Aweber Honest Review: Is It Worth It?

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

In this Aweber review, I look at one of the most popular solutions for creating and sending HTML e-newsletters in detail.

Continue reading for a detailed analysis of Aweber’s advantages and disadvantages, as well as a discussion of its pricing, features, templates, interface, and more.

By the end of this article, you’ll know whether Aweber is the best email marketing tool for your company and what the best alternatives are.

Let’s get started!

What is Aweber?

Aweber is an email marketing tool that lets you do things like:

  • create a mailing list and capture data onto it
  • design newsletters that can be sent to the subscribers on your list
  • automate your email marketing via use of ‘autoresponders’
  • view and analyse statistics related to your email marketing campaigns

Aweber was founded in 1998, and the company claims that 120,000 people and businesses have used the platform for email marketing.

This makes it a smaller company than some of its competitors (most notably Mailchimp and Getresponse), but it is still a well-known company with a large user base.

Aweber pricing

Aweber comes in two flavors: ‘Pro’ and ‘Free.’

The following is the pricing structure for the Pro plans:

  • Hosting and emailing a list containing up to 500 subscribers: $19 per month
  • 501 to 2,500 subscribers: $29.99 per month
  • 2,501 to 5,000 subscribers: $49.99 per month
  • 5,001 to 10,000 subscribers: $69.99 per month
  • 10,001 to 25,000 subscribers: $149.99 per month

If your mailing list has more than 25,000 subscribers, you’ll need to contact Aweber for a quote.

(This is a little unusual; while other email marketing companies offer bespoke plans once you reach a certain number of subscribers, the threshold is typically much higher — 100,000 subscribers or more.)

Aweber is also available in a completely free version. This gives you access to the majority of Aweber’s features as long as your mailing list is under 500 subscribers (after that, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan). Aweber’s free version can be found here.

If you pay quarterly, you’ll get a 14 percent discount; if you pay annually, you’ll get a 14.9 percent discount. Students and non-profit organizations can also take advantage of some discounts.

A feature that potential users may appreciate about Aweber’s pricing structure is that all features are available on all paid-for plans — unlike some competing products, you don’t have to be on more expensive plans to unlock certain functionality. (Most of them are accessible even with the free plan.)

The price differences are solely due to the size of the mailing list.

Something to watch out for: subscriber count

When it comes to Aweber pricing, it’s important to remember that both subscribed and unsubscribed contacts are considered “billable” subscribers.

This means you’ll be charged even if someone unsubscribes from your list because their information is kept in your Aweber account.

You can avoid this charge by periodically deleting unsubscribed contacts from your account, but you must remember to do so.

Aweber isn’t the only email marketing service that charges this way (Mailchimp does too), but the practice isn’t ideal because it adds unnecessary costs or administrative work for customers (or both!).

How does Aweber’s pricing compare to that of its competitors?

Aweber is, in general,

  • significantly cheaper than Campaign Monitor
  • considerably cheaper than iContact
  • roughly the same price as Mailchimp
  • marginally more expensive than Getresponse
  • considerably more expensive than Mad Mimi (note that Mad Mimi’s feature set is much more basic, however).

Of course, we’re comparing apples to oranges in some cases, but all of these competing products have different feature sets on each plan, as well as subscriber limits, which will make Aweber cheaper or more expensive on occasion.

The inclusion of unsubscribed contacts as billable contacts by Aweber (see above) also skews the picture.

Aweber is priced roughly in the middle of the email marketing tool spectrum, in my opinion.

Of course, price isn’t the only thing to consider when making a decision…

What matters most when it comes to working out is how much bang you get for your buck.

Let’s take a look at some of Aweber’s features.

Key features of Aweber

The following are some of the key features that Aweber offers:

  • the ability to import and host a mailing list
  • a wide range of templates
  • autoresponders
  • marketing automation functionality
  • responsive email designs
  • reporting
  • split testing
  • RSS / blog to-email functionality
  • list segmentation options
  • a landing page builder
  • phone, email and live chat support
  • integrations with third-party apps

Let’s drill down into these.

Hosting your list / importing data into Aweber

Importing an existing email database into Aweber is a relatively simple process.

The following file types are available for upload:

  • XLS
  • XLSX
  • TSV
  • CSV
  • TXT

You can also manually enter individual subscribers or copy and paste rows of subscribers into the tool.

As you import your data, you are given the option to add your subscribers to a particular set of autoresponders, and tag them.

This is a nice feature to have because not all competing products allow you to import data directly into autoresponder cycles.

You’ll have to answer some questions about how you gathered the data you’re importing for anti-spam reasons.

You may also have to wait until your list is reviewed by Aweber’s anti-spam compliance team if your list is large (over 10,000 records) (as is the case with other email marketing tools). It may take up to one business day for this to happen.

In short, Aweber’s importing feature is excellent — no issues here.

Templates

In comparison to its competitors, Aweber offers one of the most comprehensive libraries of HTML e-newsletter templates, with over 700 to choose from.

To put things in perspective, Getresponse has around 115 templates, while Mailchimp has around 80.

To be honest, I don’t love all of the designs; some of them appear to be a little out of date. Mailchimp, Campaign Monitor, and Getresponse all have templates that are a little more modern in appearance.

However, given the large number of templates available, you should be able to find one that works for your e-newsletters with a little tweaking.

Of course, you can always create your own template by coding it yourself.

Responsive email designs

All of Aweber’s email templates are’responsive.’

This means they resize themselves to fit the device they’re being viewed on automatically. This is a necessary feature in today’s world of smartphones and tablets.

Within Aweber, you can easily see a preview of the mobile version of your email — simply click the preview button and toggle the ‘mobile preview’ switch to see how your e-newsletter will appear on a smartphone.

(However, sending some test emails and checking them on a mobile phone or tablet is still a good idea.)

Using web fonts in Aweber templates

Aweber, unlike many other email marketing solutions, allows you to use web fonts.

This is a good thing, because web fonts are usually more appealing than the standard “safe fonts” (Times New Roman, Arial, etc.) that email marketing apps often limit you to, and when used correctly, they can significantly improve the appearance of an email.

They can also help you achieve more brand consistency between your website and e-newsletters, depending on the typefaces you use on your website.

You can currently use the following fonts in your Aweber emails:

  • Arvo
  • Lato
  • Lora
  • Merriweather
  • Merriweather sans
  • Noticia Text
  • Open Sans
  • Playfair Display
  • Roboto
  • Source Sans Pro
  • Permanent Marker

A thumbs up for Aweber’s templates in general, with extra brownie points for the inclusion of web fonts.

However, it would be nice to see a few more fonts added to Aweber; the ones that are currently available are a little boring.

RSS to email templates

Aweber, like similar e-marketing tools, can convert your site’s RSS feed into e-newsletters that are sent out according to a schedule you set.

This is referred to as ‘Blog broadcasts’ in Aweber, though you can use this feature with any content that has an RSS feed.

This feature is especially useful for bloggers who want their mailing list subscribers to automatically receive e-newsletters containing their most recent posts (or, indeed, a monthly digest of blog posts). In essence, it means that you can send out newsletters directly from your website, which can save you a lot of time.

It’s worth noting, however, that you can’t use standard Aweber template designs for RSS-to-email conversions; instead, you’ll need to select from a set of templates created specifically for this purpose.

(To be fair, Aweber isn’t the only one who does this.)

On the plus side, there are more RSS templates to choose from than I’ve seen with most other e-marketing solutions I’ve tried.

On the downside, many of them don’t look great — they’re reminiscent of web design from the 1990s!

You can’t edit them using the standard Aweber email drag-and-drop interface — you have to use a different editor (which isn’t as user-friendly).

With a little tinkering, you should be able to come up with something that works, but I believe there is still room for improvement.

Autoresponders

Autoresponders are a series of follow-up emails that are sent out automatically in response to user actions or time.

For instance, you could set up an autoresponder system so that

  • when somebody signs up to your mailing list, they immediately receive a welcome message from your business
  • one week later they receive a discount code for a product
  • three weeks later they receive an encouragement to follow you on social media…

…and so on.

They are usually a key part of any e-marketing solution because they can really help you save time and money.

Aweber claims to have invented autoresponders in 1998, and as a result, you’d expect their autoresponder functionality to be phenomenal.

Surprisingly, it’s just ‘okay.’

On the plus side, Aweber makes it simple to set up follow-up emails based on time intervals — for example, sending subscribers an onboarding email immediately after signup, a promo code two days later, and a ‘follow us on social media’ email a week later is simple. This is a common use of an autoresponder, and it’s simple to do with Aweber.

On the negative side, the options for triggering autoresponders based on user actions and purchases are far fewer than in competing products.

You can use Aweber to create ‘goals’ or combine automation rules with tagging to make autoresponders behave in fairly sophisticated ways — but if you want to use autoresponders in really advanced ways, you’ll probably need to look at other products, particularly Getresponse, which has a lot more’marketing automation’ functionality.

And while we’re on the subject of marketing automation…

Marketing automation

Email marketing solutions like Aweber are increasingly including marketing automation as a feature.

I call it “Autoresponders 2.0,” in which you go beyond traditional “drip” campaigns to create complex user journeys using “IFTT” (if this, then that) style workflows.

You create a flowchart with marketing automation to send emails based on user actions such as email opens, link clicks, site visits, purchases made, and so on.

Aweber has a marketing automation feature called “Aweber Campaigns” that provides some of this functionality.

You can use this feature to determine what should be sent to whom and when based on user actions such as opens and clickthroughs, as well as the application of tags (which can be triggered if a user visits a specific page on your site) (see above).

However, I believe that this functionality should go much further — tools like Getresponse and Mailchimp offer far more flexibility in terms of which user behaviors can trigger mailouts.

To send messages in Getresponse, for example, you can use triggers like purchase, specific page visits, subscriber’s score, and sales pipeline stage. In a similar way, Mailchimp works.

As a result, Aweber is lagging behind its competitors in this area.

Aweber has a marketing automation feature called “Aweber Campaigns” that provides some of this functionality.

You can use this feature to determine what should be sent to whom and when based on user actions such as opens and clickthroughs, as well as the application of tags (which can be triggered if a user visits a specific page on your site) (see above).

However, I believe that this functionality should go much further — tools like Getresponse and Mailchimp offer far more flexibility in terms of which user behaviors can trigger mailouts.

To send messages in Getresponse, for example, you can use triggers like purchase, specific page visits, subscriber’s score, and sales pipeline stage. In a similar way, Mailchimp works.

As a result, Aweber is lagging behind its competitors in this area.

Aweber’s free plan gets the spotlight.

Aweber now offers a completely free plan, possibly in an attempt to compete with Mailchimp. Most similar products offer a free trial, but not indefinite access to the product, which is unusual in the email marketing world.

Aweber’s free plan is less generous than Mailchimp’s while also being more generous.

It’s more generous because you get access to the majority of Aweber’s functionality for free, with the exception of a few features (most notably split testing and abandoned cart emails). Mailchimp’s free plan is limited to a few core features — for example, you can’t use any automation with it.

Aweber’s free plan is less generous, allowing you to work with a list of 500 contacts or less; Mailchimp’s free plan, on the other hand, allows you to work with a list of up to 2,000 subscribers.

Both products include advertisements for their brands in the e-newsletters that come with their free plans; however, these are fairly subtle.

You can try out Aweber’s free plan here.

AMP for email in Aweber

Aweber has an advantage over most other email marketing platforms when it comes to a new technology known as AMP for email.

E-newsletters have traditionally been very static affairs, consisting of a simple combination of text and images. All of that changes with AMP for Email, which allows recipients to take simple actions (like making an appointment or RSVPing to an event) directly within an email, rather than having to leave their email program or go to a website.

It also allows email senders to include dynamic content in their messages, such as live survey results, weather updates, and football scores.

The ‘dynamic’ nature of AMP emails encourages recipients to return to them on a regular basis, transforming e-newsletters into far more powerful and engaging pieces of content.

For an introduction to the world of AMP for email, watch the video below from Google.

Opt in processes

Aweber has a lot of flexibility when it comes to how you want to handle the opt-in process.

You have the option of using a single opt-in or a double opt-in method to subscribe your users (single opt-in is when a user is subscribed immediately after completing a form; double opt-in is when they have to click on a link in a confirmation email to complete their subscription).

Both approaches have merits, so it’s encouraging to see Aweber being flexible in this regard — not all competing solutions offer this option.

Split testing

Split testing (also known as A/B testing) entails sending different versions of your e-newsletters to different parts of your mailing list, tracking how well they perform, and then sending the ‘best’ version to the rest of your list.

Most e-marketing tools take care of this for you: you create a few different versions of your email (with different content or subject headers), send them to a sample of your data, and your e-marketing solution distributes the best-performing version to the rest of your mailing list automatically.

When split testing your e-newsletter with Aweber, you can send up to three variants, and you can mix and match them — unlike many competing tools, you’re not limited to testing subject headers against other subject headers, sender names against other sender names, and so on.

So here’s a thumbs up for the product’s adaptability.

Reporting

Aweber’s email analytics are excellent. In addition to key stats like open rate, clickthroughs, and bounces, you can look at a variety of other useful analytics and information, such as:

  • the growth of lists over time
  • an overview of sign up methods
  • where people are opening your email (i.e., geographical location)
  • the history of an individual’s activity — you can view past opens and clicks etc. at a per-subscriber level

and much else besides.

The bottom line is that Aweber will give you a good overview of the performance of your email campaigns, as well as enough data to make informed decisions about future campaign structure.

Segmenting data in Aweber

In Aweber, segmenting data is a simple process. You can create segments based on user activity as well as the contents of any field in your database — emails opened, web pages visited, links clicked, products purchased, and so on. It’s all very adaptable and simple to use.

However, getting to the screen where you create the segments is a little tricky — you basically have to go to a ‘manage subscribers’ section, search for some subscribers, and then save the search as a segment.

To be fair, some solutions (like Getresponse) take a similar approach to segment creation, while others (like Campaign Monitor and Mailchimp) have a more prominent ‘segments’ section.

However, Aweber does not allow you to send emails to multiple segments at once. Some users will have issues because they need to ‘pick and mix’ segments in their mailouts on a regular basis.

Assume you’re a car dealer with a mailing list that includes a field for “car model.” This field was used to divide your mailing list into VW Polo, Golf, Passat, Tiguan, and Toureg owners.

You’ve created an offer that’s only relevant to Polo, Golf, and Passat owners, and you’d like to send a message to all three segments at once.

In an ideal world, you’d be able to simply select the appropriate segments and send the message to those three groups. This isn’t possible with Aweber, however. Either send three separate messages or create a new segment with the keywords “Polo OR Golf OR Passat.”

If you want to exclude specific segments from the broadcast, you’ll have a similar problem: while you can exclude entire lists from a mailing, you can’t exclude individual segments.

On the plus side, Aweber allows you to send emails to multiple lists, which is something that key competitor Mailchimp does not allow. As a result, there may be a workaround.

In the end, other email marketing tools, particularly Getresponse and Campaign Monitor, do a much better job with segmentation.

Landing page builder

Landing pages, also known as “squeeze pages,” are web pages that are designed solely for the purpose of collecting data. They usually consist of a form, some appealing images, and a small amount of text explaining why submitting your email address is beneficial.

Landing pages are more effective at capturing data than forms on regular websites because there are fewer distractions — no navigation, offers, or content to divert attention away from a sign-up form.

Aweber recently added landing pages as a new feature, allowing you to use the platform to create simple landing pages that can be used in conjunction with advertising campaigns.

On the plus side, the landing page builder is simple to use, and you can incorporate some free stock photos into your design. You can also include a Facebook Pixel and Google Analytics tracking code on your pages, which is useful for evaluating the effectiveness of advertising campaigns.

On the downside, no automatic A/B testing is available. One of the biggest benefits of using a landing page builder is the ability to test different landing pages in real time to see which one performs best.

And, while the ability to add Facebook and Google Analytics tracking code to proceedings is useful, there doesn’t appear to be a way to make this GDPR compliant — if you use these cookies, you’ll need a mechanism that allows EU visitors to consent to them being run (i.e., before they’re activated). Because of the lack of this feature, some users will use the landing page creator to break the law.

(Competing platforms like Mailchimp and Getresponse, for example, have yet to implement proper cookie management on their landing pages.)

Overall, the inclusion of a landing page builder gets a thumbs up, but it definitely needs to be improved.

Integrations with third party apps

Aweber has a large number of integrations with other web apps; there are around 800 of them.

These allow you to connect the platform to other important cloud-based solutions, such as web builders such as Wix or Wordpress, e-commerce platforms such as Shopify, CRM tools such as Salesforce, and landing page builders such as Instapage.

Some of these require the use of dedicated widgets; others require the incorporation of a snippet of code into a website; and still others require the use of a sync tool such as Zapier or Pie Sync.

Aweber rarely integrates with other software as seamlessly as Mailchimp (which appears to be the default ‘standard’ email marketing option for many apps), but you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting it to work with a decent range of other SaaS (software as a service) apps.

Aweber customer support

Aweber’s customer service is one of the product’s most notable features.

All paid-for plans include phone, email, and live chat support, which compares favorably to some key competitors such as Getresponse, Mailchimp, Campaign Monitor, and Mad Mimi, which do not offer phone support on standard plans.

Furthermore, there are no hoops to jump through to contact support — relevant phone numbers and email addresses can be found quickly on the company’s contact page, with no need to trawl through “knowledge bases” or fill out any forms ahead of time.

Furthermore, over the last few years, the company has won several Stevie Awards for customer service, which bodes well for the quality of support you’ll receive when you contact them.

If you’re new to email marketing, this type of easy access to high-quality support is a compelling argument for choosing Aweber as your email marketing provider. The only drawback is that support is only available in English.

In terms of the availability of support, you can contact Aweber’s phone support team from 8am-8pm ET Monday to Friday, and their email and live/chat support is available 24/7.

Aweber review: the verdict

Overall, I think Aweber is a good email marketing service. It isn’t the best product of its kind on the market, but it is dependable, reasonably priced, simple to use, and includes the majority of the key features you’d expect from an email marketing solution.

The ease-of-use, web fonts, landing page builder, AMP for email functionality, and comprehensive support are the main features that would sway me toward Aweber. Its free plan is also generous, granting users with small lists indefinite access to all of the key features.

The support aspect may be especially important for users who are new to e-marketing and don’t have a lot of technical knowledge (because problems can be solved by talking to a real person on a real phone line!).

Aweber is also reasonably priced when compared to some competitors, particularly Campaign Monitor and iContact.

The fact that you are charged to host unsubscribed contacts in your account, its relatively basic marketing automation features, and the fact that you can’t broadcast to multiple segments of data at once are the main things that would discourage me from using Aweber.

I hope you’ve found this Aweber review helpful so far, but if you’re still undecided about whether this is the right e-marketing solution for you, I’ve included a quick breakdown of the key benefits and drawbacks of using it below.

Pros and cons of Aweber

Pros of using Aweber

  • An entirely free plan is available.
  • It’s very easy to use.
  • It comes with a very large range of templates — considerably more than its key competitors.
  • Support options are more extensive than is the case with some key competing products and based on Aweber’s Stevie awards for customer service, should be high.
  • It’s reasonably priced — whilst not the absolute cheapest product of its kind out there, it is more competitively priced than several similar solutions.
  • It has a built-in landing page builder.
  • It facilitates AMP for email — something of a first for email marketing tools.
  • It lets you choose whether to let people subscribe to your list on a single or double opt-in basis.
  • It has good import functionality, with the option to import a wide range of file types and add the email addresses you’re importing directly to an autoresponder cycle.
  • It integrates with a decent range of third party tools and apps.
  • It makes setting up up simple time-based autoresponders very easy to do.
  • All email templates are responsive.
  • You can use web fonts in e-newsletters sent with Aweber.

Cons of using Aweber

  • You are charged to host unsubscribed contacts on your account.
  • You can’t include or exclude multiple segments at once when sending an e-newsletter.
  • There are cheaper options out there which offer considerably more features in the marketing automation department.
  • While the landing page builder is useful, it doesn’t provide A/B testing or a way to use Facebook pixels / Google Analytics cookies in a GDPR compliant way.
  • Some of the templates look a bit dated.
  • The RSS to email templates are poor and they can’t be edited using Aweber’s standard drag-and-drop email builder.

Alternatives to Aweber

There are numerous Aweber alternatives available.

Getresponse is an obvious contender if you’re looking for something a little more feature-rich at a similar price point. Aweber not only allows you to do the types of email marketing tasks that Aweber does, but it also has webinar and e-commerce capabilities.

Mailchimp is also a better-specced tool, but its pricing structure has recently changed, and it does not always provide good value for money.

Hubspot is another product worth considering; it’s a CRM, but it also has some excellent email marketing features.

Mad Mimi is a good option if you’re looking for something a little less expensive (but bear in mind that Mad Mimi is a much more basic solution than Aweber).

If you have a lot of cash, Campaign Monitor is also worth considering — it has a lot of useful features, particularly in the template and automation departments, but it’s very expensive in comparison to the other products.

Any thoughts on Aweber?

We’d love to hear from you if you’re an Aweber user or thinking about becoming one — scroll down to share your thoughts or questions about the product in the comments section below! Also, if you found this Aweber review useful, please share it.

Disclaimer: There are some affiliate links on my blog. If you click on those links and make a purchase, I’ll earn a commission at no extra cost to you.

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