One of the basic assets of a business is having a list of potential customers that you can contact from time to time, to see if they’re interested in buying something from you – by post, phone or e-mail. For an on-line business, an e-mail marketing list can be gathered from people who visit your website and sign up for your free gift and newsletter. This is your community.
Two of the most popular platforms for creating an e-mail marketing list, to stay in contact with your community, are AWeber and MailChimp (affiliate links). I’ve used both, and still do. There are benefits and drawbacks to each. On the whole, though, I prefer AWeber.
In fact I recently changed from AWeber to MailChimp for The Quiet Entrepreneur website – and after two days, I decided to change back!
The biggest benefit of MailChimp is that it’s free for up to 2,000 subscribers.
The biggest drawback is that you can’t send an automated e-mail when a new subscriber signs up. You therefore have to edit the MailChimp Thank You page, or set up a Thank You page on your website and link to it from MailChimp, so that you can give your new subscriber access to their free gift (unless you upgrade to a paid account).
I’m also not keen on the way MailChimp handles lists. You can only send an e-mail to one list at a time. Also, if you only want to send an e-mail to part of your list (customers, for example), you have to segment the list by manually setting up additional columns of information.
The biggest drawback of AWeber is that you have to pay $19 per month for up to 500 subscribers and $29 per month for up to 2,500 subscribers (prices correct July 2015), which can feel like a lot of money when you first start out – but you do get a free 30 day trial.
Another drawback used to be that you couldn’t import names and e-mail addresses into AWeber if you had gathered them elsewhere, without asking your subscribers to opt in again. However, this has now been changed, and you can bypass the opt-in if your subscribers have already given their consent to being contacted by e-mail.
The main benefits of AWeber are that 1) you can send out automated e-mails, and 2) you can easily set up multiple lists.
- Automated e-mails, or “autoresponders” are not only useful when a new subscriber signs up to your newsletter – you can also use them for sending out a multiple-part e-course, as either a free offering or a paid product. Or, like me, you could send out a short series of e-mails to welcome new subscribers without bombarding them all at once.
- Multiple lists are useful if you have multiple products and services to offer your community. When someone buys something from your website, via Paypal for example, they can be automatically added to the list of customers for that specific product or service – which makes it so much easier to follow up with additional offers or updates, or to send out automated e-mails to a specific group of customers for an e-course. Then, when you send out your newsletter, you can send it to all your lists in one go, and AWeber will make sure it only goes to each person once.
Why did I change to MailChimp and back to AWeber?
I recently exported my subscriber list to MailChimp to save costs, because I’ve been taking a bit of a sabbatical this year.
Then I thought of something I wanted to sell from the website, and I realised it would be much easier to stick with the flexibility of AWeber – especially as my Paypal account is currently linked to AWeber, and I can’t quite figure out where to change the details in the updated Paypal interface!
As an introvert, I use software to simplify processes by reducing the amount of manual intervention needed – because manual intervention is energy draining for me. And I find that AWeber makes it much simpler to automate the process of building an e-mail marketing list and keeping in touch with my newsletter subscribers and paying customers.
And back to MailChimp…
In the end, I decided I was spending too much keeping my AWeber account going, when there are ways you can get round the problem in MailChimp. And, over time, I’ve realised I find MailChimp easier to use!
About the author Julia Barnickle is a film maker, photographer, artist and writer, and the founder of The Quiet Entrepreneur community for introverts in business. She offers visibility coaching to raise your online profile, and helps you create videos to promote and deliver your services.