This AWeber Review is the third part of a 4-part series on Email Autoresponder:
- Email Autoresponder vs Email Newsletter
- Best Autoresponder for me?
- AWeber Review – Sadly Switching (you are here)
- AWeber vs GetResponse – Comparison
In my previous post “Best Autoresponder for me?“, I talked about why it is important to choose a good autoresponder now and some criteria to help in that selection. Today in this sad AWeber Review, I will explain why I personally have chosen to switch from AWeber.
I have been using AWeber for 2+ months (since starting this site). And while I don’t have any complaints about the timeliness of their auto emails nor underlying reliability, I have however decided to change autoresponders.
(I am not the only one. See Reference section at the bottom to see why others are sadly leaving AWeber recently – some for pretty similar reasons).
AWeber Review from a Newbie’s Perspective
Just so you know, I am quite a newbie to this brave new world of autoresponders. Before I started this site (rather, I migrated from a previous platform to this self-hosted WordPress platform), I had not even heard of autoresponders. But since the beginning of this site, I have adopted a new attitude: from a lackadaisical blogger to one more focussed on the possibility of building a long-term business.
And that is how I came across autoresponders and discovered how important a part they play in the whole business-blogging adventure.
This AWeber Review is primarily for newbies.
So this AWeber review is primarily for autoresponder newbies. And I speak from the stance of a newbie – with all of a newbie’s needs.
Front and foremost of those needs are:
- affordability (if I can’t afford it at all, then it is out of the ball park for me)
- reliability (if the autoresponder cannot be relied on to provide high email delivery rates, then why bother with it)
- ease of use
And it is because of the lack of ease of use that had set me down the track to finding an alternative.
AWeber Interface – Clunky – Not User Friendly – Confusing
I was originally swayed toward AWeber because quite a number of top bloggers use AWeber. And many wrote about how easy it is to use. (I suspect that either some are technically unchallenged and/or have techno-geeks working for them.) But that has not been my experience.
Remember that this AWeber Review is from the perspective of a newbie. And also of someone who does not want to have to spend hours and hours researching, reading up, and learning how to use a system effectively. I just want to be able to have a gentle learning curve, not have so many technical aspects thrown at me all at once, and to get on with my job – which is to write my blogs and run my site. And have a life!
Let me give you some examples.
Example 1 – Unclear On-Screen “What-To-Do” Guide for Newbies
As a newbie, there are always new terms and concepts one has to grasp. And each step can be quite time-consuming and absorbing.
(For example it took me hours to fiddle around with, test, re-test and create a sign-up form I could use. That was followed by tweaking and testing and re-testing the functionality of the form and the look and feel of the confirmation and welcome emails. Not to mention the reading up and videos to understand the interface.)
Well I got through all that and thought I was quite satisfied. And done. For now.
Then it occurred to me – just last night, 2 months down the track (!!), “What about my regular postings? Are they being sent out to my subscribers?”
I don’t remember having to set that up. Where do I set that up? Why was there no clear guide to alert me to at least the essential steps I had to take?
I had come across “segmenting”, “AB testing”, “WordPress widgets”, “Adding forms to Facebook”. All great features I would look into later but not necessarily essential. But surely, they could have alerted me to the fact that I had only created a sign-in form, a double-opt in confirmation, a Welcome email and nothing else!
I wish AWeber Had a Clearer Guide to Help Newbies – on screen
I expected, at a minimum, that AWeber would guide and alert me from set-up to sign-up (for subscribers) to actually producing some newsletter (from me) that would be automatically sent out. In other words, an essential newbie guide to explain what the following are and how to set them up:
- List (aka Campaign)
- Sign-up Form
- Double Opt-in Confirmation
- Follow-up or Welcome email (for subscribers)
- and as a minimum – Automated Newsletter based on your posts
Note: AWeber does provide on-line guide and alert system with regards to #1 to #4. Just no reminder or alert if you failed to remember to create #5
Example 2 – Confusing Terminology
It is quite standard to be able to automate your RSS feed to be sent as an automated, regular email newsletters to your subscribers. In a simplified nutshell, that means that:
- you know your RSS feed (e.g. a self-hosted WordPress blog on your own domain would most likely be
- your do your normal blog posts
- your autoresponder automatically picks up your posts (via your RSS feed) and sends it out to your subscribers
- your subscribers automatically get updated of your new postings
There are options, tweaks, and configurations within that, but that’s basically it.
Now unless you are familiar with this, would you know that to automate your RSS feed to Email Newsletter process, that it would be called by the confusing and unclear term of “Blog Broadcasts“? (In contrast, GetResponse uses the much clearer terminology “RSS-to-Email”.)
Well, that is what it is called in AWeber. I did see that term on my dashboard, but how was I to know it was not some other fancy-doo-dah functionality that I would only probably need at some later stage?
Example 3 – Clunky Interface
Now that I finally know what AWeber means by “Blog Broadcasts”, I have to:
- tell it what my blog’s RSS feed is (which is ok coz that is a pretty standard step required by all automated distribution systems)
- choose an email newsletter template for my newsletter’s look and feel (still ok and they have lots of ready-made templates to choose from)
- customize that selected template => not so good
The template is populated with rss-fields (variables). That is cool. But what do they mean?
You literally have to spend (quite a bit of time) searching through their Knowledge base to find it.
SideNote: Finally found it under What Do Variables in Blog Broadcast Templates Do?
Then if you wish to personalize the template, the process is not very helpful nor intuitive.
You click the “Personalize” link and the corresponding personalization-variables box appears.
But again no way to quickly discern what those variables stand for. And no intuitive way to add to personalization-variables list if you wanted to.
And if you wanted to preview your template, you get no help. The preview screen looks exactly like the design screen – filled with variables fields! Not useful at all.
I could go on for a bit longer on how the AWeber user interface features provided a less than satisfactory user experience. But if you refer to the bottom Reference section, you will be able to read up more about it. Others have also done an AWeber Review and explain why they too decided to switch away from AWeber.
What it did prod me to do was to do more research to find a better alternative (for me) as my preferred autoresponder.
Footnote on AWeber Review
Please do not think that I am advising anyone to move away from AWeber. Nor am I saying that they are not reliable and don’t deserve their respected reputation in the industry. After all, many top bloggers do use AWeber on their sites. Have done for many years and continue to do so. I would still encourage anyone who is more patient, and more technically inclined to give AWeber a try. I think their reliability and service will not disappoint.
However for me, an autoresponder newbie and a time-conscious blogger, I really want effectiveness PLUS user-friendly ease.
Next: AWeber vs GetResponse
Now that you have read my AWeber Review, you must be wondering if you might want to switch from AWeber too? You might want to find out about GetResponse as an alternative first. So in my next post, I do a mini-comparison of AWeber vs GetResponse and why I chose the latter.
Still a Yes for AWeber
Strange as it may seem, yes I would still recommend AWeber for their reliability, their delivery performance, and their many features. And as I said, as so many top bloggers use it, they cannot all be wrong. AWeber remains one of the top, if not the top autoresponder in the market.
Reference for those who need more
- artofblog.com – GetResponse Review, Sept 2013 (Pretty good review)
- blogmarketingacademy.com – New Aweber Message Editor – Disappointment
- mattwolfe.net – Why I Switched From AWeber To GetResponse
- quicksprout.com – AWeber vs GetResponse (forum)
- YouTube video (by Chris L Davis) – Why I Left AWeber for GetResponse Email Marketing