If you want to communicate with your community regularly and build and nurture relationships with those you hope will turn into customers, repeat customers, fans and raving advocates of your brand then it’s imperative that you have a rock solid email marketing platform at the core of your business.
You should be building your email subscriber list every day and communicating with them regularly so they keep you top of mind when making a purchasing decision or recommending a service to a friend.
You want to be their ‘go to’ person of choice.
With so many choices of software on the market, I’m hoping to help you make an informed decision on the best platform for you by giving my opinion on two of the big players I have been using for a while now.
Having used Aweber as my email marketing software of choice since I started my online business back in 2010, I decided a few months ago that I needed something a little more sophisticated.
Whilst Aweber has done me well and is an extremely reliable and solid auto responder platform, I’m a bit of a numbers girl and I wanted sexier analytics.
Add to that, I couldn’t segment my lists the way I wanted to in Aweber (I’ll explain more in a sec) I went in search of something else.
I started to look at some of the big guns, Infusionsoft, Ontraport, Maropost etc but was put off a bit by the sheer size of their software and everything else that was included in their packages (plus some of their prices!). Yes I wanted something a bit more robust but I still wanted SIMPLE and cost effective.
So, seduced by the videos & screenshots of their analytics I decided upon Get Response.
Not ready to completely give up on Aweber yet I decided to use Get Response & Aweber side by side and have been for about 6 months now, but just this week I have decided to give up Get Response & search for another solution.
I’ll tell you why as we move through this post, but firstly I’d like to show you an analysis of each platform to help YOU choose the best auto responder service for your business.
I’ve picked 9 key areas to grade each platform on and have given each platform a point if they come out on top in that area.
Aweber is built to be simple. Finding your way around the platform is very easy once you know where everything is and as it’s core functionality is ensuring the emails get sent there’s not too many bells and whistles, which from a users point of view makes it very easy to navigate around the platform.
The challenge with it’s simplicity however is that it doesn’t allow for a huge amount of flexibility which can make some of it’s functionality laborious (you’ll see what I mean as you go through the post).
However, it’s simplicity makes your main job of creating & sending a message very easy to do.
Get Response on the other hand does have quite a few bells and whistles. Whilst this makes the platform more flexible, general navigation is trickier.
There’s a lot more places to go and buttons to press.
So for sheer simplicity Aweber gets the point on this one!
Now let’s start to explore some of the functionality I’m talking about.
Just to be clear, (if you’re unsure what a list is) a list is a segmented group you create inside the platform, which people get added to when they leave their name and email address. You can and undoubtedly will have multiple lists.
For example, let’s say you’re going to give an ebook away on raw food options. You may create a list called ‘rawfoodie ebook’. You then setup the list and the web form within that list, so that whenever someone enters their name and email address to receive that ebook they get added to that list.
You may then run a contest to win a weekend retreat at a raw food resort, so you would create another list called ‘rawfoodretreat’ and setup the list and web form within that list, so that people who leave their name and email address get added to that list.
That way you’re segmenting people as they come into your funnel into their various groups of interest, so that when you send out emails, you’re targeting the right people.
Aweber lost this point originally, but have very recently updated their system to make it easier. It used to be that every single time you created a new list you had to start from the beginning and enter all your address details again. But they have now streamlined this service.
Get Response allows you to copy list settings. A huge plus. You can set up new lists (or campaigns as they’re called in Get Response) in seconds.
So it’s even stevens on this point.
This is super easy in both platforms, and although there are a few more clicks in Get Response they do still take the edge on this one.
In Aweber they’re called Broadcasts & Follow Ups
In Get Response they’re called Newsletters & Autoresponders
A follow up / auto responder is a message you set up to be automatically delivered at a time and date of your choosing. You can create a sequence of follow up messages to go out over a period of time to everyone who signs up to your list.
A broadcast / newsletter is a message that you’re going to create and send on the fly. You can select the time and date it gets delivered, but it will only be delivered once. It won’t be added to a sequence to go out to future subscribers.
Simply click ‘Create Broadcast’ or ‘Create Follow Up’ and away you go.
To create your messages, Aweber have a drag & drop message creator which is simple but does the job.
You can easily setup templates with your logo, pics, signature or whatever you want, to select and create your message from each time and Aweber has a natty little feature which allows you to completely copy an entire follow up sequence from one list to another with the click of a button.
You can test your message before you send it out and then selecting which lists you want it to go to or scheduling the time / date is simple and reliable.
Again simply click ‘Create Newsletter’ or ‘Create Autoresponder’ and you’ll be sent to the right screen to do the job. The big difference with GR is that there are a few more screens to go through. With newsletters, you have to create your title first, then select your template, then create your message all in different screens (in aweber this is all on one page).
It gets the edge though because the template creator beats Awebers hands down. It’s much more flexible, you can create many many more and different designs quickly and easily. You can also see how it looks on mobiles and in a multitude of email clients including gmail, hotmail, yahoo, outlook etc (when it works, which is not all the time).
With Autoresponders, this is a whole other story. Get Response allows you to set up auto responders based on timing, clicks, goals reached, birthdays and all sorts. Much of which you’ll honestly never use, but the sophistication is there.
So Get Response wins this one as they quite simply just out perform Aweber on the options and flexibity of message design and sending.
The web form is the bit of code that needs to be placed on ’squeeze’ pages or ‘opt-in’ pages, so that people can actually leave their name and email address and sign up to your lists.
When I first started out in 2010, you relied heavily on the web form designs in the auto responder platform as 9 times out of 10 you would use the code as is and place it on a blank page or on the sidebar of your blog. In fact my very first online course which sold for $4 (I sold 4 copies), was how to create fancy web forms using Aweber!
However these days with software such as Leadpages, OP2 and many more, the actual designs of web forms from the auto responder are rarely used, we just need the name, email, submit and redirect codes, so people can leave their details, give us permission to send them emails and get sent where we want them to go.
Both Aweber & Get Response use similar functionality and creating web forms in either is easy and a few clicks of the button. Nothing really to compare.
I have to say both platforms are frustrating when it comes to segmenting lists.
But Aweber more so.
In Aweber there is Zero flexibility. Once someone has signed up to one of your lists, that’s it. They’re in that list. There’s nothing else.
You can grab a little piece of kit called AW Protools which does all the segmenting for you. It’s fully endorsed by aweber, but costs another $30 a month.
It does however let you move people from one list to another, tag them and segment them into different groups. Very handy little tool.
However it’s a pain as you’re setting things up in 2 separate platforms, plus for it to work properly you have to turn off the already sparse analytics in aweber only to be met with even sparser analytics in AW Protools. So it does the job, but if you’re a numbers person you will get frustrated.
In Get Response there is a bit more flexibility, in that you can create segments in your contacts section and manually move them to another list. But as with Aweber there is no automation.
This is frustrating. Sometimes you want to move people into different lists because of the actions they take (or don’t take) and both systems make this very difficult to do.
However Get Response do have more options to help you segment which is why they take the point on this one.
There’s really no comparison here. Get response wins hands down.
Clear, easy to read stats, giving you all the information you need from opens to clicks, to unsubscribes, complaints, reasons people have unsubscribed, the ability to compare one email vs another and in depth analysis of each follow up message aswell as newsletters.
Aweber gives similar info (although in a bit less detail), but certainly with your follow up messages you have to dig for it. You cannot look at the results from your follow up messages in any time frames and it’s presented badly.
This is absolutely one of my favourite features of Get Response. Their analytics are outstanding. They definitely win this point.
Get Response is very slightly cheaper than Aweber by about $4.
To get started it costs $1. Then it’s $19 / month for up to 500 subs, $29 / month up to 2500 subs, $49 / month up to 5000 subs & $69 month up to 10,000 subs.
It’s free to get started, then it’s $15 / month for up to 1000 subs, $25 / month up to 2500 subs, $45 / month up to 5000 & $65 / month up to 10,000.
There’s not much to compare with the support levels offered between the two platforms to be honest. They both have live chat, a phone number, a ticket system and a rock solid FAQ / Knowledgbase.
The only thing I would add is that Awebers customer support was faultless. I never bothered with tickets I just called, someone always answered with a few minutes and everything was always quickly and efficiently resolved. With Get Response I used their ticket system rather than called and it sometimes took a day or so to get back to you, but that isn’t the reason I have given Aweber the point here.
It’s because in all my time at Aweber nothing has ever been ‘unresolvable’.
However Get Response have a big seemingly unresolvable problem which I discuss in my next point, but many helpdesk tickets have exchanged hands, plus I’ve had a live chat with very unsatisfactory results.
Therefore Aweber win this point. No contest.
Even though deliverability is actually the No 1 priority when selecting an email platform, I left this point until last as it’s the main reason I am moving on from Get Response.
Here’s what I really like about both platforms.
They’re dedicated email platforms, in that, their sole purpose is sending emails. Any platform which focuses purely on their core function is a big plus, as all their efforts are going in to ensuring deliverability is high and people are actually getting your emails.
The most important result you require from their service.
From this point of view I never seemingly had any issues with Aweber. Send rates were solid, open rates were good, I very rarely received emails or notifications from members or subscribers saying they weren’t getting emails, so Aweber was doing it’s job.
However, it’s actually this that is making me leave Get Response. I have no idea what algorithms they use to blacklist emails or decide what is and what isn’t unsuitable for their platforms. But in my 4.5 years online I have never received so many emails from people telling me they have signed up and not received the promised free gift.
Every day I get at least one or two messages from people saying – I just left my name and email address where’s my ebook? Not a great way to start the relationship.
I have also never received so many emails from current subscribers saying they’re not getting my emails anymore.
When trying to add back current subscriber emails more often than not the system says the email address is either unsupported or blacklisted.
On approaching their support in the first instance they said it was to do with the address having ‘bounced’ so it was blacklisted. On the second instance which occurred just this past week they demanded that the customer contact them directly to remove himself from the blacklist. Again not great customer service on my part to have my customers contact my email platform in order to receive my emails.
So whilst I agree it’s super important to use an email platform who is very protective over email addresses, after all too many blacklisted, bounced or spam complaints will result in diminished deliverability, which is precisely what you don’t want, when those same firewalls begin to affect my levels of customer service I need to start looking at another solution.
So even though Get Response is definitely the more sophisticated of the two platforms when it comes to message creation, list segmentation, analytics etc, it doesn’t matter how many bells and whistles a system has if it’s absolute core functionality is flawed.
Using Get Response has resulted in more customer complaints, increased support levels and time wasted trying to resolve the issues.
1. Personally if you’re just starting out or are in the throws of getting your business working online my recommendation would be Aweber. It’s reliable, their customer support is amazing and it’s the best bang for your buck.
2. If you’re an aweber user and would like a bit of extra training on how to use it a while ago I created some YouTube videos on how to create lists & messages etc. You can access that playlist here – How to Use Aweber Video Series. Sorry I don’t have one for Get Response!
3. Let me know below what auto responder you’re using and how it’s working for you
Thanks for reading!