newsletter manager

AWeber Email Marketing Software

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about an open source newsletter manager called PhpList before I ever tried it. My post mentioned the industry standard of AWeberand the giant underdog that is PhpList. I just want to say that I understand now. After spending a little time with PhpList and a lot of time watching videos and reading on the AWeber site, I have to admit that there is just no comparison between the two.

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I’m not trying to knock what the folks at PhpList are trying to do because I think it’s still great to have a free alternative. However, if you’re at all serious about growing a list and communicating with (and marketing to) your readers with ease, I have seen nothing that comes even close to matching up with AWeber.

First of all, I had some trouble installing PhpList, so I went the easy route and installed it via Fantastico. At least it worked that way. I started setting up some test lists, poked around at the settings rather unenthusiastically, then clicked over to the AWeber site for a little comparison and that was it for me. They have all the right features and present them in all the right ways.

I really tried to rebel against paying for something when there was a free alternative, but I soon realized there’s a reason why so many internet entrepreneurs invest in this software. It must be worth it. Those people are not getting rich by spending money, so when they all use and endorse a particular product, it’s time to figure out why.

One of the biggest pros of purchasing any type of software over the open source kind is support. For example, even though I really liked my original theme, I knew if I wanted to take this site seriously, I would need to be able to get answers when/if things went wrong. Since many have said that your newsletter subscribers are your life line, one could definitely argue that related issues need to be fixed quickly.

With a paid service, you get:

With free software, sometimes you get:

If you feel you need some convincing, take a quick peek over at the feature list and read everything they have to offer. At first glance you might think that the open source alternatives match up quite nicely, but the more deeper you delve into the options, the more apparent it becomes that AWeber is the email marketing king.

I almost feel like I’m hyping this software a bit too much for having never used it. I guess that happens when I get excited about using something new. I realize there will be a learning curve while I get used to all the settings and options as I test the service out. I could still come back after awhile and change my mind yet again, but I think there would have to be a staggering let down for that to happen.

I’m not in any big rush to start spending money on a subscription just yet, especially since I haven’t even figured out what kind of content is best for newsletters. (software updates, latest posts, straight reviews, all of the above, etc.) It’s all new to me. I am excited to get to try AWeber out though. I have a few different sites I could implement it on which is an absolute fantastic benefit.

They’re offering the first month for a dollar with a thirty day money back guarantee, so I guess you can’t beat that price for getting to try it out for a month risk free.

PhpList Newsletter Manager Software

With my last theme I provided the options to subscribe to this sites RSS feed or to subscribe by email. While I would like to offer these options again, at some point I need to set something up so people can subscribe to an OpenSourceHack newsletter. I feel like I should probably decide which direction to follow soon so I don’t end up losing readers by having to switch list platforms sometime in the future. If I follow the Feedburner route, a lot of the management takes care of itself. If I decide on an open source newsletter manager, it might not be so easy.

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A number of sites I read use AWeber for all their email marketing and newsletter communication. People really seem to love it. They report your email subscribers to Feedburner, so if you only have a small amount of RSS subscribers, but a whole bunch of email subscribers, it’s all included in your little Feedburner chicklet. My only issue with using them would be the idea of dollars going out of my pocket. The lowest plan is only $19 a month, and I know a lot of people will say if you’re unwilling to pay $19 a month, you’re not serious about growing your business or website. While I somewhat identify with that philosophy, I also somewhat disagree with it.

There’s probably a tons of things I can foresee myself needing when the site gets a lot more daily visitors, but does that mean I should shell out the money for them now? With my aspirations for this site, I believe I’ll need a dedicated server one day, but should I order it now? Then to destroy my own argument in the same breath, I felt the need after only a hundred days to go purchase a premium WordPress theme so I wouldn’t have to worry about too many changes down the road. Maybe that’s why people choose AWeber and maybe that’s why we should too.

However, this post (or what’s left of it) is about an alternative solution that I know very little about, but still looks pretty cool. It’s called PhpList and it’s got a hefty list of features worth checking out. There’s also a demo page with links to different demos, but they really don’t do it justice because you have to imagine these forms would be integrated into your site pages and look nicer as a result.

They boast of being able to handle hundreds of thousands of users which sounds impressive. Templates are customizable, subscribers never receive duplicate copies even if subscribed more than once, and you can schedule when your emails are sent. The feature that caught my eye was the ability to fetch and send a webpage. If you didn’t want to fuss around with configuring templates, I suppose you could publish your newsletter right on your site and just send your subscribers to the new page when it becomes available. Sounds like a great way to keep people coming back.

As much fanfare as AWeber gets, I think I’ll play around with PhpList first. I don’t know how to use either, so I’d rather become familiar with something free instead of feeling like I have to learn my way around a new application quickly because the money is still getting deducted either way. I don’t have any subscribers right now, so I don’t have to make any tough decisions on a newsletter platform at the moment. When I get up to a couple hundred subscribers, you’ll know that it’s time for me to make a decision on whether to stay open source or take the plunge to commercial.