I’ve been using email marketing since 2004.
In the early days I used 1ShoppingCart because it offered a fully integrated shopping cart with digital product delivery, email broadcast and auto-responder functions. However, a few years later I began experiencing email deliverability problems. I learned 1ShoppingCart was having issues with email being blocked due to unscrupulous behavior by a handful of clients. They managed the problem, but in 2006 I made the decision to move my list to a company that focused solely on email marketing. My list is a valuable asset and I wanted it housed with a company that was working on email marketing 24/7, not splitting their attention between e-commerce and email marketing.
I chose Aweber.
I had several lists at the time and had to manually move them to Aweber. And, because Aweber requires double-opt-in (users must confirm they want to be added to the email list), this meant all of my subscribers had to re-opt-in to my list. I lost half my list in the transfer. Some folks had probably moved on to other things, others may have missed the re-opt-in offer, and still others may have just decided to scale back on the email they receive. Whatever the reason and despite the fact it hurt to lose half of something I’d spent years building, I chose to focus on the fact that now my list was only filled with people who really wanted to hear from me.
In recent years, more and more of my clients have been choosing Mailchimp.
I really knew nothing about Mailchimp until I decided to give it a try this year. I wanted to see why so many clients were choosing it over Aweber (the service I recommend). A few clients told me it just seemed easier—that they were a bit intimidated by Aweber. And clearly the fact that Mailchimp provides free service for lists up to 2000 names is a big plus for someone just getting started in business.
- Yes, Mailchimp makes designing html (graphic) email messages easy with it’s drag and drop functionality.
- Yes, Mailchimp provides some pretty cool statistics on list engagement.
- Yes, Mailchimp allows you to import subscribers from another service without requiring double-opt-in (a big plus if you’re moving your list).
However, after just a few months, I have gone back to Aweber.
I have a few small lists that I will keep in Mailchimp, but as a fairly serious email marketer there are a few things Mailchimp just can’t do, that I need my email marketing service to do.
1) Yes, Mailchimp is free up to a list size of 2000, however that does NOT include auto-responders.
If you’re only planning on sending out an enewsletter or occasional broadcast messages, then Mailchimp may be a good choice. For me, auto-responders are such a big part of my marketing plan and the automation of my online business (my latest opt-in gift is a series of 52 auto-responders) that I can’t live without them.
2) Auto-responders are much more time-consuming to set up in Mailchimp.
You cannot set up one auto-responder series and add multiple messages to it the way you can in Aweber. You have to set up each auto-responder individually, and it’s very time-consuming. You also cannot test the entire series at once, or turn on the entire series at once. You have to test and turn on each auto-responder message individually. Maybe not a big deal with three messages, but if you have 52 like I do, it’s a time-consuming task.
3) Mailchimp only allows one opt-in form per list.
I like to create different forms for the same list, to put on different websites, or social media. That way I can test which source is converting better. In Mailchimp, I would need to set up a different list for each form, which then puts subscribers onto different lists. That would not be such a big deal except…
4) Mailchimp does not merge/purge duplicate email addresses between different lists.
Yes, Mailchimp will delete duplicate email addresses from the same list. But not if the subscribers are on two different lists. This may not seem like a big deal if all you ever send out is an e-newsletter. However, if you do a lot of email marketing and you create separate opt-in forms to test conversion on different sites or web pages, or you create different lists for special promotions or to separate prospects from buyers, you could end up with multiple lists with significant duplication and no way to get rid of it.
Aweber automatically de-duplicates with each mailing to multiple lists, and proactively you can set up Automation to remove people from a previous list if they opt-in to a newer list.
Because the cost of these services is based on the number of email addresses in your lists, even if some of those email addresses are duplicates, you could easily end up overpaying. And, more importantly, if you send a broadcast to multiple lists in Mailchimp, some folks could end up getting the same email twice if they’re on two different lists, or three times if they’re on three different lists. Not a good situation.
5) Having too many different lists can become unwieldy.
I used to create new lists in Aweber every time I did a promotion. While that can be great for segmented marketing, after a few years I ended up with so many lists that it was difficult to manage them all. I’ve since cleaned them up and am very careful about not creating a new list unless I have to. For example, in Aweber, if all I’m doing is changing my free gift, I can use the same list, just change the form and the auto-responders and all the new subscribers get added to my main email list.
6) Mailchimp is free or cheap to start with, but it doesn’t stay that way.
When I was considering Mailchimp, I did the math to see what it would cost me to move my subscribers over from Aweber and it turns out that at about 1500-2000 subscribers, with auto-responders, Mailchimp is more expensive.
7) Maybe most important, Mailchimp does not provide opt-in statistics.
One of the most important marketing metrics I track is the opt-in percentage of my free gift. That tells me how quickly I’m building my list. And, because I like to test different free gifts, it’s important for me to know which ones perform best. In Aweber, I can track these statistics right in my admin panel so I always know how well my free gift is performing, and I know when opt-in’s start to trail off so I can make a change, or test something new.
With Mailchimp, I have to calculate my opt-in percentage manually by using Google Analytics or another traffic monitor to measure page visits and then divide that by subscribers. Yes, it can be done, but it’s not nearly as accurate and frankly it’s more work. Because this is such an important statistic to optimize, this one point alone is pretty much a deal-breaker for me.
Choosing the best service for you
Aweber offers 30 days free. Mailchimp offers up to 2000 subscribers free unless you want to try the auto-responder function which you must pay for. I encourage you to evaluate both services carefully, keeping in mind the type and volume of email marketing you plan to do, before making a choice. And, always choose a service that will grow with your business and your list.
Do your best to anticipate your needs not just now, but in five or ten years from now. Compare costs for when your list may number in the thousands and make sure that free service is still the best deal.
As much as possible try to choose the service you’ll stick with for years to come—you want to avoid moving your list once you’ve started building it. Yes, it’s pretty easy at this point in time to move a list to Mailchimp. Not so much to Aweber.
**UPDATE JUNE 2015** As of April 2015 Aweber now allows you to move a mailing list from another email service, or import an existing email list, without requiring the people on that list to confirm again, or re-opt-in. This is important because if you decide to start out with Mailchimp or another service and down the road determine it doesn’t fulfill your needs, you can easily move your list to Aweber without losing subscribers.
At the start I thought Mailchimp might be cheaper and easier for me to use. Only after actually using it for a few months did I determine it just can’t do what I need it to do.
Note: The Aweber links in this post include my affiliate link. That means I receive a small commission if you choose to sign up for Aweber using my link (either way you pay the same price). Please know I only recommend and affiliate with services I use and love, and if you prefer not to use my affiliate link, simply search for Aweber in Google.