[Updated on 6/27/14]
MailChimp vs Aweber — if they were rivals, the former would be a dapper chimp dressed like Robin Hood and the latter would be a robot with a moustache. (Why? No idea.) But seriously, if you do email marketing (and you should be!), you will have heard of these services. I’m going to teach you the pros and cons of each so you can choose the best one for your business needs.
Why am I focusing only on these two providers? Because they are the most popular and, frankly, the most robust. They also integrate with the largest amount of relevant services you’ll probably end up using at some point, like PayPal (so for instance, after people buy something from you, they can be sent an automated email thanking them or sending them more information).
I’ve used both for myself and in this post I’ll break down the differences in pricing, UI (user interface), learning curve, design tools, email tracking, responsive design, and support between the two services. I’ll also briefly discuss what it entails to switch from one service to another (it’s easier than switching from one sexy, handsome boyfriend to another, but not by much!).
Depends on your needs
You might’ve heard that MailChimp is free for up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails/month (because the best things in life are free. Not really, you have to buy chocolate). However, the autoresponder feature is paid ($15/mo). And once you’re past 2,000 subscribers, Aweber is marginally cheaper. For up to 500 subscribers, Aweber charges $19/month and the price goes up from there. Is email marketing worth $19+/mo for you when you can get it for free? Read on to find out.
+1 for MailChimp
Just log in and see. Actually, you don’t even have to log in to see it. Aweber is boring; MailChimp is clean, pretty, and streamlined. Also, a corporate-looking website using the word “awesome” in bolded caps (Aweber)? Feels scuzzy.
+1 for MailChimp
I’m a bright gal (a previous client referred to me as “smarty pants,” true story), but Aweber disoriented me. It was tortuous and torturous (ha!). Every service has a learning curve, and for me MailChimp was easier to figure out. To me, its UI makes a lot more sense. To set up the opt-in confirmation and thank you emails for a list on Aweber, I had to navigate all over a convoluted system, whereas MailChimp simplifies the process. I like ease. I like MailChimp.
Depends on your needs
MailChimp comes with lots of highly attractive email templates to choose from (I just think of when I was in Scandinavia this summer, gawking at 99% of the people walking past me. Daaaayum. It’s like another planet up there!) But seriously, if I were to date an email template, I’d date one from MailChimp. Both platforms have easy drag and drop template makers and ready-made templates, though. It’s not a huge difference.
As far as opt-in templates, if we’re talking opt-in forms that you embed into a website in a box at the end of blog posts (like mine)/in a sidebar/etc., here are two things to consider. 1) Aweber presents you with multiple pre-built options, which I think are ugly and boring (but they’re there and ready to go). MailChimp does not. 2) If you’re going to use a plugin like Magic Action Box to design your opt-ins, it’s all the same whether you use one or the other service.
Both services will tell you exactly who’s opened your emails, when, and what they clicked on. BUT Aweber makes it easier to track how many signups you’re getting from each individual opt-in form. Tracking is very useful to know which opt-ins are converting and which ones need work.
They’re even (as of Spring 2014)
MailChimp and since recently Aweber are the only ones (versus GetResponse, Constant Contact, Vertical Response and iContact) that send responsive emails. In other words, they’re the only email management systems that will send out your emails so they look smashing in your readers’ phones and tablets in addition to their computer screens. (However, if your emails consist of plain text, it’s all the same.) You read that right: except for MailChimp and Aweber, all email management systems are stuck in the non-mobile-friendly neanderthal stage. One of the instances in which retro isn’t cool.
And kudos to you, MailChimp and Aweber, because I know I read at least 50% of my emails on my phone (and your readers probably do too).
+1 for Aweber
Here’s the thing: if something goes awry or you’re totally lost, you can call Aweber. You can’t call MailChimp. MailChimp will email you and you can chat with them live, but you can’t call them. This is big.
I’ve been with both services, and here’s the experience I’ve had with their support teams:
- MailChimp: To tell you the truth, I haven’t been able to find all the answers I need in the MailChimp forums; in those cases, I either figured it out on my own or harassed somebody on the live chat, so it worked out. There was one advanced issue they didn’t help me with, because those particular email support people were inept.
- Aweber: They’re quick with email responses, but the support person disappeared on me for two freakin’ weeks and didn’t respond to me. And for $19/month, that’s unacceptable. When I finally called, they helped right away.
If being able to call is a dealbreaker for you, you’ll want to opt for Aweber.
How easy is it to switch from one to another?
Not that easy. When moving from MailChimp to Aweber, you may need to have everyone on your list confirm that they still wanna be on your list. It is possible to bypass this process — if everyone on your list opted in properly through another email management system. You just have to reach out to Aweber about it. MailChimp doesn’t have this issue.
But it can be a hassle, especially if you’ve got an autoresponder series going, because you’ll have to set them all up again. Yuck.
MailChimp vs Aweber: Conclusion
This is one of those annoying conclusions in which I will advise that you consider everything above instead of just recommending you a service. Do you want a free service? > MailChimp. Do you want pre-built opt-in forms for your website? > Aweber. Do you need autoresponders? > Either. Do you want a high-five when you’ve set up a campaign? > MailChimp.
In the end, it’s not such a big deal what service you use. You’ll learn it and adapt. And if you want it to be totally stress-free and leave it to someone else, you know where to find your Website Superhero.