AWeber Review 2018 (Comparison vs Alternatives: ActiveCampaign, ConvertKit, & MailChimp)

May 15 2018 – 11:30am

aweber review logoYou’re choosing your email marketing platform, and you’re considering AWeber. In this AWeber review, I’ll help you decide if AWeber is right fbor you and your business. I’ll also compare AWeber with some alternative email marketing platforms, specifically, ActiveCampaign, ConvertKit, and MailChimp.

This detailed AWeber Review is available as a video

My quick recommendations: AWeber vs. ActiveCampaign, ConvertKit, & MailChimp

AWeber is the right email marketing platform for you if all of this applies to you:

AWeber is not right for you if these apply to you:

Want to 4x your creative output? Click here for my free toolkit »

If you want really sophisticated automations, choose ActiveCampaign.

If you want beautiful templates, choose MailChimp.

If you want a combination of ease of use, and solid automations, but don’t mind sending very simple emails, go with ConvertKit.

AWeber 30-Day free trial

At any time, if you decide AWeber is right for you, or if you just want to try it, I have a 30-day free trial just for you.

Get a 30-day free trial of AWeber »

By the way, this is an affiliate link. I will earn money if you sign up for AWeber through this link, or links to any other service in this AWeber review. As you’ll see, this won’t affect what I say about AWeber.

AWeber alternatives

I’m going to start off by giving context to AWeber, by comparing it with some of my favorite AWeber alternatives.

I don’t believe there’s any “best” email marketing platform. There’s only the best email marketing platform for you and your business. So here are some other services to choose from, and links to special offers I have arranged with those services.

With some of these links I make money, with others, I don’t. I really just want share what I’ve learned and help you find the right service for you.

These affiliate links are what makes it possible for me to make a detailed review like this.

If you sign up through one of my links, you get a special offer, it costs you nothing extra. It’s a great way to thank me for the work I put into this AWeber review. If you appreciate it, and want to help me make more email marketing platform reviews like this, please use one of my links.

Is AWeber right for you?

Before I get into the details, Who is AWeber good for, and what are alternatives to AWeber if it’s not right for you? Choose AWeber if:

If all of these apply to you, there’s a good chance AWeber is a good choice for you.

If those key points don’t get you excited, I don’t think AWeber is right for you. They integrate with everything because they’ve been around for a long time. I think because of this, their hands are a little tied when it comes to innovating.

AWeber vs. AWeber alternatives

In case AWeber is not right for you, what are some AWeber alternatives?

Before I start I’ll say that every email marketing platform has downsides. It’s a little like picking a spouse.

Something’s going to drive you crazy, you just have to decide what you must have, and what you can’t stand.

MailChimp vs. AWeber

One AWeber alternative is MailChimp. If you want easy-to-use, attractive templates for simple email blasts, MailChimp is the clear winner. You’ll see that AWeber’s templates are very dated. MailChimp has the most attractive templates, and the easiest email editing experience.

MailChimp is also free for up to 2,000 contacts. But I caution you that if email marketing is important to your business, don’t choose the wrong email marketing platform just because it’s cheaper or free. You’ll lose more in lost time and revenue than you’ll gain in savings if you choose the wrong platform.

Downsides of MailChimp

MailChimp does have its downsides.

AWeber also double-charges you for contacts on multiple lists, but at least they have tagging so you can more easily organize your subscribers.

Get a MailChimp free trial

If MailChimp sounds to you like a good alternative to AWeber, you can use it for free for up to 2,000 contacts.

Get a MailChimp free trial (good for up to 2,000 contacts) »

MailChimp vs. ActiveCampaign

After years of evaluating email marketing platforms, I switched from MailChimp to ActiveCampaign. If you’d like to know why, check out my detailed MailChimp vs ActiveCampaign comparison.

AWeber vs. ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign is another AWeber alternative, and it’s what I personally use in my business. You should choose ActiveCampaign if you want to build more sophisticated automations. ActiveCampagin has a very intuitive drag-and-drop visual automation builder. You can build just about any automation you can imagine in ActiveCampaign.

activecampaign automation builder

ActiveCampaign has an intuitive drag-and-drop automation builder.

Another cool thing about ActiveCampaign is that they have various levels of service, so if you want to upgrade to things like a CRM or SMS marketing, you can do that on ActiveCampaign. AWeber only has the basic level of service.

If you want lots of control of very detailed automations, ActiveCampaign is a better choice versus AWeber. This is especially true if you have a high-touch sales process that calls for a CRM, or if you want to integrate SMS marketing – or, since switching email marketing platforms is a big project – if you think you might want those features in the future, you can start with ActiveCampaign’s “Lite” package now, and grow into their more feature-packed packages in the future.

Downsides of ActiveCampaign

There are downsides to ActiveCampaign. After being spoiled by MailChimp, the email editing experience is cumbersome to me. They have a drag-and-drop editor, but I find it impossible to make an email with the very plain appearance that I want in my emails. So, I end up using ActiveCampaign’s HTML editor which is the worst editor I’ve ever used.

I also find it hard to edit emails in an automation. ActiveCampaign’s automation builder is great, but when it comes time to edit multiple emails in a sequence, it’s really a chore.

Get an ActiveCampaign free trial

If you want to try out ActiveCampaign, you can do that with my 14-day free trial link.

Get a 14-day free trial of ActiveCampaign »

AWeber vs. ConvertKit

Choose ConvertKit if you want any easy email-editing experience and an easy automation-building experience. ConvertKit’s email editing experience is solid. Not as good as MailChimp’s, but better than AWeber’s.

 

ConvertKit automation building

ConvertKit’s automation builder

You also might like ConvertKit if you want easy lead-magnet landing pages. ConvertKit has a built-in landing page builder. They don’t have a ton of templates, but AWeber doesn’t have landing pages at all. This could save you from needing a ClickFunnels subscription.

You’ll generally like ConvertKit if you are an author. ConvertKit is built by an author, for authors. I’m an author, so ConvertKit is also appealing to me. If you’re an author, you may want to look at ConvertKit.

Downsides of ConvertKit

The first downside of ConvertKit is that they only have simple email templates. This is an upside to me, personally but if you run an ecommerce site or are an artist you might not like this. ConvertKit is staunchly against fancy email designs. Some people don’t like this, so you may prefer AWeber, who provides email templates.

The other main downside of ConvertKit is it’s the most expensive to get started with. Their cheapest plan is $29 a month. This will cover you for up to 1,000 contacts.

Get a ConvertKit free trial

If you want to try out ConvertKit, you can do that with my 14-day free trial link.

Get a 14-day free trial of ConvertKit »

ConvertKit vs. ActiveCampaign

If you’re trying to decide between ConvertKit and ActiveCampaign, check out my detailed ConvertKit vs. ActiveCampaign comparison, which is also available as a video:

Pricing of AWeber & AWeber alternatives

Let’s quickly talk about pricing. Really, I recommend that you don’t make your email marketing platform decision based upon price. You don’t typically see a huge difference in pricing between platforms, and if you’re an active email marketer you can make up any price differences by having the platform that works for your business and makes you more money.

# of Subscribers5001,0005,00010,00025,000
All prices on per month basis.
ActiveCampaign (Lite)
14-day free trial »
$15$29$89$139$225
AWeber
30-day free trial »
$19$29$49$69$149
ConvertKit
14-day free trial »
$29$29$79$119$199
MailChimp
2,000 contacts free  »
FREEFREE$50$75$150

As I mentioned previously, AWeber starts beating other services once you have about 5,000 contacts. MailChimp can be tempting when you have a smaller list. They’re free for up to 2,000.

I think MailChimp is a good choice if you just want something simple to send out email blasts, but if you’re serious about your email marketing efforts and want sophisticated automations and segmenting, I’d recommend going with ActiveCampaign or ConvertKit. AWeber does have an easier-to-use and slightly more powerful automation builder than MailChimp does, so if you’re looking for something in between, AWeber might be a good choice.

Switching email marketing platforms can be a lot of work, so it’s best to get it right the first time. I’d caution against going with MailChimp just because its free if you’re just starting out.

Now that you’ve read about some AWeber alternatives, let’s get on with the AWeber review.

A tour of AWeber’s features

Import subscribers into AWeber

If you already have an email list for your business, you’ll need to import your existing contacts. This is easy to do. You can copy and paste or enter by hand. Or, you can import your subscribers from a file.

Choosing fields to import in Aweber

Choosing fields to import in Aweber

Here I have a CSV of some subscribers, and I can choose which fields go with which, including tags. If the right field doesn’t exist in my AWeber account, I can add a custom field.

how did subscribers join your list

I let them know where I got the emails, and do I want them to get my existing auto-responder? They call it a follow-up series.

do you want your subscribers to opt in again

Do I want them to opt-in once again? This is good that they give you the choice because I think they used to require everyone you imported to opt-in again.

add tags to these subscribers

Finally, I can add additional tags to remind me which import they came in from. And, my contacts are importing.

Compose a Broadcast on AWeber

Next up, we’ll do a basic email. AWeber calls this a “Broadcast.”

I can do plain text, with ugly links and all. I can do an HTML editor. Or, I can use AWeber’s drag and drop email builder, which is what I’ll do.

drag and drop email builder

Here I’ve defaulted to one of AWeber’s templates. You can see they have lots of template. My opinion as someone who helps people learn web design is that these templates are extremely dated and not very attractive. Again, I think MailChimp has the most attractive templates.

But, I don’t like to send complicated emails with templates. As a designer, I don’t like AWeber’s templates, but as an author, I want my emails to look as plain as possible – just like if they were getting an email from a friend.

drag and drop email builder

I can write my text in here. I can add an image. But to add an image in the middle of text I have to create multiple text boxes. I find that experience clunky, though ActiveCampaign‘s drag and drop editor is similar. I do like that AWeber’s emails are responsive, so whether on desktop or mobile the formatting looks good.

MailChimp’s drag and drop makes it the easiest email editing experience

MailChimp has the easiest editor – you can drag images directly into your library and insert them in your email.

dropping an image file onto MailChimp's editor

Dropping an image file onto MailChimp’s editor

Create a Blog Broadcast on AWeber

Next up, you can create a blog broadcast. You can enter the RSS feed of your blog, and AWeber will automatically send an email whenever you publish.

edit your blog broadcast design with RSS Feed URL field filled out

You can edit some simple code to change what shows up where.

HTML Message window with tags in window

Creating a “Campaign” automation on AWeber

Next up, my personal favorite: Automations. AWeber calls their automations “Campaigns.”

I’ll see what it’s like to recreate my free email course, Design Pitfalls. I’ll make a welcome Campaign. I’ll activate it when they subscribe.

Aweber campaign builder showing available actions

how will a contact enter your automation in ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign has way more automation triggers as compared to AWeber.

By comparison, ActiveCampaign has way more options on their “Lite” plan. Even more with their more advanced plans. But, AWeber’s automation builder is more simple, and more nimble than ActiveCampaign’s.

Adding a Tag in an AWeber Campaign

Select design pitfalls (weekly)

I can then add a tag that will activate the “Design Pitfalls” campaign, which is the course itself. I want the first lesson to go out on Mondays and the second lesson on Wednesdays.

When the course is over, I could add another tag to start another campaign and pitch my premium course. I can also add what AWeber calls an “automation.” If a contact clicks a link in a given email, I can trigger that to add a tag, which could trigger another campaign.

ConvertKit’s automation builder is easy to use & extensive

ConvertKit's automation builder selecting which days to send emails

ConvertKit’s automation builder selecting which days to send emails

By the way, ConvertKit has a great combination of an easy-to-use automation builder, with a healthy set of options for building those automations.

Create a segment on AWeber

If you want to send an email to a select group of subscribers, you want to search your subscribers, and create a segment.

Manage subscribers - searching by tags and save as segment

You can search by tag, or any other field you’ve created. You can combine search attributes. However, one limitation is you can only search by AND, as it has this tag for having gone through my course AND does not have this other tag for having become a customer.

You can’t search by say, has this tag for this course OR this tag for this other course, AND does not have this other customer tag.

ActiveCampaign has richer segmentation options

Creating New Segment

With ActiveCampaign you can build incredibly sophisticated templates.

Limited segmentation options was one big reason I switched from MailChimp to ActiveCampaign. With ActiveCampaign, you can build extremely complex segments, with multiple ANDs and ORs.

AWeber’s Sign Up forms

Sign up form templates

Next up, creating a sign up form for new subscribers. AWeber has templates for this. Again, I think they’re pretty dated. You can add an image and change colors. I sign up through one of these forms, I’ll get a confirmation email. AWeber has double opt-in by default, but you can turn it off.

AWeber Thank You Pages

I can customize AWeber’s “thank you” page with just a logo. I can also add a so-called “Smart” Video thank you page, which is just a video embedded that shows subscribers how to confirm their email. It’s in Flash, so I couldn’t even see it in the Chrome browser I normally use. Very dated. Or, you can simply add a custom page by entering a URL.

Global Text Snippets on AWeber will save you a ton of time

Create a new snippet

AWeber has one very cool feature: Global text snippets. You can make little variables that you can use throughout all of your emails. If you have a coupon code that you want to change out periodically, you can change it here once, and it will change across all emails where you’re using that variable. This will save you a ton of time.

ActiveCampaign has a similar feature called “message variables,” which I use frequently, and which would be a good reason to not switch to ConvertKit. It makes it so that I can run something like a webinar sequence, and simply change out variables for dates and times and coupon codes.

AWeber has tons of integrations

One of the best things about AWeber is that they’re so popular, and have been around for twenty years. They integrate with just about any service you might use.

When you’re deciding on an email marketing platform, be sure to check just how well a given platform integrates with other services you count on.

AWeber’s WebinarJam integration is limited

AWeber integration

AWeber integration with WebinarJam

ActiveCampaign has rich integration with WebinarJam

An integration I count on is WebinarJam. I can see that WebinarJam’s integration with AWeber is pretty limited. It’s some code I can use to make a sign-up form.

AC integration

WebinarJam integrates more deeply with ActiveCampaign as compared to AWeber.

By contrast, ActiveCampaign‘s integration with WebinarJam is very detailed. I can add tags based upon whether someone attended my webinar, or by how long they stayed. These tags can then trigger automations. I can automatically send one sequence to people who attended the webinar, and a different sequence to people who missed it. I’d have to do this manually with AWeber, or with MailChimp or ConvertKit for that matter.

AWeber reporting

Naturally, you want to know how your email marketing efforts are paying off. For this, let’s review AWeber’s reporting. You can look at numbers across your list, such as opens over time, clicks, revenue, and subscriber growth.

Aweber Reports opens over time

Aweber Reports opens over time

You can insert some Javascript on your website to integrate your analytics. You can then set up goals based upon pages visited, and assign revenue to those page visits to track earnings from your email marketing.

AWeber Broadcast reporting

Broadcast report including sales numbers

Seeing the money earned in sales from the broadcast is nice if you have that level of control over your payment processing. It wouldn’t be terribly straightforward in all cases to get accurate numbers there.

Conclusion

In conclusion, AWeber is a solid email marketing platform if you want simplicity, a good price above 5,000 subscribers, and if you want basic and easy-to-build automations. AWeber also has tons of integrations.

If AWeber looks good to you, get their 30-day free trial.

Get a 30-day AWeber free trial »

AWeber Alternatives

If you want more attractive templates, but don’t mind not having tagging, go with MailChimp.

If you want more sophisticated automations, and the chance to upgrade to a CRM and/or SMS marketing, go with ActiveCampaign.

If you want quick and easy automations, and don’t mind being limited to plain emails with the occasional image embedded, go with ConvertKit.

Other email marketing platform reviews & comparisons

Want to 4x your creative output? Click here for my free toolkit »

This post is filed under Best-of, Email Marketing Automation.