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Review of 4 Popular Email Marketing Autoresponders

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Posted by steve on July 29, 2011 at 9:39 am

For those involved in email marketing choosing the right email marketing autoresponder is key. There are so many options out there that the decision can be overwhelming. 

Doing a simple Google search for “autoresponder” yields page after page of results. Where is one to start?

I’ve created a list of the pro’s and con’s of three email marketing autoresponders we’ve used and one we haven’t used but has amazing reviews from users.

1) Aweber Communications Systems Aweber www.aweber.com

Pro’s:
You can sign up at aweber.com and try them out for a month for $1.This is a rock solid service that has their processes dialed in. We’ve never experienced a problem with Aweber’s system. Aweber’s customer support is incredible. Most people report adequate deliverability with Aweber. An exact number is not easy to pinpoint as it has a lot to do with the quality of messages being sent.  Aweber is a great way to go for both beginner and established business owners. They are reliable have good deliverability and a great reputation with the isp’s. You’ll want customer support with any email marketing autoresponder. Aweber has the standard support channels, phone and email but they also have live chat. The customer support techs on their live chat are incredibly helpful and knowledgeable. They know the system inside and out and can save you a tremendous amount of time when you are learning their system. 

Con’s:
You cannot import contacts into Aweber and mail them directly. They must be added via a signup form or imported and then sent an email requesting them to opt into Aweber’s system. There are no exceptions to this, it doesn’t matter if you have a very clean double opt in list. This would be a prohibitive problem for someone who already has a list and wishes to switch email marketing autoresponders. The return on this type of effort is low.  Know right up front that Aweber does NOT allow you to import your list of existing leads and simply begin mailing them. If you wish you could import your existing contacts and then send them an Aweber confirmation message. They will all have to re-confirm. This is not a viable solution, the drop off rate for re-confirmed leads is commonly less than 1%. This will probably be a deal breaker for someone who has a responsive list and is looking to switch autoresponders. If that is the case consider some of the other options below: 

2) iContact Email Marketing iContact: www.icontact.com 

Pro’s:
You can try them out for free for 15 days and $9.95 a month after that. Of course if you have a large list you’ll need to upgrade to a more expensive plan. iContact also has amazing knowledgeable support staff. Their system is easy to navigate and very flexible for the individual needs of customers. You can also import contacts directly into their system although you will need to personally certify that your contacts chose to signup with you. This won’t be a problem for anybody except spammers.  iContact is used by many large and well recognized business. They have plans for nearly every budget and list size and they will allow you to upload and mail your existing list of contacts. You’ll need to certify that your leads did in fact opt into your list and agree to receive messages from you, but other than that you’ll be good to go. Like Aweber, iContact has live chat support and they know their system inside and out. You can also try them for free and see if they fit the bill. 

Con’s: 
With larger list sizes iContact has a somewhat confusing method of calculating your bill. It has to do with how many records your lists(s) contain and how many emails you send. It’s difficult to articulate mostly because it’s going to be different depending on individual circumstances.   iContact is a bit confusing with their pricing structure. They don’t simply have a set rate for how many emails you want to send a month. Rather it’s a derivative of how many emails you send each month in addition to how many leads are on your combined lists. This means if you have large inactive lists sitting in your account not being mailed you are still going to be paying something just to house them. 

3) Office Autopilot, also known as SendPepper Office Autopilot http://officeautopilot.com/ 

Pro’s:
Office Autopilot is much more than an email marketing autoresponder. They are an all in one business and marketing platform. Also known as a CRM (Customer Relationship Management). If you have a need for a solution such as this you will find it nice to have everything housed under one roof.  Office Autopilot is truly an all inclusive solution for email marketing, customer management and product management. Of course they provide a robust platform for you to send your broadcasts and setup autoresponders, but having everything under one roof may make great strides in simplifying your business. Office Autopilot’s service is known as a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) which is another topic entirely. It may be wise to do some research on CRM’s and see if the model is right for you. 

Con’s:
Depending on your needs you may find this service to be overly complicated. They also categorize contacts in a unique manner using “tags” instead of “lists”. If you are used to creating new lists you’ll have to get used to Office Autopilot’s approach. Their used of tags to classify subscribers is necessary for their model of CRM. Neither Aweber nor iContact have anything to do with CRM’s.  Office Autopilot simply might have too much horsepower for your needs. If all you need to do is send broadcasts and set up autoresponders then this is probably not the solution for you. Their method of subscriber classification is also unique. Office Autopilot does not use lists the way that Aweber and iContact do. Instead each group of contacts is assigned a tag. Depending on what you are doing this tag classification can either be very valuable and allow unprecedented flexibility or it can turn out to be frustrating and confusing. 

4) Mail Chimp  www.mailchimp.com 

Pro’s:
Many people just starting a business online choose MailChimp. It seems to be an excellent solution for those just starting out, they even have free plans. It’s also easily scalable if you decide to stay with them and grow. And the name is pretty cool too.  Not too long ago MailChimp was commonly used by those just getting their feet wet with email marketing. They were and still are the perfect email marketing starter kit. In recent days they seem to have grown quite a bit to accommodate larger organizations and bigger databases. Many marketers and guru’s recommend MailChimp to their beginner students. It’s easy to learn how to use, inexpensive and will give you a good taste of what you are getting into. 

Con’s:
Many people say that MailChimp’s reporting leaves a lot to be desired. Also they don’t appear to have phone support as an option.  Some people complain that MailChimp doesn’t offer good support when it comes to importing and uploading lists. This can be tricky with any autoresponder and usually can be remedied by proper formatting before attempting the upload. Their template editor is also reputed to be buggy. This may be more apparent in specific browsers. Simply using Firefox instead of Internet Explorer may take care of this issue. 

At the end of the day any of these email marketing autoresponders will work great for a startup or existing business. A brief trial of each may be the best way to figure out which one will suit your needs the best. Don’t be afraid to ask questions during your trial period. This is when they need to sell you on the service and should be at your beck and call to help get things up and running.

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