In this Aweber review, we take an in-depth look at one of the most popular solutions for automated sending of HTML newsletters. There are some who say Aweber is the real deal, so let us see what makes them think that Aweber is the best email marketing program. We’ll go through the pros and cons of Aweber and discuss its pricing and feature sets.
There are 5 Aweber plans on offer — the pricing structure is as follows:
- Hosting and emailing a list containing up to 500 subscribers: $19 per month
- 501 to 2,500 subscribers: $29 per month
- 2,501 to 5,000 subscribers: $49 per month
- 5,001 to 10,000 subscribers: $69 per month
- 10,001 to 25,000 subscribers: $149 per month
If you have 25,000+ subscribers on your mailing list, you will need to call Aweber for a custom quote.
A 14% discount is available if you pay quarterly; a meager 15% discount is available if you pay annually. There are also some discounts available for students and non-profit organizations.
One aspect of Aweber’s pricing Structure that potential users might like is that all features are available irrespective of plans unlike some competing products, you don’t have to be on a more expensive plan to unlock certain functionality.
That said, the functionality available on Aweber as we’ll see in-depth is not necessarily as extensive as you might find in competing for email marketing solutions.
How does Aweber’s pricing compare to that of its competitors?
Aweber is, in general,
- significantly cheaper than Campaign Monitor
- considerably cheaper than iContact
- roughly the same price as Mailchimp
- Slightly more expensive than Getresponse
- Considerably more expensive than Mad Mimi (note: Mad Mimi’s feature set is significantly more basic however).
In some cases, of course, we are comparing apples and oranges, as all these competing products have different feature sets on each plan and subscriber limits that will occasionally make Aweber cheaper and 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 take a look at some of the feature sets.
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
- some (very basic) marketing automation functionality
- responsive email designs
- A/B (split testing)
- RSS / blog to-email functionality
- list segmentation options
- phone, email and live chat support
- integrations with third-party apps
Importing data into Aweber
Importing an existing database Into Aweber is a pretty straightforward affair.
You can upload the following file types:
Alternatively, you can add individual subscribers manually, or copy and paste rows of subscribers straight 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 definitely a nice feature to have.
For anti-spam reasons, you will definitely have to answer some questions about how you collected the data you’re importing.
And, if your list is on the larger side (over 10,000 records), you may also have to wait until it is reviewed by Aweber’s anti-spam compliance team (as is the case with other email marketing tools). This can take up to one business day.
In short, Aweber’s importing functionality is well setup.
This is where Aweber shines. With a set of over 700 templates, this is one of the largest premade template collection for anyone email marketing solution.
In comparison, there are around 500 templates available for Getresponse, around 80 for Mailchimp and around 50 for Campaign Monitor.
They are well designed and even though they may seem a little dated, however, the sheer quantity of the available selection trumps this.
Using web fonts in Aweber templates
Ok, it’s out. Aweber supports Web fonts.
This is a good thing because web fonts are usually much more attractive than the standard ‘safe fonts’ (Times New Roman, Arial, etc.) that email marketing apps often restrict you to; used judiciously, they can enhance the appearance of an email considerably.
Additionally, depending on the typefaces you use on your website, they can also achieve brand consistency between your site and newsletters.
In general, it’s a thumbs up for Aweber’s templates, especially due to the inclusion of web fonts.
RSS to email templates
Like similar marketing products, Aweber converts your site’s RSS feed and turn it into newsletters that get sent out according to a schedule that you define. Aweber, calls this ‘Blog broadcasts’, although technically you can use this feature with any content that has an RSS feed.
This functionality is Particularly handy for bloggers who want subscribers on their mailing lists to automatically receive newsletters containing their latest posts. In essence, it means that you can power your newsletters from your website, this can be a definite time-saver.
It’s worth noting however that you can’t use the standard Aweber template designs for RSS-to-email purposes, you are limited to a set of templates that 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.
With a bit of tweaking, you’ll probably be able to find something that works fine, but there is definitely some room for improvement here.
Autoresponders – a series of follow up emails that are automatically triggered as per a schedule or due to certain user actions, are a key part of any e-marketing solution.
Aweber claims to have Invented autoresponders back in 1998 and although you would expect it to be the best in the business, it is bordering on being not too bad.
On the plus side, it is extremely easy to set up follow up emails based on time interval, for example, automatically sending subscribers an onboarding email immediately after sign up, a promo code 2 days later and a ‘follow us on social media’ email a week later is extremely easy. This is a typical use of autoresponders and it’s a breeze with Aweber.
On the downside, triggering autoresponders based on user actions and purchases is a bit more complicated as compared to other services.
Using Aweber, you can create ‘goals’ or combine automation rules with tagging to make autoresponders behave in a specific way. However, any advanced configuration is lacking and the feature set is rather limiting. Services like Getresponse provides ‘marketing automation’ functionality that hooks up to a built-in CRM and can be really good for complex automation.
Marketing automation is a feature that is increasingly offered by email marketing solutions like Aweber.
It is a kind of advanced Autoresponder feature where you go beyond traditional ‘drip’ campaigns and create complex user journeys using ‘IFTT’, if this, then that, style workflows.
With marketing automation, you typically design a flowchart where mails are sent based on user actions: email opens, link clicks, site visits, purchases made and so on.
Aweber recently introduced a new marketing automation feature which to a degree provides this functionality. It’s called ‘Aweber Campaigns.’
With this feature, you can use certain user actions, namely, email opens and clicks along with the application of tags to determine what should be sent to whom and when.
However, I think this functionality needs to be more advanced. Tools like Getresponse and Mailchimp provide considerably more flexibility when it comes to which types of user behavior can trigger mailouts.
For example, in Getresponse, you can use triggers such as purchase, specific page visits, subscriber ‘score’ and sales pipeline stage to act as triggers for an email response.
So Aweber needs to up its game soon.
Responsive email designs
Aweber’s email templates are all ‘responsive’.
This means that they automatically resize themselves to suit the device they’re being viewed on. In this day and age of smartphones and tablets, this is an absolute must.
However, designing a responsive email can be a tedious task as you will need to send test emails to actually test the ‘Responsiveness’ of the same. There is no preview available like Getresponse does.
The lack of this functionality is not a deal-breaker by any means, but it does make the process tedious, particularly if you are sending a lot of campaigns every month.
A nice feature of Aweber is the flexibility it gives you around how you want to handle the opt-in process.
You can choose to subscribe to your Users on either a single or a double opt-in basis. Single opt-in is when a user is subscribed immediately after completing a form whereas double opt-in is when they have to click on a link in a confirmation email to complete their subscription.
Both approaches have their merits, so it’s good to see Aweber being flexible in this regard, not all competing solutions provide their customers with this choice.
Split testing (A/B testing) involves sending variants of your e-newsletters to some of your mailing lists, monitoring the performance of each, and sending the highest performing 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.
With Aweber, you can send up to three variants of your e-newsletter when split testing. This compares well with other email marketing tools: Mad Mimi doesn’t facilitate split testing at all; Campaign Monitor only allows you to use two variants; and Mailchimp, like Aweber allows three.
Getresponse, however, is a bit more flexible allowing you to test up to 5 variants against each other.
Email analytics in Aweber are pretty good. In addition to being able to monitor key stats such as open rate, click-throughs, and email bounces, you can also look at a lot of other useful analytics/information, including
- the growth of email 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 quite a lot besides.
In terms of how this compares with competing products, I would say that Aweber’s reporting is more comprehensive than that which is available in Campaign Monitor or Mad Mimi; however, Mailchimp and Getresponse both provide better reporting interfaces.
Aweber divides reporting in three sections, “Broadcasts”, “Subscribers” and “Reports” to get an overall picture of analytics, whereas Getresponse and Mailchimp present most of their reporting information on a single dashboard.
Segmenting data in Aweber
Segmenting data in Aweber is simple and easy. You can create segments not only based on the contents of any field in your database but also on user activity too, emails opened, web pages visited, links clicked, products bought and so on. It’s all very flexible and easy to use.
It’s a little bit tricky, however, to work out how to get to the screen where you create the segments, you basically have to go to a ‘manage subscribers’ section, search for subscribers and then save the search as a segment.
To be fair, some solutions (Getresponse) use a similar approach to segment creation, but others (such as Campaign Monitor and Mailchimp) provide a more obvious ‘segments’ section.
Also, Aweber doesn’t allow you to send emails to multiple segments at once. This will cause problems for some users who have a need to ‘pick and mix’ segments in mail-outs on a regular basis.
On the plus side, Aweber now lets you send emails to multiple lists, something that is prohibited by key competitor Mailchimp.
Ultimately however other email marketing tools, especially Getresponse and Campaign Monitor, handle segmentation in a better way.
Integrations with third-party apps
Aweber offers a good range of integrations with other solutions. There are hundreds of integrations available which allow you to connect Aweber to various types of cloud-based software, web builders like Wix or WordPress; CRM tools like Salesforce; landing pages like Instapage and so on.
Some of these involve dedicated widgets; others involve adding a snippet of code into a website; others involve a sync tool like Zapier or Pie Sync.
It’s rare that Aweber will plug into other software quite as seamlessly as Mailchimp, but you shouldn’t have too much difficulty getting Aweber to work with a wide range of other SaaS (software as a service) apps.
Aweber’s support is definitely one of the stand-out features of the product.
Phone support, email support, and live chat support is all available which compares very favorably with key competitors including Getresponse, Mailchimp, Campaign Monitor, and Mad Mimi, who only offer email and/or live chat support.
Additionally, there’s no difficulty in reaching contact support: relevant phone number and email details can be viewed very easily on the company’s contact page, without any requirement to trawl ‘knowledge bases’ or fill in any forms beforehand.
On top of that, the company won a gold award in 2016 the US’ National Customer Association’s Stevie Awards (and a bronze and silver awards in 2017 and 2018 respectively), which heralds 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 favor of using Aweber as your email marketing provider.
In terms of the availability of support, you can contact Aweber’s phone support team from 8 am-8 pm ET Monday to Friday, and their email and live/chat support is available 24/7.
Aweber review: the conclusions
My Conclusion. Aweber is a Solid Email Marketing tool.
It’s may not be the absolute best product of its kind available, but it is reasonably priced, easy to use and contains almost all of the key features you’d expect from an email marketing solution.
The main aspects of the product that would nudge me in Aweber’s direction are its ease-of-use, web fonts and excellent support.
The support aspect may be particularly important for users who are starting out in e-marketing without many technical skills.
Additionally, Aweber is not too expensive by comparison to some competing products, especially Campaign Monitor and iContact.
The main things that would dissuade me from using Aweber are its relatively basic automation features.
I hope you’ve found this Aweber review helpful so far, but if you haven’t made your mind up on whether this is the e-marketing solution for you, here’s a simple breakdown of the key pros and cons of using it:
Pros of using Aweber
- It’s very easy to use.
- It comes with one of the largest range of templates, considerably more than its key competitors.
- Support options are more extensive than is the case with some key competing products and based on Aweber’s Stevie awards for customer service, it should be high.
- It’s reasonably priced, whilst not the cheapest product of its kind out there, it is cheaper than several similar solutions.
- It lets you choose whether to subscribe people to your list via a single or double opt-in basis.
- It has excellent 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 wide range of third party tools and apps.
- It makes setting up simple time-based autoresponders very easy to do.
- All email templates are responsive.
- Reporting features are good.
- You can use web fonts in newsletters sent with Aweber.
You can get a free trial of Aweber here.
Cons of using Aweber
- There are cheaper options out there which offer considerably more features in the marketing automation department, Getresponse being arguably the prime example.
- Some of the templates look a tad dated.
- The RSS to email templates are poor and they can’t be edited using Aweber’s standard drag-and-drop email builder.
- You can’t include or exclude multiple segments at once when sending an e-newsletter.
Alternatives to Aweber
There are many alternatives to Aweber available.
If you’re looking for something a bit cheaper, then Mad Mimi is worth investigating (but bear in mind that Mad Mimi is simply a more basic solution than Aweber).