If you haven’t heard of Aweber or MailChimp yet, you probably haven’t started building your list. That’s okay, I’m sure you’ve heard the famous saying “the money is in the list”, and I understand that perhaps earning dollars is not your big plan. Regardless of whether you are blogging for fun or money, here are a couple of key reasons why you need to build a list.
Why Do I need A List
- Traffic to your blog can become inconsistent – your email list remains constant
- You have people on your list because they trust you and like you, therefore you can market your products and services to them
- The list you have can be used to produce repeat traffic back to your website
- Your list contains people who are targeted because they have shown interest in your content
Okay, so I’m not going to write an article around the importance of list-building but instead, I’ll compare what I believe are the two best email list building software applications on the market.
If you are just starting off with email marketing, MailChimp wins this category without a doubt. MailChimp is free to use as long as your list of subscribers remains under 2,000 and your emails sent on a monthly basis is less than 12,000. Before you go out and start using MailChimp, note that with the free service there are some obvious restrictions such as not having delivery doctor (which tests your campaigns to see if there any spam or user ISP issues). Other features such as inbox inspector which presents your email in an attractive format is also missing plus time warp which ensures email delivery and times of delivery.
Aweber has a charge of $19/month when you have 500 subscribers or under, and they are kind enough to offer a 1 month trial @ $1. If you don’t like it, Aweber will refund your dollar.
When MailChimp does start charging, it remains more cost effective than Aweber until you reach the 5,000 subscriber mark, after which the plans work out roughly the same (see table below)
My Winner: MailChimp
Both Aweber and MailChimp offer a number of distinct feature on their platform which can take some time to learn. I like Aweber’s approach of proving a number of how-to tutorial videos for just about all of their components. While the interface could be a little friendlier with Aweber, I somehow look past it simply due to the powerful features it possesses.
MailChimp offers a slightly more colourful platform and friendly interface not to mention videos to learn the various components of their software.
I personally like Aweber now but only because I have grasped the ‘ins and outs’ of it. This one is too tough to split so we’ll go with a draw.
My Winner: Draw
Aweber offers a large selection of custom form designs and while the interface might be a little slow, there are enough designs to keep your mind off any latency issue.
While Aweber focusses on inbuilt opt-in forms, Mailchimp specialises in developing external opt-in forms which are hosted on MailChimp’s site. If you know a good web designer, you could essentially design your own form with the assistance of MailChimp’s tools (even create pop-ups with the GUI tool). While this is all great, MailChimp only provides three templates for their on-site forms (Classic, Super Slim and Naked), and the first two are very similar.
Aweber wins this round primarily due it the great on-site form customization it offers. I found MailChimp’s process of clicking a link then signing up will frustrate many bloggers and we want to make the sign up process easy for our potential subscribers.
My Winner: Aweber
Drafting and Designing Emails
If there is one area which requires significant improvement on Aweber’s part, it’s their text editor – absolutely horrendous! I have a habit of drafting my emails in MS Word then cut and pasting it, but this is by no means a smooth process with Aweber. The format is completely different when you hit paste and I can imagine this must drive their users insane. There have been reports from Aweber suggesting that their text editor will be relaunching so I’ll have to sit tight until then.
The plus for Aweber in this area is the range of email templates which they offer.
MailChimp really excels in this category with their Campaign Builder offering an attractive interface. There is a large selection of email templates or you can strip it down to a basic template if you wish. The images are hosted on their site which might explain why the site is a little slow.
I would have to award this one to MailChimp simply because the whole process of drafting e-mails is straight forward and until Aweber upgrades their text editor, MailChimp has a solid hold of this category.
My Winner: MailChimp
Which is a better autoresponder?
When it comes to consistently delivering emails, Aweber is down right solid! I was told that their rate of delivery is slightly above 99% and from my experience, I can’t disagree. The one feature which sticks out is they have an in built Spam Score which informs you how likely your e-mail will be classified as spam to the recipient. This obviously makes life easier as you can tailor your content to ensure your message doesn’t hit the readers spam box.
If Aweber’s trump card is spam score, then Mailchimp’s answer is Inbox Inspector. How Inbox Inspector works is that it will send your e-mail to a few email clients to test whether or not your message is being treated as spam. This will reduce the probability of your emails being captured by spam filters. While I did like Inbox Inspector, it took some time to obtain the results. With Aweber, the spam score is provided instantly and it basically guides you as you write the message.
My Winner: Aweber
Once you have built a decent list of subscribers, this is when Aweber’s tracking capability really starts to flourish – they track opens, clicks and conversions.
While MailChimp also offers a few tracking features, they are limited especially as you start analysing each reader. If you want to get into the nitty gritty analytics, Aweber is definitely a step ahead and provides specific data for you to use.
My Winner: Aweber
Does Aweber or MailChimp Provide Better Support?
I personally find Aweber stands out in the support department as you can contact them by phone, e-mail or even instant message (all 7 days a week). I have gotten replies to my questions within 24 hours and I should also mention they have tonnes of video tutorials, webinars and a strong knowledge base.
MailChimp also offers a live chat support function but this is only available on weekdays. I do a lot of my blog work on weekends so a delay in support can really hurt my functions. There is also the option of e-mail support but this is a given for most reputable online businesses.
AWeber offers wonderful support options. You can reach them by telephone (7 days a week), instant message, or email. They also have a comprehensive knowledge base, webinars, and video tutorials. I have only heard good things about Aweber’s customer service.
MailChimp’s support is more limited. They have a live support chat option which is open on weekdays. Beyond that, you can only reach them by email. If you are having a major issue with your list, the delay in support from MailChimp can be costly
My Winner: Aweber
The bottom line is, both of these providers are great in their own right. If you are looking for a cost effective solution and not worried about the key components of list management (spam management and message tracking), go with MailChimp.
If you want to build a strong brand and value strong efficiency while wanting to better understand your end customer, Aweber is the way to go. In fact, why not give it a shot and trial it for a week here and I guarantee you will love it.
Hope this has helped you make a better decision on which autoresponder to use