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Aweber – a First Impression Review

In this post I give a first impression review of Aweber.

Building a newsletter list has been a central part of my blogging business over the last few years. While my blogs are the primary tool that I use to communicate with readers – I find that having a newsletter list helps me to reach new audiences and drive people to my blogs (I’ve written about some of the other reasons that I use email newsletters here).

Until recently I used Zookoda to do this. Of course they’ve had some serious problems over the last few months which led me to ‘un-recommend’ them. Their problems led them to suspend services completely.

This presented me with a big problem – I had built up lists of over 60,000 people to my blogs – yet had no way to communicate with them.

Luckily through posting about my Zookoda woes I was contacted by a number of other email services with offers of help. I looked into each one but ended up choosing to move my lists to Aweber.

While some of the other services were free I’ve become a little wary of the free service after Zookoda and coupled with the many recommendations by readers who have had good experiences with Aweber I decided to go in that direction.

I began the process of transferring the lists over from my Zookoda list to my Aweber list a number of weeks ago. This process has not been a quick one (Aweber have some procedures in place to safeguard themselves from spammers importing massive lists of email that were not obtained ethically) but my overall experience has been positive.

My First Newsletter with Aweber

This culminated in me sending out an email last night to my DPS list (just under 30,000 subscribers). You can see the newsletter in it’s HTML version here (they also let you send a plain text email for those who prefer them).

The results of sending this first email were fantastic.

  • The % of emails that were delivered was significantly higher
  • The numbers of emails opened and clicked on was also higher as a result of more emails getting through

More important than either of those factors to me was the flood of emails that I had this morning from DPS readers saying that they’d not been getting emails for months and were so glad that they were back. I never realized the extent of the problems with deliverability that Zookoda had been having.

Aweber Features that I Love

In terms of features – Aweber has some great ones.

You can use it in a variety of ways – either as an autoresponder, in ‘broadcast’ mode (which is what I’m doing to send out weekly newsletters) or in ‘blog broadcast mode’.

This ‘blog broadcast’ tool is similar to what Zookoda offered in that it allows you to send out posts appearing in your RSS feed via email automatically (Feedburner and Feedblitz also do this). They just updated it today so that you can send these posts out in a variety of ways (for example you can have it send it out on certain days of the week or month and specify times that you want them to go out).

Other tools that Aweber offers which attracted me to it include

  • a much wider array of options when it comes to personalizing emails
  • to be able to set up auto-responder lists (I’m toying with the idea of a ‘photography for beginners’ list that sends out daily tips from the archives on the site)
  • comprehensive reports
  • a good range of templates in terms of design
  • great customer service (I’ve used the live chat service a couple of times and have found responses to emails have been very quick from the person handling my account)
  • the ability to include (and track the performance of) ads in newsletters

There are so many features in Aweber that it’s a little overwhelming at first. I’ve still got a lot to learn about what it’s capable and am discovering new things that I can use daily. Luckily they have some good training materials which have been a big help.

Cost – Can’t I get this for Free?

Aweber is a paid service. They charge a flat monthly fee ($19.95 or less if you pay quarterly, annually) which includes your first 10,000 subscribers and then they charge an additional $9.95 per month per 10,000 subscribers. This includes as many email messages and lists as you want to create.

This isn’t cheap (when you compare it with a free service at least) and at first I balked at it – however as I researched the options it actually was significantly less than what a lot of other services were charging for similar features. After my experience with a free service that didn’t perform brilliantly I realized that if I wanted to take my email newsletters to the next level then I’d have to be willing to pay for it.

I’m glad I did this – the extra traffic that I’ve driven to the site in the last 12 hours (combined with the sales from the affiliate program ad that I included in it) will pay for my use of Aweber fairly quickly.

I’m just a few weeks into using this tool – but so far I am incredibly happy with my choice to switch to Aweber.

Paying for this type of service will not be for everyone. As I’ve mentioned – there are free tools that send newsletters, convert RSS to email etc. If all you want to do is convert RSS to email then I’d probably stick with Feedburner or Feedblitz (in fact to this point I am still using Feedburner for this) however if you’re looking for a dedicated newsletter service and your long term goal is to grow your list into something that is central to your business then I’d encourage you to consider researching the options and going with a professional grade service. I wish I’d done this earlier as switching from one service to another does require some effort and coordination.

Do you use email newsletters as part of your blogging? What services have you tried?

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Jojo says:

    Aweber has a very nice feature for e-marketing purposes. Though there are alot of loopholes here and there which could be improved. But thats ok.

    Their main lacking it only support Latin text. Forget about other text such as, Chinese, Urdu, Arab, Thai, Japs, etc.
    I really hope the developer would take a serious matter into these. It would benefit them in many way.

    Another complaint that I have is their customer service. With the amount of fees that I am paying, I feel I should receive a better customer service. Talking to them feel like talking to a robot. Help from customer service does not help at all.

  2. Stephen Lee says:

    I’m using PHPList and very happy with it, it is comparable to most paid services, and it’s free.

  3. Hi Darren,

    I would have agreed with your assessment of Aweber…until this morning. One of my potential subscribers advised me that they could not sign up to my list because my account was shown as closed. I contacted Aweber and they advised that my account was closed because I had used Erik James’ co-registration system (started 8 days ago). The ad for my ezine is on one of Erik’s web pages and people have to double opt in to my ezine and then opt in once more to Aweber.com, otherwise they are not accepted to my list.

    Aweber has closed my account and refused to re-open it despite my offer to remove the co-regs. What made it worse is that they claimed that they sent me an email which I never received. When I challenged this they admitted that my paid email provider (optusnet.com.au) had banned them for deemed “spam”. So Aweber itself has been banned by my paid provider!! – what’s it all coming to?

    I challenged the system and got through to a supervisor who reluctantly agreed to give me a back-up of my leads which I had built up over two years.

    So I have to start again too.

  4. Aweber prices have increased DRAMATICALY!

    19.95 a month now gets you only 500 subscribers.
    29.95 a month gets you up to 2500 and so on.
    10,001 subscribers is a whopping 149.95 a month!!

    How much are you paying for 60,000 Darren ?

  5. Orangedwarf says:

    Well, was looking for something like and got pretty interested till the last comment.
    With these price increases, it will be a challenge to start working with aweber when you’re a startup.
    Anyone else a suggestion how to start this without major cost…I am a start up in video glasses.
    http://www.orangedwarf.com

  6. Tom Kulzer says:

    The pricing Popular Wealth listed is not accurate.

  7. Current, Copied and Pasted. Aweber’s cost right now.

    0 – 500 $19/month
    501 – 2,500 $29/month
    2,501 – 5,000 $49/month
    5,001 – 10,000 $69/month
    10,001 – 25,000 $149/month
    25,000 + Contact Us

    It’s gone up since this post was written, that was my point.

  8. MattD says:

    I agree with the price issue. I was interested in Aweber as a result of this review, but in one year their price went up over $130/month for 10,000 subscribers. How can one be certain they won’t go up another $130 next year?

    Any other more economical suggestions?

  9. orangedwarf says:

    Hi there, as long as there is no pressure from the market on Aweber, they can do whatever they like and increase prices. So the question is perhaps are there perhaps comparable alternatives we can use and push. The more competition the less likely they will go for price increases.

  10. Wasim says:

    I am using GetResponse for the first time and it is so easy to use but I’ve heard so much good things about aWeber too just like in this post. Very helpful by the way !

  11. Andre Vatke says:

    Aweber has a good reputation – especially for it’s deliverability. I’ve been with them for over 5 years.

    It’s not without it’s issues. Some are major…

    I currently have a responder that is set to read incoming e-mail and parse custom form data from there. It works flawlessly, that is when aweber’s mail server accepts incoming mail.

    About 30% of the incoming mail is bouncing with a return that the responder is not a valid address. After 6 weeks of working on this from every angle aweber acknowledges it’s their issue but has yet to come up with a fix.

    Another issue is a core functionality at Aweber. Messages scheduled to send 1 day apart can take up to 48 hours to send. So a 7 message – 7 day campaign can take up to 14 days to complete. This inconsistency is not good for my image.

    The last issue that I’ve had is with personalization codes in html – specifically in the nofollow tag. If you use a field to modify a URL (say with an affiliate ID) it gets screwed up. The solution is to send text only.

    There are a lot of alternatives for webmasters using both PHP and .NET (activecampaign.com for example). The advantages are that these options give you troubleshooting control. The downside is that without a person running interference with ISP’s you might end up with deliverability issues.

  12. James says:

    I used Aweber for a while but the returns I get from running an email autoresponder did not make sense so i cancelled. I have not tried other services but I found aweber quite easy to use once I play around inside.

    I’m rather surprised of the price increase which for 500 email at $19 is on the steep side for me.

  13. I used GetResponse for years. They missed things up many times — including deleting part of my account and offering very lame compensation. Their system also had many other problems that they blamed on “my browser.”

    Once I spent one hour on hold with them — and then they hung up on me before connecting. The next day they told me that no one was in the office at all.

    Worse… email delivery was poor.

    I switched to Aweber last year and they get 5 stars on all fronts. Great customer service. great Info. Great setup. Great delivery.

  14. Bruce says:

    I believe most Internet Marketers are using Aweber for Opt-ins. It probably integrates with other software too boost profits. I was thinking about using PHP List for my WordPress blog but there’s the issue of Magic Quotes.

    It might be better to start with Aweber, to same time from transferring from another auto responding service…if it’s not reliable. If you’re not into internet marketing, perhaps, Aweber is not for you.

  15. James says:

    To John C. Marley, are you working for Aweber?

    Your statement seems to on intent attacking Getresponse, “poor delivery rate” is something i don’t think Getresponse gets called up on.

    If anything, many people on forums are saying The delivery rate of getresponse and aweber are the SAME more or less..

    So i would advise everyone to take what is posted sometime with abit of thinking, read around more places and see what the majority of people say. So read around if you want to have a better idea

    Personally, Aweber turn me off with their pathetic attempt to increase price by $120 monthly to rip off IMarkters who already have a established list with them.