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AWeber is perhaps one of my favorite email marketing platforms so far. It’s clear that decades of experience have been translated into a tight, efficient, and useful email marketing experience with few flaws, and there’s a nice free plan to get started with.
Sure, I could wish that I didn’t have to scroll past outdated templates to get to the better-looking ones. I could wish for the ability to purchase dedicated IPs. But for a pure and simple email marketing experience, AWeber is a treat.
AWeber is definitely a name to be recognized, having gotten its start right before we got really worried about the Y2K scare (Zoomers, ask your parents about it). Well, AWeber (and the rest of us) survived that would-be mini-pocalypse, and has gone on to bigger and better things.
It certainly has evolved over time. AWeber still offers the classic email marketing it is so well known for, but better, with additional features like landing pages, client account management, and compatibility with Google’s AMP for Email. It seems – at least from the outside – to offer everything you could want from an email marketing platform.
But has it really kept up with the times? How about all this new-fangled user-friendly email automation and stuff? How’s the security, and how well does AWeber keep spam off of its platform?
I went undercover to try it out, and I actually quite like it. Read on to find out if it could be the right email marketing platform for you.
AWeber’s Features Stay True to Its Mission
AWeber does email, first and foremost. While other services will sometimes add loads of other things to their platforms (e.g. full social media marketing campaigns, and so on), AWeber mostly does email. And landing pages. But mostly email.
That’s not a criticism by any means. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I generally prefer applications and services that do one thing very well, and mostly stick to it. Since email and landing-page-related features are the only things that matter for the purposes of this review, AWeber is in a very good place to possibly impress us all.
And impress me it did. Mostly.
Email Campaigns, Templates, and Personalization
AWeber’s email marketing is super easy (and free) to get started with. Just sign up for the free plan, which allows you to send as many emails as you like, to up to 500 subscribers and contacts. There are no time restrictions, just send your emails and go.
Paid plans go up to 25,000 subscribers, and if you want more than that, you’ll probably need to talk to Sales/Support.
You can, of course, drastically increase the reach of your emails by sharing them via Facebook and Twitter at the same time as you send them out. You cannot, however, send notifications via SMS, unless you use one of the many third-party integrations for a separate SMS service. And that’ll probably cost you extra, of course.
The emails themselves are also pretty easy to create. Or hard to create; it’s your choice. You can build your emails in a simple drag-and-drop editor, write text-only emails (my personal specialty), or use custom HTML templates, which is always a fun option.
The drag-and-drop editor has 700+ templates, most of which are okay, even good. Some of them are very dated though, clearly belonging to the First Era of Email Marketing, when sabretooth tigers and mammoths roamed the web, usually in GIF format.
But while those templates are painfully noticeable, they are not the majority. See here, most of them are pretty good:
The actual editor is very easy to learn, and pretty flexible, feature and layout-wise. You can easily add blocks of text, images, videos, buttons, social media links, social media sharing buttons, logos, coupons, image carousels, and even RSS feeds. You can change any colors you like, of course, but the font selection is a bit small, unfortunately.
There is also a library of stock images that goes over 6,500 images. Most of the services that I’ve personally reviewed just don’t have this, so it’s a huge bonus.
Lastly, right-to-left languages such as Hebrew and Arabic are supported. According to the support agent I talked to, you can use any language you want, as long as you have the keyboard for it. This makes AWeber a solid option for international customers.
Next up, there’s email personalization: that’s the bit where you can use variables to alter the content of your email, depending on who you’re sending it to. That’s how companies start every email with your first name (or their best approximation of it) without making some poor intern send thousands of emails manually.
On AWeber, you can use variables to show the contact’s first name, last name, email address, IP address, signup URL or date, their location (region, city, postal code, or even latitude and longitude). You can also use variables to input snippets like your signature, physical address, the date, and the ever-important Unsubscribe link.
There’s also dynamic content. That means you can make bits of email content actually appear or disappear depending on the information you have about your contacts. For example, if you’re sending out an email full of international deals, but you have some special deals running in California, you could create a block full of deals that won’t be shown to anyone but your Californian customers.
You can make content appear (or again, disappear) based on the contact’s name, any tags you’ve assigned to them, their location, email, IP address, and so many other options.
Last up for this section, let’s have a look at A/B testing, also known as split testing. This essentially allows you to create more than one version of your emails, and send the different versions to different people in your contact lists at random.
For example, if you run a bookstore, you could create one email that advertises your latest selection of crime novels and political thrillers, and another that shows off the latest anthologies of poetry. Then, you take the statistics from both email campaigns and see if your readers want more John Grisham novels or more words that rhyme together.
Yes, yes. I know poems don’t have to rhyme. And they don’t have to be silly limericks. But I prefer it when they do, and are.
AWeber does have A/B testing, it works, and you can split test everything including subject lines, email designs… everything. Some email marketing platforms will only let you split test things like email subject lines, so having a complete solution makes me happy.
Mailing Lists and Segmentation
Managing your contacts is super simple, for the most part. You can add them manually by typing in their information one at a time, copy and paste lots of addresses in, or import contacts from files. Supported file formats include XLS(X), TSV, CSV, and comma-separated TXT files.
You can also easily create signup forms to be embedded in your website, use the WordPress integration, or create a landing page with a signup form right on AWeber.
When it comes to sorting your contacts, there’s one big thing you need to know: you don’t get separate “lists” of contacts as such, unless you use the segmentation feature.
Otherwise, all contacts go into one big list, so don’t go looking for an “add new list” button. However, that one big list can be subdivided by blog-post-style tags, and that essentially replicates the function of separate lists. You can also assign multiple tags to your contacts, which makes it easier to organize them however you want.
This isn’t something that I’d personally consider a problem, but it might take some getting used to if you’re coming from a different email marketing platform that uses more traditional ways of organizing contacts.
Aside from tags, you can sort your contacts by name, IP address, the usual stuff. You can also search for them by location, subscription date, the place they signed up from, the links they’ve clicked, and the web pages they’ve visited (these have to be web pages you control).
And then there’s segmentation. Segmentation is a way to create dynamic contact lists that update themselves when new contacts that meet the criteria are added. Let’s say, for example, that you want a list of all your contacts who live in Arizona, and have clicked on one of your in-email links in the past year.
On AWeber, you can just use the advanced search form to look for contacts with those criteria, and then save your search results as a segment. That segment will get updated every time someone from Arizona meets (or doesn’t meet) the criteria.
However, this isn’t entirely available on the free plan. The advanced search feature is there, but you’ll need to upgrade to the pro plan to actually save your own segments.
Somewhat related to segmentation, you’ll need options for list hygiene. Simply put, you only have so many spots for contacts, and you don’t want to be sending emails to people who aren’t even looking at them. Or maybe you do, if you think you have an offer that’ll make them look.
Either way, you can use the advanced search function to search for contacts that haven’t opened your emails or clicked links in a while. This allows you to easily identify contacts that either need to be brought back into the fold, or failing that, removed from your list entirely.
Speaking of which, you also want a way to suppress certain contacts – meaning, never send them any more emails, even by accident. Suppression lists are usually used to ensure unsubscribed contacts stay unsubscribed, so they won’t complain and get your marketing campaigns labeled as spam. Also, it’s a matter of law in some places.
Simply put, AWeber has this. You can suppress any contact at any time, and make sure they never hear another peep from your email marketing campaigns.
My testing of all of these features went smoothly, even flawlessly. At no point did I run into anything I might call a bug. I’d recommend AWeber for people who are just learning how email marketing works.
Having your own website is great, and I fully encourage everyone to build a proper web presence for their business. However, sometimes you just need a quick and simple way to announce a new event, sell a specific product or service, or just get people to sign up for your emails. And hey, maybe you don’t want to put that page on your actual website.
Landing pages are the tool of choice for this purpose, and AWeber lets you build them quickly and easily. And you can build as many as you like.
There are over 40 landing page templates, which are definitely newer, modern, and good-looking. Unlike with the email templates, I didn’t see a single one that I felt was dated. As you might expect, these templates are also mobile-responsive. See for yourself:
The landing page editor looks and works almost exactly the same as the drag-and-drop email editor because it essentially is the same software, just reconfigured for building landing pages. Well, it worked just fine for me.
And just as with the email editor, RTL languages are supported. You can also use custom domains with your landing pages, so you can make it look (to the user) like they’re a part of your website.
Automation is the art of setting up your emails and campaigns so you barely ever have to touch them. For example, you can set it up so a new contact gets a “Hi there!” email when they sign up for your newsletter.
Or, if a user clicks on an in-email link for a particular deal, a tag gets added to their contact information on AWeber. Then, you could set the system to wait about a week, then send them another email with deals for similar products.
Automation on AWeber is called Campaigns. On the free plan, you can trigger an email campaign when people sign up for a newsletter, or when a tag gets added to their contact information. More advanced options, such as automatic abandoned cart emails, are available on the Pro plan.
AWeber has several additional features of note that can make your life a little easier. These include:
Smart Designer – This is literally a tool that will design email templates for you based on the design of your website. These templates won’t be all that fancy, but they make an excellent starting point that you can then customize further. Here’s what happened when I ran my own site through the Smart Designer:
Team Hub – If you have a whole marketing team with multiple clients, AWeber’s Team Hub is for you. It basically allows you to manage your clients and team members in common-sense ways. You can assign specific people to specific clients, manage client information, all that good stuff.
AMP for Email – Google’s AMP for Email is basically a framework that adds a level of interactivity to emails that you normally won’t get. We’re talking about advanced forms, dropdown menus, and one of AWeber’s most recent additions: image carousels. Yeah, in an email.
Turn your blog into a newsletter – There are easy ways to import blog posts and send them out as newsletters. ‘Nuff said.
Integrations and third-party addons – Specifically, there are 1,000+ of them. They give you the ability to make AWeber work with Shopify, Facebook, WordPress, PayPal, Zapier, Etsy, and even WordPress plugins like Divi and WooCommerce. A lot of those integrations work through Zapier, but hey. That’s how we got over a thousand of them.
For the Most Part, Your Emails Will Go Through
Deliverability is the term we use to talk about how likely it is that your emails will land in your contacts’ inboxes. I mean, that’s kind of the whole point. Emails that people don’t see are essentially pointless, and a waste of your time.
Now, some people and sites that test this sort of thing will try to give you a number like “your emails from X service will have a 65% deliverability rate.” That sort of number is essentially useless, as we cannot possibly test all of the factors involved in sending an email. There are simply far too many variables, and too many systems we don’t have access to.
What we can do is take a look at the basic features every service needs to get your emails through and rate the service based on that. You can read more about our testing methods here, but I can tell you AWeber is pretty solid in this regard.
For starters, AWeber has DKIM authentication. DKIM, in short, is a system that uses encryption to tell the servers that receive your email where it comes from. Specifically, it confirms that the email comes from your website, or at least your specific domain name. Having DKIM tells the receiving servers that your email is less likely to be harmful or outright spam.
If you want help getting it set up, AWeber has a quick and easy guide to get you started.
Next, you want to look at how spam gets handled. AWeber has a very firm stance on spam: they don’t like it. This is good for you, because if email services like Gmail decide to block your email platform for sending out too much spam, that affects everyone who uses that service.
So what happens if you send out unsolicited spam? Your AWeber account gets terminated. Other platforms might put it “under review” or give you a warning, but AWeber doesn’t do warning shots. If you get caught sending spam, your account gets terminated. No questions, no mercy, and no refunds. That might sound harsh, but I honestly get it. And as long as you are not a spammer, it’s a good thing for you.
Another thing we do to test a platform’s spam policy is to upload junk email addresses to the contact list, to see if they’ll get filtered out. Some people use randomly generated gibberish emails, but I like to use a list of known spammers I found online.
Simply put, AWeber’s filters work. I uploaded the emails, and none of them got added to my list. They were just blocked.
Now, some platforms won’t let you use their platform to send out emails with affiliate links in them or even to recruit affiliates for your own affiliate programs. This is an effort to block spam, but also sometimes blocks legitimate business. It’s a tradeoff.
AWeber does allow affiliate marketing. Now, the affiliate marketing programs you join must be above-board, and conform to AWeber’s guidelines, and you have to be sending those affiliate links to people who have actually signed up for them. Still, it’s allowed.
Lastly, we check for the option of a dedicated IP address. Basically, this is something you can sometimes buy so that all of your emails always come from the same server address. The problem with sharing an IP with other email marketers is that if someone else gets the whole server banned from Gmail, then your emails won’t go through either.
Having your own IP can prevent that, and help make your emails look more “trustworthy” from a technical standpoint.
Unfortunately, AWeber does not offer dedicated IP addresses. At all. This won’t be a major problem for most people, but it would be really nice to have the option, especially when your audience begins to expand.
By and large, AWeber has what it needs to get your emails from A to B to C, and then presumably to your contacts’ inboxes. You shouldn’t have too much trouble, though I will note one particular problem I had:
Emails sent to Outlook.com went straight to the Junk Mail folder. Keep in mind, however, that I’ve been testing these services a little while, and it may have something to do with how every one of those emails is about my cat, Cleocatra. In the future, I may need to choose another topic.
Analytics & Reporting
AWeber Offers Fairly Detailed Reports Even on the Free Plan
Numbers are a marketer’s best friend. Statistics on how your emails and landing pages perform is how you know what’s working and what isn’t. It’s how you know if more of your audience like subject lines that are energetic, or perhaps a bit more reserved. It’s how you know if they prefer green or blue.
It’s how you know what makes more money.
Thankfully, AWeber offers a whole suite of advanced and detailed reports on overall data, data trends, and more. You can generate reports based on email opens, link clicks, and contact location. There are trend reports for daily, weekly, and monthly subscriber growth, and more. There are even reports on the ways people subscribe to your email list.
And these are simple statistics, according to the marketing. Moving up to the Pro plan provides you with even more statistical insights, to help you determine how to sell you ideas, products, or services.
AWeber’s Support Is Fast and Helpful (But Don’t Call Them)
I’m happy to report that AWeber’s support is friendly, helpful, and generally gives you what you need within minutes. The three main avenues of contact are phone, email, and live chat, and I had a decent experience with the live chat and email, at least. Also, the email and live chat options are both available 24/7.
If you’d rather do some self-troubleshooting, however, there is a substantial knowledge base with guides, tutorials, and general information on almost every feature.
If you just need a quick start, there’s always the AWeber Academy. Okay, the “Academy” is really just a short (but very useful) video course designed to help you set up your account, and send out your first emails whenever you like.
Now, let’s see what happened when I tested AWeber’s different support channels.
Well, this was a rollercoaster.
In theory, phone support is available from 8AM to 8PM Eastern Time (ET), from Monday to Friday. This is important to note, because I lost all track of time when working on this review, and tried to call a couple of times on the weekend.
I got a message that said, “We’re in an all-hands meeting right now,” and basically was told to wait or contact them another way. I was getting very frustrated, but when I figured out the weekend thing, I just felt silly.
Except when I called again on a Monday, I got the same darned message. I couldn’t reach the phone support team at all. Look, I don’t like talking to people on the phone either, but that is literally their job. This is a rather large blemish on an otherwise solid support experience.
So I sent my email in via a form on AWeber’s website. I asked what the affiliate marketing policy was, and if I could specifically run an affiliate marketing campaign through AWeber. I got a response in 10 minutes saying that yes, I could.
10 minutes is a fantastic response time for email support.
The live chat was also pretty great, with one small problem: I couldn’t get the live chat window to work on Firefox and had to switch to a Chromium-based browser (ie anything that works on the same code as Google Chrome).
I asked if RTL languages such as Hebrew and Arabic were supported. I got an initial response in less than a minute. Then it took another few minutes to get an actual answer to my question, but that’s still a fantastic experience.
Note: I’d like to apologize for the mouse cursor in the screenshots below. I can’t re-screengrab them, I’m afraid, and my screenshot got misconfigured somehow.
AWeber’s Pricing Is Perfectly Reasonable
AWeber’s pricing plans won’t break the bank, especially if you’re actually making some cash off your marketing. This is usually the goal. And anyway, you can get started sans cash with the free plan for up to 500 subscribers.
After that, the Pro plan is actually very well-priced, though of course, it costs more if you pay month-to-month. It starts at $19.99 per month, paid annually. You’d be better off trying the free plan first, and if things go well, paying for a year straight… if you want to save 3 or 4 dollars per month. That’s right, the difference between month-to-month and annual rates really isn’t that much, but it can help if you’re on a budget.
AWeber is cheaper than many of its competitors.
The refund policy is a bit… complex. Canceling your account is simple enough. We have a whole guide about that. Getting a refund is another matter, as there is no specific refund policy. You can always ask for a refund, but whether you get one (and how much money is refunded) is determined on a case-by-case basis.
AWeber is perhaps one of my favorites out of all the email marketing platforms I’ve tested so far. It’s clear that decades of experience have been translated into a tight, efficient, and useful email marketing experience with few flaws.
Sure, I could wish that I didn’t have to scroll past outdated templates to get to the better-looking ones. I could wish for the ability to purchase dedicated IPs. I could wish for a more advanced automation interface as you get with Sendinblue. And god, I could wish the phone support actually worked.
But for a pure and simple email marketing experience that is nonetheless extensible when it needs to be, AWeber is a treat, and the best part is that you can use the free plan to try it out risk-free. Just stick to live chat or email support, and you’ll be fine, I promise.
How much does AWeber cost?AWeber is free for up to 500 contacts. That free plan has very nearly everything that the paid plan does, and no time or email sending limits. Go wild and give it a try. Once you’re ready to upgrade, if that’s what you decide on, the lowest possible price for the free plan is $19.99 per month, paid annually. The price naturally goes up a little if you pay month-to-month, but not by much. Still, it’s something to keep in mind.
If you want to get started for cheap, check out our email marketing coupon page. There’s almost certainly something there to tickle your fancy.How do you start a free trial on AWeber?Just sign up for an account and select the free plan. AWeber makes no effort to hide this option from you at any point, though the Pro plan is, of course, emphasized more heavily. And I can heartily recommend the Pro plan if you want to expand your email marketing activity.How do you use AWeber with WordPress?AWeber offers over 1,000 integrations and addons for different platforms, including WordPress. The WordPress integration in particular is easy to use, because it’s a simple WordPress plugin. Upload it to your website, activate the plugin like you would any other, and you’re off to the races.
If you want to see for yourself, check out our Mailchimp review, or check out all of our reviews of the best email marketing platforms for a full comparison.
Ezequiel Bruni is biologically Canadian, legally Mexican, and self identifies as a total nerd. He’s been a web and experience designer off and on since he was a teenager, and loves sharing the kind of beginner’s advice he really wishes he’d had when he first started. He also loves video games, tacos, open source software, video games, sci-fi and fantasy in all their forms, and video games. He does not love writing in the third person.
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Hidden fees yearly charged
It really doesn’t compare to other alternatives. What of the thing I disliked the most is the hidden fee charged yearly. When you compare the prices with other auto responders, you should add the $193.80 for « email marketing and analytics ».
I really appreciate how Aweber is entirely cloud-based
I am a traveling admin, and I really appreciate how Aweber is entirely cloud-based. I can work on my email promotions from any of my work sites without worrying about whether the computers will be compatible. The features for Aweber are fantastic. You can send broadcast emails, pre-programmed campaign emails, autoresponder emails and more. The email parser functionality allows me to pull contacts and other information directly from emails, saving me loads of time. It works well with other software I already use and is one of the most helpful promotional tools my company uses.
I seldom have a business investment that pays for itself in less than 60 days, but that's what I got with Aweber. What amazed me about this software is how well it integrated with other programs I was already using. The automation tools made it easy to keep in touch with customers and get them to revisit my site. A recent new client told me that the only reason they even visited my site was that my email looked remarkably professional. Their business alone more than paid for the service.
AWeber is very easy to use and offers lot of features. But, when you extend the limit of email sending, it charges you very high. So, I switched to MailGet that charges only $29 for 10,000 emails whereas AWeber costs $69 for it.