Posts in Email Marketing Reviews
Campaign Monitor Review (2018) — Pricing, Templates, Automation and Analytics Overview
Campaign Monitor Review (images of various e-newsletter templates)

In this Campaign Monitor review, we look this well-known e-marketing solution, highlight its key pros and cons, and try to help you decide if it’s a good tool for your company’s e-marketing requirements.

Our overall rating: 3/5


What is Campaign Monitor?

Campaign Monitor is a web application that allows you to capture data to an online mailing list, manage it, and send HTML e-newsletters to it.

Like Getresponse, Mad Mimi, Aweber and Mailchimp, it’s widely used by businesses to

  • send mass mailouts
  • program autoresponders (automated emails that are triggered by certain user actions, such as joining a mailing list or buying a product)
  • analyse the results

Like some of the aforementioned products, it now also facilitates marketing automation.

We'll explore all these key features in depth shortly, but first, let's take a quick look at Campaign Monitor pricing.


Campaign Monitor pricing

I guess we're starting with the bad news first: the price. There's no way around the fact that Campaign Monitor is one of the most expensive tools of its kind.

There are three types of Campaign Monitor plan: 'Basic', 'Unlimited' and 'Premier'.

The key differences to watch out for are as follows:

  • 'Basic' plans limit the number of emails you can send in a given month to 5 times the database size limit - so for example, if you were on the 500 records plan, you could send 2,500 emails, and so on. It also restricts your use of autoresponders to basic drip campaigns (no segmentation or 'branching' functionality allowed!).
     
  • 'Unlimited' plans remove the cap on the number of emails you can send, and allows you to make use of more sophisticated autoresponder functionality (involving 'branching', where user actions — opens, clicks etc. can trigger emails). It also gives you access to faster email support and inbox and spam testing options, along with the option to tailor e-newsletter send times to best match your subscribers' time zones.
     
  • In addition to the features on the 'unlimited' plan, 'Premier' Campaign Monitor plans give you access to phone support; you also get some template controls which are designed to prevent your team creating communications which are wildly off-brand. Possibly the most useful feature on Premier plans is send time optimisation - this sends your e-newsletters according to when they are most likely to be opened (Campaign Monitor works this out by looking at your subscribers' previous behaviour when opening emails).

How much you pay for each plan depends entirely on your database size - we're dealing with a sliding scale, but I'll highlight three scenarios to give you an idea of how much you might pay to host a small, medium-sized or large list with Campaign Monitor:

  • At the cheapest end of the pricing scale, using Campaign Monitor with a database of 500 email addresses will cost you $9 per month on 'Basic', $29 per month on 'Unlimited' and $149 per month on 'Premier.'
     
  • In the middle of the pricing scale, hosting a database containing 15,000 email addresses will cost you $129 per month on 'Basic', $249 per month on 'Unlimited' and $399 per month on 'Premier.'
     
  • At the top end of the pricing scale, you can expect to pay $299 per month to host a database containing up to 50,000 email addresses on the 'Basic' plan, $699 per month on the 'Unlimited' plan and $889 per month on the 'Premier' plan.

A quick look at Campaign Monitor's competitors' pricing reveals just how much more expensive the product is compared to alternative email marketing tools.

For example, it costs $29 per month with Campaign Monitor to send an unlimited number of emails to a database containing a mere 500 records; by contrast Getresponse or Mailchimp both charge roughly half that ($15) to send an unlimited number of emails to a database containing 1,000 addresses.

At the more expensive end of things, if you're hosting a database with 50,000 records on Getresponse or Mailchimp, you will pay $250 or $240 respectively or a month to send an unlimited number of emails to your database. The Campaign Monitor equivalent price? An eye-watering $699 per month.

On top of that there is no free trial of Campaign Monitor available – the best that you’ll get is a so-called ‘free account’ which allows you to try out everything the system can do except, crucially, send any mass mailouts.

By contrast Getresponse gives you a 30 day fully functional free trial (which can be used with 1,000 subscribers), and the free Mailchimp plan is actually pretty usable ongoing (so long as your list does not exceed 2000 subscribers and you limit your sends to 12,000 emails per month).

There's no getting away from it: Campaign Monitor's pricing is extraordinarily high. Which is a shame really, as there is an awful lot to like about the product, as we'll discover below.


Templates

Templates represent one of Campaign Monitor's strongest selling points. There are around 50 Campaign Monitor templates available; this is far less than the number offered by competing products, but they all look great, and I generally prefer them aesthetically to what's on offer from Mailchimp, Aweber, Getresponse and so on. 

Campaign Monitor templates are very professional in appearance, and they are responsive (meaning they’l l adjust themselves to display nicely regardless of whether you are looking at e-newsletters on a desktop or mobile device). They’re also robust – so far I’ve yet to experience any niggles with how they display in any email clients.

 Campaign Monitor templates are attractive in appearance and one of the stand-out aspects of the product

Campaign Monitor templates are attractive in appearance and one of the stand-out aspects of the product

The templates also allow you to incorporate a decent selection of web fonts – this is a very nice touch, and means your e-newsletters can look a bit slicker than some sent by competing systems (Getresponse and Aweber don't permit use of web fonts; and the web fonts you can use with Mailchimp are all very boring, to the point where several of the 'safe' ones look more interesting!)

The drag and drop editor is easy to use, and populating your email with images and content is very straightforward; as the below marketing video shows it's very easy to get some extraordinarily slick results with Campaign Monitor.

There is one potential headache with the templates worth considering though – if you are using the RSS-to-HTML email option (i.e., you are using an RSS feed from your site or blog to populate and trigger e-newsletters), you can’t use the normal (read fancier!) templates and will have to make do with a very basic template. This means having to do without web fonts and using a radically different design than the one you might be using in your standard e-newsletters.

To be fair, this is also an issue with some of Campaign Monitor’s competitors but they generally offer a wider range of RSS-to-email templates, making the incongruity between ‘normal’ and RSS e-newsletters less of an issue.

Finally, as with similar tools, you can always import your own HTML template – this is a straightforward enough process, and you can make use of Campaign Monitor’s various tags to ensure that you can subsequently use its in-built template editor to edit or personalise content in future.


Importing and exporting your data

Importing data into Campaign Monitor is very straightforward - you can import from all the common database formats you'd expect, i.e.,: 

  • XLS
  • XLSX
  • CSV
  • TXT (tab delimited)
  • vCard

You can also simply copy and paste the contents of one of these file types directly into Campaign Monitor, which will usually make very good job of separating out the fields (you can then map or rename these as appropriate). 

There are certain requirements that Campaign Monitor have around what you import - for example you should not import bought or rented databases, lists that have not been mailed in a long time, or data associated with gambling or pharmaceutical products.

These restrictions are fairly similar to those imposed by other e-marketing services and are there to reduce the risk of you or Campaign Monitor being blacklisted by email providers for spammy activity.

Exporting your data is easy too - you can export entire lists or segments to CSV format very easily.


Data segmentation

One thing I really like about Campaign Monitor is its flexibility around data segmentation. It allows you to send emails to multiple segments or lists at once — something which is not possible on Mailchimp or Aweber (Getresponse permits it though).

Additionally, it's super easy to exclude segments or lists from mailouts. So if your business has complex requirements regarding data segmentation, Campaign Monitor is worthy of some serious consideration.


Automation 

Autoresponders

Like most e-marketing tools, Campaign Monitor allows you to send autoresponders – automated 'drip' emails that you program into the system so that when a user joins a mailing list, they automatically receive a series of pre-programmed emails — or, in Campaign Monitor parlance, 'subscriber journeys.'

Setting subscriber journeys up in Campaign Monitor is extremely easy and the interface for doing so is very well laid out. 

I have a couple of niggles however: first, in order to add a new email to a user journey, you have to pause the whole journey.

Second, and more annoyingly is the fact that journeys can't be triggered by data imports - your user has to sign up via a form or added individually via an API in order to be added to a marketing automation cycle. This contrasts negatively with products such as Getresponse and Mailchimp, both of which do facilitate the triggering of user journeys via bulk import of email addresses.

Marketing automation

Like several competing products, Campaign Monitor now offers not just basic autoresponders but 'marketing automation' too. Marketing automation goes beyond simple 'drip'-style campaigns by allowing you to use specific triggers to send emails.

These include:

  • opens of particular emails
  • clicks on certain links
  • purchases of particular products
  • visits to particular pages on your site
 Examples of marketing automation triggers being used in Campaign Monitor

Examples of marketing automation triggers being used in Campaign Monitor

A flowchart-style interface with 'yes/no' conditions is provided to allow you select triggers and set the conditions for sending particular emails to your subscribers. It's very easy to use and won't involve a steep learning curve.

For an overview of how it works, the below video is quite helpful:

RSS-to-email

Another way you can automate your email broadcasts in Campaign Monitor is by triggering them via RSS. 

This allows you to use an RSS feed from your site to automatically send a newsletter to your subscribers - a typical application of this is blog RSS feeds being used to notify your subscribers of new posts on your site. 

You can populate RSS-triggered emails with either snippets of content from the feed, or entire articles.

As discussed above, the only negative aspect of this functionality is that you can't use normal Campaign Monitor templates to send RSS-powered emails; this means they will be a bit off-brand.


Sign-up forms and landing pages

Campaign Monitor's sign up forms are easy enough to configure and implement.

Some competing products give you more options when it comes to sign up forms, allowing you to create pop-ups, for example, or make use of javascript forms which allow you to the format colours and fonts of forms without needing to code.

If you're a Wordpress user, you'll have more options on this front, with a dedicated Campaign Monitor forms plugin available which allows you to create fancier forms.

One nice feature of Campaign Monitor which relates to sign-up forms is its ‘Enlist’ iPad app, which allows you to capture data on-the-go at events using an iPad (it’s great for musicians who want to collect email addresses at gigs, for example, or for companies wishing to capture prospects at sales events). It works both offline and online, which is fantastic – if you use Enlist offline, you can just sync any data you’ve captured to Campaign Monitor account when you’re online again.

 Campaign Monitor's 'Enlist' iPad app - a great way to capture data at events

Campaign Monitor's 'Enlist' iPad app - a great way to capture data at events

Less fantastic is the lack of a landing page creator – to be fair, many similar tools don’t offer one either (Getresponse and Mailchimp being the obvious exceptions) but it would be nice if Campaign Monitor allowed you to create landing pages that looked as nice as say, the Enlist app’s beautiful forms.

Technically, you can create landing pages for Campaign Monitor – you will need to code them yourself though or avail of a third party app (many of which are quite expensive).


Interface / ease-of-use

One of the best things about Campaign Monitor is its interface.

A lot of thought seems to have gone into making it clean, intuitive and clutter-free, and to be honest, Campaign Monitor is probably the most user-friendly e-marketing tool I’ve used to date.

Everything is really straightforward and the system will really appeal to people who are not tech-savvy, or relatively new to e-marketing.

I have recommended Campaign Monitor to certain clients (those who need to send their own mass mailouts but are not at all comfortable with the thought of doing so!) on the strength of the easy-to-use interface alone.


Analytics

Campaign Monitor’s stats are easy to access and review.

In addition to getting ‘big picture’ stats on open rates, clickthroughs and unsubscribes, you can get good individual level information: for example, you can see exactly what an individual user has done with your emails – opened, ignored, clicked etc. – and where and when they’ve done it (very Orwellian).

You can also export stats easily to PDF format too, which is very handy for sending reports over to clients in a simple, digestible format.

Campaign Monitor gives you a very detailed view of each subscriber's activity - so long as you don't mind playing the role of Big Brother...

However, competing products let you do far more on the stats front — for example, compare campaigns side by side; auto-segment people who open emails into new groups for additional mailouts; or get an overview of what time of day most people open your messages.

For most users, I suspect the reporting features in Campaign Monitor will be sufficient — but power email marketing users may feel a little bit short-changed by its analytics offering.


Split testing your e-newsletters

Split testing in Campaign Monitor is available and very easy to do…but the functionality is extremely basic – you can only test two versions of an email against each other (based on subject header, sender or content).

Most other e-marketing tools are much more advanced in this regard, allowing you to split test a larger number of variants against each other (and different send times).

Getresponse for example allows you to split test 5 messages against each other on all plans; and Mailchimp allows you to split test 3 or 8, depending on how expensive your plan is.

 Campaign Monitor's split testing options are very basic in nature - only two variables can be tested against each other

Campaign Monitor's split testing options are very basic in nature - only two variables can be tested against each other

So a 'could do better' for Campaign Monitor here.


White labelling

A feature which as far as I can tell is unique to Campaign Monitor amongst e-marketing products is its ‘White Label’ option.

This allows individuals or businesses to rebrand Campaign Monitor as their own e-marketing product and resell it at a price of their choosing above Campaign Monitor’s normal fees.

This is potentially good for the person or agency reselling Campaign Monitor, but a potential rip-off for anyone the white label version is sold on to, because they will simply be paying over the odds for an already expensive e-marketing tool.

I would prefer to see Campaign Monitor offer a more affiliate-based sort of approach to all this, where resellers are rewarded with a percentage of the monthly fee for each referral. Allowing agencies to rebrand Campaign Monitor is fine, but in my view it should be Campaign Monitor that coughs up for referrals onto new customers…not the customers.


Support

Campaign Monitor support is email-only on the 'Basic' and 'Unlimited' plans - you can get phone support too, but you'll have to be on a pay-through-the nose 'Premier' plan to avail of it.

My experience of their support team's responses to queries has been good, but the general situation compares negatively with some other providers - Getresponse and Aweber, for example, both provide a wider range of support options (with Getresponse providing email and chat support and Aweber offering phone support on all plans).


Conclusions / pros and cons of using Campaign Monitor

For me, Campaign Monitor's main strength lies in the quality, flexibility and robustness of its templates. They are beautiful and in my experience emails created with them never fail to display accurately in all major email clients.

Campaign Monitor is also an extremely easy product to use by comparison to some competing email marketing solutions. The interface is intuitive, and the marketing automation features are a joy to use.

As such Campaign Monitor represents a good option for businesses who are keen to ensure their brand is always faithfully reflected in their e-newsletters, and those who don't have too many in-house technical skills.

But with so many competing products out there which cost so much less to use, you have to ask yourself if these advantages are enough to justify some very high fees. 

Additionally, there are some holes in Campaign Monitor's functionality, especially where split testing and the ability to trigger user journeys by data import is concerned. Again, this makes you wonder about the pricing.

So the bottom line for me is that Campaign Monitor is a solid product with gorgeous templates and a great interface...that is sadly prohibitively expensive to use. As such I usually recommend an alternative.


Alternatives to Campaign Monitor

For me, there are two obvious alternatives to Campaign Monitor: Getresponse and Mailchimp.

Whilst their templates are not quite as attractive as Campaign Monitor's, and their interfaces not quite as slick, both are nonetheless pretty straightforward to use, come with a similar if not more comprehensive feature set. 

In Getresponse's case, you also get CRM and webinar functionality (which tie in well with the marketing automation features). And its data segmentation options are as flexible as Campaign Monitor's (you'll need to note that segments are called 'saved searches', however).

Crucially, both products are much cheaper and come with free trials / plans:


Pros and cons of using Campaign Monitor

Pros of using Campaign Monitor

  • Its interface is excellent and extremely easy to use.
  • The templates are beautiful and robust — and faithfully reproduced in all major email clients.
  • You can use certain web fonts in templates — you are not restricted to boring web-friendly fonts.
  • The data segmentation options are great — you can send to or exclude multiple segments and lists in mailouts
  • Its ‘Enlist’ app for iPad is a great way to collect data offline at events.
  • The automation features are comprehensive and easy to use.

Cons of using Campaign Monitor

  • It is VERY expensive by comparison to its competitors.
  • Split testing is limited to 2 variants.
  • There is no (proper) free trial.
  • Its reporting functionality is fairly basic.
  • Support is email-only on all but the most expensive plans.
  • Although not exactly a ‘con’ (well, depending on how you read the word!), its white labelling option is rather sneaky – an affiliate program would be a fairer way to reward people for referrals.

Aweber Review (2018) - Pros and Cons of a Leading E-marketing Solution
 Aweber review (image of the Aweber logo beside a typewriter)

In this Aweber review, we take an in-depth look at one of the most popular solutions for designing and sending HTML e-newsletters. We’ll go through the pros and cons of Aweber and discuss its pricing, features, templates, interface and more.

Our overall rating: 3.5/5


How much does Aweber cost?

There are 5 Aweber plans on offer:

  • Hosting and emailing a list containing 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 25,000+ subscribers, you will need to call Aweber for a quotation.

A 14% discount is available if you pay quarterly; a 14.9% discount is available if you pay annually. There are also some discounts available for students and not-for-profit organisations.

One aspect of Aweber's pricing structure that potential users might like is that all features are available on all plans - unlike some competing products you don't have to be on more expensive plans to unlock certain functionality.

That said, the functionality available on Aweber - as we'll see below - is not necessarily as extensive as you might find in competing email marketing solutions.


How does Aweber’s pricing compare to that of its competitors?

Aweber is, in general,

  • significantly cheaper than Campaign Monitor
  • considerably cheaper than iContact
  • roughly the same price as Mailchimp
  • marginally more expensive than Getresponse
  • considerably more expensive than Mad Mimi (note: Mad Mimi's feature set is significantly more basic however).

It’s worth noting that the above comparisons don’t really apply to very small lists however - if you have a small email database, several of the competing products are better value.

For example, hosting a list containing 1000 records will cost you $29 with Aweber, and...

Taking another example, if you have a larger list containing 10,000 records, it will cost $69 with Aweber and...

  • $149 per month with Campaign Monitor *
  • $79 per month with iContact
  • $75 per month with Mailchimp
  • $65 per month with Getresponse
  • $42 per month with Mad Mimi

* A quick note about Campaign Monitor: there are some cheaper Campaign Monitor plans available which allow you to host the same quantities of email addresses as outlined above, but they limit the number of e-newsletters that you can send to them. For the sake of a fair comparison, I’ve referenced the costs for Campaign Monitor plans that permit unlimited broadcasts as these plans are comparable in terms of send volumes permitted to the Aweber ones.

That’s just two examples of course, and Aweber’s competitors have different pricing tiers that will occasionally make Aweber cheaper, occasionally more expensive. But generally I’d say Aweber is priced roughly in the middle of the e-marketing solution scale.

Of course, pricing is not the only factor you should base your decision on...the more important thing to work out is what bang you get for your buck.

So let’s look at some Aweber features.


Key features of Aweber

Aweber provides you with the following key features:

  • the ability to import / host an email database
  • a wide range of templates
  • autoresponders
  • some marketing automation functionality
  • responsive email designs
  • reporting
  • RSS / blog to-email functionality
  • segmentation options
  • phone, email and live chat support
  • integrations with third-party apps

Importing data into Aweber

Importing an existing database into Aweber is a pretty straightforward affair.

You can upload the following file types:

  • XLS
  • XLSX
  • TSV
  • CSV
  • TXT

Alternatively, you can add individual subscribers manually, or copy and paste rows of subscribers into Aweber.

As you import your data, you are given the option to add your subscribers to a particular set of autoresponders, and tag them. Not all competing products permit the addition of imported data directly into autoresponder cycles so this is a nice feature to have.

For anti-spam reasons, you will have to answer some questions about how you collected the data you’re importing. If your list is on the larger side, you may also have to wait until it is reviewed by Aweber's anti-spam compliance team (as is the case with other email marketing tools). 

In essence, Aweber’s importing functionality is good - no complaints here.


Templates

By comparison to its competitors, Aweber provide one of the largest sets of e-newsletters templates available: there are over 700 available.

To provide a bit of context, there are around 500 templates available for Getresponse, 90 for Mailchimp and around 50 for Campaign Monitor.

Toe be honest, I don’t love all of the designs - some of them look slightly dated. I would consider them to be slightly better than the Getresponse ones, but not as good as Mailchimp's or Campaign Monitor's. 

However, the sheer volume of templates available means that with a little bit of tweaking you should be able to find a suitable one for your e-newsletters. There is, of course, always the option of coding your own too.

 Example of an Aweber template

Example of an Aweber template

Using web fonts in Aweber templates

One thing that you can't use in Aweber templates which you can in some other competing platforms (such as Mailchimp and Campaign Monitor) is web fonts. You are restricted to using the usual 'safe fonts' - Arial, Times New Roman, Trebuchet and so on.

There are good arguments for not permitting use of web fonts - for example, your emails are likely to appear more consistently and display more reliably across email clients - but only using web safe fonts can make templates look a little bit blander than they otherwise could.

In general, I’d give Aweber a thumbs up in the template department, but it'd be nice to see some of the templates freshened up a bit, and the inclusion of some attractive web fonts.

RSS to email templates

Like similar e-marketing products, Aweber can take your site’s RSS feed and turn it into e-newsletters that get sent out according to a schedule that you define. In Aweber, this is called 'Blog broadcasts', although technically you can use this feature with any content that has an RSS feed.

This functionality is particularly handy for bloggers who want subscribers on their mailing lists to automatically receive e-newsletters containing their latest posts (or, indeed, a monthly digest of blog posts). In essence, it means that you can power your newsletters from your website - this can be a big time-saver.

It’s worth noting however that you can’t use the standard Aweber template designs for RSS-to-email purposes - you have to choose from a set of templates which are specifically designed for this purpose.

On the plus side, there are quite a few of these to choose from - more than most other e-marketing solutions I’ve tried.

On the down side, many of them look pretty dreadful. And annoyingly, you can’t use the standard Aweber email drag and drop interface to edit them. With a bit of tweaking, you'll probably be able to find something that works ok, but I think there is definitely some large room for improvement here.


Autoresponders

Autoresponders - a series of follow up emails that are automatically triggered by either time or user actions - are a key part of any e-marketing solution.

Aweber claim to have invented autoresponders back in 1998 and as such you’d expect their autoresponder functionality to be mind-blowingly good. Oddly, it’s just ‘okay’.

On the plus side it is very easy to set up follow up emails based on time interval - for example, automatically sending subscribers an onboarding email immediately after sign up, a promo code 2 days later and a ‘follow us on social media’ email a week later is extremely easy. This is a typical use of autoresponders and it’s a breeze with Aweber.

On the down side, triggering autoresponders based on user actions and purchases is a bit more complicated than with key competitors Mailchimp and Getresponse.

Using Aweber, you can create ‘goals’ or combine automation rules with tagging to make autoresponders behave in quite funky ways...but if you want to make use of autoresponders in really advanced ways, you'll probably need to look at other products, particularly Getresponse, which provides 'marketing automation' functionality that hooks up to a built-in CRM.

And speaking of marketing automation...


Marketing automation

Marketing automation is a feature which is increasingly offered by email marketing solutions like Aweber.

I tend to think of it as 'Autoresponders 2.0' - where you go beyond traditional 'drip' campaigns and create complex user journeys using 'IFTT' - if this, then that - style workflows.

With marketing automation, you typically design a flowchart where emails are sent based on user actions: email opens, link clicks, site visits, purchases made and so on. 

 
 Marketing automation in Aweber

Marketing automation in Aweber

 

Aweber recently introduced a new marketing automation feature which to a degree provides this functionality: 'Aweber Campaigns.' With this feature, you can use certain user actions — namely opens and clickthroughs — along with the application of tags to determine what should be sent to whom and when (see above).

However, I think this functionality needs to go a bit further really - tools like Getresponse and Mailchimp provide considerably more flexibility when it comes to which types of user behaviour can trigger mailouts.

For example, in Getresponse, you can use triggers such as purchase, specific page visits, subscriber 'score' and sales pipeline stage to send messages.

So Aweber is definitely playing a bit of catch up with its competitors here. 

 
 Marketing automation in Getrespsonse

Marketing automation in Getrespsonse

 

Responsive email designs

Unlike some other e-marketing tools - notably, Mad Mimi - all Aweber’s email templates are all ‘responsive’.

This means that they automatically resize themselves to suit the device they’re being viewed on. In this day and age of smartphones and tablets, this definitely is a good feature.

One minor gripe I have however regarding the responsive designs is that to preview them you’ll actually have to send a test email to a smartphone. On other platforms you can usually just hit a ‘preview on phone’ button or similar. The lack of this functionality is not a dealbreaker by any means, but it does slow you down a bit, particularly if you are sending a lot of campaigns every month.


Opt in processes

A nice feature of Aweber is the flexibility it gives you around how you want to handle the opt-in process.

You can choose to subscribe your users on either a single opt-in or a double opt-in basis (single opt-in is when a user is subscribed immediately after completing a form; double opt-in is when they have to click on a link in a confirmation email to complete their subscription). 

Both approaches have their merits, so it's good to see Aweber being flexible in this regard - not all competing solutions provide their customers with this choice.


Split testing

Split testing (also known as A/B testing) involves sending variants of your e-newsletters to some of your mailing list, monitoring the performance of each, and sending the 'best' version to the remainder of your list.

Most e-marketing tools handle this automatically for you: you create a few different versions of your email (using either differing content or subject headers), send them to a sample of your data, and your e-marketing solution will roll out the best performing version automatically to the rest of your mailing list.

Split testing USED to be good in Aweber: until very recently, you were able to create and test four variants of an email (making Awber's split testing functionality better than most leading competitors; Getresponse being a notable exception).

For some reason split testing is currently completely unavailable in Aweber - I have been assured by their sales team that it's coming back over the next few months, but if you think you're going to need this functionality urgently you might be best off considering an alternative email marketing solution.


Reporting

Email analytics in Aweber are good. In addition to being able to monitor key stats such as open rate, clickthroughs and bounces, you can also look at a lot of other useful analytics / information, including

  • the growth of lists over time
  • an overview of sign up methods
  • where people are opening your email (i.e., geographical location)
  • the history of an individual’s activity - you can view past opens and clicks etc. at a per-subscriber level

and much else besides.

In terms of how this compares with competing products, I would say that Aweber’s reporting is more comprehensive than that which is available in Campaign Monitor or Mad Mimi; however, I would argue that Mailchimp and Getresponse both provide better reporting interfaces.

With the latter two products you seem to be able to get more of an overview of information in one place, particularly when looking at the performance of individual e-newsletters.

By contrast, with Aweber you’ve got to flick between three sections - “Broadcasts”, “Subscribers” and “Reports” to get an overall picture of analytics, whereas Getresponse and Mailchimp present most of their reporting information on one dashboard (which you can then use to drill down to specifics).


Segmenting data in Aweber

Segmenting data in Aweber is pretty straightforward. You can create segments not only based on the contents of any field in your database, but also on user activity too - emails opened, web pages visited, links clicked, products bought and so on. It’s all very flexible and easy to use.

It's a little bit tricky however to work out how to get to the screen where you create the segments - you basically have to go to a 'manage subscribers' section, search for some subscribers and then save the search as a segment.

To be fair, some solutions (such as Getresponse) use a similar approach to segment creation - but others (such as Campaign Monitor and Mailchimp) provide a more findable 'segments' section.

Unfortunately Aweber doesn't let you broadcast emails to multiple segments at once, however. This will cause problems for some users who have a need to 'pick and mix' segments in mailouts on a regular basis.

For example, say you're a car dealer with a mailing list containing a field called 'car model.' You've used this field to segment your mailing list into owners of VW Polos, Golfs, Passats, Tiguans and Touregs.

You now have an offer which is specifically relevant to Polo, Golf and Passat owners, and you want to send a message about it to those three segments in one go.

In an ideal world you'd just be able to select the relevant segments and send the message to those three groups. With Aweber though - this isn't possible. You'd have to either send three individual messages or create a new segment targeting 'Polo OR Golf OR Passat.' 

You'll have a similar problem if you want to exclude certain segments from the broadcast; so ultimately it's a bit of thumbs-down for the segmenting functionality in Aweber.

Other email marketing tools, notably Getresponse and Campaign Monitor, handle this in a much better way. 


Integrations with third party apps

Aweber offers a decent range of integrations with other solutions. There are over 400 integrations available which allow you to connect Aweber to various types of cloud-based software - web builders like Wix or Wordpress; CRM tools like Salesforce; landing pages like Instapage and so on.

Some of these involve dedicated widgets; others involve adding a snippet of code into a website; others involve a sync tool like Zapier.

It's rare that Aweber will plug into other software quite as seamlessly as Mailchimp (which seems to be the default 'standard' email marketing option for a lot of apps), but you shouldn't have too much difficulty getting Aweber to work with a wide range of other SaaS (software as a service) apps. 

 

Aweber integrations

 

Aweber support

Aweber’s support is one of the stand-out features of the product.

Phone support, email support and live chat support is all available - this compares very favourably with some key competitors including Getresponse, Mailchimp, Campaign Monitor and Mad Mimi, who only offer email and/or live chat support.

Additionally, there’s no hoops to go through to contact support - relevant phone number and email details can be viewed very easily on the company’s contact page, without any requirement to trawl ‘knowledge bases’ or fill in any forms beforehand.

On top of that, the company won a gold award in 2016 the US’ National Customer Association’s Stevie Awards (and a bronze and silver awards in 2017 and 2018 respectively), which augurs pretty well for the quality of the support you’ll receive when you contact them.

If you are a novice to email marketing, then this sort of easy access to good-quality support is a strong argument in favour of using Aweber as your email marketing provider.

In terms of the availability of support, you can contact Aweber's phone support team from 8am-8pm ET Monday to Friday, and their email and live/chat support is available 24/7.


Aweber review: the conclusions

Overall I would say Aweber is a solid email marketing tool.

It's not the best product of its kind available, but it is reasonably priced, easy to use and contains most of the key features you'd expect from an email marketing solution.

The main aspects of the product that would nudge me in Aweber's direction are its ease-of-use and comprehensive support. The latter may be particularly important for some potential users, particularly those starting out in e-marketing without a truckload of technical skills (you probably won’t get stuck, but if you do, you can talk to a real human being on a real phone line about your problem).

Additionally, it's not too expensive by comparison to some competing products, especially Campaign Monitor and iContact.

The main things that would dissuade me are its lack of split testing functionality and its relatively basic automation features.

I hope you’ve found this Aweber review helpful so far, but if you haven’t made your mind up on whether this is the e-marketing solution for you, here’s a simple breakdown of the key pros and cons of using it:

Pros of using Aweber

  • It’s easy to use.
  • Support options are more extensive than is the case with some key competing products and based on Aweber's Stevie awards for customer service, should be high.
  • It’s reasonably priced - whilst not the cheapest product of its kind out there, it is cheaper than several similar solutions.
  • It lets you choose whether to subscribe people to your list on a single or double opt-in basis.
  • It has good import functionality, with the option to import a wide range of file types and add the email addresses you’re importing directly to an autoresponder cycle.
  • It integrates neatly with a good range of third party tools and apps.
  • It comes with a very large range of templates - more than its key competitors.
  • Setting up simple time-based autoresponders is very easy to do.
  • All email templates are responsive.
  • Reporting features are strong.
  • Segmenting data is relatively easy and you can use both field contents and user activity (email opens, links clicked etc.) to create your segments.

You can get a free trial of Aweber here.

Cons of using Aweber

  • Split testing is currently disabled.
  • There are cheaper options out there which offer considerably more features in the marketing automation department - Getresponse being a prime example.
  • Some of the templates look a bit dated.
  • The RSS to email templates are poor and they can’t be edited using Aweber’s standard drag and drop email builder.
  • You can't include or exclude multiple segments at once when sending an e-newsletter.

Free trial of Aweber

One of the best ways to decide whether Aweber is for you of course is to avail of its free trial - you can try the product free for 30 days here.


Alternatives to Aweber

There are many alternatives to Aweber available.

If you’re looking for something a bit more feature packed, Getresponse or Mailchimp are the obvious contenders (you can find our Getresponse vs Mailchimp comparison here), with Getresponse coming in a bit cheaper than Aweber on price too.

If you’re looking for something a bit cheaper, then Mad Mimi is worth investigating (but bear in mind that Mad Mimi is a much more basic solution than Aweber).

If you've got loads of money then Campaign Monitor is worth a look too - it's got a lot of nice features but it's very expensive by comparison to all the aforementioned products. You can read our Campaign Monitor review here.


Any thoughts on Aweber?

If you're an Aweber user, or thinking about becoming one, we'd love to hear from you - scroll down to add your thoughts or queries on the product in the comments section below. 

Note: if you're reading this on a smartphone, you may be viewing the AMP (accelerated mobile pages) version, which doesn't currently permit commenting. You can view the regular mobile version here if you'd like to view and leave comments.


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Mailchimp vs Aweber (2018) - Comparison Review
 Mailchimp vs Aweber comparison (image of an envelope showing both products' logos).

In this Mailchimp vs Aweber comparison review, we’re going to look at two of the best-known e-marketing solutions currently available and see which one is the best fit for your business.

Read on to get a full overview of both Mailchimp and Aweber’s feature set and why you might decide to use one of these tools over the other.

Let's start off by taking a look at the main things that Aweber and Mailchimp let you do.


What do Aweber and Mailchimp actually do?

Aweber and Mailchimp are tools that allow you to:

  • import and host a mailing list and capture data onto it using sign-up forms
  • create e-newsletters (both HTML and plain text) which can be sent to your subscribers
  • automate your emails to subscribers via use of ‘autoresponders’ (see below for more information)
  • review statistics related to your email marketing campaigns – open rate, click through, forwards etc.

What are autoresponders?

Before progressing with this comparison review, it’s worth zooming in on something very important offered by both Mailchimp and Aweber: autoresponders. What are they?

Autoresponders are e-newsletters that are sent to your mailing list subscribers at pre-defined intervals – for example, you can set them up so that straight after somebody signs up to your list, they receive a welcome or ‘onboarding’ message from your business; a week later they could receive a promo code for specific products; two weeks later they could receive an encouragement to follow you on social media. And so on!

The idea behind autoresponders is that much of your email marketing gets automated – it’s a sort of ‘set and forget’ scenario that saves you the bother sending out e-newsletters manually (although you can still of course do this as and when required). Regardless of whether you plump for Aweber or Mailchimp, it’s well worth investing some time in understanding autoresponders and using them effectively.

We’ll dig into autoresponder features a bit more comprehensively below. But before we do that, let’s take a look at pricing.


Pricing

Aweber pricing

Pricing options in Aweber are fairly straightforward - there are 5 plans available. All have the same features, with the number of subscribers on your mailing list determining the cost.

The prices of these plans are as follows:

  • Hosting and emailing a list containing 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 your list contains over 25,000 subscribers, you will need to call Aweber for a quotation.

Mailchimp pricing

With Mailchimp, things are a little bit more complicated - there are three tiers of plan available, each with multiple pricing sub-tiers, which all depend on list size:

  • "Starting up" (a free plan)
  • "Growing Business"
  • "Pro Marketer"

Some of the key differences between the Mailchimp tiers involve

  • subscriber count - the free plan limits the number of subscribers to 2000
  • send limits - you can only send up to 12,000 emails per month on the free plan
  • support - you can only avail of this on paid plans
  • advanced segmentation - this is only available on the 'Pro Marketer' plan
  • reporting - the most advanced reporting features are only available on the 'Pro Marketer' plan
  • advanced multivariate testing - this is not available on the "Starting Up" or "Growing Business" but available on "Pro Marketer".

Free plans / trials

The Mailchimp ‘Starting Up’ plan - which is completely free - is arguably the strongest reason why you might want to choose Mailchimp as an email marketing solution.

Although this plan limits the number of subscribers you can send e-newsletters to 2,000 records, and the total number of sendable emails per month to 12,000, many of the other features you'll find in Mailchimp are actually present in this plan for free.

Accordingly, it's a good option for any business starting their list entirely from scratch, so long as support is not an issue (you won't get any on the free plan).

Aweber doesn't offer a free plan, but does allow you to try out the product for 30 days free of charge - you can sign up for the free Aweber trial here.

On the plus side, the Aweber free trial is fully functional; this will help you get a good sense of the product. On the down side, to access the free trial you have to enter your credit card details first. This contrasts negatively with Mailchimp (and indeed similar free trials offered by competing products such as Getresponse).

I suspect that the Mailchimp plan which is most relevant to readers comparing Aweber to Mailchimp would be the ‘Growing Business’ plan - this allows you to make use of most of the main features of Mailchimp.

Like Aweber, how much a plan costs depends on your list size, but unlike Aweber the pricing bands are much narrower, i.e.,

  • 0 to 500 subscribers: $10 per month
  • 501 to 1000 subscribers: $15 per month
  • 1001 to 1500 subscribers: $20 per month

...and so on, with the pricing bands becoming even narrower for list sizes over 2,500 records (where going up 100 records increases the price by $5 until you hit 2,800 records).

It’s all a bit confusing to be honest - but generally speaking, Mailchimp and Aweber are fairly similarly priced (up to 25k records at least), with Mailchimp definitely being cheaper for users with databases containing less than 1,501 records.

Pay as you go

An interesting option for users who mail their databases relatively infrequently is Mailchimp's 'Pay as You Go' plan, where you pay a set fee per email sent.

This varies according to the size of your mailouts - for example, if you send an e-newsletter to 1,000 recipients the price per email is 0.03c; at the other end of the spectrum if you email 50,000 the cost per email drops to 0.01c.

The pay-as-you-go payment model won't be for everyone, but it's potentially useful for users who are not interested in making use of autoresponders and only wish to send ad hoc, one-off blasts.

Finally, there’s the Mailchimp ‘Pro Marketer’ plan to consider. This plan is considerably more expensive than anything Aweber (and indeed competing products like Getresponse, Campaign Monitor and Mad Mimi) have to offer: on this plan, on top of the standard ‘Growing Business’ costs referred to above, you have to pay $199 per month.

For this, you get better segmentation, more split testing options (more on these below), access to additional API related functionality and other advanced features.

But as ever, price is not the only thing to bear in mind. Let’s look at some features.


Autoresponders and marketing automation in Mailchimp and Aweber

Both Mailchimp and Aweber allow you to create simple ‘time-based’ autoresponders - a series of emails based on time intervals (as discussed above).

I’d argue that for this kind of autoresponder, Aweber makes things a bit easier - setting up automation in Mailchimp is a bit fiddly whereas Aweber’s ‘Campaigns’ tool, which is used to create your autoresponder workflow, is very easy to use.

However, to properly compare Mailchimp and Aweber's autoresponder functionality, we need to look beyond traditional 'drip' style autoresponders and look more closely at the idea of marketing automation, something which has been introduced into many email marketing solutions over the past couple of years.

Marketing automation works in a similar way to autoresponders, in that emails are automatically sent to a mailing list according to a predefined sequence. But instead of time intervals, user behaviour is used to determine what should emails should be sent next - opens, clicks, goal completions, purchases, abandoned carts and more can all be used to trigger the next e-newsletter. 

As things stand, Mailchimp offers significantly more functionality when it comes to marketing automation: you can choose from a wide range of pre-defined workflows - ‘e-commerce’, ‘education’, ‘non-profit’ amongst others - or create your own using goals you define yourself. 

A simple example of a Mailchimp goal completion might be a purchase: you can add a Mailchimp script to a post-purchase page on your site, meaning that if a user arrives on that page after clicking on a link in one of your e-newsletters, Mailchimp is notified and the user is automatically sent a specific follow up communication.

 Mailchimp marketing automation

Mailchimp marketing automation

Aweber's marketing automation is currently a bit more on the basic side - you can only use tags and clicks to create automated user journeys. That said, from chatting to Aweber's marketing team I know that they are working hard to add more functionality in this area.

(As an aside, both products lag a bit behind their rival Getresponse in the marketing automation stakes; this is because Getresponse now bundles CRM and webinar functionality into its plans, and you can integrate marketing automation with both.)


Templates

Both Aweber and Mailchimp offer a wide range of e-newsletter templates, which are designed to suit many different applications and organisation types - e-commerce, events, sports, education and so on. Aweber offers far more templates than Mailchimp: around 700 to 90 respectively.

With both systems you can tweak the templates extensively, and indeed code your own, so users of both platforms should be able to settle on a template which works for their business without too much difficulty.

The other good news about both products is that all the email templates provided are responsive, meaning that they will automatically resize themselves to suit the device your e-newsletter is being viewed on.

 One of Aweber's more contemporary templates.

One of Aweber's more contemporary templates.

Mailchimp makes it easier, however, to preview the mobile version of your e-newsletter - there's a preview option you can use as you build it. By contrast, with Aweber, you'll have to send yourself a test email and open it on a smartphone to see what your e-newsletter looks like on a mobile device.

Mailchimp has a slight edge over Aweber when it comes to fonts - you can use web fonts in your templates (albeit a small selection), which can improve the look and feel of them considerably. Aweber by contrast limits font usage to 'web safe' ones - the boring but admittedly reliable Arial, Times New Roman, Trebuchet, Georgia etc.

However, the web fonts that you can use in Mailchimp are exceptionally dull - so dull in fact that you might be better off using the web safe ones - they'll load more reliably and your e-newsletters will appear more consistently across email clients / devices. I love web fonts, but the Mailchimp offering is so boring that there is currently little point to using them.


The Aweber and Mailchimp interfaces

When it comes to interfaces, Aweber and Mailchimp take quite different approaches.

Aweber’s interface is quite traditional in nature - when you log in you encounter a horizontal primary navigation containing key options such as ‘messages’, ‘subscribers’ and ‘reports’; hovering over menu items reveals sub-menus that let you ‘get at’ important secondary options (for example, email templates, import options and statistics).

Mailchimp on the other hand offers a very minimal interface - there is a smaller primary navigation to contend with, and no drop down menus are involved.

Whilst this makes for an initially 'cleaner' user experience, it also means that you have to click through to a second screen and then locate the option you’re looking for from another set of options (which are presented in the main page copy).

So despite the fact that the Mailchimp interface is undoubtedly easier on the eye, I find that actually locating key functionality with it is harder to do.

With Aweber, all the important options are easily located from the moment you log in - but with Mailchimp there is quite a bit more clicking around the place to do.


Editing e-newsletters

Both Aweber and Mailchimp take a ‘drag and drop’ approach to editing e-newsletters. You can add, move and edit elements such as text, images, logos and so on easily with both products.

One aspect of Aweber’s builder which I prefer over Mailchimp’s is the way that you can 'type onto' your e-newsletter - you just point at the copy on the e-newsletter you want to tweak and you can edit it there and then, in situ.

By contrast, with Mailchimp, you have to select the component you want to edit, and then make your changes in a separate box. Not a showstopper really, but it can occasionally slow you down a bit.

However, and as discussed above, it’s much easier with Mailchimp to see what your email will look like on different devices.


Opt-in processes in Aweber and Mailchimp

There are two ways you can add subscribers to a mailing list: using a 'single opt-in' or a 'double opt-in' process.

When you use a single opt-in process, the person completing your sign-up form is added to your mailing list immediately. With a double opt-in process, the person signing up to your list is sent an email containing a confirmation link that he or she must click before they are subscribed.

The main benefits of a single opt-in process are that

  • it makes it easy for users to subscribe
  • it generally improves conversion rates and leads to more people joining your list

 A double opt-in process is better for

  • keeping 'spam' and 'fake' email addresses to a minimum (because everybody on the list effectively has to prove that their email addresses are real)
  • improving the accuracy of reports (because open rates are based on the actions of subscribers with real email addresses, not a bunch of fake emails).

For some time, Aweber had a huge edge over Mailchimp in this area, because it allowed users to make use of either a single or a double opt-in approach.

Mailchimp recently changed its tune however,  allowing its customers to use a single opt-in approach, because the company found that 61% of users completing double opt in data capture forms were not completing their sign up process.

So a thumbs up to both products in this department.


Data segmentation

A key part of managing a mailing list involves creating segments and sending e-newsletters to them. Both Mailchimp and Aweber allow you to create segments based on your preferred criteria - but what they don't do is let you send to multiple segments at once.

For example, say you're a Volkswagen dealer with a mailing list containing a field called 'car model.' You've used field this to segment your mailing list neatly into the owners of VW Polos, Golfs, Passats, Tiguans etc. You have a special offer which is relevant to Polo and Golf owners, and you want to send this message to those two segments in one go.

But with Mailchimp's entry level plan and Aweber...you can't. You'll have to go and create a brand new segment for people who own Polos OR Golfs.

Now, this might not seem like a serious problem, but if you regularly need to send mailouts to multiple (and varying) segments of subscribers then you will potentially have more work to do than you might like.

If segmentation is a key aspect of how you manage your mailouts, then I'd probably look elsewhere for an email marketing solution. The two products I've come across which cater best for emailing multiple segments (and indeed lists) are Getresponse (note: its segments are called 'saved searches') and Campaign Monitor (which offers extremely good segmentation functionality, but at a pretty high price).

To be fair, you can get some advanced segmentation functionality with Mailchimp - but at a price (you'll need to add $199 to your Mailchimp bill). You can find out more about advanced segmentation in Mailchimp here


A nice touch in Aweber: stock images

One nice feature in Aweber which isn’t currently available in Mailchimp is a free stock images library.

You can use this to insert royalty-free photography into your e-newsletters - this is handy for all those times you need a generic looking picture of a computer keyboard to use as a thumbnail…


Split testing

An important feature of email marketing tools like Aweber and Mailchimp is split (or 'multivariate') testing.

Split testing allows you to try out different subject headers or content on sample data to see which works best. For example, you could send two versions of your e-newsletter to 10% of your subscribers, analyse the results (i.e., open / clickthrough rates) and send out the best-performing version to the remainder of people on your list.

If you have a large mailing list, use of split testing can lead to significant improvements to your open and clickthrough rates, so sany emarketing tools automate the process for you.

On the cheaper ‘Growing Business’ Mailchimp plans - the ones that are broadly comparable to Aweber in price - you can test three different versions of your email against each other.

More sophisticated split testing options are available in Mailchimp if you're prepared to pay for them - subscribers to Mailchimp's 'Pro Marketer' plan can test 8 variants of e-newsletters against each other. This is undoubtedly useful, but as this will cost you $199 per month on top of whatever you are paying to host your list, it's probably going to be a feature that only large organisations will avail of.

Up until recently Aweber trumped the standard Mailchimp offering on split testing, by allowing users to split test 4 different emails against each other.

Unforutnately however, Aweber's split testing feature is currently in the process of being designed, and as such has been disabled. I'm assured by Aweber that it will be back soon and better than before, but I'm not sure how long it's going to be unavailable for.

So, if you think that you're going to need to do a lot of split testing in the immediate future, Aweber isn't for you.


RSS to e-newsletter

One thing that is definitely better in Mailchimp than in Aweber is the way that you can use an RSS feed (typically from a blog) to create e-newsletters.

Both platforms allow you to send out e-newsletters automatically based on an updated RSS feed. In Mailchimp, you can use any template to do so, but in Aweber, you're restricted to using a set of very dated, hard-to-edit templates.

This has negative implications for the consistency of your branding across your communications - you might spend some time, for example, creating a slick template in Aweber for your e-newsletters only to find that you can't use it for broadcasting blog posts.

If RSS-to-email is an important feature for you, Mailchimp is definitely preferable to Aweber.


Reporting

Both Aweber and Mailchimp provide you with detailed statistics on the performance of your mailouts, with, in my view, Mailchimp having the better reporting interface and one that is more feature packed.

It’s laid out in a way that makes drilling down into particular bits of data very straightforward - you can view e-newsletter results by activity (opens and clicks etc.), URLs clicked, social activity, e-commerce, conversations and Google Analytics.

There are two particularly nifty features in Mailchimp that are worth singling out for attention:

  • a ‘member rating’ system - Mailchimp reviews how engaged each member of your mailing list is (based on opens, clicks and purchases) and assigns them a member rating (using a five point scale). This allows you to identify particularly ‘good’ members of your mailing list easily and craft specific communications for them.

  • the option to compare your list’s performance against industry standards (i.e., you tell Mailchimp what sort of business you’re operating and it will compare your stats against campaigns by similar businesses).

Aweber is not without its strong features when it comes to reporting either however, and I particularly like the way that you can create segments directly from reports (i.e., you can look at a report for a particular e-newsletter broadcast, go to a list of people who’ve opened that email, and target them with a new communication on the spot).

This is not easily doable in Mailchimp: to create a segment of subscribers based on clickthroughs or open rates, you need to open your report, export a list of the relevant subscribers, and then re-import it (making sure that there is a field which flags the fact that these subscribers have engaged with the mailout). Messy!


Integrations

Aweber and Mailchimp both integrate with important e-commerce and social platforms - key examples include Shopify, Bigcommerce, Paypal and Facebook.

However, Mailchimp offers a much bigger selection of integrations. It’s seen, for whatever reason, as more of an industry standard tool than Aweber, so some web applications - key examples being Squarespace and Shopify - will offer Mailchimp as a default ‘works out of the box’ e-marketing option. That's not to say that you can't use Aweber with these products, but there will be a bit more configuration required.

Additionally, Mailchimp is more tightly integrated with Facebook ads. You can connect a Mailchimp list to Facebook, which will then automatically examine its addresses and show ads to anybody on your list who also has a Facebook account (this is called a 'custom audience').

Importantly, your Mailchimp list is synced with your Facebook account, meaning that Facebook will automatically start showing the ads to any new subscribers (i.e., in addition to the people who were on your list when you connected your accounts).

Now, you can do this with a Aweber list too, but you will have to upload your list manually periodically to ensure that new subscribers continue to see your ads.

On top of this, you can actually run Facebook ad campaigns (and indeed Google ad campaigns) from within your Mailchimp account, so if you're the kind of user who wants to manage everything in one place, you may find this useful.


Send time optimisation

A strong feature that is included in Mailchimp which is unfortunately not present in Aweber is ‘Send Time Optimisation’.

Send time optimisation is a sophisticated feature which automatically sends your e-newsletter at the time at which it is most likely to be opened. This time is calculated by Mailchimp based on looking at when the subscribers on your list have previously opened mail - it can work this out based on looking at the campaigns you’ve previously sent and also by using data from campaigns sent by other Mailchimp users which feature email addresses that are also present on your list.

As Mailchimp explains:

Since MailChimp has 4+ million users, we look globally at each email address’ engagement in deciding the best time to send to your list. Chances are the email addresses on your list receive email from other MailChimp users. That means that even if you’ve never sent to your list or only sent a few times, we can still provide a recommendation.

It’d be great if Aweber could consider adding this functionality, as it has the potential to significantly increase open rates.


Using different languages in Mailchimp and Aweber

For users wishing to provide versions of their confirmation emails and thank-you pages in different langauges, Mailchimp is a better choice than Aweber, as it provides this functionality out of the box. Setting this up is a bit fiddly however, and involves creating different merge tags for each language.


Support

It’s a clear win for Aweber when it comes to support: you can get phone support, live chat and email support whereas Mailchimp only provides email support (and only after you’ve been forced to search their website for an answer to your query first). 

Aweber's phone support is 8am-8pm ET and its live chat / email support is available 24/7. The company has won Stevie awards in 2016, 2017 and 2018 for their customer service too, which speaks well for the quality of their support.

So if you are a complete novice to e-marketing, but don't have the resource to hire somebody in to set your e-newsletter campaigns up, the availability of phone support for Aweber is something bear strongly in mind as an important advantage of using the platform.

Indeed, phone support is something of a USP for the product, given that none of its leading competitors - Getresponse, Mailchimp and Campaign Monitor - offer it.


Alternatives to Mailchimp and Aweber

Before deciding conclusively on Mailchimp and Aweber, it's worth taking a quick look at some alternatives:

Getresponse

For me, an obvious alternative to both Mailchimp and Aweber is Getresponse. Depending on your list size, it will usually come in cheaper than both Mailchimp and Aweber (particularly if you pay upfront for a year or two years), and it’s feature packed (offering landing pages, webinars and a CRM tool in addition to the features outlined above). And it is much more flexible than either Mailchimp or Aweber when it comes to emailing segmented data and managing multiple lists. 

You can read our full Getresponse review here or try the product free here.

Campaign Monitor

Another option is Campaign Monitor - this is a feature-rich tool which provides some very attractive templates, along with strong functionality in the segmentation and marketing automation departments.

However, it's extremely expensive by comparison to any of the other products under discussion here. Read our Campaign Monitor review for more information.

Mad Mimi

Mad Mimi is one of the cheapest email marketing tools available - but also one of the most basic. It's good for users who just want to send very simple e-newsletters or run basic drip campaigns and don't have much money. But it's not in the same league as the other products under discussion in this comparison, especially Mailchimp and Getresponse.


Aweber vs Mailchimp: pros and cons summary

So which is better, Aweber or Mailchimp?

Well, overall, both products are solid, well-established tools that you can use to create and send professional e-newsletters with. Either, used correctly, can help you grow your email database and contribute the success of your business. 

But there are key plus and minus points to consider with each, and here are the reasons you might want to use one over the other:

Reasons to use Aweber over Mailchimp

  • Autoresponders are a bit easier to set up (but are currently more basic in nature than the Mailchimp offering).
  • There are significantly more templates available in Aweber (700+ to Mailchimp’s 90).
  • Although Aweber's user interface is more ‘old-school’ and not as pretty as Mailchimp's, it’s arguably a bit easier to use and key features are more readily accessible.
  • The e-newsletter builder makes editing text slightly easier than in Mailchimp.
  • You get access to a library of stock images with Aweber that you can use in your mailouts for free.
  • The Aweber support options are much more extensive - phone support and live chat are available; Mailchimp offers neither of these.

A free trial of Aweber is available here

Reasons to use Mailchimp over Aweber

  • A functional - and rather generous - free plan is available with Mailchimp.
  • If you have a small list (less than 1,500 records), you can host it more cheaply with Mailchimp.
  • Autoresponder and marketing automation functionality is more comprehensive.
  • You can use web fonts in your emails (albeit a small selection).
  • It’s easier to preview what your email will look like on a mobile device with Mailchimp.
  • Mailchimp's reporting features are better.
  • RSS to email functionality is significantly better than Aweber's.
  • A much wider range of integrations with third party apps is available.
  • Send time optimisation functionality is available.
  • Using different languages for thank-you and confirmation pages is more doable out-of-the-box.

A free trial of Mailchimp is available here


Got any thoughts or questions on Mailchimp and Aweber?

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