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Migrating from AWeber to Mailchimp

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If you are doing business online, you’ve probably heard it before. You need a list or the money is in the list.

When I first started out I selected what seems to be the industry standard AWeber but I recently migrated to MailChimp.

While AWeber is easy to use and I quickly figured out how to do autoreponders, there were a few annoyances

Other languages than English

My first list was actually for a Danish site and I quickly realized that AWeber is pretty much only for the English speaking crowd. There were a couple of dead give aways. For example

Poor support for international characters

Basically all the people signing up for my list with names containing some of the Danish characters รฆ, รธ or รฅ got messed up with the characters being replaced with… well.. crap.

I find it really hard to believe that the biggest player in a market focuses so narrowly on the English speaking market. I know that the Danish market is small, but what about some of the other big non-English speaking markets? It could also be me doing something wrong, but I have seen this problem in other Danish sites using AWeber.

Optin email subject should be approved

When setting double optin up with aweber (that the subscriber has to confirm the subscription in the first email), AWeber has to approve the subject of the email going out. This is a bit of a problem when the subject is in Danish and the guys who need to approve it only speak English. After a couple of bounces with the support, they approved the subject as I sent them the translation and also referred them to the translation on Google Translate, but not the easiest of things to do.

AWeber emails feel… old..

I know I can change the look and feel of AWeber emails, but I ended up using no template (to keep the stuff clean) and I know this is very subjective, but using AWeber I just felt that my emails got that “Internet Marketer Fluff List” to it. And… just look at Mailchimp’s logo :).

Maybe I have been on too many Internet Marketers’ list to be tired of the look of AWeber… Don’t know… It can also just be my brain that automatically associates AWeber with Internet Marketer’s Bogus Affiliate Swipe Files.

But overall AWeber has worked well, so why change?

I guess that this is what you would expect for someone I guess is market leader. So why do I want to change?

Well, the first thing that got me thinking about making the change was that AWeber is priced $19 per month up to 500 subscribers while MailChimp is free up to 2000. That is some of a change. I’m a small player but is reaching the 500 mark soon, and basically I’m cheap and do not want to pay for something I can get cheaper or free somewhere else.

So what did I learn in the process?

Importing lists are easy, autoreponders are not

While it is dead easy to import subscriber lists from another source into MailChimp, it is really hard to import the autoreponders. Basically I had to manually copy all the content from AWeber to MailChimp. Yes I know, I could have outsourced this, but basically I was a little in doubt about the whole process, so I basically did this painstaking work myself. Also I basically only had two autoreponder sequences with about 30 different mails.

If I had longer sequences I think I would have thought twice about doing this (or at least gotten help doing it) ๐Ÿ™‚

It was a fairly repetetive process so it would be easy to do a screencast of how one single email is moved and then getting the rest moved by a VA.

I guess that I am not the only one with this problem.

Another small issue is that MailChimp won’t import what they call “role addresses” such as info@… or contact@… since they are not “real people” (see http://blog.mailchimp.com/role-addresses-are-not-people/). While this is probably true for big corporations a lot of “regular guys” who own their own domain name, are using these kind of email addresses. And it is kind of stupid to have to add them manually to the list because the import won’t create them.

Both AWeber and MailChimp uses firstname/lastname as default

And basically I just have a “name” for all my lists. This was not so much of a problem with AWeber as it was with MailChimp as the fields are used in different settings and when you then delete the “firstname” and “lastname” field to create a new “name” field, you have to remember to change the settings (like the name field to use in the recipient mail).

Also all the content templates uses “firstname” so you need to remember to change this everytime.

EDIT: After having created all the “name” fields, I have had second thoughts… Maybe it would have been easier just using the firstname as “name” instead. Neither firstname or lastname are required fields by default.

MailChimp needs more finetuning than AWeber

When setting up a single email in an autoresponder you need to setup a lot of settings. For instance you need to choose the design template with each autoresponder. This is really crappy if you like me just started porting the content intended to do all the settings afterwards.

The best way was to create the first email in the series with all the correct settings and then duplicate it. While this should probably be the process, it is still crappy if you suddenly decide that you want a new design on all you autoresponder emails, then you have to go through each of them and change them.

To create autoresponder mails in AWeber is dead simple, just a single screen with all the settings, in MailChimp there are five steps (screens) to set this up. If anyone knows how to edit multiple emails in an autoresponder serie in one go I would be happy to hear from you!

MailChimp has excellent support

I had some trouble getting my autoresponder working, which was really my own fault (I blame the MailChimp user interface of course ๐Ÿ™‚ – there was a button I couldn’t find ), and I ended up being in contact woth both there chat and email support.

Again remember that I am a total freebie that don’t pay MailChimp a dime (at least not yet), and I got quick, polite and professional support in no time. I’ve only contacted AWeber once regarding the Danish subject thing, and while I got my problem solved I got the feel that it was a bigger and “bulkier” organization where issues like this that apparently was not in the “support manual” was a bit harder to solve.

So was it worth it

Well, as soon as I end my subscription with AWeber I am saving $19 per month. I know this is not a lot (considering I got several employees with a cost making the $19 look like sugar in a cup of coffee). I must confess that I feel that AWeber was simpler to configure, but on the other hand seems MailChimp much more powerful. Just small stuff like integrating with Gravatar which means that I get pictures of many of my subscribers is rather nifty. And I can see on Google Maps where they are most likely located (they place the signup ip address on a Google Map).

And of course the whole “Monkey Go Lucky” thing makes you smile a little more than using the AWeber interface (at least the first couple of times… I might get bored with this eventually).

So should you change?

If you have big lists in AWeber and a lot of autoreponders it is probably not worth the time, but if you are new or have small list (or if you are like me based in a country with non-english characters in the alphabet), I would suggetst that you tried MailChimp. Remember it is free up to 2000 subscribers so you can test it out without getting that worn out credit card out of your pocket ๐Ÿ™‚

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32 Responses to Migrating from AWeber to Mailchimp

  1. I just started using MailChimp today and I have to say… it was a little difficult to setup, even for a tech guy for me.
    BTW I found your blog from The Lifestyle Business Podcast
    Keep up the good work

    • Rasmus says:

      Hey Benjamin
      Yes MailChimp has a lot of knobs to turn and I found it easier to start up with AWeber. It does however look like that MailChimp has more features than AWeber (at least in “usable features”). An example was that I had to contact support just to get my autoresponder running. This was something I had running within ten minutes with AWeber (basically autoresponders are created in draft and you have to approve them… and I didn’t scroll down long enough to see the big green button :)).

  2. WilhelmR says:

    Aweber’s lack of support for multiple languages is really killing the service for me. And the support, while helpful withing their manual, won’t go the extra mile to solve problems related to this.

    • Rasmus says:

      Hey Wilhelm. I totally agree. While they have a great product, they lack some the support for non English speaking countries. Also you feel that they are adding much in terms of new features.

  3. Dave says:

    Could aweber data be migrated over to mailchimp using a macro, or does it have to be done by hand?

    • Rasmus says:

      Hey Dave

      You of course import the subscribers (on a per list basis) but I ended up doing everything by hand (including moving all autoresponders by hand).

      There might be a better way though. Let me know if get something automatic done ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Jessica says:

        Hello Rasmus and Dave,
        You may be talking about this I’m not sure but the lists in Aweber have the first name and surname in one field whereas Mailchimp has them in two.
        How do you transfer this across?
        Does it end up saying ‘Dear Jessica Hylands’ rather than ‘Dear Jessica’?
        Thanks!

        • rasmus says:

          Both Aweber and Mailchimp can write out just the firstname (as well every other mailsystem I’ve ever come across ๐Ÿ™‚ ).

  4. Ryan says:

    Rasmus,

    Where you able to import your sunscribers from aweber, or did you have to have them all re-opt in? Are you doibg single or double opt in on chimp?

    • Rasmus says:

      Hey Ryan

      I’m using double opt in and the subscribers did not have to confirm anything. Everything was imported using a comma separated file I pulled from aweber.

  5. Susan Lewis says:

    Just curious, but how did you manage to get autoresponders set up with MailChimp when that service isn’t part of the free package? It’s one of the few things explicitly excluded.

    • Rasmus says:

      Hey Susan

      Not sure where you got the info, but I’m still on the free plan and have full access to autoresponders ๐Ÿ™‚

      Try an sign up and see for yourself.

  6. Susan Lewis says:

    @Rasmus – Right from the MailChimp site. I’m looking at the chart that compares the free to the pay-as-you-go and monthly plans and Autoresponders has a big red X in the free column.

    Interesting that you’re able to use them then. Guess I’ll find out once I get signed up. That was the one thing that was pushing me to consider a different service.

  7. Vance says:

    I migrated my subscriber list from AWeber to Mailchimp and could not find how to trigger my autoresponders. If i select by Date Added , then there are instances where the signup date matches but they have different message number. If a create a rule by message number then until or unless the message number is updated it will not trigger the autoresponder after first instance. So my question is how should I go ahead with it so message number is updated .

    • Rasmus says:

      Hey Vance

      A big question. I think I read somewhere that autoresponders are NOT triggered for imported recipients. And I don’t think that you can do this.

      Other than that I would recommend that you contacted their support.

  8. Rob Leonardo says:

    Hi Rasmus, it seems like you see Aweber as an oldie and Mailchimp as a new thing. The way I look at it is different perhaps because of how it was exposed to me by blogger friends. Now I have realized I’ve quickly decided on it when in fact all i wanted was a better option than feedburner to send email updates- better signup forms and email list management. But I found aweber too complicated and “sophisticated”. Although I target to get more subscribers in the future, my plan to reach 2000 subscribers i s ayear or so from now. And it’s beginning ot sink to me that I am wasting $19 a month!

    I have just started and have few subscribers. Will ‘permission’be an issue if i move to mailchimp? Meaning- do I need to ask the subscribers a permission once again to avoid my mails falling into their spam box?

    • rasmus says:

      Hey Rob,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.
      Well this post is a little old (at least in Internet time and in term of my own shifting focus… :)).

      I am still using Mailchimp for my list. I stand by everything I’ve written here. Basically I have a few lists in Danish and those were a nightmare on Aweber. When that is said I do think that while the Mailchimp interface “looks nice and friendly” I spend a lot of time setting up even simple autoresponders and campaigns. Aweber feels more like the raw naked tool.

      When I migrated to Mailchimp they did not require my subscribers to re-confirm, I could simply import them so this was nice. Also I find them really newbie friendly because of their interface and the fact that you can get up to 2000 subscribers completely free.

      If you are soon reaching 2000 subscribers maybe it will be too much work to move everything (depending on the number of autoresponder emails that you need to move as well). I mean the pricing structure is pretty much the same once you reach the 2000 subscribers anyway.

      One thing you should notice however. Mailchimp does not allow “affiliate links” in the emails. So if you’re an affiliate marketer promoting other people’s stuff (or you will be doing down the line) I won’t recommend them!

  9. John says:

    The multi-level admin-access at Mail Chimp is the main reason for us to switch from Aweber.

    • Rasmus says:

      Hey John.

      Thanks for highlighting that feature. I think they are doing a good job of adding features all the time. While you don’t need all of them it shows that they are committed to keep evolving their product.

  10. kasper says:

    Excellent article, thanks for sharing. I am moving to MailChimp now ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Maria Lua says:

    Great article, and fantastic responses from everyone. Thanks so much. I’m moving to Mailchimp asap!!

  12. Esther Roche says:

    Hi Rasmus,

    I have been asked by a friend to move her from Aweber to Mailchimp and found your post. Do you have a post where you explain how to do it? I am not familiar with AWeber and dont know if I can do it easily.
    (I donยดt see an option to advise me when you respond to this comment, could you do it to my email address? Thanks)
    Many thanks in advance from Madrid
    Esther

  13. Laura says:

    Hi Rasmus,

    I echo Ether’s sentiments above– if there is a post where you can explain how to move my list from AWeber to Mailchimp, I’d greatly appreciate an email.

    Thank you for this helpful article! I’m glad to know I’m not alone in seeking a quality, free alternative to AWeber.
    Laura

  14. Luan says:

    Hey Rasmus,
    I am a new digital entrepreneur, brazilian, and I was looking for info in Google about both Aweber and Mailchimp, so I found your blog.
    Congrats, very good content!

    Really, I have recently realized the problem in Aweber with non-English speakers, when I received today an email from a brazilian entrepreneur with a word totally bugged (“Continuaรƒยงรƒยฃo”) in the subject, because of the problem with characters.

    I really want to know: in the free version of Mailchimp, can we really send autoreponders (for up to 2000 subs)? I was looking in Mailchimp site and I thought it is a paid feature (the follow up emails/autoreponders). If it’s free, it’s perfect for me to start.

    Thanks,
    Luan

    • rasmus says:

      Hi Luan

      Thank you for commenting.

      No, the free account with Mailchimp no longer supports autoresponders. You can still get up to 2000 free subscribers and send them “normal campaigns”, but not autoresponders.

      [EDIT: their free plan now support autoresponders]

      /Rasmus

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