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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. I have been using Aweber for over a year now, really good software and has lots of functions. Would be great if they could add a aweber count like feedburner.

    Michael

  2. Jamie Harrop says:

    Before I launched my blog I used a landing page to secure email addresses. I wanted to build a list of people I could announce the launch to. I offered a small prize to those who subscribed (the prize was a bunch of my favourite business books). It worked, and I had a small, albeit loyal base of subscribers to kickstart the launch of my blog.

    For all of this, I use PHPList. It’s free and did about as good as I would expect from a free program. If I needed to use a free system in the future, PHPList would be the first place I go to.

  3. Stephanie says:

    Aweber is marvelous. They really take their business seriously.

    I use Feedburner for those sites where all I need is the blog sent out to readers, though. It works well enough, and one can only hope that Google has the sense to keep it in great condition. I think they do.

  4. I’ve been getting alot of emails lately from a service called GetResponse. I personally use Aweber, and have found them great. Does anyone have experiences with GetResponse and Aweber, and if so, what are the differences/benefits of switching between?

  5. Hi there Darren, thanks for this. I’m very interested in starting an email list. I’ve stayed away simply because of the amount of work that seems to be required, but I’m a member of Blog Mastermind and Yaro recommends it heavily. You mentioned some free services, are there any you recommend, at least until I feel ready to move on to Aweber?

  6. Tech Slice says:

    I’ve never used Aweber myself, but I’ve only heard good things about it.

  7. Darren, sometimes free isn’t free enough (if the service is unreliable) which is why I played around with the likes of Zookoda for a while there but went straight to AWeber 2 years ago and haven’t looked back since.

    I like a company that sticks to its core focus and doesn’t try to expand into all directions. And on the free alternatives, if we’re serious about our business and it’s future success paying for a service that is a core part of your business should be a no-brainer … free is good, but reliability is even better.

  8. ebookbum says:

    I agree free is only for the “hobbyist” marketers. Serious i.m.ers swear by awebar, including myself :).

    Sincerely,

    ebookbum.

  9. i have a question darren? why dont you use aweber on this problogger blog.. instead of feedburner.. ? i am thinking about using aweber also if it is better than feedburner. let me know thanks..

  10. directeur says:

    Darren,

    I’ve been using aweber for about 5 years. It’s magic. When you attein 250.000 subscribers it’s a little bit slower.

    But there’s so much features in it!! One of them is the ability to unsubscribe from a responder A when a person joins a responder B. Very useful for handling order/pay process for example. Because, when someone order and doesn’t pay you can send him follow-ups until he pays. When he pays you stop the follow-ups and start an upsell process…

    Actually this is a simple example. Many many possibilities are offered to you via custom fields for example, and you can do whatever you imagine when you associate you aweber account to a dedicated app.

  11. ming says:

    I’ll give it a go, thanks for the reccomendation

  12. David Risley says:

    I have been contemplating switching to Aweber. My big problem is importing existing membership I have a newsletter list of about 26,000 emails and I know Aweber is going to make them all re-confirm. Which means I’ll likely lose a lot of subscribers in the import.

    So, I’d be interested, Darren, in your success rate of re-confirmed members of your list of 60,000. If you say you just emailed 30,000, can I assume you lost half of them?

  13. I have been using Aweber and it is wonderful. Great reporting features and great customer service.

  14. Mark Gibson says:

    I recently started using Aweber and I love it. I sell software on one of my business sites and the autoreponder has made a massive difference. I used to use PHPList but for the extra deliverability, service & functions, it’s worth paying the money.

  15. Darren Rowse says:

    Michael – yes that’s one downside if you’re into those sort of buttons

    Jamie – I’ve heard PHPList is good too. Bit more knowhow needed to host it yourself though

    Stephanie – thats what I noticed too about Aweber, they are very serious and comitted to customer service and keeping things working well (hence all the safe-catching they do with importing lists).

    Seduction C – havn’t tried them

    Albert – it does take some work to set it up – but once you’ve got it set up the workload decreases significantly

    Martin – I wish I’d gone with AWeber 2 years back too.

    ebookbum – wise words

    directeur – yes I can imagine it’d be slower with bigger lists – and yes the possibilities are limitless – so many features I’m yet to learn about.

    ming – let us know how you find it

    David – that put me off too. What I’d recommend is that you email their customer support to see what they require. I found them to be accommodating and helpful in getting a higher opt in.

  16. I’ve been using Aweber for about a year now. I would never use anything else. I love it.

  17. Sonia Simone says:

    Aweber’s a terrific product, and I don’t know of anyone who can beat them for delivery. They are the way to go for an autoresponder or newsletter, although I use Feedburner for the blog email subscription–neat and easy and I don’t have to do anything, which I like.

  18. I’m also using Aweber for my email list and post notifications.

    No complains. Glad that I’ve made the right choice.

  19. I have been using Aweber for four years. They are the ONLY service I’d recommend to anyone in good conscience.

    Also, something to really consider: Aweber goes to great lengths to ensure email deliverablity to all the major ISP’s (including AOL!). This is now a major issue. What good is a list when people don’t get your emails?

  20. Shawn says:

    Paying for a service that works properly is always a better option.

  21. Wayne Liew says:

    Aweber is the king of auto-responders I should say. I started out using Zookooda as well but after finding that most of my newsletters went into the junk folder of most e-mail sites, I switched to using PHPList.

    I always wanted to give Aweber a try but still on the line of “to do it or not” because of the cost and of course, PHPList is doing OK for me.

  22. Woodshed says:

    I’ve was using iContact for my list and wasn’t entirely happy. After reading many recommendations of Aweber, I decided to try them out and was very disappointed. I had a number of problems with them and found their email support poor – some emails never got a response, one was responded to three times, by three different people with three different responses.

    My experience might be a one off but I’m sticking with iContact.

  23. I’m using Getresponse because of the unlimited autoresponders included.
    Tried also Feedblitz which is free, but is totoally unacceptable if you have larger lists (simply never works)

  24. Dan says:

    I’ve used a few for newsletters – Constant Contact, then iContact. Both were fine.

    I’ve now converted to Campaign Monitor, though, and I love it so far. You only pay when you send, which is nice if you’re just starting out, or not sending frequently, but I think the rates are competitive either way.

    It’s really a tool for designers and marketers to work with clients, so it allows you build and manage virtually unlimited lists with great control over them.

    I still stick with Feedburner for straight email delivery of blog posts, but I’d say it’s well worth a look for anyone who wants to create a newsletter, and doesn’t need pre-made templates to do it.

  25. delighted to read this, Darren. I’ve been researching list offerings myself and have come to the same conclusion … AWeber stands above the rest.

    I’m also delighted that you’ve got the DPS newsletter going and have had good results … I hope a ProBlogger newsletter is in the works .. I’ve missed them … seems along time since you’ve published them and it’s avaluable addition to the overall expereince I think.

  26. I have checked out Awebers software and it looks like its the best out there, I think we are going to give it a shot and see how well it works.

    Steve

  27. Relax Max says:

    Hello. I just discovered your website. How could it have taken me so long?

    I have been recently studying the subject of newsletters, and how good ones are constructed and administered. I haven’t started one yet. I comment here to thank you for this informative post. Good work.

  28. Awesome! This is my second post I read today in your blog and I have found a solution to two issues. Yesterday I was building a newsletter with my open source tool but I have to say it’s a lousy tool. This one looks very good, I really like the style of your first newsletter. I need to take a deeper look into this. I might start using this in all of my blogs. Thanks, Darren!

  29. Dave says:

    I evaluated AWeber and iContact and eventually went with iContact, mainly because they have an API that you can use. It’s quite nice and the service is great.

  30. Darren Rowse says:

    thanks again for everyone’s comments. Lots of good advice in this thread!

  31. Although my blog is new and I’m not ready to start one yet I have been looking at newsletter providers. I’m also a Blog Mastermind member but I was reluctant to choose Aweber because of the cost.

    But after asking around I feel it would be better to start with a good paid for service like Aweber rather than suffer a bad service and the hassle of trying to change later.

    This could be one scenario where it is better to pay and not look for the bargin! I want my newsletter to be central to my blog so I am definitely going to be using Aweber for my newsletter.

    Thanks for the review Darren

  32. Ros Gardner says:

    Excellent choice, Darren!

    I’ve been using Aweber for almost 10 years and they’ve never so much as dropped a lead. Moreover, their support is fantastic – however, I suspect most folks would never need their help as the service is so easy to implement and the tutorials are fully explanatory.

    Happy mailings!
    Ros

  33. DefogMyBlog says:

    I use aWeber and find their customer service dazzlingly terrific. Good to have your review.

  34. Doug Green says:

    I went to aweber over a year ago and wouldn’t go back to my other service. I did have problems moving over because the original list was so “dirty” with bad email addresses (the previous list service didn’t drop bad addresses). Wound up with a much smaller list but with fantastic open rates. A year later, the list is back up to the 5-figure mark and doing well. I can’t recommend aweber highly enough in that they’re trying to protect their business while protecting and encouraging yours.

  35. Tom Furman says:

    Based on your recommendations, I’ll be using Aweber when I start my newsletter next month. Thanks for such a richly informational website!
    Tom Furman
    http://www.physicalstrategies.com

  36. ITrush says:

    Hmm, looks like I’m missing something. Thanks for informing us!

    nhick
    http://www.itrush.com

  37. This sounds like an extremely helpful software, but could someone who has used it in the past share their experience with it. Thanks.

  38. Aweber’s great.

    I’ve tried some of the other autoresponders, but nothing compares to them.

    Don’t try and use your own autoresponder either – very time consuming to set up, etc.

  39. You was able to transfer your 60K without double opt-in and without losong anyone?

    Let me know, if yes, it’s awesome.

  40. I’m really happy with the aweber support, and with their offerings.

    In my day job the organization I work with uses an industrial grade website management and messaging service with a lot more bells and whistles and costs significantly more.

    For price performance you can’t beat Aweber. Just that first call to customer service will tell you how great these folks and their service are fantastic. I’m very glad to have found them.

  41. I’m really happy with the aweber support, and with their offerings.

    In my day job the organization I work with uses an industrial grade website management and messaging service with a lot more bells and whistles and costs significantly more.

    For price performance you can’t beat Aweber. Just that first call to customer service will tell you how great this service is. I’m very glad to have found them.

  42. Port80 says:

    My experince was NOT good with Aweber. I started AWber and then returned withtin 30 days and got my money back.

    Reason: They don’t offer features necessary for capturing visitor’s all necessary data to find interest. You can’t enforce visitor to select from Dropdown Menu.
    Called CS, guy told me that they don’t have this feature.

    Now looking someother service.

  43. Port80,

    I’m not familiar with the specifics of your call to us, but it sure sounds like you’re trying to do something that we do indeed support (you can use dropdown menus in your forms and make the field required).

    If you’d like to discuss in more detail, drop me a line:

    justinpremick [AT] aweber.com

  44. Justin P,

    Kudos on responding to peoples concerns even on other people’s web sites like this!

    Everyone:

    I am planning on using AWeber for my lists but I just have a question. If I have two lists, one for ‘members’ and one for everyone else, and I use the feature where it removes people from my general list when they join my ‘members’ list, do they have to confirm again? Can I move people from one list to another without having them confirm?

    I am a partner in a wine of the month club, New Spain Wines and when people join the club I want to stop sending them sales materials but I do not want to risk losing them.

    If it is not possible, can anyone who has done something like this let me know what their conversion rate was when moving to the new list, and can you customize the confirmation email they receive?

  45. Klyde,

    Each list in your AWeber account is treated as an independent subscription. This is an email best practice as laid out by major ISPs, anti-spam groups like MAPS and others.

    I don’t want to take up Darren’s space with all the details – but we had a discussion about this on our blog a while back that you might find helpful.

    You can customize the confirm email – as for what to put in it, get in touch with me — justinpremick AT aweber DOT com — and I’ll be happy to make some suggestions.

  46. Phil says:

    Are the bulk emails sent from Awebers server or your ISP?

    My ISP openly says they will cancel the account without notice if I send bulk mail.

    Thanks for the review.

  47. Digital-Joe says:

    For all the Hype about AWeber, they cannot handle subscriptions, recurring payments. (Don’t even get me started!)

    I want to deliver a report (spreadsheet) as an attachment to an e-mail on a monthly subscription basis.

    For those of you who utilize monthly (or otherwise) paid subscriptions, how do you do it?

    Digitally yours,
    Joe

  48. Jag says:

    I’ve used Aweber for more than a year now.

    Got no complains. High delivery rate. Split testing tools for web forms and broadcast messages. Fast send out on broadcast and dependable follow ups.

    What more can I ask for? Their analytical reports are comprehensive too.

    Aweber – I say it is value for money, considering the price you pay.

    Cheers,
    Jag

  49. Dominique says:

    I had a look at aweber but noticed that the pricing is not the same as the one you wrote:

    “Starting Your First Email Campaign?
    Get started today for just $19 a month and send email follow ups and newsletters to up to 500 subscribers.

    Or, pay $193.80 annually and save $34.20 every year. You won’t pay anything more until you profit from the increased sales and traffic your subscribers generate.”

    Far away from 19.95 for 10,000 subscribers?!?

  50. I’m reluctant to pay this much for something when I’m not currently making any money from my blog.

    However, I’d really hate to switch autoreponder service providers. That seems like it would be a real pain. As a result, I’m considering aweber.