Aweber is known as one of the oldest and best autoresponder services available. They are experts in email marketing and boast one of the best email deliverability rates in the business. This is no easy task since you must maintain relationships with isps and manage a system with over 80,000 accounts sending out millions of emails.
I registered an account with them about 1 year ago and quickly developed a list of over 30,000 confirmed opt in subscribers to my newsletters. I am not new to email marketing so from the very beginning I set my lists to be confirmed opt in. This means that once someone subscribes they then have to go their email client and click a confirmation link to make sure it was really them who signed up for the newsletter. This creates a much cleaner list.
I also knew that even though autoresponder companies say that you can import subscribers from other system that they really do not like this since this usually causes elevated complaint levels. So I never used the import function with Aweber even once. So from day one the lists were all confirmed opt in and they all subscribed specifically by registering from forms on my various websites. No scripts were used, no co registration (more on this later).
People just went to my website signed up, got the confirmation email, clicked and subscribed. I started completely from scratch with this Aweber account and had built up a nice, clean responsive list. I thought I was "safe." I thought I was following the "rules." Apparently not.
While I was on vacation in Paris I tried to log into my account. Here is what I saw "Sorry! The account you've tried to access is no longer active. Typically this is because you asked to close the account. If that's not the case, it may have been closed due to an overdue invoice, or a violation of our terms of service (such as attempting to send spam). "
Heart attack time. What happened to my account? I had their forms on hundreds of webpages. I was averaging about 200 confirmed opt in subscribers per day with this account. I had a sick feeling in my gut. I knew that had deleted my account. Aweber is not known for second chances either. I feared the inevitable. Somehow I had violated some terms of service and they had deleted my account.
I checked the email account associated with the account and I saw their email. They had deleted my account because I had discussed the subject of Co Registration marketing and according to Aweber they "did not believe in co registration." They almost said this with a religious zeal as if email marketing was some sort of religion or belief system. Notice they did not delete my account because I tried to import co registration subscribers.
Aweber Deleted My Account Because I Mentioned A Subject They "Did Not Believe In."
I never imported any subscribers of any kind ever. They did not delete my account even because I sent to co registration subscribers directing people to forms which contained Aweber code. They deleted my account without notice and without recourse because I "talked about" co registration marketing as a marketing method..
Many other reputable autoresponder companies not only "believe" in co registration marketing but they have their own co registration services which they actively promote to their members. Ironically, Aweber actually allows single opt in without the confirmation method that I chose to use which allows anybody to sign up anybody using any email address to Aweber lists. My email security was even more secure than what they permit currently on their servers.
But ok. It is their service. If they do not "believe" in this type of service and they do not want their members even mentioning this subject in their emails they have the right to make whatever rules they want. I explained to Aweber that I did not know I had violated their terms by "mentioning" co registration and that I was more than willing to remove all mention of this taboo subject in my emails. I asked if they would reactivate my account if I agreed to make the necessary adjustments to comply with their TOS.
I Asked Politely If I Could Change My Emails To Reflect Their "Belief System." They Tersely Said No.
They flatly, tersely, and somewhat arrogantly said no. So my account was deleted, they fired no warning shot, and I was not worth it as a customer to even work with me a little bit to allow me to conform to their terms. I found this quite rude. I was essentially of no worth to them as a customer even if I was willing to bend over backwards to accommodate them.
Just a note. I was actually with one of their resellers. The advantage of going with a reseller at the time was that the pricing was less expensive yet the accounts and servers were essentially the same as Aweber's main accounts. I noticed that only a few days after they deleted my account they changed their pricing with all their resellers. Now the reseller sites are essentially the same as the main Aweber site. Were they trying to find any excuse to delete customers grandfathered in at at the old prices? Not sure but the timing was interesting.
In any case what followed was hours and hours of replacing codes on forms with a bad French internet connection. All the projects that I was working on were put on hold. I must admit I did not have my forms well organized. Just hours of tedious work replacing codes on hundreds of webpages.
Luckily I had another account with another provider plus my own autoresponder system on my own server. I know how to do everything myself but I was with Aweber because I wanted their expertise in email deliverability. So know I am using another provider as well as my own autoresponder script on my own servers. I trusted Aweber, I tried my best to conform to their rules and they shut me down. Not a good feeling.
So why do I say thank you Aweber? Because they hammered home a lesson that I thought I had learned before but that I guess I had not.
Every Service You Have From Your Web Hosting, Billing Systems, Domain Registration Services, Autoresponder Systems, Advertising Services. Data Storage Services Need To Be Treated As Disposable Services.
- I know this is harsh but is is true. Just obeying the TOS of all your services is not enough. They can change their TOS, they can change management and change philosophies, they can change religions, they can go out of business, they can just decide that they do not want YOUR type of business. Look at what has happened to thousands of Adsense publishers and Adwords accounts. They even have a name for it "The Google Slap."
Go ahead and Google that one and you will find plenty of people who still do not know why their campaigns were banned or even worse why their accounts were shut down. Things change constantly. You need to have a good internet marketing defense. You should have back ups to your back ups.
You should always be thinking in the back of your mind that you could lose this service at any time and what your contingency plan would be. The more control you can get the better.
When you chose a web hosting company look on the forums on how they handle complaints. Do they have a reputation of just suspending accounts then asking questions? Get the feel for how they operate. The same go for all your other services. As for Aweber they are trigger happy as far as I am concerned. They seem to want to protect their reputation at all costs even if it means hurting your business.
I noticed that the CEO of Aweber Tom Kulzer has appeared, to his credit, on some forum posts on this subject and states that they only delete accounts for obvious egregious violations of their TOS. This simply is not true.
I was never given a warning or even a chance to comply. And I think by most standards mentioning another form of email marketing which is aggressively promoted by their top and well reputed competitors is neither an obvious or egregious violation.
The bottom line is that if you have an Aweber account you are not safe even if you "think" you are complying with their TOS. Are traffic exchanges ok? With Google no, with Aweber not sure? Is it too internet marketing sounding? Is this within their vaguely defined subjective and ever changing belief system?
Even niches outside internet marketing are not safe. I have started an dating blog which is taking off quite nicely. Aweber has a problem with explicit material but not with dating according to their staff on chat. But where is the line? Can I talk about *** in a dating blog?
You Are Not Safe Even If You Think You Are Following The Rules
What if I make a humorous post which discusses *** and dating. Is this the grey area? Well, with Aweber they make that arbitrary decision. And once they make the decision it is final and there are no warning shots. They simply do not have "time" to work with you.
Fortunately Aweber is not Google. Not even close. There are many great alternatives to using Aweber. If you have large lists I highly suggest starting to learn about email deliverability yourself and having back up scripts with all your messages in your own
autoresponder systems on your own servers. It is more complicated, it takes time, there is a learning curve but sometimes this is the price to pay to control your own destiny.
Aweber Is Not Google. Not Even Close. There Are Plenty Of Good Alternatives
Here are two great autoresponder scripts that I have. No affiliate links here. I am just referring what I use and like.
Autoresponse Plus. This is a very reliable script that you can put on your on server. I works very well. You get a license to use on 10 domains. Installation is included. You will need a server with at least 512 MG Ram. A VPS server is nice for this. Count on about $50 per month for an acceptable server.
Active Campaign Email Marketing. This is the Rolls Royce of autoresponder software. This is a software that you install on your server and has every feature of all the major autoresponder services and even some that they do not have. It is expensive. $495 for use on one domain. They have over 50,000 users. I have 3 licenses. It can even easily import the database of any mysql database.
For example rather than using the mailing system for my forum I use Active Campaign to send emails to members of my forum. It coordinates everything, unsubscribes, updates and when new users join the forum. It is quite impressive. They are now offering an online service as well as the downloadable software that you run on your own server.
I am sure it is good but the prices are according to the amount of subscribers you have like Aweber does. It seems a bit expensive for me for an online service. This also would be much easier for a beginning user. I would only suggest getting the software if you are confident that you will be building or already have a big list.
If you are going to run your own autoresponder system on your own server you need to learn about email deliverability. Here is a great guide by the folks at Active Campaign.
It is complicated technical but if you have a big list you might as well start diving into this before you are forced to by the whim of your third party autoresponder company. Remember you can always hire tech help cheap at places like Scriptlance.com.
Here is another article I wrote on email deliverability as well.
As for online services where everything is run on their servers and you do not have to deal with downloading software here are some suggestions:
Trafficwave.net I have been hearing nothing but good about Trafficwave.net. I do not use them personally but may try. You can have unlimited lists and more importantly unlimited members in your lists. All this for only $17. per month. Unlike Aweber you do not have the option of single opt in. I like this. It keeps the servers clean and you are not charged for a lot of dead email addresses.
Getresponse.com I have an account with them and they are pretty good. Deliverability slightly less than Aweber but close. But more importantly they have proven to me that they value me as a customer and they are willing to work with me. This means a lot. They seem to be customer friendly. For years this has been the number 1 competitor to Aweber. A very good alternative. Prices slightly lower with a better attitude. Not perfect but pretty darn good.
Contantcontact.com Autoresponders have gone mainstream. A few years ago nobody knew what they were. Now your baker is using them. I have never used them but I hear their ads all over the mainstream media. Mover over Aweber. Here come the big boys.
Incontact.com Even more competition for Aweber. Autoresponders are not just for IM geeks anymore. They have gone mainstream. I have not used this service but their prices begin at $9. per month.
These are just a few alternatives to Aweber. I suggest having a couple. Your list is essential to your business. As for Aweber, well I respect their right to run their business any way they want to or to "believe" in anything they want to believe or not ""believe in." I also understand their zeal to protect their reputation. I imagine it can be quite difficult to manage a system with over 80,000 paid members.
However, I do not appreciate the lack of respect they showed me as their customer. When your customers become "disposable" and your attitude becomes arrogant then I think you are on the way down. And treating people this way is not "what I believe in."
Here is a video by someone who had a similar experience as I had with Aweber.
Here are some other articles by people who have had similar problems with Aweber.
Aweber Account Suspended - Is Yours At Risk? | Guido Nussbaum Blog
autoresponse plus :
Warning: Did Aweber turn into PayPal?
I Show You How To Easily Make Money Online - Free Marketing Tips And Tricks
Aweber shutting down I.M. Accounts?
Did you get banned from Aweber?
avoid-aweber-mistakes - The Official Home Of Don Finch
Best Aweber Autoresponder Review | Email Autoresponders
Open Discussion: What Was Your Biggest Online Marketing Mistake? (I'll Tell You Mine) - Remarkablogger
Who Can You Trust When Working At Home | Working From Home
What's with Aweber??? - DNN Creative Magazine for DotNetNuke - DotNetNuke Forum, DNN Creative Magazine, Video Tutorials, Skins, Module Reviews - Users Lounge - Everything Else
Aweber Cancelled my Account - Delavo Community
AWeber replacement - what's your best recommendation?
AWeber has taken away my list!!!
Email Marketing - Is Your List Safe With the Auto Responder Companies?
!! Aweber Deleted My ENTIRE List WTF!!!!!
Your comments and experiences are appreciated.
P.S. I wrote this post months ago and it was sitting in my drafts. I have since completely re-organized my email marketing without using Aweber quite successfully. The traffic to my blog has tripled since I lost my Aweber account. Thank you Aweber!