Submitted by Aaron on Tue, 01/13/2015 - 16:39
Complete Aweber Email Marketing Review
AWeber is our #1 choice for email marketing software for small to medium businesses and I will go into the details below, after sharing a little about my experience with Internet Marketing and Email Marketing. I will go over a lot of the features and the positive elements or "pros" and then will write about a few "cons" at the end, because no product or service is perfect, especially not software.
A bit about me:
Since 2004, I (Aaron Schulman) have consulted with many small to medium sized business owners in Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Florida, California, and many other states, as well as non-profits and entrepreneurs. In most cases, the client was not utilizing email marketing to its full potential, or was not using it at all. I have personally set up companies on all kinds of email marketing software, but I personally believe that AWeber is one of the very best companies / technologies to launch your email marketing and company. There may be a day to graduate to a fully automated CRM tool like Infusionsoft, but for about 95% of small businesses, AWeber is the best solution and is far more affordable starting at only a $1 first month trial.
I have worked with, and have set clients up on most of the popular email marketing solutions in the marketplace, and have had to recommend different platforms based on different needs, and through it all, Aweber has been, in my opinion, the best email marketing solution for 95% of business owners, for both novice and advanced users.
You can start an AWeber account for only $1 for the first month, and your continued service is tiered based on number of subscribers which includes:
- Unlimited auto responders and email marketing messages (or newsletters)
- 30 Day Money back guarantee
- No set up fees
- no hassle refund
- Full feature access for $1 (not a limited tool trial so you have access to all of the features of the full price option)
The current pricing tiers can be viewed here, and are as follows at the time of this review:
- $19 / monthly up to 500 subscribers - $49 if paid quarterly - $194 if paid annually
- $29 / monthly 501 to 2500 subscribers
- $49 / monthly 2501 to 5,000 subscribers
- $69 / monthly 5001 to 10,000 subscribers
- $149 / monthly 10,001 to 25,000 subscribers
- Custom pricing for more than 25,000 subscribers
AWeber has all the tools you need to carry out a simple or complex email marketing campaign, and look professional while doing it!
They have excellent, professional looking html templates, easy cut-and-paste java scripts for embedding opt-in forms (to collect subscriber info), multiple banner colors and designs, full array of colors, stock images, extra storage and graphics to give you a crisp, well-branded, professional email newsletter, including unlimited auto responders and branded opt-in forms to embed on any website or blog.
- They currently have over 700 professionally designed email marketing templates
- Over 6,000 stock photos and images you can use
- Matching opt-in forms for your template for brand consistency
- Endless color templates
- Drag and Drop editors (WYSIWYG editors) that are very easy to use for most users
- HTML customization and integration - Although their entire design system for email messages and opt-in forms are based on a WYSIWYG user interface, you can easily customize or change the HTML code behind any email template or message
- If you cannot find a template that suits (and that would be hard to do) their support staff will even help you make a custom template
You can also send both HTML and plain text messages, or a combination of both based on the email platforms and preferences of your subscribers.
You can send unlimited test emails as well to any email address of your choice so you can test and tweak your message before actually sending it to your subscriber list.
Aweber's Blog-to-email feature allows you to easily create an email newsletter blast or message automated from your blog posts. This feature is easily integrated with most major blogging platforms as well, and you can also use RSS to email feature to send an automated message to subscribers from your RSS feed.
Aweber follows strict CAN SPAM compliance so you can rest assured that the deliverability for your specific email campaigns will land in the subscriber’s inbox with the highest percent of success.
This is why their reputation is the best in the industry. They have excellent tech support, customer service and an education department, including their spectacular blog, which will help any business owner learn how to excel with email marketing, or improve, regardless of email marketing experience.
Uploading owned list versus double opt-in process:
You can upload a list gathered outside of Aweber’s opt-in process, and it used to be that you would have to have those subscribers opt in again -
However, Aweber has changed this as long as you can verify that your list was a confirmed opt-in list and not a purchased list, spam list or conglomerated list where people did not give permission to be sent an email newsletter. Aweber will simply not skimp on the opt-in process when it comes to their services, and for good reason. There are too many email spammers out there, and Aweber wants to protect the quality of their services and the reputation of their deliverability rates.
This is great news for you and the reputation of your business. . .
For starters, it protects Aweber’s reputation with all of the major ISPs (Internet Service Providers) as well as keeps them CAN Spam compliant (CAN Spam Act of 2003). This also protects the reputation of their servers, and allows them to guarantee such high deliverability rate to the subscriber inboxes across over 120,000 Aweber customers (and growing). It also protects you and other Aweber customers from unscrupulous spammers who use purchased lists and degrade the reputation of sending servers. With email marketing, 1 bad apple on a server really can spoil the bunch, and therefore, you can always rest assured that your deliverability with Aweber will be among the top 1% in the email marketing industry because of how stringent they are on “canning spam” with their practices.
Because of their CAN SPAM compliance they have the best in terms of IP reputation protection and deliverability.
Although I have never had a perfect social media integration experience, where the software published seamlessly with all social media accounts involved, Aweber offers all the major SM icons and setup within their email template editor, and you can easily add html and images with links for any SM icons or buttons of your choice. It is completely customizable. They currently have solid Facebook and Twitter Integration, and you can easily add Pinterest, Google Plus, Instagram or other icons and links of your choice. If you ever run into a snag, their customer service is excellent and they can help you get set up and working seamlessly.
You can see an extensive list of their API integrations here.
Aweber also offers “Add This” integration as well as the standard Facebook and Twitter integration. If you are not familiar with “Add This” you should be. Essentially, “Add This” is a single button which gives the subscriber access to share your message with an active list of dozens of other social sites and share sites to fit your subscribers' share preferences.
However, sometimes “Add This” does not work perfectly because it does go through a 3rd party script, yet it is a solid solution for making it easier for your subscribers to share on more than just Facebook and Twitter.
Additionally, AWeber offers an online archive of all of your past email newsletters in a blog type format. This adds a little bit of SEO link juice for any links going out from these archives to your website or blog.
Along with Facebook and Twitter integration, they also have subscriber integration with WordPress, PayPal and Etsy (peer to peer marketplace for hand-made or vintage products). I have personally used the PayPal integration, and though it is a bit challenging to set up, it is not too difficult if you can follow directions and ask for help from their excellent tech support. They support at least 60 other popular application integrations, whereby users of these other platforms can seamlessly subscribe to your Aweber newsletters or subscriber list through these applications including SalesForce, Magento, Drupal, Shopify, Raven, WooCommerce, 2 Checkout and many, many more.
AWeber makes its API available as well for any custom application building or integration if you want to build a specific app integration or alter and integration with software that you currently use.
Aweber actually invented the concept of smart auto responders.
Smart Autoresponders are essentially a series of (or even just 1) follow up messages that are delivered to your subscriber based on specific timelines (days, hours, specific dates and times) that you specify, or based on certain actions they take and certain links they click on . This segmenting feature is not nearly as robust and customizable as it is in more expensive enterprise CRM software like InfusionSoft, but it is more than most small to medium business owners will need, unless you are selling a complex solution to a complex customer base, or are offering a very complex custom delivery of customer follow up, automated messages based on all kinds of future behaviors and clicks.
For unlimited smart auto-responders that carry a more linear follow up series with your subscribers, Aweber is very easy to understand and very easy to set up. You just have to decide on the content you are going to send and the time delay with which you will delay each message from the previous message. AWeber is an industry leader in smart auto responder technology because their smart auto-responders are top of the industry, easy to use and set up, and are very effective and flexible in terms of deliverability times, however, they are not as robust in terms of complexity for setting up very segmented follow up series based off all kinds of different subscriber clicks and response behaviors. GetResponse (starting at $199 per month) is more highly customizable in terms of segmenting based on subscriber behavior and InfusionSoft is in an entirely other category above AWeber, because it is a very complex sales and marketing CRM integration tool, with a much steeper learning curve and higher price entry point (at $199 per month plus $2,000 mandatory kick-start fee). For small to medium business owners, it would be best to start with Aweber and max out their capabilities and services before graduating to a complex CRM marketing tool like Infusionsoft. Most small business owners will not need to graduate and will not need the complexities of InfusionSoft, and therefore, AWeber's smart auto responders and email marketing is a sufficient tool to increase customer relationship development and drive up sales.
AWeber is fully built with analytic and tracking scripts that allow split test capabilities for opt-in forms and for email newsletter and auto responders. You can very easily track open rates across all messages, campaigns, auto responders, and track complete details per user. You can segment lists based on specific actions of the subscriber, and send targeted follow up messages to readers based on very specific demographics and behaviors. This will allow you to see at a glance, how your messages are accepted by your subscribers, and what you need to do in order to improve your relationship with them. The statistics are also available to you in your dashboard in easy-to-understand graphs and charts that help you understand the data so you can make intelligent decisions on sending out future messages to serve the wants and needs of your subscribers better. This way, your messages can be highly targeted for a more personal customer relationship experience. You can learn more about their analytics, graphs and list segmentation here.
Aweber is ideal for all kinds and sizes of businesses and organizations. From small, single operator business owner / entrepreneur to medium sized enterprise business with up to 25 employees, or large publishing organizations with a large base of readers, Aweber can handle just about any size list. Regardless of your subscriber database size, your monthly quota of outgoing messages is still unlimited, unlike other companies that charge you additional costs once you exceed a certain number of messages. You can read more about their different tiers and pricing structures here.
Aweber leads the industry with their compliance to CAN SPAM practices, and they go above and beyond international spam compliance, which guarantees you and all of their other customers the best, long-term deliverability for customers and subscribers. They protect this by requiring double opt-in procedures, whereby a person enters their email address, and then they must click on the automated confirmation link sent to their email inbox to confirm they actually were responsible for subscribing. Aweber customers cannot import paid email lists, or spam lists, without those subscribers confirming they want to opt-in, which protects the reputation of all of Aweber’s servers as well as the reputation of all of their customers. They do allow importing lists from other services as long as your list you are transferring is a true opt-in list. Not only do they have one of the best ISP reputations, but there is also a great feature that gives your messages a "SPAM SCORE" before you send it out, and it tells you which parts of your messages might trigger a spam filter action by email programs. This allows you to edit the specific parts of your messages that might trigger being flagged as SPAM so that you ensure the highest deliverability of each message you send. Additionally, they automatically remove unsubscribes from your list and undeliverable address subscribers (dead or obsolete email addresses) using SPF and Domain Keys. (SPF = Sender Policy Framework)
Tim Carter from “Ask The Builder”- AWeber customer for over 9 years - “Today I sent out my first newsletter using AWeber and the results were outstanding. I used the click-tracking feature to see how many people went to the links I provided and was not disappointed.”
Nikki McGonigal - 2 year user - I like how easy AWeber is to use. I like that you can quickly change things, but keep your list. If I wanted to change my pop up or change my follow up messages or change how I send my broadcasts, it's really easy to do that without having to start from scratch.
Ellen Yin - Co-Owner - Fork Restaurant - Since we've been using AWeber, one of the great things we've been able to do is monitor our response rate. With snail mail, you could send out 6,000 pieces of mail and you would never know if anyone opened or received your newsletter on time.”
Their customer support is great, but they have limited hours. I like the fact that they call it "Customer Solutions" because they offer more than just technical support, but can actually give ideas and tips to help your campaign success improve. With every personal customer service issue I have ever had with Aweber, I have always had a great experience with Aweber’s customer service, whether it was a billing issue or a technical support issue. They are superb! It probably has to do with their work environment in being one of the best places in Pittsburgh to work, as well as their continuing goal to strive for excellence in serving their clients and maintaining one of the best email marketing services available on the market today. Continuing education is offered through excellent webinars, for customers at all use levels.
Cons / Negatives
The only down-sides of AWeber's services that I have found are as follows:
- No free trial- but no big deal- the $1 first month fee is 100% refundable
- Segmenting lists does not automatically opt-in to segments, so you have to manually set up segmented follow ups and multiple segmentation (opt-ins by a simple click) cannot be done, but this is a lack in automation, not in capability
- HTML Editor hacking- sometimes the WYSIWYG editor does not show or align correctly when you hack the HTML a bit, and so you have to tweak it sometimes for custom alignment, although the tool does work great
- Customer Service has limited hours - Monday through Friday, 8 am - 8 pm ET and Saturday and Sunday, 9 am - 5 pm ET- but it is based in Pennsylvania, USA so no foreign accents
- Does not have an "out of the box" PayPal integration, but with a little technical assistance, you can set up PayPal / email opt in with payments. This is critical if you offer a subscription based educational service and do not want to pay someone to code automation between payment and private membership access for example. The PayPal API integration does work, just not ideal for membership type sites. This is a little bit tricky when you want to integrate opt-ins with payment for an event as well, but it can be done, just with some coding or technical work-around.
Other than these, it is easy to test drive and get a feel for yourself for only $1.
More about AWeber the company and their core values:
Tom Kulzer founded AWeber, still located in Chalfont, PA in 1998, to help make email marketing more profitable for small businesses. 15 years later, they are reaching that goal by helping over 120,000 small businesses, non-profits and entrepreneurs around the world reach more people with email newsletter campaigns. Started as 1 person, and have grown to over 100 people and growing. Their core values that they live by are: working together, learning together and helping thousands of small businesses grow and prosper.
In summary, Aweber is my personal first choice in email marketing platforms for any business I consult with, unless they have very specific needs and automation with complex CRM and a larger budget.
That being said, anyone can test drive AWeber for only $1, and even that is refundable if you are not 100% satisfied within the first 30-Days, guaranteed.
Aaron Schulman for Aim Advantage