These two Email Service Providers (ESPs) are as different as they can be.
Aweber is primarily an auto-responder service, enewsletter service second. To take advantage of all its features, you really need to be familiar with some Internet technologies, such as HTML, FTP and RSS.
If your intention is to self-publish a company newsletter, then Constant Contact is a better choice (not the best choice, though, but read on). They have an extensive library of ezine templates which can be customized relatively easily. CC provides hosting space for a small number of images, and more can be purchased. Aweber does not offer image hosting, so images need to be uploaded to your web site or blog – by FTP, for example.
When sending HTML emails, such as newsletters and e-flyers, it is advisable to also send a plain text version along with it, for people who prefer to read text-only emails, or their email programs don’t support HTML, or HTML is blocked by the company firewall. If you’re using one of Constant Contact’s many templates, the system generates the TXT version for you. With Aweber you need to manually create the TXT version which can become tedious quickly. However, a tool such as Premailer can help with that, however your HTML ezine needs to be hosted on your web site for this tool to work.
Constant Contact would be a better choice if you already have an existing list of subscribers, or clients, which you can import into your account. Ideally you would import only people you know would be interested in receiving your newsletters, and have given you permission (either electronically or in person). When importing any number of contacts into an Awber account they are automatically sent a so-called “confirmation” email. This email contains a link each individual contact must click to give you permission to send them additional messages. This process can sometimes decimate your list, even ones which contain previously confirmed contacts. With Constant Contact, it’s up to you if you want to send your contacts this message, or you can confirm them “softly” over time, by including a “reminder” at the top of each email you send them. When a confirmation message is sent, you can not send your contact ANY more messages until they click on the confirmation link.
If it’s important for you to get detailed reports on opens and click-throughs, CC comes ahead of Aweber again. CC offers a very detailed report on how many people were sent an email, how many (and which ones) were opened, who click on which links, and how many times, who forwarded your email to a friend, etc. Aweber (in its basic package) offers limited reporting capabilities, to get the similar reporting to Constant Contact’s you need to upgrade your account.
If you’re looking for a system to easily create and send email newsletters and e-flyers, consider MadMimi instead of Constant Contact, as it’s much easier to use, at about half the price.
For a full-featured, yet easy to use auto-responder and newsletter publishing system I know use and recommend iContact.
The biggest difference is Aweber has a sequential email auto-responder built in and Constant contact does not. You do not have to re-opt-in your lists with aweber you just need to call them and they will walk you thorough it.
Tom, thanks for dropping by, I hope you come back often.
Last time I used Aweber, they not only forced me to re-confirm my client’s members list, but also forced us to do the same when we wanted to simply split the list (of already Aweber-confirmed subscribers) into two categories.
Their response was they needed to keep track of each sign up to each list. Funnily enough, they allow you to broadcast a message to several lists at the same time, which, to me, defeats the purpose of enforcing such strict list sign up procedures.
They may have changed their policies since then, so I can’t say that this is the case today.
As for your first comment, Constant Contact does now offer an auto-responder, but believe you’re limited to just one.
hey thanks. Great info on Mad Mimi. Seems to be the best choice of all.
I just signed up for Mad Miim through your affilate link. Freebie version for now, hope you get paid when I upgrade.
I’m a very green beginner here in the world of email marketing. For the most part, I see my “marketing” more as education-sharing. At any rate, I’ve got a list of about 500 current/former /prospective clients, students, colleagues and interested others and am envisioning sending a maximum of one email letter a month. I’d like a service that is easy to use, affordable, and will give me some feedback re which emails go through, which addresses are defunct, which mail is opened (or not.)
You seem to recommend both madmimi and icontact. I wonder which you might recommend for someone like me?
thanks in advance!
Sorry for the late response, Ruth, I just found your comment in the spam folder.
Regardless of the list size, but taking into consideration all the other factors you mentioned, I’d say MadMimi wins for ease of use and simplicity. Throw in the best customer support service and you can’t miss going with Mimi. At only $8/month for up to 500 contacts it’s as close to a free lunch as you can get.
Which is better Madmimi or icontact? have your heard of Have you head of Trafficwave??? Whats ur thoughts
Which is better: MadMimi or iContact? It would depend on your needs. If you’re looking for the easiest-to-use tool for publishing your newsletter or promotional emails, then I’d go with MadMimi.
If you need multiple auto-responders attached to multiple lists, or you’d like to use surveys then go with iContact.
I use both myself. Most of my self-serve clients use MadMimi, advanced users prefer iContact.
I am so confused as to where to begin and each time I get started to sign up I get a headache! Sooner or later I’m just going to have to start!
This article is probably the best one I’ve come across so far because it gets technical and I want to know those technical and “down the road” things that I will need to consider down the road.
At “Point A”, it is easy to go for ease, price, and what everyone else uses.
But somewhere in my journey I know that I will start to get nitty gritty with details and wonder what those things are so that I can accommodate a growing following and product line. Someone wrote this to me:
“The problem with Constant Contact is that as you grow your business online (with information products and teleseminars), Constant Contact does not allow you to have multiple autoresponder emails. That’s going to be a serious problem if you want an online business. If you have a shopping cart with AR capability, you’ll be okay. But if you only have something like PayPal, Constant Contact will be a huge pain in your rear. That’s why I recommend Aweber….their customer service is awesome and you’ll have so much more functionality that serves an online business”
I don’t know what all that means but it was helpful to see down the road. My particular business is going to be both online and in person. At this point – a lot of it online with tele-classes, newsletters, programs that are online based (not necessarily in real time). From what I know of my business now (i’m just starting out in this new field) these are my needs:
1. I want to keep stats of my newsletters and emails so I can tweak my copy to gain the results I seek.
2. My customers need to have an easy option to pay for services.
3. I do want to conduct multiple campaigns, classes and products at one time. So I am wondering if these products can keep track of these things separately.
4. Also, I have multiple businesses. Do I use one account for all my businesses?
5. I like the ease of CC and have heard from many that Aweber is hard to use. But is the investment in learning it better for the long run based on what is commented above and in some of the comments in your post?
Thank you so much for untangling this headache!
I’m a health coach and LOVE business – it all shouldn’t be so hard!
Aloha from Hawaii,
Thank you for stopping by my blog.
From the description of your business(es) I’d say you definitely want to pick an Email Service Provider which has the ability to create multiple auto-responders. An auto-responder is simply a set of pre-written emails that are sent out to a subscriber on a set schedule, e.g. the moment someone signs up for one of your seminars (or buys a product) they will receive the 1st message in the auto-responder sequence. Two days later they will receive the 2nd one, etc. You set the schedule to whatever makes sense. You can even use auto-responders to deliver e-courses, chapters of a book, or other electronic content.
There are 3 auto-responder services which I have used in the past, and recommend:
They compete well in terms of features and price, so I’d suggest you try them out to see which seems easiest to use.
Having multiple businesses should be no problem, as most of these services allow you to create “campaigns” for each business, then when you want to send an email you simply select the the appropriate campaign (or “personality,” if you will).
If you’re after simplicity and ease of use, then I’d recommend MadMimi. Their service is also half the price of Aweber, but you’re limited to one auto-responder per account (just like in ConstantContact). However, you can get around this limitation by creating sub-accounts for your different businesses, or products. MadMimi also has the best customer service I’ve ever had the pleasure of dealing with, bar none.
As for payments, the simplest solution is to use PayPal. It is widely recognized and accepted.
If your web site is by any chance a WordPress blog (which I highly recommend) then get yourself a shopping cart plugin, and also consider setting up an affiliate program using this affiliate plugin. These two plugins work nicely together and are compatible with PayPal.
I agree that the more you invest in your online infrastructure, the better your results are going to be in the long run, however, with greater complexity comes a longer learning curve. You can always start small and then add things as you learn, as someone famously said: “It’s better to do things poorly to start with, then to wait until it’s perfect.”
I am very confused. I am starting my online business as a weight loss coach. I decided on squarespace.com for my blog and website because of the ease of use. They recommended for my email marketing to use aweber or constant contact. I need a service that will VERY easy to use and integrate with my website. I will most likely have 2 newsletter audiences. A free newsletter that I send on a weekly basis to my clients and one that I send to prospective clients that sign up for my free newsletter on my site. But I might decided to send the same newsletter to clients and prospects.
Which one would allow this and also let me have video in all my newsletters and a link back to my site. I mostly need to a service that is very easy to use.
It sounds to me that your priority is ease of use. If that’s the case I highly recommend MadMimi. They have the easiest-to-use email editor I’ve ever had the pleasure of using. If you can use a computer you’ll be able to use MadMimi.
MadMimi will allow you to create as many lists as you need, e.g. one for your clients, one for your prospects who sign up on your web site. As with any of the services you mentioned (Aweber, ConstantContact, etc.) you will need some basic HTML skills to add a sign up form to your site. With MadMimi you can create several sign up forms, each adding subscribers to a different list. This is not possible with Constant Contact, unless they’ve changed this recently.
MadMimi is my top recommendation also because of their best-in-class customer support. If you ever have a question you will be able to chat online or on the phone with a real person.
As for video, one word of caution: you won’t be able to actually send video with your emails, as most email programs your subscribers might use do not support this. However, using any of these Email Service Providers you will be able to send an email containing a link to your video (which may be hosted by a third party, such as YouTube, or hosted on your own web site)
Some email services, such as Yahoo!, Gmail, Hotmail, will automatically show a preview of a link to a YouTube video in your email newsletters.
I hope this makes you choice easier, but please, do not hesitate to contact me, via this page or directly, in case you have any questions, or need help setting up your ESP account of choice.
What services do you provide and how much do you charge.?
Kathryn, I can set up your email marketing campaign using one of the Email Service Providers accounts that I recommend.
I also provide production of email campaigns from the content you provide, or I can hook you up with a copywriter.
Email marketing consulting and coaching in email marketing best practices, list building ideas, etc. is available.
Typically I charge $80 for email production (per send), template design is $247; other services are separately priced per project. Please contact me by email or call toll-free 877 424 9269 Mon-Fri 9:30am-4:00pm EST to discuss your needs.
Found your E-zine through a search to learn more about AWeber and saw this comparative article to Constant Contact. Our company, MarketVolt is another ESP in the mix and needs to be included in the conversation relating to ease-of-use and more importantly – enhanced back-end analysis and reporting. MarketVolt automates list segmentation and the triggering of targeted follow up messages / offers – the two keys to successful Email marketing campaigns.
I’ve just tried using MadMimi once – for my soon to be newsletter/magazine. I started with about forty names, to see how it would work. Specific questions I had about how to use the site were answered in emails within a couple of hours, and the people who responded were always kind. The sample newsletter I sent out looked very good, and I can see good ways to make it into an interesting read. Their formatting will not at all be a hamper..
Their dashboard tells you who received the mail, and even who opened it! It’s great.
If things go as I hope, I may need a different sort of email client – but that’s in the future.
Just to clarify… this MadMimi site of which you speak does NOT have the capacity for autoresponders, only for newsletters?
Aimee, MadMimi does have auto-responders, too, but that’s not their forte. Certainly, it is not included as a feature in their free plan. Find out more about Mad Mimi at their site.
Thanks. I don’t really care about free… I care about it being easy, doing what I want it to do without consuming all my time, and rate of delivery. If it does what I need, it’s well worth paying for.