Everyone says you should build an email list.
And it all sounds so simple right?
But then you start looking at email marketing providers and don’t know which to choose.
It can get confusing, so many platforms with so many features and so many people saying different things about each one.
I know how you feel because that’s exactly how I felt.
And not just when I was starting out, I went through the same thing years later when I had to re-evaluate my email marketing provider.
This will help you make an informed decision.
That way you won’t rush into a decision and end up regretting it.
I’ve wasted what feels like months dipping and diving between platforms and figuring out flaws, so, I want to make sure that doesn’t happen to you.
Your time is valuable and you deserve to make the most out of it.
How easy is it to get started?
Your time is important.
And if you pick the wrong email marketing platform, then you will just end up wasting your time.
That’s something we actively need to avoid.
Setting up GetResponse
Under the navigation bar you have a ‘campaign selector’ which gives you the option to create a new campaign, amongst some other options.
Now it’s time to add a campaign name.
Now your campaign is setup, you have multiple options, but the important thing is to edit your campaign settings before you move forward with adding contacts or anything else.
Clicking the edit campaign settings will take you to the following page, where you can customize various settings.
I always like to add a custom confirmation page – it’s on this page that my subscribers will get the download link for any free downloads that I’m offering.
Once I’ve tweaked the settings the way I want to, it’s time to add contacts and get my opt-in forms setup.
Getting started with AWeber
AWeber has more of a ‘setup wizard’ solution for getting setup.
There are 3 different pages so this process is very straight forward.
Once all your basic information has been added, you are walked through the personalisation settings.
The final step in the list setup process is to customize your confirmation settings.
And this includes the all-important custom URL for your confirmation page.
What’s the verdict on the setup process?
While the GetResponse setup definitely gives you more options (specifically in the campaign settings) and it’s relatively straight forward, I’d have to give this to AWeber.
You can’t beat a straight forward step by step process, especially if you’re just getting started with email marketing.
The quality and quantity of email templates is another key feature.
Right now there are over 500+ email templates available under various categories.
All categorized so you can find a template that will fit with your business, although chances are that a lot of templates from other categories could work equally as well.
AWeber currently has over 600 email templates, also under various different categories.
One interesting thing here is that some of the recent email templates have been styled like popular WordPress themes.
This includes Parallax Pro from StudioPress and even Derek Halpern’s theme on Social Triggers.
I can understand the motivations behind this; it does help to give a consistent experience. Well, that’s if you use one of the themes that have been used.
Email templates overall
I didn’t mention design aesthetics above and there’s a good reason why.
While there are certain design trends (such as flat graphics) that I’ve seen AWeber use, this is something that I believe to be a largely personal choice.
After all, we’re all different and we all have different tastes.
Personally, I do lean more towards the AWeber templates but the reality is that I never send emails using premade templates.
I find that I get better email delivery results by just sending using a basic email and that way they’ll also load quicker on mobile.
Another factor to consider is whether templates are email responsive – both AWeber and GetResponse now have responsive templates.
While AWeber has more email templates, it’s definitely not a deal breaker.
The message builder
Both platforms have drag and drop style message/email builders that have the potential to make creating your newsletters very easy.
The GetResponse message builder
I’m a big fan of the GetResponse message builder, and the way that it’s laid out.
Creating your newsletter is easy, once you’ve logged in you will see the big green button at the top saying ‘create newsletter’.
You can also use the ‘create newsletter’ option within the messages tab from the main navigation menu.
You will then get the option to choose between the email creator and the HTML source editor, so you do have the option to code your own emails if you like.
Pretty standard stuff.
Up next are a number of different options:
- Message name
- Subject line
- From address (option to choose reply-to)
- Tracking (click through’s and Google Analytics)
- Sharing via Twitter and Facebook
- And a/b split testing
Once you click the ‘next’ button, you will be greeted by a page which allows you to pick your type of message.
There are plenty of templates to choose from.
Further down the page you will get some other options which will enable you to format your email the way that you want to.
The ability to order a template or find experts to help you is quite handy, but I usually stick to the ‘start from scratch’ as I find the basic emails to get a better delivery rate.
Once you’re in the editor, it’s very straight forward.
Control things like width and alignment from the menu above and use the blocks on the right hand side to create your message.
You will get other blocks that allow you to add social share buttons (if you want to).
The save history is quite helpful.
If you look to the far right hand side you’ll get a snapshot view of how your message will appear on mobile devices.
There’s testing functions above.
Look out for the spam score option; get this as low as possible to make sure more people get your emails.
The inbox preview function is very helpful; you’ll be able to get a snapshot view of how your email will appear, not just on various mobile devices, but also different email providers and desktop clients.
When you dig into actually building your message you will have a new menu that will be displayed when you’re editing things like text.
I do find this a little glitchy at times (no more so than AWeber’s), but it works and it’s fairly easy to use.
The AWeber message builder
You may notice that AWeber uses a slightly different terminology, what GetResponse refers to as ‘Newsletters’, AWeber refers to as ‘Broadcasts’.
You will immediately be able to see the ‘create a broadcast’ button, from either the home (also called account overview) tab or the messages tab.
There’s immediately something that I dislike here, above is the account overview button.
Below is the broadcast messages button:
What’s missing on the account overview page is the option to create a split test and that’s the only place you’ll find it.
So, you could spend your time creating a message, send it and not even notice that you can actually do a split test.
I’ll talk more about split tests a bit later on.
When you click the broadcast button you will get a dropdown menu so you can choose the type of message – I like that everything is in place here. Nice and simple.
I typically go with the drop and drop email builder, which you can see below.
What I really like here is the ‘1 – 2 – 3’ step process – this shows you exactly what stage you are at.
You also know what to expect.
You will get the choice of whether to use a template, right from inside the interface.
You can then get started with dragging and dropping elements that you need, each element will open up some additional options.
Which message builder wins?
This is a tough one.
There are elements from each that have great potential.
I prefer the simplicity of AWeber, but the split testing issue puts me off. In terms of features, GetResponse has the inbox previews, Google Analytics integration and super easy split testing.
Winner: GetResponse (by a very narrow margin)
Having an auto responder is essential if you want to automate your email marketing.
But, there are some big differences here.
The GetResponse auto responder
You can create an auto responder from clicking on the ‘messages’ tab on the main navigation bar.
Here you will get the option to select what event will trigger your auto responder.
Time-based is the main one to use, but you can use others to email offers at the perfect moment.
In addition to this list, when you scroll to the right you will get option to use data change as a trigger.
The following options for each trigger do look slightly different, below is what you will see for the time-based trigger:
One great feature here is something called ‘time travel’.
Studies have found that it’s best to send your emails at 9am (well for the most part).
But, the challenge has always been that some people will receive it at the right time, but for people in other time zones – it’s impossible.
GetResponse collects data on your subscribers so they can determine what country they are from.
You can then enable the ‘time travel’ feature so that your emails will be received by your subscribers at their local time.
You will then go through to the email editor to create your message.
Once your auto responder message is created, you can view it by clicking on the ‘messages’ tab and select the ‘manage auto responders’ option to see everything which is going on.
You can change the view on the right hand side, or hover over each of your emails to reveal some additional options:
- View online
Another unique feature is that at the bottom of the time-based auto responders, you will see a total of subscribers who have completed the sequence and those who haven’t received them.
When you add a new auto responder message, you can then move these subscribers (in bulk) to the new day. Awesome.
The AWeber auto responder
AWeber refers to the auto responder messages as your ‘follow up series’.
You can easily find the option within the messages tab in the grey navigation bar.
You’ll get straight into editing the message using whichever type of message builder that you want to use (similar to creating a broadcast).
After the message is ready you will get through to the settings option.
You’re limited to a time-based auto responder, but it’s very straight forward to find your way through.
There’s also a feature that does the same thing as GetResponses ‘time travel’ feature.
There’s a serious problem here and it’s incredibly annoying.
When you add a new email to your auto responder, it will be emailed to your list.
It doesn’t tell you, AWeber just does it.
And some emails just won’t make sense for current subscribers.
I learned this the hard way.
There is a work around, but it just causes more complications.
To stop this from happening, you have to ask AWeber support to bulk change the interval # that all your subscribers are on to something daft like 999.
The knock on effect is that subscribers that should be due to receive a particular email in your sequence won’t get it.
Which auto responder wins?
I love the simplicity of AWeber, but it’s very restrictive. It means you’re missing out on some advanced features.
And the fact that follow up emails get emailed to your list when they’re added, unless you contact support is a serious flaw.
Winner: GetResponse – it’s just better
Testing is important.
The slightest detail can have a huge impact on how many people read our emails and how many people click through to whatever you’re promoting to your list.
Split testing using GetResponse
To run a split test in GetResponse you will first get a prompt when you create a new message.
This works exactly like the process I showed you in the message builder section.
It’s a very straight forward process, you’ll continue to write your initial message (provided you turned the A/B split testing feature on).
Once your message is ready you’ll be faced with the following options.
I like the versatility here and the straight forward nature makes it a breeze.
Once you’ve setup the type of test and added any variations of your original email you can select the conditions of the test.
The split test followed by winning message is an approach that I really like, just make sure you select the ‘send best message automatically’ button unless you’re monitoring this.
Split testing using AWeber
Earlier I mentioned about how AWeber currently has several buttons that allow creation of new messages but only one seems to give the split test option below.
Once on the split test page you will get the option to select message # and the percentage split for each message.
Once saved the messages will be added to your drafts for you to edit the messages and schedule for sending.
Split testing overview
I generally like the simplicity of AWeber but the split testing functionality seems more like an after-thought.
Also, if you want to split test the same message, you would have to copy and paste one message to the other – not a huge step, but as marketers and bloggers our time is precious.
I prefer GetResponse’s streamlined approach and the ability to send a winning message to a percentage of your list.
You need to know what’s going on with your email list.
And it’s surprising what difference a good analytics solution can make.
Here we have a system that’s very straight forward to get to what you need to know.
It’s broken up into logical sections so you can get the data you want.
Once you check out the individual sections, it’s all quite straight forward.
For example, if you look at the subscription setting you’ll get a graph of your list size, subscriptions and unsusbscribes – it also shows your daily growth.
When you get into any of the sections that involve analytics for sent emails you will have the ability to send emails to groups.
You will see the number of people who have opened an email, haven’t opened it and clicked on a link.
You can then email that specific group of people – this is so easy to do and can be incredibly useful.
A few other things worth mentioning:
- You can do side by side comparisons of your split tests
- Reports can be sent to your inbox
- You can setup goal tracking and monitor it from your analytics
With AWeber, all of the analytics are in one window.
If anything, some of the more reports within AWeber are a bit more advanced and put a lot more data at your fingertips.
I do find that there’s a lot that I don’t find useful and it takes me a bit longer to get to what I need to.
You can also dive into data easily and run quick downloads to CSV files.
I like the detail of the reports in AWeber and they do a fairly good job at cramming a lot in but it’s not as easy as I’d like.
GetResponse gives you less data but it’s much more straight forward and user friendly.
I also really like the way that they have made it so easy to email specific groups at the click of a button.
What about automation rules?
Automation rules can be very useful.
For example, if someone is removed from one list you may want to setup a rule to remove them from others.
Automation rules in GetResponse
GetResponse have quite a few options here (pictured below).
There are some rules involving sales, these tie in with the goal setup within the platform.
Automation rules with AWeber
AWeber has a much more straight forward approach as you can see below.
Automation rules overview
GetResponse go into some levels that some people might not need and they don’t have a standard ‘subscribe to list when subscribing to’ which can be helpful in some situations.
I like how GetResponse integrates the goal tracking side of things with automation and gives you some other features.
On the other hand from a simplistic view point, AWeber is great.
What about integrations with other platforms?
You may find that you won’t need to worry about integrations too much because AWeber and GetResponse happen to be two of the most popular email marketing platforms on the planet.
And thanks to that, they both integrate with an incredible number of platforms.
As far as most things like list building plugins and platforms go, it’s rare to find a platform that doesn’t integrate with both AWeber and GetResponse.
What about delivery rates?
I rarely get any bounces with AWeber, but I do get more bounces with GetResponse.
Oddly enough, my open rates are much higher with GetResponse.
When I was with AWeber I would average between 20%-25% for each broadcast that I sent to my list, but when I moved to GetResponse, my average was between 25%-35%.
I’m not saying that you will get the same results, it’s not as cut and dry as that.
Each niche and audience is different; there are also plenty of other factors in play relating to how spam filters work.
If in doubt, try out AWeber and try out GetResponse to see how they perform.
The only real test for open rates is how they perform for you.
One note about GetResponse: They default to a ‘total open rate’ setting which makes open rates appear much higher than they are. For example their mobile app makes it very difficult to find the real figure.
What about overall ease of use?
Earlier I talked about how easy it was to setup a list – AWeber definitely has the lead there because it leads you through, step by step.
And that’s great.
But, there are plenty of things with AWeber that are much more long winded and there are a few with GetResponse.
On the whole, I find GetResponse easier to get around.
And I’m talking from an initial ‘first try’ perspective.
Support is important, how do AWeber and GetResponse compare?
Support is an essential factor here and it’s usually where a lot of brands fall down.
And I have to admit that I find a lot of support staff difficult to deal with (unless they’re from Buffer or LeadPages).
I have had good support from both GetResponse and AWeber – they’re probably about equal in that respect.
Both companies offer the following methods of support:
- Live chat
- Knowledge base
The difference is in the availability.
Here’s an example: GetResponse live chat is available Monday-Friday, whereas AWeber is available 7 days a week (with shorter hours at weekends).
What do GetResponse and AWeber cost? (a helpful pricing comparison)
Price can definitely be a deciding factor here, let’s take a detailed look at how they shape up.
|Number of subscribers||GetResponse|
GetResponse also offer an 18% discount when you bill annually.
Also, landing pages are mentioned in the features menu, the try free link does say it’s a paid add on but the buy now takes you straight to the pricing page. Landing pages are not offered with these packages, despite how they say all features are included.
You do get 30 days free for landing pages, but its then $15 extra per month if you wish to continue.
|Number of subscribers||AWeber|
|2,501 – 5,000||$49|
Note: AWeber’s pricing page displays all but the first package as $19 less but it is essentially a base cost.
You can get the base cost reduced by paying quarterly or annually which would then cost you $49 or $194, respectively.
Summary of features with a helpful comparison table
Both platforms have a substantial set of features (particularly GetResponse).
We’ve already taken a look at how they both shape up in terms of pricing; let’s take a look at how they shape up in terms of overall features.
|Number of emails||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Drag and drop message builder||Yes||Yes|
|Time-based auto responder||Yes||Yes|
|Action based auto responder||Yes||No|
|RSS to email||Yes||Yes|
|Landing pages||Yes ($15/month extra)||No|
|QR code generator||Yes||No|
|Sign up for GetResponse||Sign up for AWeber|
The final scores
Count all of the sections up and mention criteria early on in the post.
|Criteria||GetResponse or AWeber?|
|Ease of setup||AWeber|
|Integrations with other platforms||Draw|
|Overall ease of use||GetResponse|
The final verdict
AWeber has a solid platform that, for the most part, is straight forward to use but there are key elements that are more time consuming than they need to be.
On the other hand, GetResponse is a little more complicated when you start setting up your first list, but you can still find your way through it.
GetResponse has a wider range of features, particularly the action based auto responder which adds a powerful level of automation to the platform. That extra level of automation could make a big difference to your results.
When you get into the more advanced features, GetResponse seems to have integrated them into their platform better. Things like split testing are much easier to use and have advanced features.
GetResponse seems like the better platform overall, but it’s what YOU think that counts.
Your next step: try each platform for yourself
Both platforms have trials. Which are well worth taking advantage of.
GetResponse has a 30 day free trial (no credit card details required), whereas AWeber has a 1 month trial that costs $1 (requires credit card details and may rebill).
Update 7th August 2015 – Since originally writing this review, GetResponse have released a new form builder with 500+ templates and a range of list building apps. This includes popovers, notification boxes, scrolling opt-in forms and more.