Why I use AWeber for newsletters

Last year I talked a bit about blog subscriptions. At the time, anyone subscribing to my email list did so through the FeedBurner service — bought by Google in 2007 but left to stagnate ever since. FeedBurner’s free to use, but it’s very limited, there’s no support, and it might disappear and take my email list with it, so about six months ago I switched to AWeber.

Here are a few AWeber benefits.

AWeber HQ
Inside AWeber HQ

Boosting subscribers by 1,000%

During the first two months with AWeber I was getting two or three new email subscribers each day — the same as with FeedBurner. But with AWeber I’m able to change things slightly, offering a free chapter from my book that’s automatically sent to subscribers after they confirm their subscription. Four months after implementing the free download I now get about 20 daily sign-ups. Over the course of a year that’s the difference between 700 new subscribers and 7,000, so offering an incentive definitely works. With your own mailing list you could give away a free ebook, a free font download, useful resources, etc., and all taken care of automatically after some straightforward setup through AWeber’s admin panel.

Setting a schedule

I’m now able to choose how often newsletters are sent, on what days, and at what time. FeedBurner can only send updates as soon as a blog post is published, so if you post once a day, your readers are emailed daily. I think that’s too often. I’ve set my current broadcast to send every two weeks, regardless of how many posts are published in that timeframe. There’s also an option to send a newsletter after a specific amount of new posts are published, where subscribers get an email as soon as there are five or ten or however many blog updates. It’s a nice alternative and I’ll probably change to that, meaning less frequent emails but with more content.

Creating follow-ups and tracking what readers do

I’ve thought about using AWeber’s autoresponders to create a class for students. I’d prepare the content in advance (text, images, video), choose the delivery schedule, then let it run automatically. Something to plan.

Another advantage over FeedBurner is the ability to customise the welcome message, so I can signpost a few pieces of popular content from my archives that are unlikely to have been seen by new visitors.

The analytics are a great feature, giving reports on things like these:

  • Track where on your website readers go after they click a link
  • Track what time of day readers open emails and click links
  • Send emails to specific subscribers based on what they’ve clicked in the past
  • Split test different versions of your newsletter to see which works best
  • See how different sign up forms are performing to maximise subscriptions

Tracking the clicks tells me what content subscribers are most interested in, and that can help give direction for future content.

I wasn’t too keen on the template sign-up forms provided by AWeber, but this guide helped a lot with the styling.

There are other companies that handle email marketing. MailChimp for example. It offers a free option if you have a small amount of subscribers, but you can’t use MailChimp autoresponders unless you become a paying customer, and it’s the autoresponders that gave me a ten-fold increase in subscribers.

AWeber’s competitors could be just as good, but I’m more than happy with my choice.

It’s $1 for the first month, and you can cancel any time. More info on the AWeber website.

9 responses

  1. P.s. I need to work on the newsletter design. I started with the simplest option but it looks basic. That’ll change, maybe as well as the frequency.

    Update: Sorted. It was easy to style the design so it’s similar to my web content.

  2. Superb advice as usual David. I’m starting to build up the numbers on my site so will have to check AWeber out.

    Incidentally, this post made me realise that I’m not subscribed to your blog, god knows why as I probably read it more than any other.

    Anyway I’m subscribed now and really liked the personal touch on your signup pages. Looking forward to Villa Amanzi!

  3. Good of you to subscribe, James. Glad you like the sign-up process, too. Those redirects are another nice touch with AWeber. Easy to set up.

    Subscriber numbers can go up pretty fast when you give something immediate in return, as can the expense of these email services. Here’s a tip if you do choose AWeber: Anyone who subscribes then unsubscribes is still counted as part of the total subscriber number you’re paying for, so be sure to manually delete the “unsubscribed” contacts every now and again. No point in paying for those.

    Villa Amanzi? When I hit that sales figure I’ll send the chopper to Preston.

  4. I just switched away from Aweber to MailChimp. My list is fairly small and realized that paying $19 a month just wasn’t worth it for me. Plus, MailChimps Campaign Builder with its drag and drop function is so easy to use, making me ditch my custom html template I used with Aweber.

    But I do have a question about autoresponders. They still confuse me a bit. From what I understand, they allow you do followup on, say, an order for a workshop or a book purchase or downloading one of your resources, correct?

    Can you explain how that grew your list? Wasn’t that person already a subscriber?

    Thank you!

  5. Agreed David that Aweber is a very good tool.

    Giving away something for free is also a great tactic that has no doubt been the reason for your big increase in subscribers.

  6. Hi Jane, you’re right, an autoresponder (unavailable through MailChimp unless you use their paid service) allows you to automatically email those who are interested in what you’re selling or giving away. The free chapter I offer helps attract new subscribers — people who visit my website for the first time then become interested in reading from one of my books. They’ll subscribe to the mailing list then automatically receive an email with a link to download the chapter PDF. They can unsubscribe straight after getting the PDF, but most don’t.

  7. Good ideas David.
    I’ve been using AWeber for a while and found their customer service to be very good.
    To increase the subscriber numbers of our boating site, I’d like to offer access to discounts, but without having to set up coupons. So that when a boat owner needs an item (perhaps at short notice) they can access the product without waiting for next month’s newsletter.
    Can this be offered via cell phones? Or is there a better way?
    Have you or readers any suggestions?

    Appreciate your input.

  8. Likewise, Tim. The support’s excellent. I’m not sure exactly what you’re trying to do with the discounts so this mightn’t work, but if you publish them on your website, rather than only through email, you can tell subscribers to visit for the most up-to-date offers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *