Aweber vs. Mailchimp: Which is the Best Email Newsletter Service?

AWeber vs. MailChimpIf you’re not building an email list, you should be. You may well have heard the popular phrase, “the money is in the list”. But even if money isn’t your priority, you should be building a list. Why? Here are a few good reasons:

  • A list of highly targeted people is an asset to your blog
  • Traffic can fluctuate – your list is far more constant
  • You can use your list to promote services and products
  • You can generate repeat traffic to your blog by utilizing your list effectively

I am just scratching the surface here. If you’d like to know more about what a mailing list can do for you, check this article out. I am not here to try and sell list-building to you. I am here to compare the two most popular email list services available – AWeber and MailChimp. So let’s do that!

Cost

For those who are just dipping their toes in the water, MailChimp wins hands down. It is free to use whilst your number of subscribers remain under 2,000 and your emails sent per month remain under 12,000. Once MailChimp does start charging you, it remains cheaper than AWeber until you get into five figure numbers of subscribers, at which point, the price plans are pretty similar (AWeber | MailChimp).

Whilst Aweber does charge $19 per month for up to 500 subscribers, you do have the opportunity to trial it for a month for just $1 (and if you decide it isn’t for you within the first 30 days, Aweber will refund your precious dollar!).

Winner: MailChimp

Interface

Both AWeber and MailChimp are powerful services. As such, the learning curve is pretty steep. There are a lot of functions for you to get used to, and the number of tools and options can be overwhelming at first.

Aweber Dashboard
AWeber cuts to the chase and puts relevant information straight in front of you.
MailChimp Dashboard
MailChimp has a very user-friendly and colorful interface.

When it comes to interface, there is not much that can be said, objectively speaking. I have a personal preference for AWeber (which I would consider less intuitive, but more powerful), but I know plenty of people who swear by MailChimp. Ultimately, there is not enough difference between the two to make a clear decision either way.

Tie

Form Design

AWeber has really got you covered when it comes to custom form design. The interface is slow and clunky, but there are a plethora of form designs for you to choose from and shoehorn into your blog.

Aweber Form Design
Aweber presents you with a huge number of customizable opt-in forms for you to use on your blog.

There is a downside however. If you want to just take the “guts” of the opt-in form and customize it yourself with HTML and CSS, you have to go through the same process as you would with a customizable form, copy and paste the HTML code, then strip out of all of the unnecessary code and start from scratch. It’s both messy and a pain.

Whilst AWeber is all about inbuilt opt-in forms, MailChimp majors on external opt-in forms. They give you lots of lovely options for creating a branded standalone opt-in page which is then hosted on MailChimp’s site.

MailChimp Form Design
MailChimp offers powerful customization options for your offsite opt-in page.

The problem with MailChimp is that it offers very little when it comes to onsite forms. Just three options in fact: “Super Slim”, “Classic”, and “Naked”. The first two are pretty darned similar. However, the third one is very useful for people who want to design their own forms manually (it is something that AWeber should offer).

Overall, AWeber has the edge with powerful onsite opt-in form customization. The concept of someone having to click on a link to then sign up is a step too far for many bloggers. You want to make signing up to your list as easy as possible.

Winner: AWeber

Drafting & Designing Emails

There is no contest here. AWeber’s text editor is awful. If you are like me and write your emails in Word or another word processing program before copying and pasting it, you are in for an unpleasant surprise. AWeber does some very strange things to text that has been copied and pasted. In fact, it does some very strange things, full stop. I emailed AWeber and to their credit got a quick reply:

We are planning to release a new message editor in the upcoming months. This new editor fixes many of the problems that our current editor has and is much more friendly to our users.

This email was received on 6th September, and the new editor has yet to make an appearance. Until it does and is demonstrated to be a big improvement on the existing editor, there isn’t much good I can say about it.

AWeber Text Editor
Just looking at it makes me angry.

Only a slightly more positive note, AWeber does offer a pretty good selection of templates for you to choose from.

Meanwhile, MailChimp’s ‘Campaign Builder’ is very sexy indeed. You have a choice of an enormous number of templates, or you can also strip it right back to basics if you so wish.

MailChip Campaign Builder

MailChimp Campaign Builder

In a nutshell, the whole process of drafting emails when it comes to using MailChimp is far more user-friendly.

Winner: MailChimp

Autoresponder Management

AWeber has excellent features for analyzing and managing both your autoresponder messages and your list. For instance, you can actually see which email any subscriber last received. This can be especially handy if you start fiddling with your autoresponder series and want to delete/edit emails. You can also filter your subscriber list by a huge number of variables. With AWeber’s powerful filters, it becomes very easy to target specific subsets of your list and generally manipulate your database to suit your needs.

MailChimp’s autoresponder management features are more straightforward, but also more basic. MailChimp simply isn’t as powerful as AWeber when it comes to managing your list and manipulating your autoresponder series. Its features are more than sufficient for the start-up list builder, but if you are setting your sights on a big list and targeted marketing, AWeber has so much more to offer you.

Winner: AWeber

Spam Management

AWeber has an excellent reputation when it comes to delivering emails. Their success rate is reportedly in excess of 99%, and my experiences do not contradict that claim. AWeber also features a built in “Spam Score”, which judges how likely it is that your message will be considered spam by an email client. In this way,  you can alter the content of your email in order to reach the maximum number of readers.

MailChimp has a very cool little feature known as Inbox Inspector, which submits your message to various email clients in order to see whether or not they treat it as spam. With this tool, you can drastically reduce the chances of your messages being intercepted by over-zealous spam filters.

Although it is a good tool, it takes time for Inbox Inspector to return the desired information. Aweber’s spam score is instant and in my experience is highly effective in guiding you to create emails with very high delivery rates.

Winner: AWeber

Tracking

AWeber’s tracking capabilities are without parallel. When you have built a sizable list and rely upon such data, Aweber’s tools are invaluable.

AWeber Tracking
With AWeber, you can see exactly who clicked on what.

The features are comprehensive – AWeber tracks opens, clicks, conversions, and more.

MailChimp has some great tracking features as well, but they just don’t go as indepth as Aweber. The tracking from reader to reader is much more limited. When it comes to rolling up your sleeves and analyzing reader engagement data in order to tweak your campaign, AWeber definitely gives you a far better depth and specificity of information for you to work with.

Winner: AWeber

Support

AWeber offers wonderful support options. You can reach them by telephone (7 days a week), instant message, or email. They also have a comprehensive knowledge base, webinars, and video tutorials. I have only heard good things about Aweber’s customer service.

MailChimp’s support is more limited. They have a live support chat option which is open on weekdays. Beyond that, you can only reach them by email. If you are having a major issue with your list, the delay in support from MailChimp can be costly.

Winner: AWeber

Conclusion

Both services are popular with good reason. MailChimp’s no-cost entry level service is a huge attraction to many. But the general consensus leans in favor of AWeber when it comes to the most important aspects of list management, such as tracking and spam management.

If you are just starting out with your list then you may wish to test the waters with MailChimp. But when it comes to the heavy hitters with huge lists, they are almost always using AWeber. That in itself should give you a good indication of which is the best service.

Comments (70)

  1. Good comparison with one small wrong fact. You name 500 sucsribers and 2.000 mails per month with MailChimp as Freemium. Thats not correct, it should be 2.000 subscribers and 12.000 mails per month.

  2. I don’t think I could disagree more with you conclusion. Aweber imposes far too many restrictions over your lists and has only a fraction of the third party API integration capabilities of MailChimp. Mail Chimp gets my bit at every level of business size.

    • Hi Chris,

      Well, if you’re going to disagree, you may as well do it wholeheartedly! ;-)

      Could you expand upon the “restrictions” AWeber imposes?

      You make an interesting point about API integration. It is not something I have dabbled in myself, although I have heard good things about MailChimp on that front.

      Cheers,

      Tom

      • Yeah, I didn’t find Aweber that restrictive, at least for my needs. But I like Mail Chimp’s interface the best. However both can be intimidating for non-techies honestly. Mail Chimp is a little better.

        When someone is new to email marketing and list management I recommend simpler free products like Blastermate.com, TinyLetter, or LetterPop.

  3. Having used both Aweber and MailChimp extensively, I prefer MailChimp overall. MailChimp seems to have the “less” learning curve.

    I watched someone brand new to newsletters set up a list and be ready to go in less than 5 minutes. Aweber wouldn’t have taken much longer, but there are more quirks with MailChimp for the non-technically inclined.

    Great write-up.

    • Hey Ronald,

      I’m inclined to agree with you when it comes to the “learning curve”. I think that MailChimp is definitely geared towards getting you up and running quickly, whilst AWeber takes a bit more time to acclimatize to.

      Thanks for the comment!

      Tom

  4. It’s been a couple of months since I looked at MailChimp as an Aweber alternative, but doesn’t MailChimp have a policy that doesn’t allow email broadcasts used for affiliate marketing? If one’s business has an affiliate marketing component to it, I would say this is a huge downside if that policy is indeed in place.

    • Replying to myself: Copied from the TOU for MailChimp

      “Also, there are some industries that send certain types of content that result in higher than normal bounce rates and abuse complaints, which in turn jeopardize the deliverability of our entire system. No offense intended, but because we must ensure the highest delivery rates possible for all our customers, we do not allow businesses that offer these types of services, products, or content:

      Illegal goods or services
      Escort and dating services
      Pharmaceutical products
      Work from home, Internet Lead-gen, Make money on online opportunities, etc.
      Online trading, day trading tips, or stock market related content
      Gambling services, products or gambling education
      Multi-level marketing
      Affiliate marketers
      Credit repair, get-out-of-debt content
      Mortgages and/or Loans
      Nutritional Supplements, Herbal Supplements or Vitamin Supplements
      Pornography or nudity in content
      Adult novelty items or references in content
      List brokers or List rental services
      Marketing or sending commercial email without proper permission”

  5. I must strongly disagree with your conclusions on support. I tell all my clients that ‘if you care about your liver run don’t walk away from Aweber’ and the reason is their support.

    While working on a client’s newsletter Aweber’s support team sent me on a 17+ hour wild goose chase because the knowledge base did not accurately describe their systems functionality and none of them were able to figure out what was going on. I had to wait until the following day for them to get the pro from Dover to come in and tell them that they were wrong and the system couldn’t do that. This is not an isolated incident either, their support staff has repeatedly shown a lack of knowledge and understanding about their system. All they do is regurgitate articles from the knowledge base regardless of it’s accuracy or relevancy to the question asked.

    On the other hand I have never had an issue with MailChimp’s support. Their staff actually uses their product and it comes through very clearly in interactions with them. I can not say enough good things about my experience with MailChimp.

    • Hey Dan,

      Thanks for your thoughts.

      Customer service is always a toughie. You will invariably find people who have had good and bad experiences on both sides, so it is difficult to offer a balanced view. I tried to major more on the ‘facts’ – i.e. that AWeber are “more contactable”.

      I personally can’t say anything bad about AWeber’s service and was pleasantly surprised by the level of knowledge of the support staff on the few occasions that I have contacted them (although admittedly, I haven’t taxed them with any particularly tough questions). And on the other side, yours is the first positive opinion that I have heard about MailChimp’s customer services.

      But I appreciate that you have experienced the opposite to me, and it is good to have your opinion here for people to read :-)

      Cheers,

      Tom

  6. I’ve been with Aweber six years this month and have been happy with the service. I looked at MailChimp for a non-profit organization who is a client and felt it was comparable in many ways. While there may be a steeper learning curve with Aweber at first, I’ve found that the integration with various shopping cart systems to be one of it’s strongest features which makes up for the small amount of time needed to get up to speed once you have a couple of lists going.

    Of course, after six years anyone would be hesitant to switch autoresponder providers because of the hassle, but I have to say that I’m personally staying because of my happiness with the service.

  7. MailChimp support was great and answered very fast every time I’ve needed them – and I’m a free user.

    I’ve been using them for almost an year and I really like the service. Their editor can be a bit annoying at times, at least on Chrome,though.

    • Hey Luiz,

      It’s good to hear that MailChimp’s customer service has been good for you, as it has also been for Dan above.

      It’s good to know that the email/live chat only options haven’t been an issue. Some people (myself included) like to call someone and hammer out an issue there and then, but if you can get an instant reply when you need it, you’re set to go!

      Cheers,

      Tom

    • And clearly something that people feel quite passionate about too, which is great to see! Now I’m glad I sat on the fence and leaned towards AWeber without committing myself fully – I don’t want to fall foul of the lynch mob! ;-)

  8. Great comparison. It was interesting for me because I am currently using AWeber. I am also familiar with iContact and Constant Contact but not with MailChimp and I was curious about their offerings. You are spot on about AWeber’s text editor. Awful is way too minimal of a word to use. It is frustrating and has made me want to leave almost every time I have to edit an email. It’s good to know that they plan to update that because it is a mess. Overall, I’m happy with AWeber for all of the other reasons mentioned, but the editor is darn near a deal-breaker. One thing that AWeber has going for it is multiple forms for multiple lists. And that is probably what keeps me there. Thanks for sharing this!

  9. Your article is very informative; I bookmarked it for later reference. Question for you: Right now my wordpress blog has a very small audience but down the road I see moving it to wordpress.org, upgrading the blog, free downloads, book sales, and of course a massive audience! MailChimp fits my pocketbook right now. If I start with MailChimp now, can I move my list to AWeber later?

    • Hey SJ,

      You certainly can! It’s not an entirely straightforward process but it is possible.

      If you do start with MailChimp, please make sure that you use the double opt-in process from the start. If you do not, AWeber may well require that your subscribers all re-opt-in (if that makes sense!).

      Cheers,

      Tom

  10. Aweber hands down the better option IMO. I’ve used both (and many others before) and ALWAYS return to Aweber. For real list management without restrictions and being able to segment your subscribers from buyers and non-buyers (important to do) , nothing works better than Aweber.

    Also a heads up for anyone doing affiliate, internet or network marketing, Mailchimp does not approve of this and most probably will shut down your account. They did with me.

  11. I was actually considering switching to Aweber because of their new sign-up form OpenID integration advantage over Mailchimp. (Pull the best email from someone whom uses facebook).

    I messaged Mailchimp, and they haven’t implemented such a feature yet.

    But after reading this review, perhaps, it’s not such a big deal just yet.

  12. I’ve been browsing on-line greater than three hours lately, yet I by no means discovered any attention-grabbing article like yours. It is pretty worth sufficient for me. In my view, if all web owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the web shall be much more helpful than ever before.

  13. Feedburner can be a free and easy tool for lite subscriptions. It can even be used as a free autoresponder. Here’s how: http://www.kavoir.com/2012/01/aweber-mailchimp-alternative-free-email-autoresponder-subscription.html

    Just set up a blog feed and publish your newsletters there and it would be delivered to the recipients. The down side is it doesn’t track many things. But that’s the point of being lite. Recommended for casual newsletter publishers.

  14. I have been hearing a lot of great new about Mail Chimp so I wanted to see someone else’s opinion of what they thought. I personally use Aweber for lead nurturing and find that it is very easy to use. The only thing I would have to say is that their messaging system does suck. lol I also emailed them awhile back and don’t understand why such a great service would even have that type of interface.

    Hopefully they are working on something more powerful and when it does finally arrive it will make their service complete.

  15. One more thing about MailChimp – the free subscription doesn’t allow you to use any autoresponders. That makes no sense to me – how can I test the service if I can’t use the most important part of the service?

    Thanks to Jen for that list of restrictions from Mailchimp. That rules me out right away (affiliate marketing, etc).

    Great post, great comments!

  16. I was a few months in MailChimp, what I liked is that it has support in Spanish, and the price is convenient to begin creating the list. What made ​​me change my decision to relocate to another is because I think your spam filter is not very good, and the other drawback are the forms that do not fit my need. Now I am in Aweber, has no support in Spanish, but there are tutorials that help us and I like its features including your spam filter. Thanks.

  17. after a few months with MailChimp, i got bumped. Going through the TOS, i didn’t see why i was in violation. nothing has changed. i am running a tech lifestyle blog like everybody does and here i am being suspended for violation. gosh. the last thing we need is some frickle provider who can “indiscriminately” bump you off their list without warning or whatsoever. if you are doing blog posting and based on RSS feed to feed the monkey, then beware. it may not happen to you now, but you never know – and it is this part that scares me. after all, it is not human who are watching the traffic. I am still waiting for the compliance team to get back to me. in the mean time, i researching for alternatives.

    as a business point of view, violation and stuff and suspension are unacceptable without former “discussion” with us. and the algorithms they use to determine what’s good and what’s not may not exactly humanly correct, which is as what i have said, scares us most. it feels like living under a dictatorship where one may be persecuted for reason being unknown and without fair judgement. you guys need to understand this, it is living in fear that some algorithms might have change and that might trigger unexpected “violation”. yes. i may be on free plan, but this can happen to free plan, then i wouldn’t put my money on them. simply because i don’t to be paying for nothing. think carefully. you could be with them million years, but all it takes is one suspension and that’s it.

    cheers.

  18. I’ve considered it a toss-up as to which is better after looking at price. If you’ve got thousands of contacts then the price is the same, so why choose one over the other?

    Well, today I realized that I will no longer say that. Mailchimp is better not just because of the price issue (it’s free until you hit 2,000 contacts or go over 12,000 sends per month to reiterate the above), but when you try to style your own form using their raw HTML code, the difference is too great to ignore. Mailchimp is relatively easy and straightforward while AWeber is nearly impossible to create a single-line subscription form without getting sucked into using their CSS. Mailchimp will allow me to use my blog formatting but not AWeber.

    For this reason alone, I decided to make it public that I no longer endorse AWeber. http://meshmarketer.com/meshmarketer-recommends/aweber-mailchimp-comparison/

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