What are Autoresponders?

Autoresponder can be a confusing term. It is the name for a computer program that automatically responds to an email. The most common autoresponders are “out-of-office” and failed delivery notifications.

But for the purposes of email marketing, we use autoresponders for something quite different. The term is somewhat of a misnomer in this sense, because we are not really responding to an email, but rather an action or a change in the state of the recipient. For example, an autoresponder is triggered when someone subscribes to something, fills out a form, or is approaching an event.

Let’s use sailing as an example. Imagine you manage a yacht club. People who are interested in racing this summer have signed up online and indicated their boat category.

Captain Jack sails a Yawl and has a crew of five. By signing up, he has triggered a series of Autoresponder messages that look something like this:

1) Thanks for registering. This is going to be a great summer. Yawls will practice on Friday mornings.
- Sent immediately after registration.

2) Time to get your boat out of dry dock and in the water!
- Sent 2 weeks after registration

3) Have you signed up for Wednesday night social sails?
- Sent one month after registration

4) Don’t forget to raise your mizzen mast!
- Sent six weeks after registration.

In Zurmo, Autoresponders look something like this:


Your use case is probably a bit different, but you get the idea. Autoresponders are great for keeping subscribers engaged. Look for them in Zurmo 2.0.

Chubasco Sparkman & Stephens Design 255 photo D Ramey Logan built by Wilmington Boat Works of California she was launched in 1939. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Leave a Comment

  • http://www.thewhole9.com/ Sylvia Simonetti

    Can people be subscribed to the list automatically depending on which web form they use on a website or landing page? Or does a ZURMO user have to manually start the trigger for the autoresponders to go?

    • Stafford McKay

      For now, list subscription is not part of workflow. You would have to run reports every so often on leadsource (or whatever criteria that distinguishes each one) and mass subscribe those users to your lists. It wouldn’t take more than a hot second. You probably wouldn’t want to auto subscribe people. You’d want to eyeball it to be sure you don’t have fake submissions, etc.

      • http://www.thewhole9.com/ Sylvia Simonetti

        Stafford, if you guys are flirting with real automation than there should be no need to manually do what should be or be optionally done automatically.

        Your commercial offering doesn’t offer the ability for a webform to automatically subscribe a website visitor to a particular list, now does it?

        • Stafford McKay

          Sylvia, we’ve been talking about this internally. It’s not tool hard to add. So we’re thinking that when you create a web form, you add an optional list that anyone who fills out the form is subscribed. Sound good?

          • http://www.thewhole9.com/ Sylvia Simonetti

            Yes! When creating each ZurmoCRM form, it should have the option of to us to choose which which list is of the subscribers are going into. It should be one or more list and it should also contain which sales person will be assigned that lead.

          • Stafford McKay

            Sylvia, do you have time for a quick Skype call? I am “StaffordM” We are literally working on designing this right now.

          • http://www.thewhole9.com/ Sylvia Simonetti

            I don’t, sorry! You may reach me at sylviasimonetti at outlook dot com. That is great you guys are implementing good stuff.

  • http://www.thewhole9.com/ Sylvia Simonetti

    Good morning ZurmoCRM!

    I feel I need to spend a moment on this comment because I see that you guys have the right idea with the gamification of sales and the “social” interaction sales teams can experience with their daily grind with sales and marketing.

    Gamification and social activity give you guys a key differentiation factor in the sea of CRM vendors. It shows vision in the marketplace and knowledge of human behavior. However, your CRM and marketing automation parts of your offering have to be rock solid as well. No level of gamification or sales social interactions can compensate for weak CRM and automation.

    I do see you guys are creating ZurmoCRM lists with some autoresponders features, smarter workflow automations, some triggers, some actions and I also see that we can create segmented reports that can be imported into marketing lists. That’s great! Why not automatically import the report and/or have a list be optionally be “dynamic list”? You guys are obviously aiming for ZurmoCRM to become “real” sales and marketing automation system as well. However, I was shocked to see that your roadmap does not reflect priority on sales and marketing automation. No offence to your gamification or sales social interaction tools strategy, but a strong sales and marketing automation system is a more powerful to way to increasing sales.

    Please don’t just tease us with some automations. Give us real, practical and powerful automation tools we can use ASAP. I am sure ZurmoCRM as an organization and all your clients will rip the all benefits that come from it.

    So I ask you to to seriously consider following:

    Your Web Forms: E-mail collection form results on websites are supposed automatically end up on one or more lists of our choosing. This is not a really feature, but more of a CORE function of mass e-mail and autoresponders software. Not offering this core functionality can be perceived as ZurmoCRM ignoring the competitor’s offerings, ignoring the demand and/or need for automation, or having missed critical blocks of “the foundation” of a strong and automated (permission-based) marketing system.

    For a basic example, let’s say a website visitor signs up to receive a newsletter? Shouldn’t that person be added to the “Newsletter” list in ZurmoCRM automatically? Of course it should–this is nothing new. It should be up to the ZurmoCRM system admin to choose to whether or not (they should) send an automatic e-mail to the subscriber where they can confirm their subscription. Again, this is standard basic functionality of mass e-mail systems and it should be a given, right?

    Here is another quick and example with basic autoresponders. Let’s say a website visitor signs up via a ZurmoCRM generated “web form” to watch an amazing little presentation about the business’ unique selling proposition AND also checked the option to also opt-in to receive marketing messages from the business. This marketing practice is pretty common right?

    For this, your system should know to send confirmation message with the confirmation link. Once the subscriber confirms, your system should redirect them to the presentation link, then ZurmoCRM should add the subscriber to the already made “Company Newsletter” list, AND the “Automatic Follow ups on Company Presentation” list. This too is a standard for autoresponders e-mails.

    The above are basic and core functionalities of mass e-mail and autoresponders vendors.

    Bottom line, at the very least your ZurmoCRM must offer the capability for:

    1- ZurmCRM generated web forms to have the ability for a subscriber to be automatically be added to one or more lists (which can trigger autoresponders). It should also include who the first assigned record owner will be.

    2- Option in ZurmoCRM for subscriber to receive a customized confirmation e-mail with confirmation link.

    3- Option in ZurmoCRM to for the redirect URL can contain personalized keywords in the URL for the “Thank You” pages. This way the “Thank You” pages can include personalized information about their subscriptions the web page can grab for the query string in the URL.

    4- The ability for a subscriber to click on a link at the bottom of an e-mail campaign to manage all the “public” lists they are subscribed to.

    At the very least ZurmoCRM should offer the above basic functionalities. Authentically speaking, the way you guys have it right now it is just not market ready.

    Now, if you guys are serious about sales and marketing automation, I can provide you with some very strong suggestions. Some of them will not be very difficult to code and implement—they just have to be a priority in your roadmap sooner better than later.

    • Ray Stoeckicht

      Hi Sylvia,
      What a well thought out and detailed response. Thank you so much for taking the time and sharing your input. I totally agree with everything you brought up.

      The reality is that we just introduced our email marketing functionality three days ago and instead of waiting another six months until it is perfect and complete, we decided to publish it immediately. We are all about agile development and publishing functionality in iterative phases. You noticed that phase 1 doesn’t have everything. That is to be expected!

      We are not trying to ‘tease’ or hold back essential capabilities, but rather, we want to introduce our minimum viable product (or feature) and receive feedback like yours so that we can allow real world requirements to drive the next round of enhancements. It is interesting that many of the items you brought up were already on our mind for our next phase of enhancements. Please connect with Stafford so that we can clarify a few things before scheduling development.
      Zurmo Co-Founder

      • http://www.thewhole9.com/ Sylvia Simonetti

        You got it Ray! I want Zurmo to succeed and I care enough to let you guys know.

    • Stafford McKay


      Thanks again for your input. Let’s connect at some point to go over your thinking in more detail.

      Just to be clear that we’re on the same page:

      # 1 We can already pick who the incoming lead is assigned to in the form. Good point about the option to add additional lists when initially filling out the form.

      # 2 is already possible through autoresponders

      # 3 Great idea.

      # 4 is part of our current functionality

      I will email you later today and we can set up a time to chat. As Ray mentioned, Zurmo development is agile. We are running as fast as we possibly can, taking a “bottom up” approach to product design. We’re listening and implementing based on feedback like yours. No teasing. Except some silliness with our occasionally dorky humor.



      • http://www.thewhole9.com/ Sylvia Simonetti

        Thank you Stafford that’s awesome!

      • http://www.thewhole9.com/ Sylvia Simonetti

        Stafford, for # 2, are you saying that it is currently “possible through autoresponders” with ZurmoCRM 2.0? Because I don’t see an option for that under Marketing >> Lists >> “My List Name”. Did you mean workflows?

        • Stafford McKay

          Hey Sylvia, you can create an autoresponder that goes out right away (well, relatively right away – within an hour) after the person subscribes.

          • http://www.thewhole9.com/ Sylvia Simonetti

            Stafford, that is a “Welcome” e-mail (which is fine) and not “a confirm/activate your e-mail subscription by clicking this link” type of an e-mail.

            Also, “1 hour” is way too long in internet marketing time, why not add the following increments: immediately, 5 mins, 15 mins, 30 mins, and 45 minutes before the “1 Hour”?

            Besides the subscribe and unsubscribe triggers, why not add these: “When subscriber reads/opens a campaign” (you already have campaign tracking), and “When subscriber clicks on a e-mail link” (pretty much the same logic as campaign tracking).

            Now we’re talking automation!

          • Stafford McKay

            Love it. We will bring this up in our next product design meeting. Maybe you want to join us on that call?

          • http://drivingonlinesales.com/ Wynne

            Hi Stafford, is the instant follow up on autoreponders working yet?

      • http://drivingonlinesales.com/ Wynne

        Stafford (and Zurmo team) – I’m blown away by what you guys are doing.

        However,like Sylvia, I’m eagerly waiting for you guys to get this *combat* ready. Right now I’m using other systems for clients and myself.

        I have a lot of experience using Infusionsoft and Office Autopilot, and to be honest I think Zurmo has a real shot at making head-way into their market share.

        But as Sylvia mentioned the basics of email automation and follow-up need to be robust enough for marketers like ourselves to jump in boots-and-all with this.

        You’re so tantalizingly close with your offering to become a serious contender in the marketplace. And once it is I can really see it taking off.

        If you’re looking for feedback from marketers then I want to put my hand up to give you timely feedback as well.

        My email is wynnepirini (at) wynnepirini (dot) com.

        • Stafford McKay

          Wynne, thank you. Seriously. Thank you. These are encouraging words and we want to do whatever it takes to get your Zurmo boots on. I’ve invited Sylvia to join in on an Email Marketing call. Zurmo is being built directly according to the direct recommendations of the Open Source Community. I’d like to form an “email marketing committee” and invite you and Sylvia to join. I’ll email you shortly and hopefully we get get a conference call on the books. Our developers are ready for more tasks, so let’s get them going in the right direction. Our agile approach lets us throw out a minimal viable product, then get feedback, then continue accordingly.

  • Gabriel Goldstein

    Is it possible to create a URL that will subscribe a user to a list without them filling out a form? Ideally, if a user clicks on a link in a email blast, I’d like to subscribe them to a list and/or send them autoresponders (they showed an interest in a service and I’d like to drip market to them). Work flows can’t be triggered by email clicks. Autoresonders can’t be triggered by email clicks. How can I create a response (workflow or autoresponder) from a click. Yes, I fully expect to create the URL with a id or reference to the contact/lead.