This is the third installment of our three-part Email Marketing Review Series. Last week we did a review of Constant Contact and the week before we did a MailChimp review. Both services we found to be user-friendly, with significant differences in price, and a discrepancy between customer service availability. This week we gave AWeber a try. Here’s what we found out!
AWeber’s starting price is $20/month. When you sign up for their service, they offer you the first month at $1, plus a money back guarantee if you don’t find their product useful.
After signing up and setting up your billing, you are directed to a video that introduces AWeber’s kickstart guide to email marketing, called “My First 5,000,” that is available for an extra $29 one-time fee. This guide is meant to help email marketers build and grow their email list — I opted to try optimizing my email list on my own.
One feature that AWeber offers is a walk-through of how to get started sending an email, including videos about how to use their service. First they walk you through the process of creating an email list.
Then you are directed to create a generic confirmation email.
It looks like AWeber makes your subscribers opt-in to your email list by confirming their email address. This can be a positive and a negative — on the one hand, your subscribers will all be people who want to be on your email list. On the other hand, you will likely have a pretty significant drop-off rate of subscribers who initially sign up for your email list using a form on your website, and those who actually confirm their email address. This is a matter of quality vs. quantity, and it is a feature that MailChimp and Constant Contact do not require.
Even when I add subscribers manually, I am required to send them a confirmation email prior to officially being added to my list. In fact, to add subscribers you must give a lot of additional information, including how they joined, whether or not you’d like to send a follow up email, and whether or not you’d like to make edits to your opt-in confirmation message before it is sent out.
AWeber then directs you to create a signup form. You can choose to create your own signup form or choose from a variety of templates that are easily customizable.
Lastly, Aweber gives you a variety of options for hosting your web form. They will even host the form for you for no additional cost.
Creating an Email
AWeber calls their emails “broadcasts,” and they boast over 700+ broadcast templates to choose from. In addition to their templates, you can start completely from scratch to create your email like I did with MailChimp (but didn’t have the option to do in Constant Contact). You also have the option to code your own HTML broadcast for more experienced users.
AWeber’s broadcast template creation works like MailChimp’s template creation does. I can choose a plain email or an email template to customize, make it my own, and save it as a template for future use. This is an extremely useful feature that Constant Contact did not have.
I chose one of their templates that was closely related to my business, which is an interior design business. I will customize this email and save it as a my main newsletter template.
First I added a text box header for my email and personalized the existing body text. Then I replaced one of the existing pictures with my logo, and found that AWeber doesn’t offer as many photo editing options as MailChimp and Constant Contact do. I can easily resize my image by clicking on the righthand corner of the image, but cropping the image, adding effects, etc. are not options in AWeber.
Lastly, I added a coupon for my subscribers, and my email was good to go! I previewed my email and sent myself a test email. I noticed that the preview email looked different from the test email that was sent to me. Here’s the preview of my email on the left and the one I received in my inbox (right). Even more inconsistent was how my email looked on mobile (below).
Everything looks fine except the photo alignment at the bottom of the email. Be careful of this! This happened to my email in MailChimp as well, so it seems to be a trend in email service providers — no matter what email service you use, be sure to double check your emails before you send them out.
I fixed this, and previewed/tested my email one more time to make sure it looked good to go. Before I sent out my email, I was asked about posting the email to my social media sites to generate more clicks.
I was then asked to schedule to send my email, and I chose to send it out now. AWeber sent out the email very fast: similar to MailChimp, and much faster than Constant Contact, which had a 15+ minute wait period.
AWeber offers a variety of basic reporting metrics, that seem comparable to Constant Contact’s reports. What I like about AWeber’s reports is that they all appear in both graphical and chart form — something that Constant Contact didn’t offer.
I didn’t add enough subscribers to my list to be able to view metrics, but my guess is that AWeber’s click rates and open rates over time will be higher than either MailChimp or Constant Contact because they make all subscribers confirm (opt-in) their email before being officially added to the email list, meaning they will likely be more engaged subscribers.
AWeber’s pricing is very fair and is structured differently than both Constant Contact and MailChimp. AWeber has a monthly plan for $20. That price stays constant, however, your price increases as you gain more subscribers. Here is what the pricing looks like in comparison to MailChimp and Constant Contact:
|Free Version||60-day free trial if under 100 subscribers||Up to 2,000 subscribers & 12,000 emails per mo.||30-day trial period for $1|
|0-500 subscribers, unlimited emails||$20/mo||$10/mo||$20/mo|
|501-2500 subscribers, unlimited emails||$35/mo||$15-$30/mo||$30/mo|
|2501-5000 subscribers, unlimited emails||$55/mo||$35-$50/mo||$50/mo|
|5001-10000 subscribers, unlimited emails||$85/mo||$55-$75/mo||$70/mo|
AWeber also offers the option to pay quarterly or annually (purchase 3 or 12 months at a time) which results in a $2 – $4 discount per month. As you can see from above, their prices are comparable to MailChimp and less expensive than Constant Contact.
Of the three email marketing services that we’ve reviewed, I’d say that AWeber’s system of introducing users to their service — with a walk-through of creating an email list, creating an email sign-up form, and lastly creating an email itself — trumps all the other services. AWeber’s service is reasonably priced and their email reporting metrics are comparable to most other email marketing services. Like MailChimp (and unlike Constant Contact), AWeber offers free customization of templates, something you can do without any prior knowledge of HTML.
A feature that sets AWeber apart from Constant Contact and MailChimp is that your subscribers have to confirm their subscription to your email list. As described above, this can be good or bad — your users will likely be more engaged, but less users will confirm both on your signup form and via email for your newsletter. It’s up to you to decide if that feature is right for your business, and if it’s not, we would not recommend using AWeber.
Overall, AWeber is a great email marketing service. We would rank it on par with MailChimp, at a similar price range. If you have less than 500 subscribers or can manage to use MailChimp’s free version with under 2,000 subscribers, MailChimp will be much less costly for you, otherwise you can use AWeber at a very comparable price with a great user experience.
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