Aweber review: the conclusions. Overall I would say Aweber is a solid email marketing tool. It’s not the best product of its kind available, but it is reasonably priced, easy to use and contains most of the key features you’d expect from an email marketing solution.
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.
How much does Aweber cost?
There are 5 Aweber plans on offer:
Hosting and emailing a list containing up to 500 subscribers: $19 per month
501 to 2,500 subscribers: $29 per month
2,501 to 5,000 subscribers: $49 per month
5,001 to 10,000 subscribers: $69 per month
10,001 to 25,000 subscribers: $149 per month
If you have 25,000+ subscribers, you will need to call Aweber for a quotation.
A 14% discount is available if you pay quarterly; a 14.9% discount is available if you pay annually. There are also some discounts available for students and not-for-profit organisations.
One aspect of Aweber’s pricing structure that potential users might like is that all features are available on all plans – unlike some competing products you don’t have to be on more expensive plans to unlock certain functionality.
That said, the functionality available on Aweber – as we’ll see below – is not necessarily as extensive as you might find in competing email marketing solutions.
How does Aweber’s pricing compare to that of its competitors?
Aweber is, in general,
significantly cheaper than Campaign Monitor
considerably cheaper than iContact
roughly the same price as Mailchimp
marginally more expensive than Getresponse
considerably more expensive than Mad Mimi (note: Mad Mimi’s feature set is significantly more basic however).
It’s worth noting that the above comparisons don’t really apply to very small lists however – if you have a small email database, several of the competing products are better value.
For example, hosting a list containing 1000 records will cost you $29 with Aweber, and…
$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
Taking another example, if you have a larger list containing 10,000 records, it will cost $69 with Aweber and…
$149 per month with Campaign Monitor *
$79 per month with iContact
$75 per month with Mailchimp
$65 per month with Getresponse
$42 per month with Mad Mimi
* A quick note about Campaign Monitor: there are some cheaper Campaign Monitor plans available which allow you to host the same quantities of email addresses as outlined above, but they limit the number of e-newsletters that you can send to them. For the sake of a fair comparison, I’ve referenced the costs for Campaign Monitor plans that permit unlimited broadcasts as these plans are comparable in terms of send volumes permitted to the Aweber ones.
That’s just two examples of course, and Aweber’s competitors have different pricing tiers that will occasionally make Aweber cheaper, occasionally more expensive. But generally I’d say Aweber is priced roughly in the middle of the e-marketing solution scale.
Of course, pricing is not the only factor you should base your decision on…the more important thing to work out is what bang you get for your buck.
So let’s look at some Aweber features.
Key features of Aweber
Aweber provides you with the following key features:
the ability to import / host an email database
a wide range of templates
some marketing automation functionality
responsive email designs
RSS / blog to-email functionality
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 into Aweber.
As you import your data, you are given the option to add your subscribers to a particular set of autoresponders, and tag them. Not all competing products permit the addition of imported data directly into autoresponder cycles so this is a nice feature to have.
For anti-spam reasons, you will have to answer some questions about how you collected the data you’re importing. If your list is on the larger side, you may also have to wait until it is reviewed by Aweber’s anti-spam compliance team (as is the case with other email marketing tools).
In essence, Aweber’s importing functionality is good – no complaints here.
By comparison to its competitors, Aweber provide one of the largest sets of e-newsletters templates available: there are over 700 available.
To provide a bit of context, there are around 500 templates available for Getresponse, 90 for Mailchimp and around 50 for Campaign Monitor.
Toe be honest, I don’t love all of the designs – some of them look slightly dated. I would consider them to be slightly better than the Getresponse ones, but not as good as Mailchimp’s or Campaign Monitor’s.
However, the sheer volume of templates available means that with a little bit of tweaking you should be able to find a suitable one for your e-newsletters. There is, of course, always the option of coding your own too.
Using web fonts in Aweber templates
One thing that you can’t use in Aweber templates which you can in some other competing platforms (such as Mailchimp and Campaign Monitor) is web fonts. You are restricted to using the usual ‘safe fonts’ – Arial, Times New Roman, Trebuchet and so on.
There are good arguments for not permitting use of web fonts – for example, your emails are likely to appear more consistently and display more reliably across email clients – but only using web safe fonts can make templates look a little bit blander than they otherwise could.
In general, I’d give Aweber a thumbs up in the template department, but it’d be nice to see some of the templates freshened up a bit, and the inclusion of some attractive web fonts.
RSS to email templates
Like similar e-marketing products, Aweber can take your site’s RSS feed and turn it into e-newsletters that get sent out according to a schedule that you define. In Aweber, this is called ‘Blog broadcasts’, although technically you can use this feature with any content that has an RSS feed.
This functionality is particularly handy for bloggers who want subscribers on their mailing lists to automatically receive e-newsletters containing their latest posts (or, indeed, a monthly digest of blog posts). In essence, it means that you can power your newsletters from your website – this can be a big time-saver.
It’s worth noting however that you can’t use the standard Aweber template designs for RSS-to-email purposes – you have to choose from a set of templates which are specifically designed for this purpose.
On the plus side, there are quite a few of these to choose from – more than most other e-marketing solutions I’ve tried.
On the down side, many of them look pretty dreadful. And annoyingly, you can’t use the standard Aweber email drag and drop interface to edit them. With a bit of tweaking, you’ll probably be able to find something that works ok, but I think there is definitely some large room for improvement here.
Autoresponders – a series of follow up emails that are automatically triggered by either time or user actions – are a key part of any e-marketing solution.
Aweber claim to have invented autoresponders back in 1998 and as such you’d expect their autoresponder functionality to be mind-blowingly good. Oddly, it’s just ‘okay’.
On the plus side it is very easy to set up follow up emails based on time interval – for example, automatically sending subscribers an onboarding email immediately after sign up, a promo code 2 days later and a ‘follow us on social media’ email a week later is extremely easy. This is a typical use of autoresponders and it’s a breeze with Aweber.
On the down side, triggering autoresponders based on user actions and purchases is a bit more complicated than with key competitors Mailchimp and Getresponse.
Using Aweber, you can create ‘goals’ or combine automation rules with tagging to make autoresponders behave in quite funky ways…but if you want to make use of autoresponders in really advanced ways, you’ll probably need to look at other products, particularly Getresponse, which provides ‘marketing automation’ functionality that hooks up to a built-in CRM.
And speaking of marketing automation…
Marketing automation is a feature which is increasingly offered by email marketing solutions like Aweber.
I tend to think of it as ‘Autoresponders 2.0’ – where you go beyond traditional ‘drip’ campaigns and create complex user journeys using ‘IFTT’ – if this, then that – style workflows.
With marketing automation, you typically design a flowchart where emails are sent based on user actions: email opens, link clicks, site visits, purchases made and so on.
Responsive email designs
Unlike some other e-marketing tools – notably, Mad Mimi – all Aweber’s email templates are all ‘responsive’.
This means that they automatically resize themselves to suit the device they’re being viewed on. In this day and age of smartphones and tablets, this definitely is a good feature.
One minor gripe I have however regarding the responsive designs is that to preview them you’ll actually have to send a test email to a smartphone. On other platforms you can usually just hit a ‘preview on phone’ button or similar. The lack of this functionality is not a dealbreaker by any means, but it does slow you down a bit, particularly if you are sending a lot of campaigns every month.
Opt in processes
A nice feature of Aweber is the flexibility it gives you around how you want to handle the opt-in process.
You can choose to subscribe your users on either a single opt-in or a double opt-in basis (single opt-in is when a user is subscribed immediately after completing a form; double opt-in is when they have to click on a link in a confirmation email to complete their subscription).
Both approaches have their merits, so it’s good to see Aweber being flexible in this regard – not all competing solutions provide their customers with this choice.
Split testing (also known as A/B testing) involves sending variants of your e-newsletters to some of your mailing list, monitoring the performance of each, and sending the ‘best’ version to the remainder of your list.
Most e-marketing tools handle this automatically for you: you create a few different versions of your email (using either differing content or subject headers), send them to a sample of your data, and your e-marketing solution will roll out the best performing version automatically to the rest of your mailing list.
Split testing USED to be good in Aweber: until very recently, you were able to create and test four variants of an email (making Awber’s split testing functionality better than most leading competitors; Getresponse being a notable exception).
For some reason split testing is currently completely unavailable in Aweber – I have been assured by their sales team that it’s coming back over the next few months, but if you think you’re going to need this functionality urgently you might be best off considering an alternative email marketing solution.
Aweber’s support is one of the stand-out features of the product.
Phone support, email support and live chat support is all available – this compares very favourably with some key competitors including Getresponse, Mailchimp, Campaign Monitor and Mad Mimi, who only offer email and/or live chat support.
Additionally, there’s no hoops to go through to contact support – relevant phone number and email details can be viewed very easily on the company’s contact page, without any requirement to trawl ‘knowledge bases’ or fill in any forms beforehand.
On top of that, the company won a gold award in 2016 the US’ National Customer Association’s Stevie Awards (and a bronze and silver awards in 2017 and 2018 respectively), which augurs pretty well for the quality of the support you’ll receive when you contact them.
If you are a novice to email marketing, then this sort of easy access to good-quality support is a strong argument in favour of using Aweber as your email marketing provider.
In terms of the availability of support, you can contact Aweber’s phone support team from 8am-8pm ET Monday to Friday, and their email and live/chat support is available 24/7.