber confirm that he or she do own the email address that they signed up with and do want to receive emails from the system.

 Email List Building Systems

There are lots of email list building software available out there. The vary with the web building tool. However, we will look at some of the popular email list building tools available for the popular web builders including WordPress, and Joomla.

Features of an Emailing List System

A email sending mechanism should contain the following features:

    Reliable sending mechanism: If you have gone to the trouble of getting visitors to subscribe, your email newsletter needs to be sent reliably. Pause/resuming the sending is a very useful feature to help make sure you emails get out.

    Ability to throttle sending; Sending email can be resource intensive for your server. Having emails sent out with delays after X sent is called throttling. It also can overcome forced web host email sending caps

    Unsubscribe mechanism: For your email to be legal, it must meet the CAN-SPAM act requirement of having an easy unsubscribe mechanism

    Subscription form: You need to be able to offer site visitors to subscribe to your email list

    Double opt in: This option is accepted to an industry best practice, it is advised to ask subscribers to confirm their email subscription in some way by clicking on a link sent to that email.
    Bounce handling: Emails might bounce for many reasons. Its important for these to be automatically removed from your list as repeat bounces from a particular server can get you flagged as a spammer and blacklisted.
    Import/Export subscribers:     At some point, there may be need for you to change your email newsletter system. You’ll need to be able to easily import and export your subscriber list.

    Integration into website user database:     Many sites will have registration set up on their website for many reasons, ecommerce, private pages, paid subscription. You will often want send emails to these users.

    Email Statistics:     Its also important to be able to track statistics about your newsletters, such as open and click rates.

Building an Email List in WordPPress

WordPress is the world’s most popular content management system (CMS) and so will ordinarily have lots of email marketing software. We will take a look at just few.

Hello Bar

Created by marketing wizard Neil Patel and his team at CrazyEgg, this plugin works not just for WordPress sites. The amazing thing is that despite its great features, it is still free. It has great features:

  • Choose to show the bar on every page
  • Choose to show the bar on specific pages
  • Exclude showing the bar on specific pages
  • Show the bar only within a specified time frame (from date X to date Y)
  • Change button text
  • Change colors of everything
  • Change fonts and font sizes and many more!

Cost: Free
Mobile friendly: Yes
WordPress version: Works with any version
Supports these email/newsletter providers: Aweber, Campaign Monitor, MailChimp, Constant Contact, GetResponse, iContact, MadMimi, MyEmma, Vertical Response.

Optin Feature Box

An optin feature box places the email subscription box that right under the header of your WordPress site, but before the main content. It helps turn more of your visitors into subscribers.

Price: starting from $37
Working on mobile devices: Yes
Optimized for WordPress
Supports these email/newsletter providers: Aweber, Campaign Monitor, MailChimp, Constant Contact, GetResponse, iContact, MadMimi, Infusionsoft, Google Feedburner, MailPoet, Feedblitz, Sendinblue, Ontraport, Jetpack.

Optin Forms

This is useful to place your opt-in form above your blog posts and really worth trying. This plugin is also good for placing a subscriber button within a post.

Price: FREE!
Working on mobile devices: Yes
Optimized for WordPress version: 4.0
Supports these email/newsletter providers: Aweber, iContact, MailChimp, GetResponse, MadMimi, Interspire Email Marketer

 Magic Action Box

This plugin is very useful to place the opt-in form below a blog post. This may not really sound great for a lot of developers as many readers do not read the entire article to be able to find your subscriber button. However, it is a good option for building your mailing list. It’s many features include:

  •     Change all colors and fonts
  •     Display the form after first or second paragraph
  •     Display form below blog posts
  •     Hide certain things on the form like title, subtitle, name field or disclaimer

Price: FREE!
Working on mobile devices: Yes
Optimized for WordPress version: 4.0
Supports these email/newsletter providers: Aweber, MailChimp

MailChimp for WordPress

This is a very well known and easy to integrate email marketing plugin for WordPress. It is excellent to integrate this plugin into the WordPress comment box. It allows you to take a visitors email added to your mailing list at the point he or she makes a comment to your blog post.

Price: Free
Working on mobile devices: Yes
Optimized for WordPress version: 4.0
Supports these email/newsletter providers: MailChimp

Building an Email List in Joomla

 There are 3 major mailing list components for Joomla: Letterman, Anjel and Yanc


This component is easy to use, comes with clean interface. Contains most of the core features you would need in an email newsletter. Imports CSV and XML. It is however missing features such as multiple lists and bounce handling.


This component comes with a complete feature set and some attempt at integration with the Joomla user database. It’s major drawback is that it has serious questions about support and updates.


Yanc allows multiple lists, integration of content and HTML templating. These are its major advantages. Its major drawbacks are that there is currently no attempt at integration with the Joomla user database. Another drawback is that interface and installation can be difficult to manage.

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