Posts in Email marketing
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.

How to Create a Newsletter (2018) - 10 Simple Steps to Email Marketing Success
 How to create an e-newsletter (image of an @ symbol on a wooden surface)

In this post we show you how to create an email newsletter that you can send to your business leads or clients; we also advise on how to build a larger list, and run an effective e-marketing campaign in general.

But first: why do you need to send an e-newsletter in the first place?


Why the humble e-newsletter still matters

Given the popularity of social media and online advertising as a way of generating business, it's easy to think of the humble e-newsletter as being something rather outdated or quaint. This is a mistake: even with the huge range of other marketing and advertising avenues now available, email marketing can be a hugely effective way to generate revenue.

According to the Direct Marketing Association, email has an ROI of around 4300%, and 25% of Black Friday revenue is generated via email campaigns. Given these sort of stats, it's clear that every email address you capture has a monetary value, and that email marketing is something that can be key to the growth of a business.

Below we'll look at 10 key things you need to do to create and send the best e-newsletters you possibly can. 

The first thing we're going to look at is data.


1. Start with the most important thing: your data

Before you think about ‘how’ you are going to send an e-newsletter, you need to think about the ‘who’. Without a database, you're not going to be able to send any e-newsletters; and without a clean, well-structured one, you're not going to generate as much revenue as you could.

You probably have an existing database of leads and clients tucked away in an Excel spreadsheet somewhere – or more likely, your database is spread across several very messy spreadsheets.

If this sounds like you, it's a good idea to consolidate all your files into one clean, well-organised spreadsheet before you try to send newsletters to any of the contacts on them.

You should also ensure that your cleaned database is ‘segmented’ as well as possible – i.e., ideally you should have a field in it containing information which lets you flag data as leads, current clients, past clients and so on.

(That’s just an example of how you could organise things though: how you segment your database should depend on what you are selling and the nature of your business – for example, if you sell different types of products, you may wish to flag your data by product type.)

The basic aim of the exercise is to get your data into shape, so that you are able to send an appropriate message to an appropriate prospect at the right time.


2. Create a content plan and e-newsletter schedule

The next step is to plan your communications carefully. It’s a good idea to create an ‘e-communications schedule’ which maps out what you are going to send out in your email newsletters, to whom, and when.

You can then refer to this schedule throughout the year, and ensure you have all the necessary content ready to go. And because you’ll have segmented your data nicely in advance (see above) you will be sending your beautiful and interesting e-newsletter to precisely the right group of contacts.


3. Pick the right tool for sending your e-newsletter

For many small businesses, sending e-newsletters means compiling a mailing list in Excel, then copying and pasting the addresses into the BCC field of a clunky-looking Outlook message.

This is a time-consuming way to go about things; it’s also very ineffective, because

  • it doesn’t allow you to send very professional-looking e-newsletters

  • it prevents you from accurately measure important stats like open rate and clickthroughs

  • it increases the likelihood of your email triggering spam filters (email programs usually hate emails that are bcc'd to loads of people).

It is a much better idea to use a dedicated tool for sending your e-newsletter. There are many web-based solutions available now: big-hitters include GetresponseAweber, Mailchimp, Campaign Monitor and Mad Mimi.

These all allow you to import your database, create attractive templates, and send out proper ‘HTML e-newsletters’ that stand the greatest chance of being delivered (and crucially, read!). They also provide free trials / plans (of various degrees of quality) - it's worth trying a few out and seeing which suits your requirements best.

There are pros and cons to all of these. Out of the above list, our preferred options are probably Getresponse and Mailchimp: Getresponse because it has the best all round feature set (which includes landing pages, webinars and CRM) and Mailchimp because it allows you to host a small list (up to 2000 subscribers) for free.

(You can read our Getresponse vs Mailchimp comparison here).


4. Create an attractive e-newsletter template

Once you’ve decided upon which bit of software you’re going to use for your e-newsletters, you need to design a nice HTML template for it.

With the exception of Mad Mimi, most of the solutions we referred to above provide a wide range of e-newsletter templates which you can tweak extensively - using a drag and drop editor - so that your e-newsletter matches your brand.

If your design skills are not all that strong of course, you might consider hiring a designer to set up your email templates. Either way, you should try to get to a point where your e-newsletter template looks professional and uncluttered and adheres to your organisation's branding guidelines.


5. Split test!

Once you’ve got your database, your e-communications schedule, your choice of software and your template sorted, it’s finally time to start sending some e-newsletters. But it’s really important to send them in the best way possible! This generally means 'split testing' your subject headers and/or your e-newsletter content.

Split testing involves trying out different versions of your message on a relatively small sample of your data before sending it to the remainder of your database.

You might, for example, create three versions of the same newsletter, each with different subject headers, and send it to 500 people on your database – after a day or so, you can identify which subject header led to the best open rate, and then use that header for the remainder of your data.

Note that this is only worth doing if you have a relatively large database – if your business database is only a few hundred records in size, you might find split testing doesn’t really lead to particularly informative results.

You needn't restrict split testing to your e-newsletters - you can also split test forms (to see, for example if shorter sign-up forms work better than longer ones) or your landing pages (the pages where people can sign up to your list).

And speaking of landing pages...


6. Use good landing pages

It’s not just essential to have attractive, well-constructed e-newsletters: it’s important that the links in those e-newsletters take you to pages that actually ‘convert’ readers into taking further action too.

Generally speaking you don’t want to send people to a page that contains a huge number of competing calls to action or links – it’s better to present a page that encourages users to take one specific action, be that buying a product or completing a form. Your landing pages should be attractive, easy-to-use and focused firmly on conversion.

As mentioned above, you can split test your landing pages to see which pages 'convert' visitors to leads most effectively. This involves creating two or more landing pages, testing them against each other and ultimately rolling the one with the highest conversion rate out as your preferred landing page. 

Some email marketing products, such as Getresponse and Mailchimp, provide this functionality out of the box (see image below) or alternatively, you can use a dedicated tool like Instapage or Unbounce to create and split test landing pages.

 Getresponse's landing page creator

Getresponse's landing page creator


7. Measure success

Most e-newsletter tools come with detailed reporting functionality – after sending an e-newsletter, you will be able to access statistics that let you measure the performance of your e-newsletters.

Study these stats carefully, as they will help you create better e-newsletters that generate more conversions in future. The key things you need to look out for are:

  • open rates - which type of subject header / content encourages the most opens of your emails

  • clickthrough rates (CTRs) - what sort of links in your emails are popular?

  • unsubscribe rates - what content really turns people off?

 E-newsletter statistics

E-newsletter statistics


8. Allow people to sign up to your mailing list via your website and social media profiles

All email marketing tools allow you to easily embed sign-up forms for your mailing list directly on your website or social media profiles.

Make sure you do this, as it will save you having to repeatedly upload spreadsheets of data to your e-newsletter service.

Ideally, you should have a sign-up form for your e-newsletter on every page of your website, and you could also consider using pop up boxes on certain pages of your site too to maximise the number of sign ups to your mailing list.

Be careful with pop-ups on mobile devices however - Google can penalise sites that use pop up boxes in a way which negatively affects usability. Tools like Sumo can help you create pop-up forms that can be switched on and off on specific devices.


9. Use autoresponders and email marketing automation

By connecting your website’s mailing list form directly to your e-newsletter software, you can make use of autoresponders or ‘drips’ – automated emails that you can ‘pre-program’ in advance so that when somebody signs up to your mailing list via your website, they will automatically receive messages of your choosing at intervals of your choosing.

For example, a subscriber could get a welcome message immediately upon signup; a special offer one week later; an encouragement to follow your company on Facebook two weeks later and so on.

Recently however, some of the major email marketing solution providers have developed autoresponder functionality to a new and far more sophisticated level, providing 'marketing automation' functionality that allows you to use user actions to trigger emails.

For example, you can ask your email marketing software to automatically send a follow-up email if a subscriber

  • purchases a product

  • opens a particular email

  • clicks a particular link

  • visits a particular web page

And so on.

Some products even allow you to move a subscriber along a CRM sales pipeline automatically if they take a particular action. It's amazing, if slightly scary, stuff.


10. Allow people to share your e-newsletter easily

Most e-newsletter tools will allow you to add ‘forward to a friend’ or social media sharing buttons to your e-newsletter.

Add them! It means that your content and offers get a good chance of being seen by an audience outside of your mailing list.


And finally...always follow best practice

And finally, every time you create or send an e-newsletter, you should ensure that you are (1) obeying the law and (2) not over-communicating with your subscribers. If you don't, at best you risk a higher unsubscribe rate; at worst you face your email marketing tool account being suspended and/or legal action.

There are six important things you need to do to follow best practice and the law:

  • When you capture email addresses, make it very clear on any sign up forms and landing pages that people are subscribing to your mailing list (ideally you should provide people with a link to a privacy policy)

  • Don’t spam: always ensure that anyone on your list has actually signed up to it

  • Don’t over-commmunicate: leave decent gaps between messages

  • Always send relevant, interesting content to people on your mailing list: this will minimise unsubscribes

  • Always make it easy for people to unsubscribe

  • Be very aware of data protection legislation (particularly GDPR!)

Hope you find these e-marketing tips useful. If you enjoyed this article, please do share it with others - and of course, make sure you subscribe to our mailing list :)


Free trials of email marketing tools

Below you'll find links to free trials of email marketing tools. 


Email marketing tool reviews

You may also find our email marketing reviews and comparisons helpful:

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).


    Free resources on email marketing from Style Factory

    For excellent free resources on all aspects of running an online business - from email marketing to SEO to web design - make sure you subscribe to our updates via email. You'll receive e-newsletters containing all our latest advice and reviews - essential stuff for kick-starting your business. Click here to subscribe for free today.