Aweber Systems Autoresponders: Are Lists Managed Better By Free Email Autoresponder Software?
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For many online businesses (and I would argue for all online businesses who want to stay in business), an autoresponder is a necessary tool. An autoresponder (or software or system which controls multiple autoresponders), can do many amazing things for building relationships and segregating markets.
- manages databases of current and prospective customers
- enables a business to send personalized emails, either to a selected group of these customers or to all of them at one time
- automatically responds to incoming requests and comments, including the request to unsubscribe.
An autoresponder should also be able to send blog entries as emails for those readers who prefer to receive blog entries via email. This is known as an RSS-to-email service, and a good autoresponder should include tracking software to measure the performance of these emails and any ads contained within them.
One of the most highly regarded autoresponders currently available is AWeber. To illustrate, when I began searching the Internet for information for this article, I was astonished to find no negative feedback about Aweber Systems - none at all.
There were two comments that could be construed as somewhat downbeat. One self-described satisfied user, who moved over from Marketers Choice, said that AWeber had a "learning curve," but he hastened to add that all autoresponders take time to learn and AWeber isn't as "clunky" as others he's used.
Another user wrote, "[A]t first I balked" at paying for an autoresponder when free ones were available. However, this "incredibly happy" user added, the percentage of his newsletter emails that AWeber delivered was "significantly higher" than the free service he had previously used. More of his emails were being read because more of them were being delivered, and he had received a "flood" of welcome-back emails from readers whose newsletter had not been delivered by the free service.
This lack of negative feedback for AWeber says a huge amount regarding the company and its customer service.
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Founded in 1998 by Tom Kulzer, AWeber was built around his well-known mania for only opt-in email marketing, which is another way of saying he hates spam. Kulzer's zero-tolerance attitude has contributed not only to the ethics of Aweber but also to the quality of Aweber's systems.
It's in the contract: anyone caught sending spam via AWeber has their account terminated and their customer email lists confiscated. With this strictly-enforced policy on their books, email servers know that, if a newsletter or advertisement is coming from an AWeber account, it must be by subscription, and so they generally will allow it through.
That's how AWeber has achieved a 95-98% delivery average, well above that of any other autoresponder service, and that should be the most important criteria for an ecommerce business: if your emails are not being delivered, then your customers cannot read them.
Additionally, AWeber also offers a feature that checks business' emails prior to sending to point out anything that could be considered spammy.
Best of all, AWeber's prices are low within the industry. Aweber's rates begin at $19.95 per month, but they become more heavily discounted if they are paid quarterly or annually. The base price purchases their services for 10,000 subscribers. An additional $9.95 per month adds another 10,000 (and so on for as many subscribers as you need).
The question remains: why should an ecommerce business purchase AWeber's service when there are free ones available? The only honest answer is: you might not need to. For RSS conversion or simple newsletters, a free service may do all you require.
However, for growing an ecommerce business, the overall strength and additional features of AWeber: the ability to customize and personalize emails, the ability to segment a customer list, and especially that high delivery average, all add muscle to your efforts.
This is definitely a case of getting what you pay for - using a free autoresponder system, you might not get that much. Using Aweber's System, you will get a lot, and arguably, much more than the minimal amount you pay to have a complete contact management system for your online business.