When it comes to successfully advertising your business, email marketing should be at the core of your brand awareness strategy. It’s the perfect medium for communicating and building rapport with existing customers and plays a pivotal role in lead generation. For small and medium-sized businesses, that meaningful connection is paramount for success.
But, do you know how best to go about it?
While the benefits of good email marketing are pretty obvious, many businesses are unsure how to go about doing it in the right way. Luckily, software providers such as Mailchimp and AWeber blaze the trail in this department, making getting started more manageable than ever before.
Both email marketing platforms offer a smorgasbord of incredible features and a range of payment options to suit all budgets. So, to get to the bottom of which is best for your business, we need to delve a little deeper.
At their core, both Mailchimp and AWeber provide all the tools and guidance you need to launch successful email marketing campaigns and track their progress. Both also facilitate creating email lists using a range of templates and enabling you to set up autoresponders, design newsletters, manage email campaigns, and more.
In short, both are fantastic in their own right. So how do you choose when you only need one? Enough of the preamble — let’s take a look at AWeber vs Mailchimp.
AWeber vs Mailchimp: Background
Wait, who are these two email marketing giants? Let’s take a look at both companies’ backgrounds.
AWeber was created back in 1998 by Tom Kulzer. He wanted to establish an email marketing platform that made sending targeted emails easier for small businesses.
Fast forward to today, and it’s now helped over 1,000,000 small businesses harness the power of email marketing to grow their brands.
Sometime later, in 2001, Mailchimp was created by co-founders Dan Kurzius and Ben Chestnut. At the time, it was a side hustle for the pair whose aim was to provide email marketing services for small businesses.
However, it now boasts around 16 million users and a plethora of advanced features.
AWeber vs Mailchimp: Signup Process
Signing up with either of these email marketing platforms is the first step to getting started, but how straightforward is it?
AWeber makes signing up a walk in the park, clearly advertising that you can get started for free in multiple spots across its homepage. All it takes to create an account is a few personal details, i.e. your name and email address. You’re then sent an email containing a link you need to click on to continue setting up your account.
From here, you can set up your password and choose the type of account you want. There’s a choice of two: Free or Pro (more about these later). If you opt for a free account, you can get started right away. However, if you choose the Pro plan, you’ll need to input your credit card details to pay for your subscription.
Once you’ve selected your desired AWeber plan, you’re taken to a welcome video. This discloses everything you need to know about getting started, setting up your account, and you’ll be given an opportunity to customize your account’s features starting with a few personal and business details. Once you’ve done that, you can move onto creating your first email list following AWeber’s easy, step-by-step process.
In many respects, Mailchimp is just as easy to get started with as AWeber. Here, you can also opt to subscribe to a paid-for package or sign up for free.
Once you’ve filled in your name and email address, you’re sent a confirmation email with a link to complete your account setup — and that’s it, you’re done. Now, you can select your desired plan from a choice of four, including Mailchimp’s free program.
If necessary, you’ll need to input your credit card details for future payments. Once the initial setup is over and done with, you’re provided with a few options, including learning more about Mailchimp’s functionality. Alternatively, you can dive straight into creating a campaign — the choice is yours!
Signup Process – Winner: A Draw!
When it comes to signing up, both AWeber and Mailchimp have made the process super simple and straightforward.
Minimal information from you is required to get your account up and running, and both interfaces are simple, logical, and crisp. You can easily navigate your way around either without issue.
AWeber vs Mailchimp: Core Features
Now for the bit we’re all here for — the features!
When two platforms, such as AWeber and Mailchimp, offer similar services, the devil really lies in the details. So, below we’re taking an in-depth look at their core features to see who comes out on top.
Templates are essential in email marketing for making the right first impression. They need to be varied, professional, and attention-grabbing, but how do the two companies stack up against each other?
AWeber offers unlimited access to their extensive collection of email templates (there are over 700 to choose from!) — all of which are professionally designed and include stock images at no extra charge.
Finding your perfect email template is made easy as you can filter your search to find a theme specifically designed to meet your industry’s needs. And thanks to AWeber’s intuitive drag and drop email builder, these templates are straightforward to modify.
You also have the option of using their built-in AI Smart Designer to create incredibly professional-looking emails. Or, if you have the coding know-how, you can also customize your own HTML template to bring your exact vision to life.
Plus, all of AWeber’s templates are responsive, so rest assured your emails will look fabulous no matter the device used to view them.
Mailchimp also boasts a wide range (around 100) of beautiful, responsive email templates to suit various purposes, including eCommerce, events, education, to name a few.
Some are a little more modern when compared to AWeber’s selection. However, there are significantly fewer available, and their most popular templates are restricted to premium account holders. Similarly to AWeber, you can also customize HTML templates, but again, this is limited to premium members.
Email Templates – Winner: AWeber
Although both platforms provide professional-looking templates, the restrictions on what you can do with Mailchimp’s (on their free plan) and the fact there are only around 100 available compared to over 700 with AWeber mean AWeber wins this round.
Segmentation is vital for making the email marketing experience personal for your customers. It allows you to break your mailing list into different subsets to customize the types of emails you send out. This goes a long way to ensure your audience receives something that really speaks to them in their inbox.
So how do AWeber and Mailchimp perform in this area?
AWeber offers dynamic segmentation across both their Free and Pro plans. This empowers you to use subscriber activity to segment your list at a more granular level. Using dynamic segmentation, you can create and apply tags to subscribers to ensure they only receive email content that relates to them.
With AWeber’s Free package, you can tag subscribers and organize them using basic segments. AWeber describes a basic segment as “a collection of subscribers that you can create based off of certain specific search criteria”.
Whereas, with the Pro plan, you can create segments based on any subscriber info you’ve gathered. For example, you could send personalized birthday emails based on the date of birth your subscribers provided when they opted into your email list.
Mailchimp offers some pretty cool segmentation tools. For instance, using geolocation, you can organize contacts based on their location. Plus, you can add custom fields to your opt-in forms to get the info you need to target subscribers appropriately.
Not to mention, you can use up to five positive or negative conditions to really dig deep into email list segmentation and automation. Such conditions could include previous emails opened by the recipient, their gender, age, or purchase history, to name a few.
Mailchimp also furnishes you with a range of ready-made segments based on your customer’s purchase history and campaign activity. However, to access these more advanced segmentation tools, you must be a Premium member.
Segmentation – Winner: Mailchimp
We have to give it to Mailchimp; their segmentation features outweigh AWeber’s. However, it must be said that AWeber does offer some great options for no fee at all. So, it all comes down to what’s more important to you: advanced segmentation or price?
Autoresponders & Marketing Automation
Autoresponders are essential for acknowledging customers, even if you or your support team can’t respond to them straight away. Autoresponders are also equally crucial for confirming you’ve received the customer’s email.
You can set up autoresponders in advance so that you can take a step back and focus on other areas of your business. You can do so safely in the knowledge that customers will continue hearing from you.
More generally speaking, marketing automation is also imperative for:
- Saving you and your team time
- Perfecting your email campaigns
- Providing a more customized experience for your recipients
Did a customer abandon their cart? Or perhaps they didn’t open your last email? With marketing automation, you can target customers with emails relevant to the last action they took, providing a unique experience that delivers better engagement.
But who does it best?
AWeber has some great, user-friendly options where email automation is concerned. From AWeber’s campaigns tools, you can set up your autoresponder workflows, then simply leave it to do its thing.
AWeber also enables you to use tags and clicks to create a more personalized user journey. There are several ways you can customize email automations, including modifying:
- the trigger
- the wait time for sending the email
- the application of tags
Just drag and drop these steps onto your campaign canvas to create your own customized workflows. You can swap their order at any time or pause the campaign entirely whenever you like.
Mailchimp offers some pretty advanced autoresponder and marketing automation features, with many more options to choose from — empowering you to really go to town in the department. However, if you’re still new to things, it runs the risk of becoming fiddly and overwhelming.
You can choose from a selection of predefined workflows or even create your own by setting the following conditions:
- Tags: This defines the trigger for sending an email to a subscriber.
- Subscriber activity: Here, the automation is triggered by a specific action such as a new subscriber signing up.
- eCommerce: These automations hinge on the customer’s purchase history and buyer activity.
- Data: Here, automations are triggered based on a piece of data such as a subscriber’s birthday.
Autoresponders & Marketing Automation – Winner: Mailchimp
When it comes to automation, although a little overcomplicated in part, Mailchimp is the winner by a landslide, with AWeber paling in comparison here.
Testing and Reporting
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is your email marketing campaign. Reaching that perfect marketing funnel is going to take trial and error. That’s why email marketing platforms such as AWeber and Mailchimp need to include robust testing and reporting features.
Most notably, A/B testing allows you to send two slightly tweaked emails to similar customer segments to see which performs the best. For example, you might try out a different headline for your email to see which resonates more with your audience.
High-quality email marketing platforms enable you to generate reports outlining your email’s performance, i.e. click rates, open rates, conversion rates, and more.
That said, let’s see how AWeber and Mailchimp fare in this department.
AWeber’s reports give you information about open and click rates, sales and revenue, and website traffic. With these metrics to hand, you can analyze which email campaigns are making you money so that you can focus your efforts on what’s working for your business.
All this information is at your fingertips with the AWeber stats app that you can download and use from the convenience of your smartphone. This even tells you where subscribers signed up and how they’ve engaged with your emails. AWeber gathers this data using branded click tracking links that tell you which users clicked on the links included in the body of your email.
On top of that, AWeber also offers an integrated split testing functionality. This allows you to test different variables such as subject lines and messages so that you can hone in on what produces the most fruitful results.
You can put up to three emails to the test and choose your preferred customer segments for testing. You can also split your test so that 40% of subscribers get the test email, and the remaining 60% receive the higher-performing email. This empowers you to see whether you can improve on what’s already working.
A/B testing is part of Mailchimp’s core arsenal. But where they really shine is with their data insights. Mailchimp comes with a predictive analytics tool that analyzes your customer’s future buying behavior. For example, it predicts which customers boast a high, moderate, or low likelihood of purchasing from your store.
It also identifies your most valuable customers by measuring their ‘customer lifetime value’ so that you can prioritize the customers that really matter.
Send time optimization also utilizes Mailchimp’s user data to find the ideal time to send an email within 24 hours of your selected send date.
But depending on your chosen Mailchimp subscription, its reports and testing could get much more in-depth.
For instance, on the Pro or Premium plan, you can also unlock multivariate testing. This expands on its basic A/B testing feature by allowing you to test multiple variables in your email campaigns (rather than just one). This works wonders for enabling you to see how small tweaks impact your campaign’s performance.
Finally, Mailchimp comes with a few reports that grant valuable insights, including campaign benchmark reports, comparative reports, and social post reports. You can also measure click and open rates and engage third-party tracking options such as Clicktale or Google Analytics to further analyze your email campaigns.
Testing and Reporting – Winner: Mailchimp
All the vital reporting and testing features that you need are present in both AWeber and Mailchimp. Still, with multivariate testing, Mailchimp takes things one step further.
AWeber vs Mailchimp: Pricing – How Much Will These Platforms Set You Back?
Pricing is probably one of the most significant aspects you’ll want to consider. AWeber and Mailchimp could be the best email marketing platforms in the world, but if they’re outside your budget, they’re a no-go.
That said, which offers the best value for money? Let’s see.
AWeber shines in this category thanks to its exhaustive list of features available on its Free account plan.
Of course, this may not be the right option for you — their Pro plan is unsurprisingly much better if you’re dealing with an excess of 500 recipients.
Still, for smaller businesses, the free program is likely to have anything you could need, and then some.
AWeber’s Free plan unlocks access to many of the platform’s features, up to an audience of 500, including:
- Access to all email templates
- Ability to create custom HTML templates
- Ability to set up autoresponders with more than one message
- Access to dynamic segments
- Access to phone support, email support (beyond 30 days), and live chat support (beyond 30 days)
- Access to a free migration service
- Direct integrations with Shopify and PayPal
Pricing for the Pro plan is a little more complicated but does offer some more advanced features, including:
- Email split testing
- Behavior-based automation
- Branded click-tracking links
- Removal of AWeber branding
- Access to advanced message and audience analytics
- Sales tracking
- Cart abandonment/purchase tagging functionality
If those additional benefits appeal to you, the Pro plan’s pricing grows with the size of your subscribers. The quotes below are based on monthly billing:
- 0-500 subscribers: $19 per month
- 501 – 2,500 subscribers: $29 per month
- 2,501 – 5,000 subscribers: $49 per month
- 5,001 – 10,000 subscribers: $69 per month
- 10,001 – 25,000 subscribers: $149 per month
Suppose you have over 25,000 people subscribed to your email list. In that case, you can contact AWeber for a quotation for one of their customized plans. No matter the size of your business, there’s a payment plan to suit your needs.
While AWeber’s pricing plans are based on the number of subscribers you have, Mailchimp takes a slightly different route, providing a choice of four programs.
The Free Package
With the freemium package, you can:
- Store up to 2,000 contacts
- Send up to 10,000 emails a month, with a daily limit of 2,000
- Create one audience (this is a list of contacts you can import into Mailchimp, which you can segment later down the line)
- Create one seat with owner permissions
- Access a limited selection of email themes
- Launch abandoned cart emails
- Run one-click automated welcome emails
- Get access to basic reporting
The Essentials Package
This will set you back $9.99 per month. Here, you’ll get everything in the Free plan, plus you can:
- Store up to 50,000 contacts
- Create three audiences
- Get access to all email templates
- Create multi-step customer journeys
- Use custom branding (this allows you to incorporate your company’s logo and colors into your email design, and you can remove the MailChimp footer and insert your own details instead)
- Run A/B testing
- Get access to 24/7 email and live chat support
The Standard Package
The Standard plan costs $14.99 a month. You’ll get everything in the previous two programs, plus you can:
- Store up to 100,000 contacts
- Create five audiences
- Get access to a customer journey builder and branching points
- Get access to send time optimization
- Use behavioral targeting
- Use custom templates (you can upload your own HTML coded templates for complete design freedom)
- Create dynamic content (you can drag content blocks into your emails that automatically adapt to the customer you’re emailing — for example, the personal product recommendations block automatically updates its content based on the customer segment you’ve chosen)
The Premium Package
This is Mailchimp’s most extensive package and, therefore, the most expensive option at $299.99 per month. You get everything in the Standard plan, plus you can:
- Store over 200,000 contacts
- Create unlimited audiences
- Get access to advanced segmentation
- Use multivariate testing and comparative reporting
- Get access to unlimited seats and role-based access
- Contact phone support
On top of that, there’s also a pay-as-you-go option.
Now, it’s worth mentioning from the off that the features available on Mailchimp’s free plan are considerably more limited compared to that of AWeber.
Mailchimp’s freemium package is suitable for those just starting out and looking to grow from the bottom up. It covers most of the basics but imposes severe limitations across all its features. So, there’s a good chance you’ll quickly have to upgrade to one of the paid plans once you start growing.
That said, I love Mailchimp’s unique pay-as-you-go option. This is ideal for businesses who don’t need autoresponders and are unlikely to need regular mail use. The pricing differs depending on the territory, but if you’re sending ad hoc emails, this could be a terrific commitment-free option.
Pricing – Winner: AWeber
Mailchimp’s pay-as-you-go option is the perfect non-committal choice. It’s ideal for those not sending masses of emails or perhaps wanting to get a feel for email marketing before making a monthly financial commitment. After all, users get access to all the features of Mailchimps’s Essentials plan, rather than the Free plan’s more basic functionality.
When it comes to value for money, AWeber has to take the crown for the sheer variety of features available at absolutely no cost to the user. Of course, as your business grows, or if you want access to those extra features from the off, you’ll have to upgrade to the Pro plan. However, for AWeber’s Free plan alone, they have the edge over Mailchimp.
AWeber vs Mailchimp: Customer Support – Do These Companies Have Your Back?
There’s nothing worse than finding a great email marketing platform, only to find their customer support is non-existent. Let’s look at how these two compete on customer service.
When it comes to customer support, AWeber has this down to a fine art. They offer a toll-free number, email support, and live chat. Their office hours for phone calls run from 8 am – 8 pm.
On top of that, they also offer 24/7 support over both email and live chat. This is ideal if you’re not a 9-5 business or dealing with an urgent issue that needs answers quickly.
Mailchimp provides a library of self-help resources you can look through to find the answers to any questions you have. For instance, there’s ‘Mailchimp 101’, which takes you on a detailed tour of Mailchimp — this is an absolute must for complete beginners.
Not to mention Mailchimp offers everything from guides and tutorials to marketing tips and specific pages for freelancers, developers, and agencies. All in all, there’s loads of high-quality information you can access.
On top of that, email support is available too, as is phone support, but you have to be a ‘Premium’ member to unlock this.
Finding Mailchimp’s business hours is tricky as they try and encourage users to stick to the self-help resources. That said, Mailchimp’s phone line is open from 9 am – 5 pm, Monday to Friday. However, their live chat and email support are available 24/7 across all paid accounts.
Note that email support is only available for up to 30 days with the Free plan and phone and live chat support are not included.
Customer Support – Winner: AWeber
This one’s a no-brainer! AWeber offers longer customer service hours for emails and phone support. Still, with its 24/7 live chat support, you’re unlikely ever to be kept waiting.
On the other hand, Mailchimp seems to do its utmost to provide solutions without speaking with you. This can be frustrating, however, if the problem you’re experiencing can’t be found among their helpful guides.
AWeber vs Mailchimp: Who Comes Out on Top?
As both offer very similar functions, the question of which you go for really comes down to personal preference, what you’re looking to get out of the software, and your budget.
That said, there are a couple of stand-out points I’d like to close on to help you make your decision a little faster.
First of all, pricing. Although Mailchimp offers a freemium package, it’s way more restricted than AWeber. As such, if you’re just getting started, or you’re only sending the odd newsletter here and there, AWeber will most likely be the more affordable option. Conversely, if you have a larger audience, Mailchimp will probably work out the cheapest option in the long run.
Secondly, functionality. Mailchimp is undoubtedly more complicated than AWeber, but it also provides way more in terms of functionality. This makes it a more appealing choice for more experienced marketers and those with more extensive email lists. If you can afford Mailchimp’s Premium plan, the level of customizability and automation functionality alone makes it a worthy choice.
Ultimately, both are excellent choices, and neither will do your online business a disservice. What we would love to know is whether you have tried either of these email marketing platforms? If so, what was your experience, and which would you recommend to others? Let us know in the comments below.