Posts in E-marketing
What is Inbound Marketing? | A Simple Guide to Generating Inbound Traffic
 What is inbound marketing? Image of a dartboard accompanying an article about how to generate inbound traffic.

‘Inbound marketing’ is all the rage these days, and with its promise of potential customers coming to you rather than you having to go out and grab leads’ attention, it’s obvious why business owners are so interested in the idea.

But what exactly is inbound marketing, and how do you go about creating an inbound marketing campaign?

Simply put, inbound marketing is a way to pull people to your business, rather than relying on advertising spend or PR to push potential customers towards it. It typically revolves around the web, and involves three key steps:

  1. Getting found (i.e., attracting traffic to your website)

  2. Converting visitors to leads (capturing data and generating sales)

  3. Analysing (looking at site stats and sales data to improve steps one and two).

Let’s look at each step in more detail.


1. Getting found

Getting found boils down to

  • what content is on your site

  • how it is presented from a search engine optimisation point of view

  • how easy it is for readers to share it.

Content

Content is the most important aspect of an inbound marketing strategy: your website needs to contain a reasonable number of high-quality, informative pages on it.

This ensures that you have keywords on your site that can be indexed by search engines, along with interesting content that you can promote and your site visitors can share. 

But before you start creating content, you need a strategy: you need to take what people are actually searching for into account before publishing a single page or post. You can do this by using a variety of keyword research tools such as Moz's keyword explorer or Serps to compare volumes of particular searches against each other.

Say you are thinking of starting a pie recipe site in the UK. You might find using a keyword research tool that a lot more people are searching for ‘English pie recipes’ over ‘British pie recipes’ - and as such may wish to optimise your content accordingly.

However, if there are lots of posts already in existence which use the more popular phrase, it may be worth plumping for the less popular and more ‘niche’ one – so long as you are confident that you can dominate results for that particular phrase.

The trick is to find target keywords that are capable of driving significant numbers of visitors and which you can realistically rank for. To help you with this, most keyword research tools will give you a 'keyword difficulty' score which tells you how hard it will be to rank for that keyword. 

Once you've got your target keywords sorted, you now need to focus on the 'quality' side of things. If a potential client arrives at a page full of nonsense, they’re not going to take your business very seriously - no matter how many keywords you've stuffed into it. They’re not going to share the content and they are not going to create links to it on their site – which, as I’ll explain below, are vital aspects of an inbound marketing campaign.

The best strategy when it comes to content is to blog – but to do so in a really informative way. This does not mean blogging about your business, but rather your business area.

For example, if you run a cocktail bar, you might consider posting blog items about how to make classic cocktails. If you are a web designer, you could blog about your favourite tools for building websites, or provide CSS tips and tricks. And so on.

These kinds of posts are genuinely useful and answer real questions that people might have about the area that you work in. They are likely to garner Facebook likes or Twitter shares, or be linked to on other websites – all of which drives more traffic to the original post. And lo, your inbound marketing strategy beings to take shape.

Search engine optimisation

To give your content a boost, you should make sure that it is presented in the easiest way for search engines to understand.

This means that you need to

  • use page titles and H1 tags that explain precisely what your content is about

  • use meta descriptions which summarise the page / article content in an accurate and engaging way

  • include keywords in your site’s URLs – for example, if you’re writing a blog post about cocktails, it would be better to use a page URL of www.mysite.com/cocktails over www.mysite.com/?page=sakhkxas123.php

  • use anchor text in links (either on your own site or others) which is relevant to the content – i.e., rather than simply using a big long URL like ‘www.mysite.com/cocktail-recipe-blog-post’ as a link to a cocktail recipe, you should use the words ‘cocktail recipe’ and put the link behind that.

For a few more SEO tips, you might like to download our in-depth guide to SEO or read our tips on how to make your site more visible in Google.

Making it easy to let people share content

A crucial part of an inbound marketing strategy is to ensure that people can share your content really easily. The more likes and tweets of your content that you get, the more visitors you will attract to your site.

To this end, you should ensure that social media share buttons are highly visible on your site, and that visitors are actively encouraged to use them. Tools like Sumo are invaluable in this regard, providing you with lots of sharing icons and analytics tools that you can make use of simply by adding a few lines of HTML to your site.

Additionally, you should actively encourage users to create backlinks to your content on their own blogs or websites (a little ‘feel free to create a link to this on your site’ plea at the bottom of posts can help with this).

In general, every backlink you have to your content usually serves as a vote for your site in search results (with the important caveat that certain backlinks – for example those created through spammy backlink creation services – may actually hurt your position in search...avoid them!). 


2. Converting visitors to leads

Once you’ve attracted visitors to your website through content, SEO or shares, it’s time to turn them into leads, and that means capturing their details.

Most visitors are not going to buy your products or services the moment they rock up to your website – but, assuming they are impressed enough by the content that got them there in the first place, they are quite likely to be open to submitting an email address in exchange for a promise of similarly interesting content in future.

And with that email address comes the opportunity to forge a relationship with your lead, showcase products and services and ultimately gain some business. Even if you don’t generate any business directly from that lead, they may nonetheless help your inbound marketing cause by sharing some of the content which you send them via e-newsletter (or creating backlinks to it).

As such, your blog or website should always place a large emphasis on data capture, and you should always:

  • make it extremely easy for people to sign up to your mailing list – place a form on the side of key pages and at the bottom of any posts

  • spell out the value of joining the list - highlight some of the useful content and resources that your subscribers will receive upon joining it.

Some potential customers may not wish to submit an email address, but might feel more comfortable with following you on social media and getting links to your content that way. Accordingly, ensure that you have ‘follow’ buttons clearly visible on your site. Again, tools like Sumo can help with this.

Finally, on the subject of data capture it’s a good idea to think about using autoresponders to automate some of your e-marketing. 

Autoresponders are e-newsletters that are automatically sent to your mailing list subscribers at pre-defined intervals after they sign up – you can set them up so that the second somebody signs up to your list, they receive a simple welcome message; a week later they could receive links to some interesting articles they might have missed; three weeks later they could receive an encouragement to follow you on social media.

The point is that you can use autoresponders to automate your e-marketing in a way which helps you to generate more inbound traffic - without you having to constantly send out e-newsletters manually.

(On the subject of e-newsletters and autoresponders, you may find our Getresponse vs Aweber, Getresponse vs Mailchimp and Mad Mimi vs Mailchimp comparison reviews handy).


3. Analysing

The final stage of an inbound marketing campaign is the analysis: you need to crunch the numbers, find out what’s working well (or not) and use this information to refine or improve the whole process.

There are two key tools which should always be a part of this: Google Analytics and Google Search Console. Both will give you a picture of the kind of content that is being read on your site, and the kind of keywords that are driving traffic to it.

In addition, by registering your site with Google Search Console you are placing yourself firmly on Google’s radar – doing this helps Google crawl your site in the most comprehensive manner possible; and if you enter all your site details correctly, you are giving its algorithms the most accurate picture possible of your website, thus helping it to serve the most relevant search results from it.

In addition to the above, you will be able to use other analytics tools to measure success – for example, your e-newsletter reports and, assuming you’ve added one to your site, stats from sharing services – to identify particularly popular or successful pieces of content.

By identifying the blog posts or site pages that are attracting large numbers of visitors, you can drill down into the reasons why – and write articles on similar topics (or structure new articles in a similar way).


Some top tips for creating a successful inbound marketing strategy

  • Carry out keyword research to ensure that your content is going to be focussed on searches that people are actually making - and ones that you can rank for.

  • Blog regularly. Not only will this make your site more keyword rich, it will help it be taken more seriously by Google’s search algorithms (which factor in frequency of updates when determining where to plonk your site in search results).

  • Create quality blog posts. Don’t pack your site full of keyword-rich but ultimately useless drivel – it won’t impress anyone (Google included).

  • Create backlinks where possible. Ask clients, colleagues and friends who run relevant websites or blogs to provide you with a backlink and reach out to popular bloggers in your business area to see if the can help. Avoid spammy link building services like the plague though, as they can damage your position in search results.

  • Get on Google’s radar: register with Google Search Console and swot up on what Google actually recommend you do from an SEO perspective.

  • Use Sumo or a similar service to make it easy for people to share your content.

  • Always make it easy for people who visit your site to sign up to your mailing list (and encourage them to do so by offering interesting content/features/tools in exchange for their details).

  • Analyse your site, e-newsletter and social media statistics regularly to see which content is driving the most traffic to your site, and adjust / refine your content strategy based on this information.


Other inbound marketing resources from Style Factory

You might also like to download our e-book on SEO, 'Super Simple SEO.' This introduces you to the topic of SEO, and takes you through all the steps you need to take to make sure your site is visible in Google (doing so so in a friendly, jargon-free way!).

Also, we recently put together an inbound marketing infographic, which aims to demystify the topic and spell out some of the key steps you need to take to create a successful inbound marketing campaign.

Finally, you might find our post on how to increase blog traffic helpful. This highlights 10 simple ways that you can get more readers eyeballing your blog content, something which is a key part of an inbound marketing campaign.


Got any thoughts on inbound marketing?

If you've got any thoughts on inbound marketing, or have run inbound marketing campaigns in the past, do feel free to leave your thoughts, queries and tips of your own in the comments section below.

(Please note that if you're reading this blog post on a mobile phone, you may be viewing a faster-loading AMP version, which doesn't facilitate comments. If you can't access the comments, just click here to access the regular one. )

Aweber vs Getresponse (2018) - A Detailed Comparison of Two Leading E-newsletter Creation Tools
 Aweber vs Getresponse (image of the two companies' logos on a piece of paper)

In this comparison post we take an in-depth look at Aweber vs Getresponse, so that you can make an informed decision on which of these email creation and sending tools is best for your business.

Below you'll find an overview of their pricing, a discussion about their key features and a summary of why you might choose one over the other.

But first: what do Aweber and Getresponse actually do?


What do Aweber and Getresponse do?

Aweber and Getresponse are tools for hosting your mailing list, creating attractive e-newsletter templates and sending e-newsletters out to your subscribers. They also allow you automate your communications to subscribers via ‘autoresponders’.

Autoresponders are used to provide subscribers with e-newsletters from you at pre-defined intervals – for example, immediately after they sign up, a subscriber might receive a simple welcome message from your business; a week later they could receive a discount voucher for some of your goods; three weeks later they could receive an encouragement to follow you on social media etc. 

That’s just the tip of the iceberg though: e-newsletter tools like these allow you to do a lot of other funky stuff, which we discuss below. Before that though, a quick look at pricing.


Getresponse pricing vs Aweber pricing

Getresponse pricing

It can be a little bit confusing working out which Getresponse plan to pick, as there are three tiers of plans - "Email", "Pro" and "Max" - and within each tier,  several different plans to choose from. 

  • Up to 1,000 subscribers: $15 ('Email') / $49 ('Pro') / $165 ('Max') 
  • 1,001 to 2,500: $25 ('Email')  / $49 ('Pro') / $165 ('Max') 
  • 2,501 to 5,000: $45 ('Email') / $49 ('Pro') / $165 ('Max') 
  • 5,001 to 10,000: $65 ('Email')/ $75 ('Pro') / $ 165 ('Max')
  • 10,001 to 25,000: $145 ('Email') / $165 ('Pro') / $255 ('Max')
  • 25,001 to 50,000: $250 ('Email') / $280 ('Pro') / $370 ('Max')
  • 50,001 to 100,000: $450 ('Email') / $490 ('Pro') / $580 ('Max')

If you have a list larger than 100,000 subscribers, there's an 'Enterprise' plan you can use, which starts from $1199 per month (exact pricing will depend on your requirements - you'll need to negotiate these rates with Getresponse).

There are also separate pricing plans available for not-for-profit organisations, but you will need to contact Getresponse directly about those.

The key differences between the Getresponse plans involve the addition of landing pages, webinars and CRM as you go up the pricing ladder (more on both anon).

When comparing Aweber vs Getresponse, the Getresponse 'Email' plans are the ones to focus on as they are similar, feature wise, to all the Aweber plans.

Aweber pricing

There are 5 Aweber plans to choose from:

  • Up to 500 subscribers: $19 per month
  • 501 to 2,500 subscribers: $29 per month
  • 2,501 to 5,000 subscribers: $49 per month
  • 5,001 to 10,000 subscribers: $69 per month
  • 10,001 to 25,000 subscribers: $149 per month

If you have a list larger than 25,000 subscribers, you will need to get a quote from Aweber regarding your requirements. 

There is no difference in features between each Aweber plan - the functionality of each plan is the same, regardless of payment.

Discounted plans are available for non-profits (3 months free, 25% off after that) and students (20% off) too. 

Who wins on price?

Well, at the starter end of things, Getresponse is definitely the most cost-effective solution: if you have a list with 500 to 1,000 subscribers on it, you're looking at a not-inconsiderable $14 per month ($168 per year) saving by using the Getresponse 'Email' plan instead of Aweber's equivalent.

For lists over 1,000 subscribers in size, each Getresponse 'Email' plan effectively comes in $4 per month cheaper than the equivalent Aweber plan (an annual saving of $48).

Additionally, Getresponse offers sizeable discounts if you pay upfront for one or two years - 18% and 30% respectively.

There are discounting options available with Aweber too, but they are not nearly as generous - if you pay quarterly, Aweber will discount your plan by 14%, and if you pay annually, the saving will be 14.9%.

Overall, I'd say that Getresponse is the overall winner on pricing, but as we shall see below, this is not the only thing you should base your decision on here.

Let's take a look at features.


Overview of core Aweber and Getresponse features

Similarities between Aweber and Getresponse

Getresponse and Aweber offer similar core features, the key ones being:

  • Ability to capture data and host mailing lists (you get a little bit of HTML code that you can insert on your site or social media profiles to capture email addresses)
  • A wide range of pre-designed e-newsletter templates
  • Autoresponder functionality which allows you to send automated e-newsletters at pre-defined intervals to subscribers after they sign up
  • Statistics on the percentage of subscribers that are opening your emails, clicking links or unsubscribing
  • RSS to e-newsletter functionality (useful for automatically sending your blog posts to subscribers on your mailing list)
  • Message builders that allow you to create and edit e-newsletters without coding
  • Integration with various third-party sites/tools (for example, online shopping services such as Amazon Payments, Paypal and Google Checkout or CRM tools like Capsule and Salesforce) - this allows you to add customers to mailing lists at the point of sale, for example, or use Aweber and Getresponse to send e-newsletters to customers on your CRM system.
  • Responsive email templates.

Key differences between Aweber and Getresponse

There are some Getresponse features which are not available in Aweber:

  • Webinars
  • CRM functionality
  • More advanced marketing automation
  • A landing page builder

We'll discuss these in more depth later, but first, let's take a look at something very important in email marketing: visuals.


Templates

Both Aweber and Getresponse provide a wider selection of templates than their major competitors.

This is a pretty subjective area, but for me Aweber’s templates look a little bit better than Getresponse’s. And there are more of them (about 700 vs 500 respectively).

Example of an Aweber template - they are arguably slightly more elegant than the Getresponse equivalents, but there is not a huge amount in it.

Getresponse’s templates look fine – and are fairly easily editable – but they’re just, well, a bit boring and slightly dated-looking; Aweber’s templates are slightly more visually appealing and, for my money, usable for a wider range of marketing applications.

All that said, the gap in quality is by no means huge and unless there is an Aweber template that you are mad about, you should be able to find something similar enough in Getresponse’s arsenal which you can then tweak to bring it up to date a bit. 

 Some Getresponse template examples

Some Getresponse template examples

Responsive templates

The email templates provided by both Getresponse and Aweber are now all responsive — this means that they will automatically adjust the layout of your e-newsletter to suit the device it's being viewed on (mobile, tablet, desktop etc.).

However, Getresponse is significantly better than Aweber when it comes to previewing what your email will look like on a smartphone.

In Getresponse, as you build your email using the drag-and-drop builder provided, you see a real-time preview of what it will look like on a mobile device on the right hand side of the editor. This is great, because you can simultaneously see the desktop and mobile versions of your e-newsletter — as you build it. Not only this, but you can flip the orientation of your e-newsletter around to see how it looks in both portrait and landscape mode on a smartphone.

With Aweber, I couldn't see an easy way to preview the mobile version of my email at all - I may be missing something, but I ended up having to send myself a test email and open it on a phone to view the mobile version. This is obviously disruptive to workflow — so a win for Getresponse here.

Web fonts in Aweber and Getresponse

Major clients such as Gmail, Outlook and Yahoo are increasingly supporting the use of web fonts - and accordingly, some leading e-marketing apps are starting to include them in their email editors.

Sadly, Getresponse and Aweber have yet to follow suit and only offer the 8 standard 'web safe fonts' for use (such as Times New Roman, Arial, Trebuchet etc.) - which is a shame really, because web fonts can make e-newsletters look considerably slicker.

If web fonts are an absolute show stopper for you then you'll find them available in Campaign Monitor and Mailchimp - however, it's important to note that

  • only a small selection of web fonts are available in these two apps and
  • in Mailchimp, the web fonts offered are particularly boring, to the point where there's not a huge aesthetic benefit in using them.

(Campaign Monitor's font offering is better, but you'll pay through the nose to use this product!)

I wouldn't view web fonts as being a show-stopping issue at all, but it would be nice to see their inclusion soon in Aweber and Getresponse.


Autoresponders

Autoresponders are emails that are sent automatically to your subscribers at intervals that you define – for example, you could create  a programme of autoresponders so that 10 minutes after somebody signs up to your list, they receive a welcome message; exactly one week later they receive a discount code; three weeks later they receive an email showcasing a particular product – and so on. This type of email marketing is often referred to as a 'drip' campaign.

Both Aweber and Getresponse provide good basic autoresponder functionality, allowing you to automatically send particular e-newsletters based on time intervals (as in the example above) or trigger them based on user actions (joining a particular list, making a purchase etc.). Aweber's is particularly easy to use.

For me, Getresponse's autoresponder functionality is considerably stronger however, because the range of actions you can use to trigger the sending of a particular e-newsletter is more comprehensive, and it's easier to set up these action-based triggers in the first place. 

As such Getresponse's autoresponder functionality now goes well beyond traditional 'drip' style campaigns and forms part of its 'marketing automation' feature.

And speaking of which....


Marketing automation

Getresponse recently introduced a new feature called 'Marketing Automation' which takes autoresponders to a much more sophisticated level.

This allows you to create sophisticated automation workflows using a drag and drop builder - you basically set up an 'automation flowchart' that tells Getresponse what to do if a user takes a specific action.

There are a large number of triggers you can use to shape your automation workflow in Getresponse, but key ones include:

  • Email opens
  • Link clicks
  • Product purchase
  • Abandoned carts
  • URLs visited
  • A change in a subscriber's custom field data

This means you can extensively customise your subscribers' user journeys based on how they interact with your emails. Not only this, but you can integrate this workflow with Getresponse's CRM features (of which more later).

The video below gives you an idea of how it works.

Aweber offer something similar with their 'Campaigns' tool - but at the moment it's a very basic affair, which essentially allows you to tag subscribers and send particular follow-up emails based on the links that they click.

So for now, Getresponse is significantly ahead in the area of workflow based automation.

 Marketing automation in Getresponse is significantly more sophisticated than in Aweber

Marketing automation in Getresponse is significantly more sophisticated than in Aweber


Importing data

Getresponse was traditionally a much better option for those wishing to create email marketing campaigns using an existing list, because when you imported your own mailing list to Aweber, your subscribers could not join a list without reconfirming their subscription – with predictably awful results.

Thankfully they've now changed their approach and Aweber customers can import their own data (albeit after they've answered quite a lot of questions about its source).

In terms of the types of files that Aweber lets you import, you can bring in data from the following types of files:

  • XLS
  • XLSX
  • TSV
  • CSV
  • TXT

Getresponse lets you import from the following file types:

  • CSV
  • TXT
  • VCF
  • XLS
  • ODS

In addition to allowing you to import the above file types, Getresponse also allows you to import from various third-party services.

Both platforms also let you add contacts manually - either by adding individual contacts or by copying and pasting rows of contacts.

Finally Aweber and Getresponse both allow you to add users to a particular autoresponder cycle when you import them, which is not the case with all competing systems.

One thing you'll need to bear in mind with Aweber is it can take 1 business day to process a the import of a new list. Something to bear in mind if you're in a hurry.

So a general thumbs up for both platforms here when it comes to imports, but the Aweber processing time is not ideal.


Single opt-in and double opt-in

There's two ways to run a mailing list: using a 'single opt-in' or a 'double opt-in' approach to subscriptions.

When you use a single opt-in method, the person who completes your sign-up form is added to your mailing list there and then.

With a double (or 'confirmed') opt-in process, the person signing up to your mailing list is sent a confirmation email containing a link that they have to click before they are subscribed.

Both approaches have their pros and cons. The main benefit of a single opt-in process is that it makes it easy for users to subscribe and maximises conversion rates; a double opt-in process is better for verifying that the people subscribing to your list are using real email addresses and leads to cleaner data and more accurate stats.

I'd argue that both single opt-in and double opt-in processes have their place in email marketing and it's vital for your chosen solution to facilitate both processes. And the good news is that both Aweber and Getresponse allow you to choose your preferred opt-in method easily.


Integration with other systems

Both Aweber and Getresponse offer a wide range of integrations with other sites and apps. These include integrations with very-well known services such as Amazon, Paypal, Salesforce, Facebook and Twitter.

There are 400+ Aweber integrations available, to Getresponse's 119, meaning Aweber is a clear winner in this area.

It should be noted that some of the integrations for both products - particularly those for less well-known services - involve setting up a connection between your accounts using the third-party sync tool Zapier. This is not madly complicated, but it can take a little trial and error to sort out. (And whilst I love Zapier, sync errors can occasionally occur which then involve some manual intervention to sort out.)


Split testing

Split tests allow you to try out different versions of your emails on segments of your data and send the best performing one out to the rest of your database.

This can be done by testing different subject headers, different e-newsletter copy or even different templates against each other.

Getresponse allows you to test up to 5 variants of e-newsletters against each other, which makes it much better in this area than its key competitors (Mailchimp's entry-level plans facilitate split testing of 3 variants; Campaign Monitor's just 2).

Aweber used to offer split testing functionality (allowing you to split test up to 4 variants), but at time of writing they've disabled this feature. Their sales team have told me on quite a few occasions over the past year that this functionality will return, but there's been no sign of it.

As things stand then, split testing is a pretty big omission from Aweber's feature set - a lack of it ultimately means lower open rates and makes other products more attractive in this department.


Data segmentation

A key reason why I generally prefer Getresponse to Aweber involves data segmentation.

Both Getresponse and Aweber allow you to create data segments easily enough - you can use a variety of filters to identify subscribers based on particular criteria and save them.

However, Getresponse beats Aweber when it comes to sending e-newsletters to your segments. This is because Aweber only allows you to send e-newsletters to one segment at a time.

For example, if you had a mailing list of car owners with three pre-existing segments in it, 'red car owners', 'blue car owners' and 'green car owners', and you wanted to send an e-newsletter to the red guitar and blue car owners in one go, you could do this in Getresponse really easily - you'd just tick the relevant segments and hit send. 

But in Aweber to do the same thing you'd have to create an entirely new segment containing red car owners OR blue car owners. This leads to more manual effort and a bigger list of segments to trawl through.

Similarly, excluding segments from a mailout is much easier in Getresponse than in Aweber - once you've picked your list of recipients, you can just tick the relevant segments or lists that you want to exclude from the mailout. 


Landing page creation

Another area where Getresponse currently has an edge over Aweber (and indeed most other email marketing apps) involves landing pages.

Landing pages or 'squeeze pages' are web pages that are designed with one thing in mind: data capture. They typically contain a form, some attractive images and a small amount of text spelling out the benefit of submitting your email address - it's generally better to use landing pages for online ad campaigns over a form that sits on your website, simply because they are optimised for capturing data (as they contain less content to distract users).

With Getresponse, you get a landing page creator out of the box, which allows you to make use of various templates and a drag and drop editor to create a strong landing page.

By default each type of Getresponse account ('Email' / 'Pro' / 'Max' / 'Enterprise') has the landing page editor available, but unless you pay for a Pro, Max or Enterprise account you get limited functionality: you can only create one landing page, it doesn't provide A/B testing and only 1000 views per month of it are permitted.

Getresponse's Landing Page Creator - a drag and drop editor for creating 'squeeze pages'

Purchasing a plan featuring the fully-featured Getresponse landing page creator however allows you to create an unlimited number of landing pages, display them to an unlimited number of viewers and crucially, do A/B testing too, where you can try out up to 10 different versions of your landing page - with the system automatically rolling out the best performing one to the majority of your site visitors (thus maximising the number of signups).

Landing pages are available on the Pro plan (and up), which means the cost of obtaining this functionality looks at first inspection to be pretty high for some users. For example, if you plan to host a list with 1000 contacts on Getresponse, it will cost you an additional $34 per month to avail of the landing page functionality (because you'll need to upgrade from an 'Email' plan to a 'Pro' one). Users planning to host 5,000 records on Getresponse however will be faced with a difference of just $4 between the 'Email' and 'Pro' plans.

You can also purchase a Getresponse add-on for $15 per month which provides landing pages functionality - but although you can create as many landing pages as you like with it, and them an unlimited number of times, you don't get A/B testing, so it's not necessarily that useful.

You can also make use of landing pages with Aweber, using a variety of third party integrations / apps or by manually coding your landing page and inserting an Aweber form. You can also split test individual Aweber sign-up forms, so that may provide some sort of a workaround too. 

Ultimately however, using landing pages in Aweber is not as straightforward as Getresponse, and if you rely on third party software, it can all get rather expensive (for example, using landing page creators Unbounce or Instapage to create your landing pages for Aweber can set you back anything from $69 to $399 per month). 


Getresponse Webinars

A new feature of Getresponse is 'Getresponse Webinars', and this is something you're not going to find as a feature of any of Getresponse's major competitors - Aweber, Mailchimp, Mad Mimi et al. are all yet to offer this service. 

By purchasing a Getresponse plan (Pro or higher) you gain the ability to run webinars directly from within your Getresponse account. Since webinars are typically used as a lead generation tool, integrating them closely with your email marketing application is potentially a very good idea.

The feature set for Getresponse Webinars is pretty good too and similar to that you'd expect on dedicated webinar solutions.

Key features include:

  • a multiple presenters option
  • chatroom
  • whiteboards / presentation design tools
  • screenshares
  • webinar recording

In terms of attendee limits, the 'Pro' plan allows you to host a webinar with up to 100 participants; the 'Max' plan's cap is 500. You can also buy the webinars functionality as an add-on: $40 per month buys you a 100 attendees limit, $99 per month buys you a 500 attendees limit.

It's not entirely clear what happens if you need to host webinars to over 500 people - I'd suggest dropping Getresponse support a line about that - but I suspect those limits will work fine for most SMEs.

If you wanted to run webinars with Aweber, you'd need to use a third party tool such as Gotowebinar. This can work out expensive.


Send time optimisation

There's a really interesting Getresponse feature called 'send time optimisation', which is not yet available in Aweber.

Send time optimisation automatically sends your email at the time at which it's most likely to be opened - Getresponse looks at your subscriber list and their email-checking habits and makes this call on your behalf.

If you can live with using this big-brother sort of technology then according to Getresponse, you can expect a 23% median improvement in open rates and a 20% median improvement in click-through rates.

Aweber do offer a feature called 'send windows' which allows you to limit the time you send your automated emails out to a particular time slot - but it's not as sophisticated as send time optimisation, and also requires you to do a bit of legwork and stats-eyeballing in finding out when the best time (in general) is to send emails to your list.


CRM in Getresponse

Another feature which you'll find in Getresponse but not in Aweber (or indeed any other major email marketing platform) is a customer relationship manager (CRM) tool. And it's pretty great.

Not only can you use the CRM to manage sales pipelines, track customer activity and so on, but you can link it up with Getresponse's autoresponders, email marketing automation and webinars to create very sophisticated subscriber journeys.

For example, 

  • you can add a contact to a particular stage on a sales pipeline based on the page of your site that they completed a form on;
  • you can then send them an automated email tailored to that pipeline stage a couple of days later;
  • and then, based on the action they took with regard to that email (clicking on a certain link etc.) you can automatically move them onto another stage of the pipeline and automatically invite them to a webinar.

It's extremely sophisticated stuff, and I can't think of any product similar to Getresponse offering such a tightly integrated, automated customer journey. For this kind of functionality you normally need to look at dedicated — and more expensive — CRM products such as Salesforce and Infusionsoft.

For me, the CRM feature probably presents the best argument for using Getresponse over Aweber (so long as you have the budget for it: it is only available on the 'Pro' plan).


Support

Support is an area where Aweber is better than Getresponse (or at least more comprehensive).

Unlike Getresponse - and indeed - competitors Mailchimp, Mad Mimi and Campaign Monitor - the company offers phone support (and toll-free to boot, if you live in the US). Email and live chat support channels are also available. On top of this, Aweber have won 'Stevie' awards in 2016, 2017 and 2018 for customer service, which obviously says good things about the quality of support it provides.

Getresponse used to offer phone support, but now offers live chat and email support only. This is a shame as when it comes to tech support, there are times in life when only a real conversation with a real human will do.

So all in all Aweber's support offering is better than the Getresponse equivalent - if you think you're the kind of customer that is definitely going to require phone support, then it's worth giving Aweber some consideration over Getresponse.


Free trials

Both Aweber and Getresponse offer a fully functional free one-month trial. Aweber's trial doesn't limit the number of subscribers you can broadcast messages to; Getresponse's does however (to 1000).

    If you want a free trial of Aweber, you should note however that you'll need to enter credit card details before you can avail of it.

    The free trial of Getresponse, on the other hand, doesn't require your card details in advance (I much prefer the latter approach because the risk of getting charged for a product you don't want after a free trial expires is much lower). 

    The links for each free trial are below:


    Which is better, Aweber or Getresponse?

    Both Aweber and Getresponse offer a good range of tools to help you create, maintain and communicate with an email database; even if you’re not all that technically minded, you shouldn’t have too much difficulty using either to manage your e-communications.

    However, I don't have much hesitation in saying that Getresponse is the clear winner in this shootout - it's much more of an 'all-in-one' solution than Aweber, and is cheaper too.

    Here's a lowdown of why you might pick one over the other. 

    Reasons to pick Getresponse over Aweber

    • You can sign up to a free trial without entering credit card details.
    • Getresponse is more competitively priced (particularly if your subscriber list contains between 500 and 1000 records).
    • An 18% discount is available if you pay for the product on an annual rather than monthly basis, and a 30% discount is available if you pay for two years upfront. These discounts are more generous than the Aweber equivalents.
    • Getresponse offers more comprehensive split testing options.
    • Getresponse comes with a built-in landing page creator, albeit one you have to pay extra for to unlock. The pricing plan is confusing and could be improved, but it's still cheaper to use the Getresponse option than combining Aweber with a tool like Instapage or Unbounce.
    • Getresponse's 'Marketing Automation' features currently trounce similar workflow-based automation tools offered by Aweber.
    • The CRM functionality is great for the price, and integrates really well with Getresponse's other marketing automation features.
    • Getresponse's 'send time optimisation' feature has the potential to significantly improve your open and clickthrough rates - there's no equivalent functionality in Aweber.
    • The new webinars functionality is potentially fantastic for any business that uses webinars for lead generation.

    Reasons to pick Aweber over Getresponse

    • The Aweber templates are a little bit more attractive than the Getresponse equivalents, and there is a greater selection of them available.
    • More third party integrations are available for Aweber than for Getresponse.
    • Phone support is available.

    Finally, with all my comparison reviews, I always advise potential users to try both products before they buy, simply because free trials of the products under discussion are readily available and you may find that one tool has particular features that suit your business needs which you can’t find in the other. You'll find links to the Getresponse and Aweber free trials below.


    Alternatives to Aweber and Getresponse

    There are quite a few alternatives to Aweber and Getresponse out there, including Campaign Monitor, Mad Mimi and Mailchimp. You may find some of the below reviews helpful:

    Additionally, you may wish to read our full Getresponse review or our full Aweber review.


    Any thoughts?

    Finally, if you've got any thoughts on the Aweber vs Getresponse debate, do feel free to share! Just leave a comment below (note: if you're reading this on a mobile device, you may be seeing an accelerated 'AMP' version of the page, which doesn't include comments. You can switch to the regular version here if you'd like to read or post a comment).


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    Hubspot's Signals tool: see who opens your emails in real time (we're all in the NSA now...)

    I recently got sent an invitation to test out inbound marketing company Hubspot's free "Signals" tool. It's a sneaky, but potentially very useful little add-on to your email program (Gmail, Outlook or Apple Mail) which allows you to see - in real time or after the event - who's been opening your emails. It's like those old 'read receipts' in Outlook, but unlike with Outlook, you don't have to request that users provide you with a read receipt; you get them automatically and your unsuspecting email recipients have no idea that, upon opening your email, you will get a real-time notification that the email's been opened (this means the whole excuse of 'oh it must of gone into my spam folder' is no longer a viable one!). Additionally, senders who use Signals also get access to a reporting tool, so that they can get an overview of who's been opening what and when, and if recipients have clicked any links.

    A godsend for sales people?

    The tool has significantly useful applications for PR or sales people. For example, say you sent a pitch email to a journalist or a potential client and a day later you are considering if / when to do a follow up phone call. A notification flashes up on your screen informing you that the lead has opened (or re-opened) your email (indicating a degree of interest); this allows you to give the poor soul 5 to 10 minutes to digest the information again before you place your 'spontaneously' timed follow up sales call. 

    We're all in the NSA now...

    The online marketeer in me loves this tool; but the citizen or consumer part of me takes issue with it. It all has a whiff of NSA to it - and highlights the fact that private companies and individuals, as much as the state, are now more than equipped to aggressively intrude on privacy - in this case for commercial gain rather than national security related purposes. In some respects Signals represents nothing particularly new - after all, companies have been able to track open and clickthrough rates for ages now and this is simply an incarnation of that kind of reporting. What does feel new about Signals (and similar tools) is the real-time aspect and the fact that it empowers people to get a very clear sense of what is happening at the end of individual communications - so much so that the tool effectively lets you spy, if you wanted to, on your friends and family.

    One for early adopters

    As ever with the modern web, nothing is private any more. I expect within a relatively short period of time this kind of technology will become the norm for email communications - I could see services like Google Apps, for example, building Signals-style notifications into email (after all, Facebook's Messenger, What's App and Apple's iMessage effectively allow you to see when your messages have been read; and it's just as easy to implement a similar system within email). This leads me to believe that Signals will be useful for early adopters - but as this kind of technology becomes more mainstream, people will assume that their contacts know when they've read a message, meaning those surprisingly well-timed follow-up calls lose something of their potency.

    You can try Signals out for free here.