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By Mike Barnett

RISMEDIA, May 28, 2008-I often get asked questions about auto-responders. Things like: What are auto-responders? How are auto-responders best used? What is the difference between an auto-responder and a vacation message?

Let’s start with the basics. What is an auto-responder?

An auto-responder is just that. When a message arrives at your e-mail address, a response is returned to the sender “automatically.”

How are auto-responders best used?

Auto-responders can be used to provide targeted information about products and services that you offer and/or provide.

Let’s look at an example of how to use an auto-responder.

What if I created an e-mail alias called 123RiverStreet@MikeBarnett.com for one of my listings?

Because 123RiverStreet@MikeBarnett.com is a unique identifier (there can only be “1” 123RiverStreet@MikeBarnett.com), I can create a rule (sometimes called a filter), which will automatically send the message to a special folder (maybe within a master folder called “listings”) that could be labeled “123RiverStreet.”

Because 123RiverStreet is a unique folder, I can create an auto-responder that describes my listing in detail. Within this description, I can include links to detailed descriptions of the property and the neighborhood.

You can also send a copy of the original e-mail over to a team member who is handling that property. At the same time, a copy of the e-mail address is sent to your customer relationship management software.

What is the difference between an auto-responder and a vacation message?

Actually, they are just about the same. The difference between an auto-responder and a vacation message is a vacation message should only be sent “once” per e-mail address…unless you want to continually remind people that you are on vacation. RE

Mike Barnett is CTO/VP of Technology for InternetCrusade’s RealTown.com.

For more information, visit www.realtown.com.

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