Please see the message from David Bates on Autoresponders
Autoresponders basically send out a timed sequence of messages and, surprise surprise, are commonly used by people to automate their marketing on the internet. The basic technique is to drive potential customers to your website – offer something like a free report / email course which people can sign-up to, and when they do the autoresponder sends out the messages you want in a timed sequence. In this context it may take a lot of work to get a really good marketing message together that will lead to sales of whatever service / product you’re offering, but once it’s up and running there’s no further effort required.
In the context of libraries and information literacy there are a range of ways these could be used:
- Enabling people to sign-up to an e-course. This could be a one-off thing, like an introductory video / podcast / whatever, or a sequence of activities over a period of time.
- Prompting people to carry out certain activities as part of an ongoing course – you could set-up an autoresponder which you could set off at the beginning of the FILE course for example – or even before the course starts (the pre-course assessment could be the first message in the sequence). The emails could include things like a reminder of the deadline for the current component + a link to the page on the FILE website relating to the next session. The final emails could be asking people to complete their evaluation, possibly including a link to SurveyMonkey (or whatever) if it’s an online survey.
You’re really only limited by your imagination – but if you do have courses / events / whatever that take place over a fixed period of time, and you’re sending out the same information to a group of people in a timed sequence, this can be one way of reducing the administrative burden considerably.
One of the best known providers of an autoresponder is AWeber (http://www.aweber.com/), although there are plenty of others around too.