If you are doing business online, you’ve probably heard it before. You need a list or the money is in the list.
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 æ, ø or å 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) 🙂
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 🙂 – 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 🙂