Having a good autoresponder company is absolutely essential to online business success. An autoresponder allows you to store your e-mail leads, gives you your opt-in form code, sends your autoresponder messages, and tracks how many of your readers opened and read the emails. It is an essential business tool, and, yes, all of the gurus use autoresponders.
Just like your hosting company needs to be reliable, so does your autoresponder company. The good news is that it isn't expensive to get an account.
I use and recommend Aweber.
I do NOT recommend hosting your own autoresponder on your server. The SPAM laws make it very easy for your IP to get blacklisted as a spammer which means that your leads and customers will not receive your emails. Professional services like Aweber, on the other hand, work tirelessly around the clock to stay on top of all industry updates and ensure a high level of email deliverability.