When it comes to email marketing tools, the industry is split. Everyone has a different experience with the various email automation tools available. And it makes sense. Each autoresponder has its own pros and cons, and ultimately, it boils down to which suits your business needs more.
But first, what are autoresponders and what do they do?
Autoresponder platforms help you host your email lists, design your email templates and automate your email delivery so that you can engage your audiences through regular newsletters.
The most important characteristic of an autoresponder is that it allows you to interact with your customers or audience at specific checkpoints that you set. For example, an e-commerce business may want to sent out a post-purchase email sequence to upsell more bundles. A course provider, on the other hand, wants to send out course updates closer to the course date automatically. Affiliate marketers and list builders usually send emails every day to maximize the number of eyeballs on their offers.
Everyone has different uses when it comes to autoresponders and tools like Klaviyo and The Conversion Pros may be more specialized for specific industries and proficiency levels. But when it comes to having an autoresponder for any purpose and any industry, two big names come to mind – AWeber vs GetResponse.
That’s why I’ll be discussing these 2 giants in the world of email marketing and sharing the pros and cons of each autoresponder so that you can find the best email marketing platform for your needs in 2020.
Let’s talk about one of the most important considerations right off the bat. Cost is one of the first things that come to mind when it comes to selecting a long-term email marketing provider. Because cost differences compound over time, and when cost scales with list size, price becomes a major concern.
GetResponse has a 30-Day free trial, after which we can choose between the 4 plans listed below. The good thing is that if you are operating a non-profit organization, you can enjoy better pricing of up to 50% discounts by contacting them directly. At a usual starting list size of 1,000 subscribers, we are talking about:
- Basic – $15/month. This plan gives you unlimited emails, landing pages, automation templates and lead funnels (I’ll cover these features later).
- Plus – $49/month. In addition to basic features, you also gain access to the automation builder, webinars, subscriber tagging and 5 sales funnels and webinar funnels.
- Professional – $99/month. This grants access to whatever you get in Plus, but now with more collaboration tools, unlimited funnels and deeper webinar functions.
Well, there is an enterprise plan with ‘custom pricing’, but at that point, you would have an account manager and basically anything you would need.
Alright now with a pretty good picture of GetResponse, let’s move on to AWeber.
For AWeber, you get 5 plans flat out, and pricing goes by the size of your list only. It’s straightforward, with these prices:
- 0 – 500 subscribers at $19 per month
- 501 – 2,500 subscribers at $29 per month
- 2,501 – 5,000 subscribers at $49 per month
- 5,001 – 10,000 subscribers at $69 per month
- 10,001 – 25,000 subscribers at $149 per month
To find a common standard to judge pricing, the quick answer is that GetResponse’s Basic plan is most similar, feature-wise, to AWeber’s services. And looking at the numbers, GetResponse comes up on top for pricing. If you are running things lean or have a tighter budget, then GetResponse is definitely the more cost-effective solution. 1,000 subscribers would cost $15/month compared to AWeber’s $29, and even at 500 subscribers, we can see savings of $4/month.
Both providers give discounts on longer term plans, but GetResponse takes the cake here as well, offering a sizeable 30% discount on 24 months compared to AWeber’s 14.9% discount for annual plans.
The good thing is also that with GetResponse, you can get additional features and flesh out your functionalities as your revenue grows – in other words, you can postpone the huge upgrades until you need them and can pay for them. This allows you to manage your growth, and expand your email marketing toolset with the demands of your business.
Oh right, when it comes to free trials, both platforms have 30-Day free trials where you can try out all of their features before you have to make the decision. On this front, GetResponse doesn’t ask for your card details while AWeber does require credit card details. If you want to try out both services, it’s good to take note of this so you don’t risk paying unnecessarily once the free trials end.
AWeber and GetResponse have massive collections of templates with more traditional designs as well as modern, minimalist formats. Templates are absolutely vital to projecting the image that is coherent with your brand – you can make it professional, fun, artistic, whatever. But when your brand is being communicated coherently throughout your marketing channels, be it Facebook, search engines or email, your conversion rates will soar.
While it can be up to taste and preferences, I personally like AWeber’s designs a little more. Still, both platforms have templates that convert well in different industries, and you can definitely find one in AWeber’s 700+ or GetResponse’s 500+ templates that fits your brand.
One important thing is that the templates that both platforms provide are mobile responsive – meaning that the elements in your email will arrange themselves automatically depending on the screen size of the reader’s device, be it a phone, tablet, or massive PC screen. With the majority of the Internet being accessed from mobile devices nowadays, how sharp your email looks on mobile is more important than ever. One thing I really like about GetResponse is the thoughtful inclusion of a mobile preview tab that allows us to check out how it would turn out on mobile while we work on our layouts.
Landing Page Design
To start, let me briefly go through the concept and characteristics of landing pages. For email marketing, landing pages are usually opt-in, or subscription pages that collect data (mostly email addresses), but for e-commerce, we may see product pages. The important thing to note is that the content is usually brief, impactful and the page has a very clear call-to-action (CTA).
Less is more when it comes to landing pages because we are usually getting are colder leads here. We want less content on this page that could distract, to optimize for contact info gathering. We can then follow up with more content to warm those leads up for sales.
Both GetResponse and AWeber have their in-built landing page builders that connect directly to your email database. As with most page builders, we get a drag-and-drop interface to make things easier to manage, as well as a HTML editor, for those of you who are confident with more technical set-ups.
GetResponse takes the lead in this builder because of how intuitive they made the interface – you can easily pop in social media tags, customizable buttons and various CTAs. AWeber’s drag-and-drop interface is slightly more basic, with fewer templates, and less customizability.
In a way, AWeber may have slicker designs for emails, but GetResponse has great landing pages.
But the one difference that made a massive difference for me was this – A/B testing, also called split testing.
Already know what works? Run a split test to separate the best emails from good ones
Not sure what works? Run a split test to find out
No idea what even works? Run a split test
Split testing, or A/B testing, is one of the most important things in marketing. It helps us continue to refine our processes, our creatives and designs, and conduct controlled experiments on new ideas. How this is done is by sending the variants (what we want to test) and the control (what we are already using) to the same audience and measuring the results.
In email marketing, split testing is done by sending different versions of your newsletter to your subscribers and seeing the performance of each version in terms of a specific success metric. It could be measuring things like open rates, secondary opt-ins or click-through-rates (CTR) on different subject lines, preview text and email templates.
This way, we can test things without risking our entire subscriber bases. We can also compare how things perform compared to what we already have in play.
It is surprising because one would think that most email marketing platforms should have comprehensive split testing capabilities by now. After all, this is how any business or non-profit refines its marketing efforts. But it came as quite a surprise to me when I learned how underdeveloped the split testing capabilities for many popular email marketing tools are.
However, GetResponse and AWeber both have decent split testing features. Both platforms allow us to split test based on percentages, so don’t have to run 50/50 split tests on risky experiments. In GetResponse, we can test up to 5 variations, and in AWeber, 3 variations. A quick example of how this would look like can be seen here, with an experiment on 1 control and 2 variants, with the control being sent to 60% of the audience, while the other A and B variants each reaching only 20% of the subscribers.
Don’t worry! These percentages may look weird but both GetResponse and AWeber will do the number crunching for you and identify the winner – so you can be sure that you are using the best performing emails to optimize for conversions.
But GetResponse really takes this to a different level, allowing us to split test almost anything you may want to split test – from the basic traits like subject lines and delivery times to entire email templates and email copies. And beyond emails, GetResponse also allows you to split test landing pages, funnels, and almost all of their features while AWeber mostly focuses on email testing.
That’s why GetResponse is the clear winner for me in this category. Deeper testing, and testing on more features.
Tracking & Integrations
If you want to start a fight, just throw two marketers in a room, whisper “the best tracking tool is…”, and lock the door.
Because tracking is such a vital aspect of marketing that people develop very strong feelings about the success metrics they follow. You can’t focus your efforts if you don’t know what works.
So let’s talk about tracking and reporting in GetResponse and AWeber.
Here, AWeber has an advantage, with a whole bunch of reports that you can pull to analyze the performance of your emails. GetResponse has the main reports that you would need, together with some deeper reports like real-time activity and ROI tracking, but it is still found lacking compared to whole variety of analytics you can see within AWeber.
But when we get into integrations, GetResponse may be able to recover its position, with in-built integrations with Google Analytics, which is not directly supported by AWeber. Every marketer knows the power and granularity of Google Analytics, so when you can pass data directly to Google Analytics, this integration can easily even the battlefield.
As for other integrations, both GetResponse and AWeber support over a hundred integrations each, with connections with powerful e-commerce and payment services like Shopify, WooCommerce, ClickBank and PayPal. This means you can add customers directly to your post-purchase email sequences or add them to your buyers list.
Both platforms can also integrate with 3rd parties through Zapier. And when we reach Zapier territory, everything is pretty much available now. Still, whenever in doubt, always check their official lists of integrations before starting your integrations.
Automation & Segmentation
In this respect, GetResponse provides a much stronger autoresponder experience.
GetResponse’s ‘Marketing Automation’ allows you to really dive deep into sophisticated flows that have the perfect email lined up for every situation and every type of subscriber. And because it uses a drag-and-drop interface, the logic is clear and the triggers that start off each email sequence are clearly identifiable.
GetResponse also allows you pick and choose between a large variety of triggers like
- Opens and Link Clicks for usual email marketing
- Purchases and Abandon Carts for e-commerce
- Page views and interactions for normal websites. You can install a snippet of code so that GetResponse can carry out web-event tracking, kind of like a Facebook Pixel. This tool has many applications when you want to dynamically add tags to your subscribers based on their behavior on your page. Wow.
With the customization of the conditions and triggers that lead to different emails, the possibilities are almost endless, and you can pour hours upon hours optimizing and planning your email flows. Those familiar with advanced email marketing tools like Klaviyo will be familiar with this experience, and can definitely appreciate the freedom GetResponse grants its users.
Furthermore, you get quite a few automation templates that suit common marketing needs from post purchase flows and abandoned cart campaigns for e-commerce, to specialized flows for courses/webinars and affiliate marketing. What’s not to love?
AWeber has similar functionalities as GetReponse, but their campaign tools are still rather limited. It is more like a basic builder that allows you to add simple tags and send follow-up emails based on a few actions like link clicks.
When it comes to list segmentation and exclusions, GetResponse gives us the option to segment our lists based on particular characteristics. We can send emails simply by filtering based on the segments you want to target and excluding the segments you don’t want to reach. AWeber, on the other hand, can be rather rigid because it only allows us to send emails to one segment at a time. So now we have to create individual segments for each subscriber characteristic, which involves a lot of manual work. When it comes to audience suppressions, AWeber also does not allow us to exclude specific segments. We can only exclude entire lists from mailouts. Oof.
For automation and list segmentation, GetResponse is significantly in the lead, because of its easy list manipulation and conditional logic in its Marketing Automation workflow builder. If you can’t tell, I am in love with automation tools that provide extensive customizability when it comes to marketing logic. Because it helps nurture and warm up your leads on a personal basis. And when things are personal and targeted, sales happen.
So while we are talking about email marketing and autoresponders, it is useful to note the other services that each platform provides. We have been considering all the basic marketing features so far.
*I say basic, but they are pretty thorough.
When it comes to GetResponse, you have the option to pay for more. In the ‘Plus’ plans and above, we gain access to significantly more in-depth marketing automation capabilities, as well as webinars, and funnels. I left this out to be analyzed here because it would be unfair to compare all these paid advanced features against AWeber’s basic plan.
Now on to these functions.
GetResponse Webinars are pretty unique because there is no competition on this end. All of the competition in the email marketing space, be it AWeber, Mailchimp, Drip etc. all do not offer this service. The webinars here have pretty tailored solutions:
- Usual screen-sharing (like Zoom, Skype, or Slack)
- Webinar recordings
- Multiple presenters
- Whiteboards and presentation design tools
It may be an additional feature, but GetResponse surely doesn’t hold back here. These are very user-friendly and webinar-specific tools that definitely help to facilitate online lessons and events.
When it comes to the more advanced automation tools, we get into things like Perfect Timing. This is inching into big data and artificial intelligence territory, because GetResponse will examine your subscriber’s behaviors and email habits to optimize when your emails are scheduled. This is massive. As GetReponse’s database grows stronger, I can only expect that it becomes as smart as Facebook’s advertising database. I mean, even now, with the current level of this technology, we can see around 20% improvements in open and click-through-rates. (For email marketing these are huge improvements).
Lastly, we’ll be covering GetResponse’s Funnels. These ‘Conversion Funnels’ have the potential to be a game changer. If you use ClickFunnels, or any sort of e-commerce platform, you would know how powerful this is. Combine this with direct payment and checkout options like integrations with PayPal or Stripe, and you have an all-in-one marketing and sales platform. This is definitely nowhere close to what dedicated e-commerce platforms like Shopify or BigCommerce can provide. Now, with GetResponse’s ability to integrate with Facebook ads, you can literally run an online business end-to-end from one place.
But still, having a one-stop solution for selling online, holding webinars and carrying out follow-up email campaigns is a useful advantage. It makes it easy for businesses to start their journeys selling online, and it keeps your offers congruent. Similar designs and content management gives a uniform feel to your marketing efforts, and does wonders when building an identifiable brand.
I’ll end this off with a brief breakdown of the support both platforms provide because they aren’t too different, to be honest. Both platforms have comprehensive knowledge bases and FAQs/tutorials. GetResponse has what it calls the GetResponse University with lots of training materials, but AWeber doesn’t fall far behind. AWeber has a wide collection of e-books and courses that educate users on how to use their systems, and how to do email marketing in general.
GetResponse provides video walkthroughs with transcripts, but it’s fair to say both platforms are pretty good when it comes to training. The most important point is that both platforms have live chats and that’s all I need when I run into obstacles. GetResponse used to have a bad history for support, but after listening to user feedback, they improved their customer services by leaps and bounds.
These are both amazing tools for email marketing and each tool has its own pros and cons. My perspective is that GetResponse will be the answer to the needs of most marketers, but for some businesses and individuals, AWeber and its better templates suit them more.
In my book, GetResponse has too many good features to give up, thorough analytics and most importantly, it’s automation and campaign management is pound-for-pound an improvement over AWeber. Throw in a cheaper price, and we have one of the most value-for-money autoresponders out in the market.
With over 100,000 small businesses and entrepreneurs using AWeber, and over 350,000 users with GetResponse, GetResponse must be doing something right. And from the company’s history of continuous improvement and humility to respond to its users’ feedback, I see that GetResponse is definitely on track to backing up its ambitious claim as being the easiest email marketing platform out there.
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