Comparing AWeber to MailChimp, ActiveCampaign and ConvertKit

Comparing AWeber to MailChimp, ActiveCampaign and ConvertKit

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You’re choosing your email marketing platform, and you’re considering AWeber.

In this AWeber review, I’ll help you decide if AWeber is right for you and your business, and I’ll compare AWeber with some alternative email marketing platforms.

Specifically, ActiveCampaign, ConvertKit, and MailChimp.

I spent several years comparing different email marketing platforms before making my latest switch, which was from MailChimp to ActiveCampaign.

To give you an idea of my perspective, I have a list of about 25,000.

I sell books and online courses, and I have a mostly automated sales process.

I sell my products almost entirely through email automations.

I also promote my products through webinars.

At any time, if you decide AWeber is right for you, or if you just want to try it, I have a 30-day free trial just for you.

Visit to claim your free trial.

By the way, this is an affiliate link.

I will earn money if you sign up for AWeber through this link.

As you’ll see, this won’t affect what I say about AWeber.

I’m going to start off by giving context to AWeber, by comparing it with some of my favorite alternatives.

If you simply want to see AWeber‘s features, skip ahead.

I don’t believe there’s any “best” email marketing platform.

There’s only the best email marketing platform for you and your business.

So here are some other services to choose from, and links to special offers I have arranged with those services.

With some of these links I make money, with others, I don’t.

I really just want share what I’ve learned and help you find the right service for you.

These affiliate links are what makes it possible for me to make a detailed review like this.

If you sign up through one of my links, you get a special offer, it costs you nothing extra.

It’s a great way to thank me for the work I put into this AWeber review.

Before I get into the details, Who is AWeber good for, and what are alternatives to AWeber if it’s not right for you? Choose AWeber if: You’re a small business with 5,000 subscribers or more.

If price is important to you, AWeber is very competitive above 5,000 subscribers.

Also, if simplicity is important to you.

AWeber is easy to use for simple email blasts, and automated updates from your blogs.

AWeber can also build simple automations in an intuitive automation builder.

If all of these apply to you, there’s a good chance AWeber is a good choice for you.

What’s great about AWeber? AWeber is easy-to-use.

As you’ll see, it’s very easy to make email blasts and simple automations.

The pricing is very competitive above 5,000 subscribers.

Another good thing is they have tons of integrations.

They integrate with nearly any other service you might use, such as a payment processor like SendOwl or Gumroad or a landing page service like ClickFunnels.

If those key points don’t get you excited, I don’t think AWeber is right for you.

They integrate with everything because they’ve been around for a long time.

I think because of this, their hands are a little tied when it comes to innovating.

In case AWeber is not right for you, what are alternatives to AWeber? Before I start I’ll say that every email marketing platform has downsides.

It’s a little like picking a spouse.

Something’s going to drive you crazy, you just have to decide what you must have, and what you can’t stand.

One AWeber alternative is MailChimp.

If you want easy-to-use, attractive templates for simple email blasts, MailChimp is the clear winner.

You’ll see that AWeber‘s templates are very dated.

MailChimp has the most attractive templates, and the easiest email editing experience.

MailChimp is also free for up to 2,000 contacts.

But I caution you that if email marketing is important to your business, don’t choose the wrong email marketing platform just because it’s cheaper or free.

You’ll lose more in lost time and revenue than you’ll gain in savings if you choose the wrong platform.

MailChimp does have its downsides.

MailChimp’s automations are extremely limited.

In my opinion as a designer, MailChimp’s automation builder is not nearly as intuitive as AWeber‘s.

Limited automation was the main reason I switched from MailChimp to ActiveCampaign, by the way.

There’s no tagging on MailChimp.

AWeber has tagging, and so does every other service I’m talking about.

Tagging is really important for sorting out where people came from, and what they’re interested in.

One of the most common gripes about MailChimp is that they double-charge you for contacts.

If a single contact is on multiple lists, each instance of that contact on each list counts as a contact.

So if you have one contact on three different lists, which is something you might do to make up for the lack of tagging, that single contact counts as three contacts.

AWeber also double charges you for contacts if they’re on more than one list, but at least you can use their tagging feature to avoid using multiple lists, and avoid being double charged.

Email MarketingIf MailChimp sounds to you like a good alternative to AWeber, you can use it for free for up to 2,000 contacts. ActiveCampaign is another AWeber alternative, and it’s what I personally use in my business.

You should choose ActiveCampaign if you want to build more sophisticated automations.

ActiveCampagin has a very intuitive drag-and-drop visual automation builder.

You can build just about any automation you can imagine in ActiveCampaign.

Another cool thing about ActiveCampaign is that they have various levels of service, so if you want to upgrade to things like a CRM or SMS marketing, you can do that on ActiveCampaign.

AWeber only has the basic level of service.

If you want lots of control of very detailed automations, ActiveCampaign is a better choice versus AWeber.

This is especially true if you have a high-touch sales process that calls for a CRM, or if you want to integrate SMS marketing – or, since switching email marketing platforms is a big project – if you think you might want those features in the future, you can start with ActiveCampaign’s “Lite” package now, and grow into their more feature-packed packages in the future.

There are downsides to ActiveCampaign.

After being spoiled by MailChimp, the email editing experience is cumbersome to me.

They have a drag-and-drop editor, but I find it impossible to make an email with the very plain appearance that I want in my emails.

So, I end up using ActiveCampaign’s HTML editor which is the worst editor I’ve ever used.

I also find it hard to edit emails in an automation.

time is moneyActiveCampaign’s automation builder is great, but when it comes time to edit multiple emails in a sequence, it’s really a chore.

There’s one more AWeber alternative before we review the details of AWeber.

Even though I like ActiveCampaign, sometimes I think about switching, yet again, to ConvertKit.

Choose ConvertKit if you want any easy email-editing experience and an easy automation-building experience.

ConvertKit‘s email editing experience is solid.

Not as good as MailChimp’s, but better than AWeber‘s.

You also might like ConvertKit if you want easy lead-magnet landing pages.

ConvertKit has a built-in landing page builder.

They don’t have a ton of templates, but AWeber doesn’t have landing pages at all.

This could save you from needing a ClickFunnels subscription.

You’ll generally like ConvertKit if you are an author.

ConvertKit is built by an author, for authors.

I’m an author, so ConvertKit is also appealing to me.

If you’re an author, you may want to look at ConvertKit.

The first downside of ConvertKit is that they only have simple email templates.

This is an upside to me, personally but if you run an ecommerce site or are an artist you might not like this.

ConvertKit is staunchly against fancy email designs.

Some people don’t like this, so you may prefer AWeber, who provides email templates.

The other main downside of ConvertKit is it’s the most expensive to get started with.

Their cheapest plan is $29 a month.

This will cover you for up to 1,000 contacts.

Let’s quickly talk about pricing.

Really, I recommend that you don’t make your email marketing platform decision based upon price.

You don’t typically see a huge difference in pricing between platforms, and if you’re an active email marketer you can make up any price differences by having the platform that works for your business and makes you more money.

As I said previously, AWeber starts beating other services once you have about 5,000 contacts.

MailChimp can be tempting when you have a smaller list.

This table shows them being free for 1,000 subscribers, but they’re free for up to 2,000.

I think MailChimp is a good choice if you just want something simple to send out email blasts, but if you’re serious about your email marketing efforts and want sophisticated automations and segmenting, I’d recommend going with ActiveCampaign or ConvertKit.

AWeber does have an easier-to-use and slightly more powerful automation builder than MailChimp does, so if you’re looking for something in between, AWeber might be a good choice.

Switching email marketing platforms can be a lot of work, so it’s best to get it right the first time.

I’d caution against going with MailChimp just because its free if you’re just starting out.

Now that you’ve seen some AWeber alternatives, let’s get on with the AWeber review.

If you already have an email list for your business, you’ll need to import your existing contacts.

This is easy to do.

You can copy and paste or enter by hand.

Or, you can import your subscribers from a file.

Here I have a CSV of some subscribers, and I can choose which fields go with which, including tags.

If the right field doesn’t exist in my AWeber account, I can add a custom field.

I let them know where I got the emails.

Do I want them to get my existing auto-responder? They call it a follow-up series.

Do I want them to opt-in once again? This is good that they give you the choice because I think they used to require everyone you imported to opt-in again.

Finally, I can add additional tags to remind me which import they came in from.

And, my contacts are importing.

Next up, we’ll do a basic email.

AWeber calls this a “Broadcast.” I can do plain text, with ugly links and all.

I can do an HTML editor.

Or, I can use AWeber‘s drag and drop email builder, which is what I’ll do.

I’ll show the HTML editor later.

Here I’ve defaulted to one of AWeber‘s templates.

You can see they have lots of template.

My opinion as a designer is that these templates are extremely dated and not very attractive.

Again, I think MailChimp has the most attractive templates.

But, I don’t like to send complicated emails with templates.

As a designer, I don’t like AWeber‘s templates, but as an author, I want my emails to look as plain as possible – just like if they were getting an email from a friend.

I can write my text in here.

I can add an image.

But to add an image in the middle of text I have to create multiple text boxes.

I find that experience clunky, though ActiveCampaign’s drag and drop editor is similar.

MailChimp has the easiest editor – you can drag images directly into your library and insert them in your email.

Now I can preview my email, and send a test.

And I like that it comes out as responsive, so whether on desktop or mobile the formatting looks good.

Next up, you can create a blog broadcast.

You can enter the RSS feed of your blog, and AWeber will automatically send an email whenever you publish.

Choose from dozens of templates.

You can edit some simple code to change what shows up where.

The preview unfortunately is not very rich, so I think you just have to wait until you publish something new to really see what it looks like.

Next up, my personal favorite: Automations.

AWeber calls their automations “Campaigns.” I’ll see what it’s like to recreate my free email course, Design Pitfalls.

I’ll make a welcome Campaign.

I’ll activate it when they subscribe.

There are actions I can use to build my automation.

You can see that the options are extremely limited.

By comparison, ActiveCampaign has way more options on their “Lite” plan.

Even more with their more advanced plans.

But, AWeber‘s automation builder is more simple, and more nimble than ActiveCampaign’s.

This time, I’ll use the HTML editor.

This looks good.

Less cumbersome than ActiveCampaign’s HTML editor.

Now I can apply a “wait.” My email course starts each Monday, so in my welcome sequence, I like to send an email on Fridays to get my students pumped up for the course.

I’ll choose one day, but I’ll only allow it to send on Fridays.

On second thought, I better make that one hour, in case someone signs up on a Friday.

I’ll skip making that email to show you I can then add a tag.

This tag will activate the “Design Pitfalls” campaign, which is the course itself.

I want the first lesson to go out on Mondays.

The second lesson on Wednesdays.

Then I’ll add a tag to start another campaign and pitch my premium course.

I can also add what AWeber calls an automation.

If a contact clicks a link in this email, then I’ll add a tag, which could trigger another campaign.

By the way, ConvertKit has a great combination of an easy-to-use automation builder, with a healthy set of options for building those automations.

If you want to send an email to a select group of subscribers, you want to search your subscribers, and create a segment.

You can search by tag, or any other field you’ve created.

You can combine search attributes.

However, one limitation is you can only search by AND, as in has this tag for having gone through my course AND does not have this other tag for having become a customer.

You can’t search by say, has this tag for this course OR this tag for this other course, AND does not have this other customer tag.

Limited segmentation options was one big reason I switched from MailChimp to ActiveCampaign.

With ActiveCampaign, you can build extremely complex segments, with multiple ANDs and ORs.

Next up, creating a sign up form for new subscribers.

AWeber has templates for this.

Again, I think they’re pretty dated.

You can add an image and change colors.

And if I sign up, I’ll get a confirmation message.

[blur names on GChat] AWeber has double opt-in by default, but you can turn it off.

You saw my custom thank you page.

Let’s look at AWeber‘s standard thank you pages.

I can simply add a logo if I wish.

I can also add a so-called “Smart” Video thank you page.

It really just has a video embedded that shows subscribers how to confirm their email.

It’s in Flash, so I had to switch to a different browser just to see it because I don’t have Flash working on Chrome.

Or, you can simply add a custom page by entering a URL.

Here are list options that you can edit, such as “from” name and address, and whether you’d like to get email notifications of new sign-ups.

You can also connect social media to tweet your broadcasts.

And a very cool feature: Global text snippets.

You can make little variables that you can use throughout all of your emails.

If you have a coupon code that you want to change out periodically, you can change it here once, and it will change across all emails where you’re using that variable.

This will save you a ton of time.

One of the best things about AWeber is that they’re so popular, and have been around for twenty years, so they integrate with just about any service you might use.

As you can see from their seemingly never-ending integrations page.

When you’re deciding on an email marketing platform, be sure to see just how well a given platform integrates with other services you count on.

An integration I count on is WebinarJam.

I can see that WebinarJam’s integration with AWeber is pretty limited.

It’s some code I can use to make a sign-up form.

By contrast, ActiveCampaign’s integration with WebinarJam is very detailed.

I can add tags based upon whether someone attended my webinar, or by how long they stayed.

These tags can then trigger automations.

I can automatically send one sequence to people who attended the webinar, and a different sequence to people who missed it.

I’d have to do this manually with AWeber, or with MailChimp or ConvertKit for that matter.

Naturally, you want to see how your email marketing efforts are paying off, so let’s review AWeber‘s reporting.

You can look at numbers across your list, such as opens over time, clicks, revenue, and subscriber growth.

You can insert some Javascript on your website to integrate your analytics.

You can then set up goals based upon pages visited, and assign revenue to those page visits to track earnings from your email marketing.

Here’s what the reporting looks like for a broadcast.

Your standard opens and clicks.

Seeing the money earned in sales from the broadcast is nice if you have that level of control over your payment processing.

It wouldn’t be terribly straightforward in all cases to get accurate numbers there.

In conclusion, AWeber is a solid email marketing platform if you want simplicity, a good price above 5,000 subscribers, and if you want basic and easy-to-build automations.

AWeber also has tons of integrations.

If you want more attractive templates, but don’t mind not having tagging, go with MailChimp.

If you want more sophisticated automations, and the chance to upgrade to a CRM and/or SMS marketing, go with ActiveCampaign.

If you want quick and easy automations, and don’t mind being limited to plain emails with the occasional image embedded, go with ConvertKit.

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