Constant Contact, MailChimp, Aweber, iContact Review - Brian Gerald Murphy

Constant Contact, MailChimp, Aweber, iContact Review


The big players in email marketing providers are Constant Contact, MailChimp, Aweber, and iContact. I’m going to play this review American Idol style and make some cuts before we even get to the Hollywood round.

iContact is out.

The interface is clunky and difficult to use (and this coming from me! I’m used to dealing with user-unfriendly interfaces). It’s essentially the same price as Constant Contact.

Between the remaining three solutions, you have a choice to make: free or paid. MailChimp offers a free account for up to 2,000 subscribers. You may be tempted to go with the free option without further consideration. Hold on.

Free vs. Paid

Combatting the “free is better” mentality

MailChimp is free up to 2,000 subscribers. If you are ever going to have more than 2,000 subscribers (and I hope you do!), you will be paying for MailChimp, so make sure you give it a thorough comparison. You may think “I can always switch to a different paid provider if I max out MailChimp’s free plan.” You can. And it will be a huge headache and you will almost definitely loose subscribers. Pick a provider you can commit to for the long haul. If that’s MailChimp, even better since it’s free at first.

Support Issues

MailChimp can offer a free account because they do not provide support. If you’re a skilled designer and web coder, this will not be a problem. If you’re like the average user though, you may end up needing some help. Don’t let your pride get the best of you. Poorly executed email campaigns can end up costing you more than than if you just paid a monthly subscription fee to include support. If you go for free, make sure you know where you will turn when you need help.

Ok, now that we covered the Free vs Paid concerns, let’s take a look at each service.

MailChimp

MailChimp is fun. It’s the kind of email service that makes you want to sign up. In fact, MailChimp is the first email marketing provider I ever used. it’s colorful, friendly, and fun. They have a chimp at the top of each page with funny sayings in a quote bubble. The service comes loaded with free templates and it integrates easily with other services such as PayPal, ZenDesk, Salesforce, e-junkie, Facebook, Twitter, and EventBrite. They also have an “auto-responder” feature to time-delay messages to users after they join your list (a welcome email, for instance)

The service is clearly designed for non-technical users (as it should be since there is no support). You can easily create nice looking emails with MailChimp.

Sign-up for MailChimp

To summarize the Pros:

Cons:

Aweber

Aweber is a leader in email marketing. Their interface is minimal and gives you exactly what you need in order to create, schedule, and send campaigns. You can integrate with Facebook and Twitter to promote your message over social media. Similarly to MailChimp, they have a number of integration options such as PayPal, e-junkie, 1ShoppingCart, and Google Checkout. Their auto-responder (followup) tool is the best in the business–you can setup a series of emails to be sent after a subscriber joins your list. The time delay is relative to the message before so you can easily rearrange the list using their drag-and-drop function; unlike MailChimp whose auto-responder is setup relative to the signup date meaning you need to edit every message in order to change the order. Their interface may not seem less user-friendly but it is very similar to MailChimp (or any email provider), just with less flashy graphics.

Perhaps the most compelling aspect of Aweber’s service is their 99% or above deliverability rate. If your email does not get through to the recipient, nothing else matters. Aweber’s has one of the highest (if not THE highest) deliverability rate in the business. If you send an email with Aweber, you can rest assured it is getting through to your recipients.

Sign-up for Aweber

To summarize the Pros

Cons

Constant Contact

Constant Contact is a mix of Aweber of MailChimp. It provides some of the flashy features which make MailChimp with the business focus of Aweber. Like Aweber & MailChimp, Constant Contact offers some premade email templates and (also like Aweber) gives you the ability to create your own from stratch. Constant Contact’s autoresponder sequence is relative to the subscriber’s signup date which makes reorder the sequence (or adding new messages in the middle) cumbersome. Constant Contact’s is pricing is similar to Aweber’s.

Sign-up for Constant Contact

To summarize the Pros

Cons

Summary

My two recommendations are MailChimp and Aweber. If you have no technical knowledge and absolutely no budget, MailChimp will work. I do, however, recommend investing in Aweber. Though it requires a bit of learning in the beginning, you will master it quickly (one of my clients with zero technical skills or experiences manages her own mailing list after I provided a template and spoke on the phone with her for only 30 minutes). Aweber’s autoresponder is crucial for building connections with your supporters (more on this in my Strategy + Action email series). They offer remarkable deliverability and support. And, most importantly, you completely control your email designs–with no outside branding–so your emails are all about you.

There’s a psychological benefit of paying for premium service. Choosing an inferior service based on price operates from a scarcity mindset: I don’t have enough. If you have a solid mission; are accountable, trustworthy, and effective; and tell your story well, your monthly fee will be a worthwhile investment. It’s investing, not mindlessly spending.  You are doing remarkable, world changing work… it should be presented as such.

P.S. I use Aweber myself as do many of my clients.

Bonus: Test Drive

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AWeber’s email marketing software makes it easy.
Learn how they can do it for you, too.
Take A Free Test Drive Today!

Aweber offers a “test drive” of their service. You can signup and they’ll send you some emails so that you can learn more about what they offer and experience the service first-hand, as your subscribers will experience your emails. They mostly focus on businesses which isn’t a bad thing: pay attention to good business tips, they almost always apply to our work as activists, non-profits, and world changers (and are too often ignored).

Photo by mattwi1s0n