I’ve been following some of the self named Guru circle of internet marketers for a couple of years now and I can say that they have a lot figured out. What genius and execution (more on that another day…). One thing they seem to agree on are what they consider the leading e-mail providers. What are they?
In fact, Jeff Walker (the fame of http://www.productlaunchformula.com and http://www.sixinseven.com), went to the trouble to have aweber clone their service under the domain name http://www.profollow.com. I’m not sure when he did this, but he made a big deal about it when he originally launched Product Launch Formula 2.0 in April of 2008.
He actually promised a bonus for anyone that signed up with profollow.com which would be a collection of videos showing how he used the aweber service and how to do e-mail marketing the “right way”. Since everyone agreed that Aweber was all the rage, I was deciding whether I should use Jeff Walker’s private label version or the regular deal.
So I finally signed up with profollow.com so that I could get the videos. As it turns out, the bonus never materialized. On July 16th, 2009, Jeff’s assistant Betty sent me this:
“Yes, it will be about 3 weeks before Jeff will have time to look into
this… you haven’t missed anything and it is on his list of things.
He hasn’t forgotten about it.”
So I waited, but it never came. Oh well, so what. It was unexpected since Jeff claims to be so big on over delivering and even providing additional unannounced bonuses. I suppose it might be that he just didn’t get enough people signed up to justify the time to make the videos based on the money he makes reselling Aweber. After all, he’s done a few more launches of PLF and related coaching, seminars, etc. since then. Can’t fault a guy for chasing the money.
It probably would have slipped from my mind (like it probably did from the minds of the others that use profollow), except that I’ve been having trouble with Aweber (profollow) today and I’m wondering if it’s time to move on. Usually they’re pretty sharp, but they don’t seem to give much credence to what I say or ask. They just make the changes they like and seem to say “live with it”.
For example, in the last few weeks they rolled out a new webform module that embeds a whole bunch of junk CSS and other stuff to format it. I suspect that a lot of their users don’t even know why this wouldn’t be a good thing, but I have a few gripes about it (including page bloat, SEO and getting it to fit with an existing style on my site). When I asked if there was some way to go back to the old way they simply say “No”. That’s it.
So what’s so bad about it? I’ll just list out the things bother me about aweber (that I can remember right now):
- Their new webforms embed a bunch of CSS (9KB worth of stuff), which may or may not play well with wordpress and/or custom pages on my site. I would rather just have the html form details and let my site CSS trickle down to format that form too, so it fits in. If it’s going to be on every page I also don’t want the bloat there to meddle with my SEO efforts.
- They provide very little control over when to send e-mail. I can’t send two separate e-mails immediately. I can’t decide what time of day to send an e-mail or what day of the week. This may have changed recently as a paid upgrade, but the last time I asked support it wasn’t possible. Even this open source autoresponder allows you to choose down to the exact minute that a message should go out after some threshold time has been met…
- I can’t delay the welcome message to accomplish a committed list type of function. This is where I want someone to sign up on a list that is only a stepping stone list. They should only receive e-mail on that list if they don’t progress on to the next list. Why can’t I delay the welcome message or just skip it?
- Aweber doesn’t provide secure forms, so that if I want to embed a form into a secure page on my site, or post from a secure page, site visitors will get the impression that I’m submitting their information insecurely to a third party. This seems crazy since a secure certificate is as little as $30/year. Why wouldn’t they allow for secure opt in?
- Another secure/non-secure issue is that if I do have a secure site and someone opts in to my list, even when I have confirmed opt in turned off, aweber will send a confirmation message. This is a bit of a limitation of SSL, since they can’t get all the information they need from the page (or so they say), but it’s a bother still the same.
- Their HTML editor for e-mail messages makes including personalized details in URLs impossible. For example, let’s say I wanted to produce a URL that would customize the content on a page on my site, so I would include their name or e-mail address. Well, their HTML editor messes up the URL so that it doesn’t work. (post a comment if you want further explanation).
I can’t remember other issues right now (just as well I suppose). So what about InfusionSoft? Well, I suppose if I had a bundle of money I could go with them. They add a ton of value, but they charge for it too. I do think I’ll end up there someday, but while I’m on the unlimited plan with aweber, I just can’t beat the price for the features with another paid plan right now. I’m also not interested in maintaining the software on my own servers, though I have done this, I do believe that the performance and deliverability would degrade as my lists sizes increase.
On the whole, I am satisfied with Aweber, even though sometimes it seems that they are missing some pretty standard features and control (or that their support doesn’t care what I think). For the price I’m paying and the deliverability I get, I don’t think I can beat them right now.
If you know of another e-mail host that has “fixed” the issues I mention above with Aweber, leave a comment and a link. If I just missed the Jeff Walker videos that he promised as a profollow bonus, then let me know. I would love to hear what he has to say about e-mail marketing, especially if he’s going to give tips about how to build the story and build relationships. Those are two things I think he’s good at, if he would just make those videos.