Regardless of you are a professional blogger, online vendor or anyone else who is online to set up his business in this virtual realm, you need targeted traffic that really cares for what you have on your website. Google is the biggest source of traffic for most of the websites via focused visitors tend to hit their content, and they can't even imagine of earning a handful of bucks in the nonexistence of this giant feeder. To be very honest, everything comes after either Social media promotion or email marketing. Google indexes new websites itself, and if they get better content and perpetual updates, Google rewards them with the decent amount of traffic.
Even so, one thing can’t be ruled out that ranking of any website is ever-changing in Google search. They change their algorithm regularly, and that is why all indexed sites had to meet search traffic fluctuations every month, any time, any day. You can at no time be sure that your website has great content, and it will never be affected negatively in Google's algorithms like Panda and Penguin (much more are arriving in future). There is a lot more other than content that is considered as a ranking signal by Google. Sometimes, we are hit by an algo change, but unable to find out what we have done wrong, and it applies to big dawgs, too. Panda and Penguin had been played havoc with many reputed websites, and they had to work hard to retain their ranking over time. Sometimes, there may be a bug in any freshly rolled out Google's algorithm update, and it seriously harms a legit website. Though, this kind of bugs is fixed over the course of the time automatically, but online business is affected to a great extent during this period.
Although Google can never be held liable for all this, and we can’t blame Google. We must be thankful to Google, instead. It offers us so much targeted traffic for free of cost, and it is the most unbiased search engine in the world.
Now let’s get to the point. Maintaining the friendship with Google, we need to strengthen our online business by approaching deliberately aimed audience directly. There are the two most effective ways to reach out the targeted people unambiguously;
- Social Media (particularly Facebook and Twitter)
- Email marketing
both are radically different but much similar when targeted audience is concerned. Someone likes your Facebook page or follows you on Twitter account because he wants to get updates from you, and whenever you post an update, he will get the update on his social media account. On the other hand, if someone desires to get email updates from your website ( blog posts, offers or any downloadable stuff), he fills an opt-in form to subscribe him.
Which one is more efficient? Social Media or Email Marketing
Here, in this post, we are not to compare these two things as both have been immensely productive providing everlasting targeted visitors to your business. Nevertheless, still, I think that Email Marketing is a bit more efficient, and I have valid reasons for it.
People can hit a like button or follow button soo quickly, and they do the least efforts do so. Many times less energy causes less interest. People like and follow so many pages and accounts but in many cases, they don’t care about updates. On the other hand, one will want to fill your email updates form until he needs your email content. In other words, people who subscribe to your website are the people who trust you most.
So, in a nutshell, building a database of loyal email subscribers is to secure your online business forever.
I have got my hands firmly on some top-notch services and some who are hailed by many reputed entrepreneurs. I have deeply analyzed all reviewed services and compared them head-to-head.
ahem! AWeber is the most popular email marketing service out there, and many regarded entrepreneurs vouch for the credibility and usefulness of AWeber. That is why I was interested in having an in-depth review of it more than any other service.
Just like most of the email marketing services, account creation on AWeber is pretty fast, and you can kick-start your email marketing campaign quickly. One thing that impressed me regarding AWeber is its easy setup assistant that helps beginners to set up their email list and creating an email campaign.
I had expected that AWeber may have been much more advanced than other services as it is pretty expensive in comparison with others. But I was unable something remarkable that makes it stands out. I sincerely reviewed its functionality and until the last moment I went on delving into it in the hopes of a bit appealing.
What AWeber offers in the name of functionality is essential features for email marketing, extra email templates, signup form templates and a feature-rich email layout creator. However, I found some features missing that should have been offered by it.
AWeber Automation (autoresponder) review
It comprises a core kind of auto-responder with which you can schedule follow-up messages that will be delivered after a certain duration since a user subscribes to list. And you can’t set conditional auto-responder emails. All its auto-responder does is, to send scheduled emails based on time. Supplementally there is an option to opt-out a user from one list if he subscribes to another list. This is all about conditional automation in AWeber.
AWeber offers to add contacts manually or using a database file (.csv, .xls. txt, etc). That is cool, you can import your XSL file directly to AWeber. Thumbs up.
Email template builder
AWeber template builder is pretty advanced, and it offers various custom widgets to add to the layout such as Coupon, Signature, button, product, etc. Additionally you can quickly adopt a readymade email template from the template library. Another very appealing thing regarding its email builder is that you can create a custom grid in your email and divide a row into multiple columns. Furthermore, you can divide a column into two rows.
Subscriber management – subscriber management is satisfactory. You can add custom fields to gather custom data from your subscribers. You can’t update the details of a subscriber until he confirms his subscription. in addition to besides you can’t add an advanced form field like a drop down, checkbox, multi-select, etc. in your signup form.
Signup-form builder – AWeber signup-form tool seems to be technologically advanced, and you can create custom forms with custom styling quickly. Anyone without CSS and HTML knowledge can build stylish form with its form builder. Additionally, hundreds of categorized sign-up forms templates are available to adopt quickly.
You are provided full HTML code along with CSS so that you can customize it to match more closely to your website. There are four ways to use a signup form;
- Embed code in your web page
- Embed direct link in an iframe
- Or send visitors to direct form link (hosted on AWeber)
notwithstanding lightbox popup feature is not available
Signup confirmation page – being one step ahead, AWeber leverages its signup confirmation page customization much advanced. You can choose among following actions to send user to a custom confirmation page;
- Simple confirmation page
- Video confirmation page
- Audio confirmation page
- Your own site custom page
conversely, I don’t think if someone wants their hosted audio or video enabled pages. Every smart marketer definitely wants to send visitors to its own site page after user signup. In my opinion, offering some more options of think is a luring technique.
Reporting system – Honestly, AWeber offers detailed reporting based on various parameters such as Total clicks, total opens, revenue, daily/weekly/monthly new subscribers, daily/weekly/monthly subscriber growth, location tracking and much more.
Subscriber segmentation system
It is one of the most essential features to deliver what your subscribers actually like to read. Create subscriber segments based on various conditions. For instance, create a group (segment) of subscribers who read one particular message or click a specific link in a mail. Which product they bought and how much they spent (their budget estimation), which page they visited. Moreover, create segments based on custom signup fields such as age, gender, etc. Location based grouping of subscribers.
Namely, someone subscribes to your newsletter to read about female beauty tips then why she would like to get emails regarding Men-related content. If someone wants only Web Design stuff, tech-news related email will surely seem to be sore in his eye.
So, care for your subscribers and prevent your newsletter from being a waste spammy thing for them. You can get me as a live example, sometime I subscribe to a website newsletter, but soon I discover that it is not delivering what I need and one day, I get out from that newsletter subscription
ease of use
AWeber worry-free step by step wizard helps customers a lot, especially for those who have never used any email marketing service. Additionally, site navigation is smooth and simplistic All features are organized in such a way that anyone can switch between pages without getting stuck somewhere in website.
Sadly, AWeber is overpriced, and they are imposing double of what most of the others charge. They are debiting $19/month for 500 subscribers, on the other hand, GetResponse is charging only $15 for double (1000) subscribers. iContact $14/month for 500 subscribers and Active Campaign $9/month for 500 subscribers.
On the go Apps
Taking the immensely growing Smartphone user-base into account, building an Android and iPhone app is trending, and Email marketing service providers are no exception. AWeber has developed Android and iPhone app to let the customers manage their accounts on the go. It is pretty helpful in sending an urgent offer or breaking news to subscribers while you can’t access your laptop or PC.
AWeber supports integration with all popular applications, including Facebook and Twitter. You can connect your Facebook page and integrate signup form with your Facebook page so that your fans could easily opt in. It is also compatible with popular WordPress plugins like Gravity forms and Formidable Pro. Almost every email opt-in popup WordPress provides AWeber integration out-of-the-box.
AWeber delivers support through telephone, email and knowledge base and even via Live Chat. Now let's talk about the credibility of support offered by this company. Actually, it seems to be unwise if we reach a decision reading an anonymous customer review posted on a forum or a review website. There are many fake negative reviews posted by competitors companies, and they are just meant to distract peoples from the rival. Also many times users blame the company nonetheless, their own mistake. That is why I moved on and tested their support myself. I found them pretty responsive, and they try their best to sort out customer issues. However, the saying, “a rotten apple spoils the barrel” applies to everything / everyone and so to AWeber. Sometimes a support agent with poor skills may spoil the reputation of the whole company.
GetReponse turns out to be the strongest rival of AWeber that is offering powerful email marketing service at less than half of the price of AWeber. Not only in price but in overall functionality, GetResponse blows most of the other services out of the water, including AWeber. Besides Email marketing campaign, GetResponse services comprise survey builder and landing page creator that appear big bonus at this competitive low price. GetResponse offers a 30 days free trial and there is no bullshit of adding a credit card in advanced. On submitting registration form, GetResponse asks you to confirm your account via email link and when you hit the link in your mail box, it will redirect you to your newly setup GetResponse account.
GetResponse is one survive that impressed me a lot via its immense functionality. Comparing to AWeber, it offers much more than the latter. Either its auto-responder or email template creator GetResponse triumphs over AWeber.
Automation (auto responder + list automation)
GetResponse lets you create extremely advanced type of auto-responders but with complete peace of mind. Its auto-responder wizard is intuitive and very easy to use. You can conditionally trigger automatic messages to subscribers;
- -send an email after x days from subscription
- -send an email when a subscriber click on a link in email
- -send another when one email is opened by a subscriber
- -send an email when your website reaches a goal
- -send an email if custom field data is changed in subscriber profile
- -send an email on birthday of a subscriber
Its List Automation is much more advanced than that of AWeber, and it offers various conditional list automations unlike only simple list automation AWeber. If you have multiple lists than you can set following triggers to automate subscribers between lists.
- Remove on Sale – remove a subscriber from all lists when a sale is made by him
- Move on sale – move a subscribe from one list to another when a sale is made by him
- Remove on Remove – get a subscriber opted-out when he detaches himself from a list
- Remove on subscribe – remove a subscriber from the previous list when he subscribes to another list
- Preload on change – automatically update the preload across the lists
Subscriber management is significantly advanced in GetResponse. You can filter subscribers defining custom criteria. You can send single or multiple subscribers a message or assign to a new list. You can edit details of subscribers either confirmed or unconfirmed.
GetResponse reporting section offers extensive reporting with its sleek and advanced reporting interface. You can check report for new subscribes, unsubscribe, bounced, complaints, clicks, opens, goals, social, etc. You can also see subscriber locations on the map.
Get Response allows you to filter subscriber applying various conditions, and you can have the filtered result as a list or send it an immediate message. This way, GetResponse gives you full freedom to create custom subscriber segments and send precise subscriber group a specific email.
Import export subscribers
csv, txt, xls are supported subscriber backup formats that can be imported to GetResponse. Further you can also add subscribers manually one by one. Moreover, you can connect to some 3rd party apps to import contacts. Let it be known that this feature is not available in most of the other services, including AWeber. Thus, GetResponse is a clear winner when it comes to “contacts import”.
Email Templates and builder
Either you can create your email from scratch employing drag and drop builder or adopt and customize tons of ready to use categorized templates. Every template has an inline switch to change its color scheme from three on hand color schemes. There are over 250+ premade template among you can choose. Email layout builder from GetResponse is, however, not as much advanced as of AWeber but still you can create very decent and awesome looking email layouts. Literally, there is not much need to go to in-depth of custom layout when the email layout is concerned and what is necessary to build professional emails, GetResponse email builder works like a charm.
Custom Elements available to add are;
- Text Block
- Image Block
- Image (on left) and Text Block
- Image (on right) and Text Block
- Horizontal ruler
- Sharing buttons
- PayPal button
- Custom snippets
To test how your email looks on a mobile display, there is an option of mobile preview section on the right-side
Signup form builder
To build stylish and attractive signup forms is pretty easy with GetResponse signup tool. There are over 200 readymade form templates for the different kind of needs. Every element of form comes with easy customization options, including CSS. You can drag (and drop) your created custom form fields into any signup form.
Ease of use
GetResponse seems to be the easiest to use email marketing service. On account homepage, there are three large buttons directing the user how to do an email campaign. (add contact > create web form > create a newsletter). Moreover, everything can be done easily from subscriber management to auto-responder creation. Only one thing may bother you, and that is no clear section that represents the subscriber segmenting. To create conditional subscriber segment, you need to go to subscriber management > Filter subscribers applying certain setting and then sending a campaign to filtered list. You can also save a filter as a new list.
On the go apps
GetResponse and AWeber both go head to head when it comes to Smartphones apps. Just like AWeber, GetResponse awards its customers with free Android or iPhone app. Either you are an Android user or an iPhone lover, you can manage your email marketing campaign on-the-go.
Many 3rd party services' integrations are possible with GetResponse, but still their list is far behind the list of AWeber. It is an interesting fact that they have not made a list of many possible integrations such as Gravity Form integration, PayPal integration.
Affordability / Pricing
GetResponse is half as costly as AWeber. You can kick ass your email marketing campaign shelling out only $15/month for 1000 subscribers. In my opinion, it is the cheapest email marketing plan among reputed providers. It remains cheaper than others until you have 10000 subscribers. Regardless, for 25000 subscriber plan, Active Campaign wins the race.
They offer support via Email, Telephone, Live Chat, Knowledge base, including video tutorials and a support forum. Email support response time is not more than an hour, and their technical staff is fairly skilled in resolving customer complicated issues. If someone posts a complaint anywhere on a 3rd party website, the support agent replies to his post quickly. However, we can’t deny the fact that support quality depends on individuals and subjected to time. At the same time, a company may deliver excellent support for one customer (assisted by one agent) but worst for another (assisted by any other agent)
ActiveCampaign is one company that fascinated me in a different way. Admittedly, ActiveCampaign doesn’t offer too many emails and SignUp forms templates. Still and all, personally, I think that all this kind of stuff is just to lure folk. ActiveCampaign has about 40 email templates at the moment, and it is much lesser than the templates by AWeber and GetResponse but think yourself, for what so many templates are meant? They just divide your mind and confuse you leading to a big loss of time. What templates you actually need is available in ActiveCampaign either for SignUp forms or Email.
The far more important features are functionality and support to make your email marketing campaign successful and ActiveCampaign really makes the best email marketing service when it comes to assistance and state-of-art functionality that can fulfill users subtle requirements.
The most important thing regarding an email marketing campaign is the conditional automation of emails and ActiveCampaign is the one who turns out to be the best in this regard. Additionally, it is the cheapest reliable service for beginners as no other one offer 500 subscribers for $9/month. I had never taken care for email marketing, but now I am going to kick start email marketing for webcusp.com using ActiveCampaign.
Automation and conditional workflow
ActiveCampaign hits the home run when it comes to, list automations and conditional email triggering. They have taken it into account at top priority and developed an innovative automated wizard, which surpasses the automation features in all other email marketing services. Conditional automation is virtually limitless, and you can set up an extremely advanced automation system with ActiveCampaign.
Unlike others, ActiveCampaign has forged a whole new drag and drop automation builder. With the help of it you can create automations like;
- Send an email when someone subscribes to a specific list
- send a follow up email based on time
- send a follow-up email based on email open
- send a follow up based on a link, click in an email
- remove someone from all lists when he unsubscribes from a list
- remove someone from an existing list when he subscribes to any other defined list
- subscribe someone to all other lists when he subscribes to a list
- create a segment of subscriber to enter the automation based on various conditions such as name, email, link-clicked, email opened up, geography and lot more.
- You can also split an automaton. I.e. you can have two directional automation. For instance, if you add If/Else action to your automation, it will break your automation in two directions; Yes and No. You can set one condition for Yes and another condition for No. This way, you can handle trigger automation for two different subscriber segments.
Subscriber management is mind bubbling in ActiveCampaign. It is advanced, easy and quick. You can filter subscribers by tags, lists, status or via free text search. If you need more for filtering, you can switch to advanced search, and then you will be able to filter contacts based on all available contact data. You can send email to a subscriber using the attached email button. You can add selected contacts to a list or remove from a list. In addition, you can add one or multiple contacts to an automaton.
importing can be done either via csv file upload or via adding contacts one by one. There is a huge list of apps to connect to add contacts automatically from several services (only new contacts) like PayPal, Google Contacts, EverNote, Formstack, Freshbook, Gravity Forms, HighRise, Shopify, Salesforce, WooCommerce, Zoho CRM, Stripe, Sugar CRM etc.
On the subscriber detail page, you can add custom fields to gather subscriber data, add tags, add or remove it from a list, add a note, add an automation. ActiveCampaign also pulled and connect subscriber Twitter account linked to provided email ID. Besides, there is an option to check subscriber travel history on the map. Another great thing is subscriber activity slow chart that shows his different status in your lists.
Sign up form builder
No doubt that ActiveCampaign offers a form builder with no options to change form CSS such as styling of form fields, form background etc. Unlike AWeber and GetResponse it offers only numbered signup form themes. However, you will be provided full CSS and HTML code, and you can customize it in any way. If you like ActiveCampaign and have got disappointed with its signup form tool, you can combine it with WordPress robust opt-in plugin, OptinMonster that offers attractive signup forms boosting your subscriber grow-rate many times.
Signup confirmation page
You can use their hosted subscription confirmation or error page or define their own custom page. There is no video or audio enabled hosted page option available.
- ActiveCampaign reporting system lets you enable peeping deep into your email marketing campaigns.
- You can generate reports for your campaigns, automations and contacts.
- Campaign open/read trend (daily/weekly)
- Google Map tracking (geo tracking)
- Twitter and Facebook shares tracking
- You can filter contacts based on a date, show active, new or unsubscribed contacts.
- You can list top contacts based on engagement.
- Open/read trend (weekly and hourly)
- Email client based filtering
- Nearby filtering (show contacts from defined distance from your location)
Email template builder
ActiveCampaign Email template builder works just fine and you can create wonderful emails utilizing its email layout builder. Additionally, there are about 40 premade email templates for various kinds of needs that you can quickly choose and edit for your campaign.
Ease of use
I will give so so rating to Active Campaign when it comes to easing of use for beginners. Especially its automation builder may confuse beginners, and they may take some time to learn how it works. However, they can start with provided video tutorials. Let me elaborate it. Here I don't mean to say, it is not a user-friendly tool, but it is an easy tool which offers immense functionality that may confuse you in starting but when you get friendly with it, I bet you will love it. Apart from it, ActiveCampaign’s all other features as very easy to use.
On the go, mobile apps
Don’t go with it if you consider Smartphones apps an essential thing for managing your email campaigns on the go. ActiveCampaign, currently doesn’t offer any Android or iPhone app. Also, there is no indication from the company, whether they will launch this kind of tools soon.
This is the fastest ever support I experienced online. They get back to your email within half an hour.
Update – Their support is however, pretty fast but they offer limited support on the weekend.
Detailed features comparison chart
If you are looking forward to a very cheap email marketing way, then you can have a look on Sendy here