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I recently had to make one of the biggest decisions in my blogging career and I feel that I made the right choice… The big decision was to stop using MailChimp’s free email service and switch to AWeber’s professional email marketing services. Please allow me to say that this was not an easy choice for me – not only does MailChimp cost nothing and AWeber is $19 a month, but I was truly worried that email marketing and the process of list building would be something I’m not ready for and my email list would fail. However, after playing around in AWeber and gaining a few subscribers, I am very confident and I’m glad I chose AWeber to service my email list.

It’s $1 To Get Started

Like I said before, it was a very hard decision for me to sign up with AWeber. I went to the “Sign Up” page and left it open on my computer for at least five hours hoping that some magical fairy would lower the price for me. I also went ahead and asked many blogging groups I belong to (one of them being Blog Engage) if AWeber was even worth paying $19 a month. I figured that almost every “professional” blogger I know uses AWeber’s services, so there’s got to be something that makes it worth the money when you can use services like MailChimp and SimplyCast for free. However, both MailChimp and SimplyCast are only free if you stay under a certain amount of subscribers. Once you exceed that amount, they start charging you to build a bigger list. If you do the math, AWeber will eventually be cheaper in the long run. I didn’t want to have to use MailChimp until I reached 1,000 or more subscribers then try to move to AWeber, so I decided to start building my list there from the get-go. Besides, AWeber makes the first month of service only $1 so I won’t be paying $19 until I have used the service for a good while.

AWeber Is Simple To Use

My biggest complaint about MailChimp is the complexity of their control panel. Doing simple tasks like setting up an RSS newsletter requires many clicks, digging through menus trying to find the right place. AWeber is actually really easy to use and if you can’t figure it out on your own, they have a wizard that will guide you through the steps. I actually opted to use this step-by-step guide to make sure I was doing everything right and it made setting up my email list, opt-in form, follow up messages, and everything else a breeze. Basically, the wizard says “Step 1: Create Your Email List” and it will show you exactly what to do. Then it will say “Step 2: Design Your Confirmation Email” and help you through that, and so on. Everything was so easy!

Additionally, I had a representative from AWeber call me to make sure everything was set up the way I wanted. This is nice because if you are getting stuck, the representatives from AWeber can help you through it. I did not sign up or opt-in to receive this call at all. They just called me to ask if everything was working the way it was supposed to and to let me know that they have support available if I’m ever stuck. This just goes to show how committed AWeber is to your success.

Follow Up Messages

Perhaps my favorite feature about AWeber is the follow up message feature. Basically, follow up messages are emails that you can set to send to your subscribers after they subscribe. For example, immediately after subscribing to my list, my subscribers receive an email from me thanking them for signing up and explaining what the Omega Web Newsletter is about. Then a week later, I have an affiliate offer set to release to my subscribers. Then two weeks after that they will receive a different affiliate offer, and so on.

The reason these follow up messages are so powerful is that they go to each subscriber. So it doesn’t matter if you have somebody sign up in September 2010 or February 2013, they will still get Affiliate Email #1 one week after subscribing and Affiliate Email #2 three weeks after subscribing. This is better than sending standard email campaigns with affiliate offers because if you send an email in September 2010 to your 230 subscribers, those people will receive the email. If you have 500 subscribers by February 2013 though, only the people who were on the list in September 2010 would have gotten your original email. The advanced follow up message system that AWeber uses allows for maximum exposure and hopefully maximum profits.

Reliable Delivery

One thing that barely ever comes up in conversations about email services is email delivery. Lots of email marketing companies flash fancy features like rich HTML designers, but they never mention how often emails are delivered to subscribers. If you think about it, this is an important problem to assess. All of my emails I receive first go through HostGator’s servers and have to pass the spam filters there, then they have to be delivered and pass the spam filters on my email client, Apple Mail, which is great at catching spam and only spam. However, more primitive email clients like Mozilla Thunderbird will mark anything suspicious as spam and may cause your email to not be delivered to your subscribers. This is something that AWeber specifically addresses and they boast a 99% email delivery rate.

Helpful Analytics

One of the main features I liked about AWeber in the first place was their first-class analytics information. AWeber collects information about each one of your subscribers – who opens your emails, who doesn’t, who clicks links (and which links people are clicking), how much money each email brought you, who unsubscribed from your list (and from what email), and so much more. This information is helpful because you can see which subscribers are making you the most money. Then you can group these specific subscribers together to be sent special affiliate offers because they are the people who are actually buying things from your emails. AWeber’s statistics tracking also lets you know which emails are most effective and which aren’t. For example, if your subscribers receive follow up affiliate email #1 and it has a 100% readership rate, that means everybody opened the email and was generally interested. However, if affiliate email #2 only has a 43% readership rate, you may want to consider removing it from the sequence of follow up emails to keep from annoying your subscribers.

Rocking Affiliate Program

Before I buy any service for my blog, I always check out their affiliate program. This is one of the main ways I make money from Omega Web and I want to make sure I can still do that promoting these new products. As it turns out, AWeber has a great affiliate program with recurring commissions which means if I have a customer I referred pay for AWeber for 12 months, I not only make a commission from when he signed up, but I make a commission for each month he keeps paying for AWeber.

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