Aweber isn’t a bad piece of kit, but it is far from being one of the best tools that I have worked with. Maybe it was one of the best tools at the start of the 2010s, but I think that it has fallen a bit behind when compared with some of its competitors.
If you are looking for a well-priced tool to just send campaigns, then this is the tool for you. But that is all you will find, there really isn’t much more.
Aweber’s campaign editor is good, it gets the job done, but it’s nothing to write home about. In the same way as ConvertKit, the interface provides you with blocks of the most common elements for use in your campaigns, therefore saving you some time. One of the blocks that I have probably used most frequently is coupons – especially during campaigns like Black Friday where there is always room to include some kind of coupon – or the Product block which includes the name and description of an item on sale, and a purchase button.
I mentioned earlier that this tool is nothing to write home about, I am talking about the fact that you could save even more time if they developed direct integration with platforms such as Shopify so that you could automatically access products and descriptions, avoiding having to input this information manually.
One of the biggest problems – and it’s not just me inventing it, I have seen that this is a common daily issue – is the interface organisation concerning different tools within the email creator tool. Honestly, it is a little chaotic and I think that there are tools that have a much more logical way of arranging it.
If there is anything that really stands out from Aweber compared to some of its competitors, it has to be the sign-up forms.
I have often found that email marketing tools do a great job of sending emails, but when it comes to gaining subscribers via sign-up forms, they sometimes fall flat. It is understandable that lots of tools don’t give forms the deserved attention since there is already a plethora of mini tools like JotForm, TypeForm, and 123Form which are focused solely on creating forms, so it is smart to focus on other unique features of email marketing tools which will be more useful for users.
Aweber however is the exception. They have created sign-up forms with ready to edit text that look fantastic on your website, without feeling out of date like a lot of forms from other tools.
You can edit forms by using the different templates as a starting point. It is likely that some of the templates on offer are perfect for what you are offering since they really know their audience (serious businesses, bloggers, business coaches, etc.) and it is because of this that they have created templates with the people who are going to use their tool in mind.
Among the forms you can create, you can choose between the traditional form you can embed anywhere in your site or landings, pop-ups or even forms enabled with exit-intent technology, ready to be rendered just when your visitors are about to leave your site.
Even if you can choose different layouts in more than 20 categories, the interface is a bit messy, as it’s separated in four big sections that initially don’t have any order. It can be tricky to learn how to use the form builder if it’s your first time using an email marketing tool.
Little to no automation
One of the biggest let downs that you will find with this tool is that if you want to create automation flows, similar to other tools such as ActivveCampaign and ConvertKit, the automation tool only offers three functions: send an email, add a delay, and apply tags which can be combined in a very limited way.
While it is true that as with other tools, they offer integration with Zapier which allows you to slightly increase the scope of activity where you can use the tool, but even then, the list of triggers that you can interact with is limited
To its merit, it is worth noting for example that you can synchronize your PayPal payments directly with Aweber, without having to do so via Zapier or Integromat which should enable you to reduce your marketing budget.
Other features related to automations that are missing for example is the inability to create automations for abandoned shopping carts in your online store. And this feature, in 2019, creates a huge difference compared to other competitors.
What kind of content can you send?
This point which I am adding is based on my own personal experience, by which I should clarify that it might work differently for your business, just keep that in mind.
Some of my clients work with products related to stocks (trading, binary option advice, forex) which can sometimes cause problems because there are various platforms
which make it clear beforehand, either in their terms of service or on the initial registration page, that they do not allow this type of content. The reason is quite simple: this type of content can attract lots of spam complaints. They are products that have a certain degree of economic risk – day trading isn’t appropriate for everyone, or for every budget – and if there are clients who are unhappy due to losing money, they generally tend to mark these emails as spam. As simple as that.
With Aweber, sometimes, and I will repeat, sometimes, I have seen more relaxed approach to the type of content that is allowed. But this can be a good thing because it keeps my client’s contact lists clean (we clear inactive contacts at least once a month) or because we keep the type of content related to these topics to a minimum.
Just as with other competing email marketing tools, you will find the standard feed or RSS integration which extracts the latest articles that you have published on your site and automatically creates emails based on this content.
It’s nothing out of this world. Maybe it is worth mentioning that there are lots of templates that you can choose from.
Aweber also includes an email parser, this is nothing more than a tool which extracts the most important information for you from the emails that you receive so that you can, for example, reuse it in your campaigns.
A really simple example of this would be an automatic email sent from your ecommerce platform confirming the purchase of one of your products. If you have configured your email parser in Aweber, you can instruct it to monitor these emails and, for each new confirmation of purchase email, extract the client’s email address. Therefore, you have just automated this new client’s subscription.
Like this example, there are many other times when the email parser can be useful: cold emails where you extract the answer from the person you have contacted, emails that you can send and that you want to obtain certain numbers that you can reuse in reports, and so much more.
Something that I’d highlight of this feature if you compare it against other well-known parsers such mailparser.io or parser.zapier.com is the fact that you have more than 50 parsing templates for services like Clickbank, Paypal, eJunkie, etc.
If you are just starting out with email marketing, this is not a tool that I would recommend for you since it can be a bit difficult to configure if you don’t have much of a knack for it.
Don’t get yourself into a pickle. However, I think it is important to point out that a tool like this exists in case you are looking for something similar in the future.
What is missing?
If I had to send a message to the Aweber team about the automations that they offer, I would tell them: If you want to offer automations to your users, do it or don’t do it at all. Don’t offer “automations” that include barely two or three actions, because your users ae going to realize that this feature is nothing compared to other competitors.
A clearer and more intuitive interface
A disorganised interface will do little more than disorientate and frustrate your users. At least that is how I felt when I was working with Aweber and it is a similar story for many of my clients.
Aweber isn’t one of the clearest tools when it comes to handling, and it takes a while to know what buttons or links you need to click to complete simple actions.
Aweber started out as a strong competitor in the email marketing world, but it has been losing ground as more innovative products have arrived with clearer interfaces and new features.
It might be that for the price, it’s the right fit if you have a mid to large audience. If they don’t however continue to add new features or to improve what they already have, I very much doubt that Aweber will be a part of your team for much longer.