MailChimp versus Aweber – Which one is right for you?
After reading the two previous posts, you’ll have now well and truly stepped off the fence regarding sending e-newsletters, haven’t you?
Brilliant, so pleased to hear you’ve understood the benefits, you’ve brainstormed 12 months’ worth of content and you’re ready to get started but…
There are so many email marketing platforms, how do I know which one is best for me and my company?
You’re absolutely correct, there are lots including Constant Contact, iContact, Benchmark Email, Campaign Monitor, MailChimp and Aweber and so on.
Why? Well, because they’re the two email marketing platforms that I’ve used and have experience of, both for myself and for my clients.
Let’s start with a description from both platforms taken from their websites:
Mailchimp versus Aweber
MailChimp helps you design email newsletters, share them on social networks, integrate with services you already use, and track your results. It’s like your own personal publishing platform. 2.5 million people use MailChimp.
There is a free version of MailChimp for up to 2,000 subscribers with a limit of sending 12,000 emails per month. The subscribers total is across all your lists. You do not need to provide credit card details or sign up for any length of time. While this may sound tempting, there are a few restrictions:
The two main restrictions I believe most companies would wish for, are, you cannot schedule an email to be sent on a specific date and time and you are unable to set up and send autoresponders, A further restriction includes not being able to access their delivery doctor feature (this tests your campaigns for potential problems).
If you wish to have access to the extra features, the cost per month is based on the number of subscribers as follows:
There is no free version with Aweber but they do offer a one month trial at $1.00, followed by subsequent months starting at $19.00 for up to 500 subscribers. The $1.00 month trial does give you access to all their features, the ability to send unlimited emails and a 30 day money back guarantee.
The price is as follows for each level of subscriber numbers:
Mailchimp is therefore cheaper until you get into the higher subscriber numbers.
Both platforms have a user interface with lots of features, tools and functions and there is a steep learning curve for both. They both offer videos and tutorials to get you started.
Aweber frequently hold free webinars too. Subjects include how to set up your campaigns, get more subscribers, combine email with social media, create effective newsletters, and more.
I think this is where MailChimp really does excel and their choice of email templates is growing all the time and they now have an enormous number of templates, many of which are designed around themes, such as holidays, Christmas, sports, events, products and so on. You can choose from dozens of designs starting with their basic to pre‑designed templates, or use their new drag and drop template builder for more customisation. If you’re an HTML expert, you can code your own.
Whether you’re a beginner or expert or somewhere in between, MailChimp will have an email design for you.
Aweber on the other hand have 150 templates in 1 column and 2 column designs. They also offer a drag and drop editor, which does take a bit of getting your head round! I’ve not found the Aweber pre-designed templates to be as interesting or as imaginative as Mailchimp, so I tend to use their drag and drop feature instead.
During the design process both platforms offer a pop up test feature which provides a brief overview of how your email will look. They also offer the option of sending a test email – please don’t skip this part thinking your email looks great in the pop up window, as invariably it looks nothing like it when delivered! Just my observation from designing many email newsletters.
In terms of choice and ease of use in designing email newsletters, MailChimp would be my preferred option.
Form Design Tools
MailChimp advise on their website that they’ll help you customise your signup form to match your brand, so you can share it on your website and integrate it into your Facebook page. You can easily add images, drop‑down boxes, radio buttons, phone‑number fields, and any other information you’d like to collect.
Personally, I didn’t find designing the opt in form within MailChimp particularly easy to set up at all. It took a few frustrating attempts to understand how they work and design the form. I got there in the end though!
Aweber advise that you can create a beautiful web form in just 3 clicks and offer:
- Flexible designs which let you adjust your form endlessly
- Multiple colour schemes for each template
- Co-ordinate with their matching email templates
- Choose from a selection that’s constantly growing
You’re also able to collect name, email and up to 25 more fields with their drag and drop interface. Aweber also offer the feature of hosting your web form on its own page for you.
I found designing the opt in form for my website really straightforward and there are a wide variety of templates to choose from and customise. I also found displaying the form on my website was really easy to do. Any changes I make to the form from within Aweber are also automatically updated on my website. I thought this was a really cool feature.
Another reason for using Aweber when it comes to designing and using opt in forms is that I can use different forms on my website, these all then track separately. So, I can see on my website which pages or posts people subscribed on and which are the most popular.
Aweber win hands down with regards to designing and integrating opt in forms, they offer more templates than MailChimp and personally I found them easier to design and get to grips with.
MailChimp’s autoresponder features are more basic than Aweber but if you’re just starting out, they may be sufficient for your needs. MailChimp doesn’t have the flexibility which Aweber offers.
If you’ve set your sights on growing your list with targeted marketing, Aweber has so much more to offer. Aweber incorporates some excellent features for managing your autoresponder messages and your list.
With both platforms there is a learning curve and setting up to do, which all takes time.
Both MailChimp and Aweber offer tracking reports telling you who’s opening, clicking, and coming back for more. Their interactive graphs show you how many emails were delivered, how many people and who opened your email, which of your subscribers clicked on your links and which links they followed and more. You’re also able to see who didn’t open your email. You’re also able to view where in the world your subscribers are located and track engagement by country.
Analyse stats that tell you how many people your email reached, including social channels, all in one convenient spot.
Aweber also incorporate a feature of how much revenue your message generated, particularly useful if you sell products.
Aweber’s tracking also go deeper than MailChimp including opens, clicks, and revenue over time graphs, along with new subscribers broken down into daily, weekly and monthly and graphs showing subscriber growth, subscriber autoresponder totals and email newsletter totals and more. While MailChimp offer some deeper tracking, it’s not as in-depth as Aweber.
In terms of customer support MailChimp provide an email contact form to send your support query, whereas Aweber are available Monday to Saturday via phone, email or live online chat.
I’ve not requested any support from MailChimp so cannot comment on how quickly they respond or how quickly they solve your problem. Only offering support via an email contact form doesn’t impress me much though.
I have had a need to contact Aweber and they responded to my query within a few hours and then solved it within minutes. The person who responded was extremely helpful, very courteous and I was impressed.
Conclusion: MailChimp versus Aweber
In conclusion, MailChimp would be perfectly adequate for your needs if you’re just starting out and won’t be requiring autoresponders or believe your subscriber list will grow beyond 2,000. Therefore, their free version might give you all the features you require. In its favour, MailChimp allows greater email design flexibility.
If, on the other hand, you require those features either now or in the future and think you will move on to a paid version, Aweber is my preferred choice. I was sold on their opt in form design tool alone, not to mention their autoresponders and in-depth tracking capabilities.
Something else to think about, is if you believe that at some point in the future you will be incorporating opt in forms and setting up autoresponders or your subscriber list will grow beyond 2,000, then please do think very carefully which email marketing platform you choose from the start. Moving from one provider to another is not an easy task, particularly if you wish to move to Aweber, as they will require you to have your subscribers double opt in.
Choose the platform from the start which will provide all the features and benefits you require now and cater for future growth.
A word of caution is that MailChimp’s terms of service does not allow you to undertake affiliate marketing and promote affiliate products.
About the author: Anne Headen owner of Acusmart PA is a Virtual Assistant based in the UK. Anne works in close partnership with her clients, helping them to grow and develop their business. Along with admin and business support, she provides event organisation, WordPress website design and maintenance, email marketing and social media management.
Follow her on Twitter @AcusmartPA.