How to create an e-newsletter (and a great email marketing campaign)
How to create an e-newsletter (image of an @ symbol on a wooden surface)

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


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’.

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 exampleof 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 an e-newsletter, 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.


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 above solutions provide a wide range of e-newsletter templates which you can tweak - 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, 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

Email marketing tools allow you to easily embed sign-up forms for your mailing list directly on your website. Make sure you do this, as it will save you having to repeatedly upload spreadsheets of data to your e-newsletter service.

Additionally, 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.


9. 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.


10. Always follow best practice

And finally, if you want to run an effective e-newsletter campaign, there are four important things to remember:

  • 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

Hope you find these e-marketing tips useful. If you enjoyed this article, please do share it with others!


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:

Mailchimp vs Aweber (2017) - 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.

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

Pricing options in Aweber are fairly straightforward - there are 6 plans available:

  • 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
  • 25,000+ subscribers: call Aweber for quotation

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".

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. As such 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, this is a fully functional free trial. On the down side, to access the free trial you have to enter your credit card details first. This contrasts negatively with 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 similarly priced (up to 25k records at least), with Mailchimp definitely being cheaper for users with databases containing less than 1,501 records.

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 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, as things stand, Mailchimp offers significantly more functionality when it comes to autoresponders (this might, to a degree, explain why things are slightly more complicated to set up).

In Mailchimp 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.

An 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.

At the moment Aweber’s autoresponder functionality is quite basic - you can just use it to send e-newsletters x days after somebody joins a list, or apply tags to them at various points in the autoresponder cycle.

The tags are useful, because they allow you to switch users on to different lists depending on the context - using a combination of Aweber’s automation rules and third-party integrations (for example, a Shopify one), it is possible to make Aweber behave in a similar fashion to the Mailchimp examples described above. My hunch however is that most users will have to work a bit harder to get Aweber to work in this way. Mailchimp’s autoresponder functionality is considerably more advanced, straight out of the box.

That said, Aweber have plans for their autoresponder functionality - they promise that their new ‘Campaigns’ tool is going to introduce more advanced types of workflow in the near future (see video below). But overall I’d say in a Mailchimp vs Aweber autoresponder shootout, Mailchimp is currently the winner.

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 80 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.

(As an aside, neither tool is as good as Getresponse when it comes to previewing the responsive versions of your messages - in Getresponse, when you build your e-newsletter you see both the full version and the mobile preview on screen at the same time).

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 ones - so dull in fact that you might be better off using the web safe ones...

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.

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. This allows you to try out a different subject headers or content on some sample data - for example, 10% of your list - with the best-performing version being sent automatically to the remainder of your list (‘best performing’ generally means the version of the email that generated the most opens or clickthroughs).

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. Aweber allows you to run a split test using four versions. So a bit of a win for Aweber here.

That said, more sophisticated split testing options are available with Mailchimp - if you're prepared to pay for them. Subscribers to the 'Pro Marketer' plan can test 8 variants of e-newsletters against each other; 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.

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).

But overall, I’d argue that Mailchimp has the better reporting options.

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 the only ‘works out of the box’ e-marketing option.

That said, it’s often possible to use a workaround to get Aweber to work with a third party application - just do your research first.

Send time optimisation

One feature that Mailchimp includes which is sadly 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 explain:

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 drastically 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 generally relies on the language of the web browser being automatically identified and used to display content in a local language, rather than users being sent to a particular URL based on the version of the website they have signed up on.

Autotranslate in Mailchimp (click to enlarge)

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 have won Stevie awards in both 2016 and 2017 for their customer service too, which speaks well for the quality of their support. 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.

Aweber vs Mailchimp: the 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, will 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 80+).
  • 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.
  • Aweber offers more extensive split testing options than Mailchimp (unless you are prepared to fork out $199 extra a month on Mailchimp to unlock better split testing functionality).
  • The Aweber support options are much more extensive - phone support and live chat are available; Mailchimp offers neither of these.

Reasons to use Mailchimp over Aweber

  • A functional 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 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.

Alternatives to Mailchimp and Aweber

For me, the obvious alternative to Mailchimp and Aweber is Getresponse. Depending on your list size, it will usually come in cheaper than both Mailchimp and Aweber, and it’s feature packed (offering landing pages and webinars in addition to the features outlined above).

You can read our full Getresponse review here, and we've also got a full Aweber review for you to look at too.

Got any thoughts or questions on Mailchimp and Aweber?

If you’ve got any thoughts or queries on Mailchimp vs Aweber, I’d love to hear them - just use the comments section below. 

Aweber Review (2017) - 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: 3.7/5

How much does Aweber cost?

There are 6 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
  • 25,000+ subscribers: call Aweber for quotation

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

Aweber is, in general,

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...

  • $12 per month with Mad Mimi
  • $15 per month with Mailchimp
  • $15 per month with Getresponse
  • $29 per month with Campaign Monitor *
  • $32 per month with iContact

But at the more expensive end of things, hosting a list containing 10,000 records 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
  • responsive email designs
  • split testing
  • reporting
  • RSS / blog to-email functionality
  • segmentation options
  • phone, email and live chat support

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.

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 500+ templates available for Getresponse, 80 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 a bit better than the Getresponse offering, 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

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.

With Aweber, you're 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 web fonts.

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 - i.e., 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 it’s definitely easier to make use of autoresponders in advanced ways using other products, particularly Getresponse.

That said, Aweber are working on a new feature, ‘Campaigns’, to provide easier ways to work with autoresponders and trigger them based on user actions and events (see video below).

Ultimately I’d give Aweber a ‘could do better’ report when it comes to autoresponders - but to be fair, they are trying to, and I don’t think it’ll be long before we see some improvements in this area.

Responsive email designs

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

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’s pretty good in Aweber. You can create four variants of an email. This compares positively with Mailchimp, Campaign Monitor and Mad Mimi - Mailchimp allows you to work with 3 variants; Campaign Monitor 2; and Mad Mimi doesn’t facilitate split testing at all.

Getresponse, however, provides better functionality in this department, allowing you to split test a more generous 5 variants.

But overall, split testing functionality in Aweber is comprehensive and compares favourably with that offered by similar products. You can watch a video overview of the process below.

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.

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 use to drill down to specifics).

RSS to email

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. This is particularly handy for bloggers who want their mailing lists to automatically receive an e-newsletter containing their latest content after they publish a blog post.

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 should probably be able to find something that works but I think there is definitely some large room for improvement here.

Segmenting data in Aweber

Aweber's segmentation options are comprehensive and easy to use (click image to enlarge).

Segmenting data in Aweber is very 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.

The only down side is that it's a little bit tricky 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.

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 Mailchimp, Campaign Monitor and Mad Mimi, who only offer email support. Additionally, there’s no hoops to go through to contact support - relevant phone number and email details can be viewed 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 award this year), 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 its availability, you can contact Aweber's live support team from 4am-8pm ET Monday to Friday, and 9am to 5pm ET Sat-Sun.

Aweber review: the conclusions

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 breakdown of some pros and cons of using it.

Pros of using Aweber

  • It’s easy to use.
  • It’s reasonably priced - whilst not the cheapest product of its kind out there, it is cheaper than several similar tools, notably Campaign Monitor and iContact.
  • 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.
  • It provides a reasonable number of split testing options (more than Mailchimp, Campaign Monitor and Mad Mimi).
  • 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.
  • Support options are considerably more extensive than is the case with some key competing products.

Cons of using Aweber

  • There are cheaper options out there which offer considerably more features - Getresponse being a prime example.
  • Some of the templates look a bit dated.
  • The autoresponder functionality is a bit on the basic side - although that said, it looks as though the new ‘Campaigns’ functionality is soon set to change that.
  • The RSS to email templates are poor and they can’t be edited using Aweber’s standard drag and drop email builder.

Overall I would classify Aweber as a solid performer - not necessarily the best emarketing product, but one that is reasonably priced, easy to use, and well supported. The strongest arguments for using it are probably that its interface is user-friendly;  its wide range of integrations with other tools; and that you can avail of support from Aweber easily.

The support aspect positions it as a good option for anyone 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.

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 is a long list of alternatives to Aweber available.

If you’re looking for something a bit more feature packed, I'd suggest 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).

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.

Aweber vs Getresponse (2017) - 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 post we 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, some of which will be discussed in more depth below.

Getresponse pricing vs Aweber pricing

Getresponse pricing

It can be a little bit confusing working out which Getresponse plan to pick, as  here 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')
  • 1,001 to 2,500 subscribers: $25 ('Email')
  • 2,501 to 5,000 subscribers: $45 ('Email')
  • 5,001 to 10,000 subscribers: $65 ('Email')/ $75 ('Pro') / $ 165 ('Max')
  • 10,001 to 25,000 subscribers: $145 ('Email') / $165 ('Pro') / $255 ('Max')
  • 25,001 to 50,000 subscribers: $250 ('Email') / $280 ('Pro') / $370 ('Max')
  • 50,001 to 100,000 subscribers: $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 $999 (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 and webinars 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.

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 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 at $4 per month cheaper than the equivalent Aweber plan. 

Additionally, Getresponse offers a sizeable discount - 18% - if you pay upfront for a year, and 30% if you pay upfront for 2 years.

There are discounting options available with Aweber too, but they are not 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

Getresponse and Aweber offer a similar feature set, 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)
  • Easy-to-use 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.

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 bit better than Getresponse’s. And there are more of them (about 700 vs 500 respectively).

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. 

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

Responsive templates

Up until relatively recently Getresponse had an important edge over Aweber when it came to the technical aspects of their email templates because they were responsive and Aweber's weren't (responsive templates adjust themselves automatically to suit the device they are being viewed on). 

Fortunately Aweber have rectified this situation and its email templates are now all responsive.

However, Getresponse has a significant edge when it comes to previewing what your email will look like on a smartphone. As you build your email using the drag-and-drop builder provided, you see a 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, in real-time, 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. So a win for Getresponse here.

Where are the web fonts in Getresponse and Aweber?

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 standard 'web safe fonts' for use (such as Times New Roman, Arial, Trebuchet etc.) - which is a shame really, because web fonts can make templates 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 (1) only a small selection of web fonts are available in these two apps and (2) in Mailchimp, the web fonts offered are particularly boring (to the point where there's not a huge aesthetic benefit in using them).

So 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.

Both Aweber and Getresponse provide good 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.). 

For me, Getresponse's basic autoresponder functionality is a bit stronger, 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.

Additionally, Getresponse have now introduced a new feature called 'Marketing Automation' which takes autoreponsders to a much more sophisticated level. This allows you to create automation workflows using a drag and drop builder - you basically set up an 'automation flowchart' that tells Getresponse what to do if a user opens a particular offer, clicks on a certain link etc. The video below gives you an idea of how it works.

Aweber are planning something similar with their 'Campaigns' tool - which should, when completed, enhance the trigger-based send options and general workflow design process considerably.

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

Importing data

Up until recently Getresponse was 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
  • XLSX
  • ODS

In addition to allowing you to import the above file types, Getresponse also allows you to import from email clients (Gmail, Outlook etc.) and various third-party services such as Salesforce, LinkedIn and G Suite.

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 allow you to add users to a particular autoresponder cycle when you import them, which is not always the case with competing systems.

So a thumbs up for both platforms here when it comes to imports, but overall Getresponse offers more import options.

Integration with other systems

Both Aweber and Getresponse offer a wide range of integrations - over 160 each - with other sites and apps. These include integrations with very-well known services such as Amazon, Paypal, Salesforce, Facebook and Twitter. 

However it should be noted that some of the integrations - 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.

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.

Getresponse comes out ahead when it comes to split testing - it allows you to test up to 5 variants of e-newsletters to Aweber's 4.

Landing page creation

Another area where Getresponse currently has an edge over Aweber 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 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.

Fortunately however, you can also purchase a Getresponse add-on for $15 per month which provides landing pages functionality. It's a case of looking at your list size, doing your sums and working out which option is best for - the add-on, or a plan which includes the functionality in the first place.

You can also make use of landing pages with Aweber, using a variety of third party tools 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 remotely 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 $29 to $199 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. 

Basically, 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.

I have yet to try out this functionality in depth, but I like the idea of keeping everything in one place - see the 'Getresponse Webinars' video on this page for more details (which of course being a promotional video will portray it in as good a light as possible, but does spell out the basic features clearly).

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

Recently Getresponse rolled out an interesting new feature, '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.

A new Getresponse feature in the pipeline: CRM

Getresponse are currently making a beta version of their new interface available to some users and having had a play with it recently, I noticed that it includes a new feature that may prove very tempting to small businesses: a CRM tool. 

I have yet to test this out in depth, but if it transpires that it's a solid offering, then it adds a potentially very important string to the Getresponse bow. This is because one of the key challenges that many businesses face is making their email marketing systems and CRM tools talk to each other.

Typically, unless you're paying for an expensive tool like Salesforce or Infusionsoft (both of which integrate CRM and mass mailouts) you end up having to import and export data both ways from your email marketing tool and CRM in order to run and analyse digital marketing campaigns. 

If Getresponse's CRM functionality is strong, it will be a potentially huge time and cost saving feature for SMEs. I'll review it in full as soon as I can - watch this space.

Support

Support for both Aweber and Getresponse is comprehensive. Unlike competitors Mailchimp, Mad Mimi and Campaign Monitor, both companies offer phone support (and toll-free to boot, if you live in the US). Email and live chat support channels are also available. 

Getresponse's phone support hours are 9am-5pm ET, Monday to Friday; Aweber's hours are 4am-8pm ET from Monday to Friday and 9am to 5pm ET at the weekend (Aweber's live support in general operates during these hours).

So all in all Aweber's support offering is a bit better than the Getresponse equivalent - there's more phone / live support available. To boot, Aweber recently won a 'Stevie' award for customer service, which obviously says good things about the quality thereof.

Free trials

Both Aweber and Getresponse offer a fully functional free one-month trial. 

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). 

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 think that on balance, Getresponse is the better value product.

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 slightly 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.
  • 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.
  • Getresponse's new 'send time optimisation' feature has the potential to significantly improve your open and clickthrough rates.
  • The new webinars functionality is potentially fantastic for any business that uses webinars for lead generation.
  • If the impending CRM functionality is strong, this will be an incredibly helpful feature for SMEs.

Reasons to pick Aweber over Getresponse

  • The Aweber templates are a bit more attractive than the Getresponse equivalents, and there is a greater selection of them available.
  • The support is more comprehensive.

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.

Finally, if you've got any thoughts on the Aweber vs Getresponse debate, do feel free to share! Just leave a comment below.


Related content

Shopify fees - which pricing plan is best for your business?
Shopify fees (image of the Shopify logo beside a measuring tape)

If you’re thinking of using Shopify to sell goods online, you’ll know that there are several different pricing plans to choose from…and you may be wondering which one is the right one for your business. In this post we’re going to look at Shopify fees in depth, going through each of the available plans and highlighting the aspects that might make one plan better than another - or more suited to your business.

Let's start with an overview of the various plans available.


Shopify fees: an overview

There are five Shopify plans available:

  • 'Shopify Lite' - $9 per month
  • 'Basic Shopify' - $29 per month
  • 'Shopify' - $79 per month
  • 'Advanced Shopify' - $299 per month
  • 'Shopify Plus' - negotiable

You can reduce your Shopify fees by paying upfront: 10% and 20% discounts are available if you pay for one year or two years of service respectively, instead of paying on a monthly basis.

Let's dig into the features of each of these plans.


Shopify Lite

At $9 per month 'Shopify Lite' represents one of the cheapest ways into selling products online - but technically it doesn’t provide you with a standalone, fully-functional online store.

Rather, it allows you to

  • showcase your products on an existing website 
  • sell on Facebook
  • use Shopify as a back-end system for selling products in physical locations (market stalls, gigs, events etc.)

Embedding your products on another website

With 'Shopify Lite', you get a ‘buy button’ - this works in a similar (and arguably better) way to Paypal, in that you add a snippet of code to your website and your product’s details (photo, price, description etc.) along with an option to buy that product, appear on your website.

This is ideal for anyone with a Wordpress or Squarespace site that wants to add simple e-commerce functionality (Squarespace provides e-commerce functionality but it doesn’t work with Paypal - this is a good workaround).

Shopify Buy Button in action

Shopify Buy Button in action

Selling on Facebook with Shopify Lite

If you are only interested in selling on Facebook, and aren’t bothered with creating a standalone store, then 'Shopify Lite' is a potentially good option - with a couple of clicks of a mouse you can publish all your products to your Facebook page, on a dedicated ‘Shop’ page. 

I say ‘potentially’ however because I’ve found Shopify’s Facebook integration a bit frustrating. As things stand it seems that users browsing your store can only buy one item at a time. For most businesses, this is annoying - but for some businesses it will render the Facebook store pretty useless.

An example of such a business is my cousin’s Dublin wedding invitation store, which I built in Shopify - all her sales involve people buying large quantities of wedding invitations at once.

She tried the Facebook integration, but it was of no use, because customers could only buy one invitation at a time with it - a tortuous process if you’ve got 100 guests coming to your wedding. 

The Facebook integration is currently of more use to the likes of bands who wish to sell the occasional album to their fans without them having to leave the Facebook environment, or businesses with customers that are unlikely to make multiple purchases at once (I’m thinking the likes of florists; jewellery stores etc.).

Using Shopify as a backend system for a physical store

'Shopify Lite' is a good option for those who sell in physical locations and need a solution for processing payments and manage their inventory.

It allows you to accept credit card payments in person using a card reader; and you can also avail of other useful point-of-sale hardware items such as receipt printers, cash drawers and barcode scanners. 

Shopify point-of-sale kit

Shopify point-of-sale kit

Every time you make a sale, Shopify will take a note of this and update your inventory accordingly, meaning you’re unlikely to run out of stock when you need it most. This syncing of real-world sales to an online selling platform also makes bookkeeping / accounting a bit easier.

Transaction fees and credit card fees

It’s important with all Shopify plans to be aware of the difference between transaction fees and credit card fees.

Transaction fees are charged by the company providing your online store, and credit card fees are charged by your payment gateway provider (a payment gateway is basically the software used to process credit card payments).

There are no transaction fees to worry about with 'Shopify Lite', so long as you are prepared to use Shopify Payments (powered by Stripe) as the payment gateway.

If you use a third party payment gateway, you can expect to pay a 2.0% transaction fee on each sale, plus whatever your credit card fees your payment gateway provider charges.

If you're on the 'Lite' plan and using Shopify Payments, credit card fees are 2.2% + 30c if a purchase is made online (for example, using a Shopify Buy button) and 1.7% + 0c if a purchase is made using the Shopify point of sale card reader and a mobile device. 

Is 'Shopify Lite' for me?

Shopify Lite is best suited to merchants who

  • want to add e-commerce functionality to an existing website
  • wish to sell on Facebook (and have very simple requirements on that front)
  • want a platform to process payments and manage inventory when selling at markets or events

If your needs are a bit more extensive, it's time to look at...


Basic Shopify

Basic Shopify’, at $29 per month, is the cheapest option that Shopify provides which enables you to create a fully functional, standalone online store.

'Basic Shopify' provides the following features:

  • 2 staff accounts
  • Ability to sell an unlimited number of products
  • Unlimited file storage
  • 24/7 phone, email and live chat support
  • Fraud analysis (as the name suggests, this allows you to spot fraudulent transactions)
  • Manual order creation (this allows you to create new orders and enter card payments in Shopify for sales you've made offline - by phone, in person, or elsewhere)
  • Discount codes
  • Fully functional website version of your store (i.e., as opposed to just a 'buy button')
  • Free SSL certificate (this allows you to host your store securely using the HTTPS protocol)

What are the main differences between 'Shopify Basic' and 'Shopify Lite'?

The most obvious thing you get with 'Shopify Basic' that you don't get on 'Shopify Lite' is a fully functional online store / site. You get all the ‘embeddable’ and ‘sell-in-person’ functionality that comes with Shopify Lite, but importantly, you get a website which you can host on your own domain too.

There are a few other things worth zooming in on: templates, support and blogging.

Templates

Once you're on a 'Basic Shopify' plan (or higher), you can choose from a wide range of templates for your online store - there are 10 free ones, and over 80 paid themes.

I’ve always found the free themes to be perfectly usable (and you can tweak them quite extensively by adding CSS and HTML), but if you fancy a paid theme, they cost between $140 and $180.

Shopify's theme store is very easy to browse, because it gives you a wide range of search filters to locate a suitable theme for your Shopify site. You can drill down by industry, layout type and even visual effects (like parallax scrolling). 

Shopify's 'Minimal' theme - a free template

Phone support

Although support is included with Shopify Lite, it is limited to email and chat only. ‘Basic Shopify’ provides you with phone support too.

A slight word of warning about the phone support however: it's a bit unclear as to whether it is provided globally. Phone numbers are only provided for North America, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore - there's no 'all other countries' option.

A blog

If you’re serious about selling products online, you really need to blog; it’s a core part of any decent inbound marketing strategy because it generates relevant keyword-rich content that can make your site more visible in search results.

'Basic Shopify' provides you with a blog that you can use to attract traffic to your store by publishing relevant keyword-rich content. It's not going to rival Wordpress in the functionality stakes, but it's perfectly usable.

Transaction fees and credit card fees

When it comes to transaction fees, they are the same as 'Shopify Lite' (i.e., no transaction fees if you're using Shopify Payments, a 2.0% transaction fee on each sale if you're using a third party payment gateway). 

Credit card fees are also the same as the 'Shopify Lite' ones: 2.2% + 30c if a purchase is made online and 1.7% + 0c if a purchase is made using the Shopify point of sale card reader and a mobile device. 

Is Basic Shopify for me?

'Basic Shopify' is good for merchants who

  • have a fairly limited budget but need a well-specced standalone online store
  • do not need advanced selling or reporting functionality (more on that below)
  • want to use blogging as a means of attracting inbound traffic.

Shopify

The next plan to consider is simply called ‘Shopify’ and the fee for this is $79 per month. The key additions that the Shopify plan brings over Shopify Basic are:

  • gift cards
  • professional reporting
  • abandoned cart recovery
  • lower transaction and credit card fees

Gift cards

Gift cards - as you might expect - allow your customers to purchase a gift for someone from your store, whilst leaving the actual product selection up to the recipient.

Gift card functionality is probably most relevant to stores with a decent level of brand awareness - i.e., stores that are sufficiently well-known that people would be excited to receive a gift card for them. As such, I would argue that this functionality is not a deal breaker for all brand new store owners - but it is definitely a handy thing to have.

Professional reports

Reporting functionality is probably the most serious omission from 'Basic Shopify' plan and arguably the biggest reason why you might want to plump for the 'Shopify' plan.

With 'Basic Shopify', you’re more or less limited to being able to view a simple dashboard containing basic site traffic and sales reports. Upgrading to the 'Shopify' plan however gives you access to a wider range of detailed summaries, including

  • finances
  • sales
  • payments
  • taxes
  • insights
  • traffic

(Regardless of the type of Shopify plan you select, I'd recommend adding Google Analytics to your site as you'll get a host of additional insights by using it.)

Abandoned cart recovery

The inclusion of abandoned cart recovery in the 'Shopify' plan is another strong incentive for choosing it over 'Basic Shopify'. 

Abandoned cart recovery allows you to automatically send an email to site visitors who add a product to their cart, get to the checkout and then leave your store without completing the purchase.

This can significantly increase your revenue with little effort – other than the 'one-off' time investment in setting up the automated messages – being involved.

Lower transaction and credit card fees

The ‘Shopify’ plan brings with it lower transaction fees than both the ‘Basic Shopify’ and ‘Shopify Lite’ plans, along with lower fees for using an external payment gateway. 

As with all the other Shopify plans, if you're using Shopify Payments, you will avoid transaction fees.

In terms of credit card fees, you can expect to pay 1.9%+30c for online transactions and 1.6%+0c for point-of-sale transactions.

If using an external payment gateway, the fee applied by Shopify is 1%.

Is the ‘Shopify’ plan for me?

The 'Shopify' plan is good for merchants who

  • have a high volume of online sales (or expect them): if the sales levels are high enough, the lower transaction fees will offset the higher monthly cost
  • require more in-depth reporting
  • want to make the most of abandoned checkout recovery
  • sell products for which there is often a demand for gift cards

Advanced Shopify

With ‘Advanced Shopify’, you get two additional features that are not included with the plans discussed above - advanced report building and real time carrier shipping.

Advanced report building

The ‘Advanced Shopify’ plan effectively allows you to manipulate your Shopify data more easily, and create your own reports.

You can select various dimensions and metrics and use them to create bespoke reports which you can save and refer to in future. You can also apply a multitude of filters to your data to get a view that suits your business activities. (Users of Google Analytics will be familiar with this sort of thing)

In short, this functionality is for vendors who really want to drill down into their sales data with a view to tweaking their sales processes / operations to the nth degree.

As such, it’s most useful for merchants who are selling a lot of products (as doing so will provide a significant enough amount of data to make the advanced report options worth using.

Real-time carrier shipping

If you intend to use Shopify with a carrier to ship your products (Fedex, UPS etc.), then you are effectively going to have to use the Shopify Advanced plan (or Shopify Plus, more on which below). 

With Shopify’s real-time carrier shipping option, shipping costs are calculated automatically by a carrier at the exact time an order is placed. You can edit Shopify’s settings to mark these up (i.e., add a handling fee) or down (to compensate for a shipping rate which you feel may dissuade customers from completing a purchase).

Transaction fees and credit card fees

Of the four Shopify plans aimed at SMEs, Advanced Shopify offers the lowest transaction fees.

As with the other plans, if you're using Shopify Payments, there are no transaction fees.

The credit card fee is 1.6% + 30c for online transactions, and 1.5% + 0c for point of sale ones.

Using an external payment gateway costs 0.5% in transaction fees, plus whatever the payment gateway charges you.

Is ‘Advanced Shopify’ for me?

The 'Advanced Shopify' plan is good for merchants who

  • have a very high volume of online sales (or expect them): as with the ‘Shopify’ plan, if your sales levels are high enough, the lower transaction fees will offset the higher monthly cost
  • require advanced reporting features
  • intend to make use of carriers to ship their products.

Shopify Plus

Finally, there’s the 'Shopify Plus' plan  to consider. Unlike the plans discussed above, this is aimed not at SMEs, but at big businesses. 

'Shopify Plus' is an enterprise grade solution, offering advanced features involving security, APIs and fulfilment - and it comes with ‘white glove’ account management (dedicated account management and support).

Pricing is negotiable - as the solution that Shopify will offer you is usually tailor-made to your requirements - but generally runs into thousands of dollars per month.

Is Shopify Plus for me?

'Shopify Plus' is for (large) businesses who have

  • an extremely high volume of sales
  • a need to create very bespoke connections between Shopify and internal systems (CRM tools etc.)
  • very particular requirements regarding security and uptime
  • a big budget to spend on creating an online store!

Trying Shopify before you buy

If you're still undecided about which Shopify plan best suits your needs, you can avail of a free trial. This allows you to test out the product's core functionality and work out which Shopify pricing plan might be the best fit.


More Shopify resources from Style Factory

I hope this breakdown of Shopify fees has helped you get a greater sense of which Shopify plan is most appropriate for your business. There are a range of other Shopify related articles on the Style Factory site - you may find the below links helpful:

A free trial of Shopify is available here.

For a complete list of our online store builder articles, please see our e-commerce platform reviews section.


Got any thoughts on Shopify fees?

If you’ve got any queries or thoughts on Shopify’s fees, or the product in general, we’d love to hear them. Feel free to add a comment below!