Aweber’s big claim to fame, over their 18 years of existence, is to be the company who invented the autoresponder. By comparison, Mailchimp is certainly the new kid on the block – albeit the kid everyone’s talking about thanks to their clever marketing and share-worthy mascot.
So how do the two email marketing solutions compare? Our unbiased review should let you know exactly where they excel, and where they’re found lacking. Let’s break it down below:
Mailchimp prides itself on its ease of use, and this may come as a surprise, but we don’t actually find it to be the most intuitive solution for complete beginners. However, they gain a number of points for their fast, easy to navigate and well-designed backend. While some functions are sometimes hard to find (for instance, how to add opt-in for new sign ups), they have excellent features such as the navigation menu for checking every step when setting up your campaign.
Mailchimp’s navigation system
Nevertheless, as a whole, Mailchimp’s platform is still easier to use than AWeber’s. The latter have options that feel hidden (how to reuse a campaign or choose a sender address), and navigating between the steps of your campaign is more tedious. One strange design choice also make them lose points: their confusing naming conventions. For example, they call regular newsletters “Broadcast” and they say “Campaigns” when they mean email automations.
Winner: By and large not the easiest newsletter tool in the world, but MailChimp still beats AWeber here. (Have a look at our comparison chart to see how they rank overall).
The general advice for newsletter layouts is to keep it simple. Which is why it’s nice to see that Mailchimp has 80 clean and sleek templates, divided into sections such as ecommerce, events or holidays. You can then further customise these templates with layouts, and of course things like font and colors. When you’re done tweaking, you can save the template and reuse it for all your communications. We also like that you can create HTML templates via code, URL or .ZIP file.
AWeber template examples
AWeber wins in terms of template numbers (150) but they’re not necessarily better. We find their style a bit outdated, and for instance it’s hard to find 2 or 3 column layouts. You should still be able to create what you want thanks to good customization options, but it’s less flexible.
Winner: Mailchimp wins this round too – we’d rather have fewer templates but more flexibility with our design.
Mailchimp has solid autoresponders. For instance, you can launch a campaign for different subscriber groups (people interested in product A or product B) and create email chains. Other triggers let you message: users who bought a certain product, who subscribed to a form or those who opened a custom field. Sadly, editing them is not as user-friendly because the visual editor isn’t exactly intuitive (unlike the one with Active Campaign, for instance).
AWeber’s automations -confusingly called Campaigns-, are a new addition, and we tested them as a beta feature. In spite of that they seemed decent enough. You can tag users and send them emails accordingly, including personalised tailored messages. They might be lacking in features, but we still found them slightly easier to setup than with MailChimp.
Winner: hard to tell here. Mailchimp’s automations are more powerful, but it’s slightly easier to set them up in AWeber. We should say that neither of them are as good or intuitive as Active Campaign or GetResponse, where you can create campaigns based on user behaviors (which page they visited, for example) and with a great visual editor.
If you want subscribers to add themselves to your list, you need to create a registration form. Mailchimp makes it easy to build those with drag and drop tools, and you can add all the fields you need such as name or city for example. You can also pre-segment your users to let you know why they’re interested as they sign up (for instance you could have a field where they write the product they like on your page). It’s also easy to create opt-ins and thank you pages (when users have subscribed), but selecting color options was a bit finicky for our liking.
AWeber registration forms editor
AWeber’s registration forms are very powerful and full of features. Like with MailChimp, you get custom fields and thank you pages plus cool extras like the ability to add audio and video! However, these features come at a price for usability. It’s just not that fun or intuitive to create your registration forms. On top of that, the templates aren’t exactly the most eye-pleasing…
Winner: We were quite impressed with AWeber’s registration form features – but you are not too likely to need them. So we’d still pick MailChimp for ease of use and the template choices.
When possible, you should always make sure your email looks good in all kinds of inboxes. MailChimp lets you do exactly that with their third-party Inbox Preview. It’s a nifty tool, but unfortunately not free if you are on the cheaper subscription plans (each preview costs 1 token and you can buy 25 of them for $3). Also, we’re surprised that they still don’t offer spam testing.
In any case, it’s still better than AWeber, who don’t have spam testing or a good preview system in place. So not much more to add here.
Winner: Definitely Mailchimp, by default.
Measuring the success of your campaigns is just as important as their content. MailChimp offers an excellent integration with Google Analytics, and they even track the performance of your messages across different geographical zones or ecommerce conversions. There’s also a click map and of course a bounce rate and click through rate. We’re particularly fans of the social reports to analyze stats about how many people your email reached, and on what channels – you can even break it down by email provider (gmail vs yahoo). Finally we should say that the reports look good and the information is easy to digest.
AWeber’s reporting is on par in terms of features. You get the basic info about communication’s performance such as openers, bounces and clicks, but also advanced data like ecommerce or geo-tracking. Sadly AWeber’s design team could work a little harder on the reports because they’re not as nice to look at, and some of the information is harder to access.
Winner: In terms of features, both solutions are actually very good. But MailChimp has the upper hand thanks to their superior user experience and design.
This is how you measure the amount of emails that reach your users’ inboxes. Below are the results for our 5 rounds of independent tests. To learn more about our method, you can consult this detailed post.
Winner: Both Mailchimp and AWeber performed really well there.
Mailchimp offers email support and a good knowledge base. The chat support, however, is limited to business hours. Moreover, free users only have access to support during the first month, after that – they’re on their own. We found that the answers were good, but they sometimes came a bit slow.
AWeber support pages
AWeber’s support was fast, friendly and available through multiple channels (email and phone 7 days a week). The knowledge base is good, but finding the right topic is sometimes a bit tough. We’d recommend getting in touch with them directly if you really need an answer.
Winner: AWeber’s support offers a tiny bit more when it comes to live answers, but Mailchimp’s knowledge base is easier to browse.
We’ve often commented on how generous MailChimp’s free plan is: even with ads in the footer, you can send to 2000 subscribers (or 12,000 sends a month), which is a really good deal. However, they get expensive quick. Move up to 5000 subscribers and you’ll be paying $50 per month. Then it’s $75 for 10K users. On the other hand, a big plus is the Pay as you Go offer, where you can send 1000 emails for $30, 5000 emails for $100 and 10000 emails for $200. Very few platforms offer Pay as You Go, and it’s a shame because it’s a nice flexible solution for small businesses.
There’s no Pay as You Go with AWeber, and no free plan either – it starts at $19 a month for 500 subscribers, which is pretty expensive. The rest of AWeber's prices are pretty much on par with MailChimp’s, with a $49 plan for 5000 subscribers and $69 plan for 10000 subscribers.
If you would like to compare all the features of these two newsletter tools, check the following table:
As mentioned in the corresponding sections, MailChimp and AWeber aren’t necessarily your best bet when it comes to email automations. Active Campaign is far superior for creating very flexible and complex campaigns. Similarly, neither MailChimp or AWeber are as cheap as some very good competitors like MailerLite. MailerLite is also a good option is you want a landing page editor, and so is GetResponse.
As you can see in our main comparison table, MailChimp ranks higher than AWeber. We will be consistent here and declare MailChimp a clear winner. Their automations are easier to setup, the reporting is top-notch, and their general user experience wins them extra points for a lot of categories.
In fact, It would be really hard to recommend AWeber for any reason, except maybe their support – and even that’s a stretch.
However, remember that there are other solutions out there. MailChimp is actually quite expensive when you leave the free plan, so do check out MailerLite if price is a big issue for you. Similarly, advanced email marketers will surely benefit from better automations like the ones found with ActiveCampaign or GetResponse.
Questions? Comments? Talk to us below and we’ll reply to everything!