Time to ditch aweber&co and look at self hosted email marketing software?

26 replies
There was always an advantage about using services like Aweber and other hosted email marketing services, deliverability and management of email servers and other tech issues. Now Aweber and other services like that had this advantage.

Now we have services like amazon ses, sendgrid, postmark etc.. that offer the same level of sophistication. So is it time to move over to self hosted solutions instead of services like aweber?

For eg, in the case of amazon ses, they have the technology to ensure that mails get delivered. They are experts at it. They do deliver billions of mails to their customers and sure know what they are doing. So is the case with sendgrid and the like.

So is it time to move over to self hosted solutions? The advantages are immense. You control the list, you can integrate easily with your existing systems and so on and significantly cheaper.

If the only advantage in using aweber & co is for deliverabilty and tech issues, with new services like the ones listed above isin't self-hosting the better option? You get the best of both worlds?

Do you see any other advantage to the hosted services over self service?
#aweber #aweberandco #ditch #email #hosted #marketing #software #time
  • Profile picture of the author cashcow
    I see another advantage for using some of the bigger email services like Aweber and Getresponse and that is that a lot of the software and tools one buys to help collect emails only work with the these.

    It depends on what you use to help you run your business, of course, but if you rely on tools that must have integration built in then you might be stuck with using a better know email service.

    Lee
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    • Profile picture of the author toskana
      I am using self hosted autoresponders since 2 years and am very happy with that.
      You always stay in full control of the data which might be one of the most important assets of your online business.
      Although on some servers there may be the downside that you have some kind of limited amount of emails you can send per hour on a VPS or Server this problem does not exist.

      Aweber etc. are talking about having 70% confirmed double optin rates being high.
      On one project this May I had a confirmation rate of about 90%
      Although they say that those email services have generally, if everything goes perfect, a about 20% higher delivery rate I think that this is really just a best case szenario.

      My list is about 5600 German speaking people, so it is not that big, but I still see no need to use aweber or getresponse or any other of these companies.

      I also have integrated a basic autoresponder in our own inhouse software, so when we launch a new niche project we just need to install one app and that's it.
      Also one advantage of self hostes autoresponders is that you just pay a onetime fee and thats it.

      So I recommend you use selfhosted autoresponders but this is just my 2cents
      Others may have other experiences ;-)
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      • Profile picture of the author Shaun OReilly
        Self-hosted autoresponders have many advantages, the
        key one of which is CONTROL.

        Because I have full access to the list MySQL database I
        can do some neat list segmentation with subscriber data
        during and after subscription.

        I also like the flexibility of sending from either my own
        server or other external SMTP servers such as smtp.com,
        authsmtp.com, sendgrid.com, AmazonSES, etc.

        With AWeber and other third-party autoresponder service
        providers you're tied to their servers and the share the
        deliverability rate with other users being sent from the
        same server block.

        However, using a self-hosted autoresponder isn't all
        strawberries and cream...

        Before going for the self-hosted route, make sure that
        you're either pretty tech-savvy (or have access to
        someone who is).

        As Lee has correctly mentioned, one advantage that
        hosted services like AWeber do have is that they are
        usually one of the first autoresponders to be integerated
        with common tools for Internet Marketers.

        However, if you know HTML, PHP or are comfortable with
        APIs, you can usually find a work around so that the
        self-hosted works with many other scripts.

        Dedicated to mutual success,

        Shaun
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    • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
      Banned
      Originally Posted by cashcow View Post

      I see another advantage for using some of the bigger email services like Aweber and Getresponse and that is that a lot of the software and tools one buys to help collect emails only work with the these.

      It depends on what you use to help you run your business, of course, but if you rely on tools that must have integration built in then you might be stuck with using a better know email service.

      Lee
      This is a big plus. Aweber and the big autoresponders are supported by DLGuard and integrated within the payment system, so your customers get added to your list.
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  • Profile picture of the author rowanman28
    I just use the free wp autoresponder plugin. I haven't noticed any problems with it yet. Any reason why I shouldn't just use that?
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    • Profile picture of the author AnniePot
      For the last three months, I have been experimenting with this Wordpress autoresponder plugin: WordPress › WP Autoresponder And Newsletter Plugin « WordPress Plugins on just one new list I'm building.

      So far, I've seen no issues or problems.

      Regarding the better deliverability claims made by the big two: I have tested them by deliberately not "whitelisting" several new lists I've signed up for. Without fail, ALL their emails have been instantly been perceived by Windows Mail as spam, and marked accordingly.

      I'm seriously beginning to wonder if I've been wasting $$$ over the years, forking out for the big guys to manage my mail.
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      • Profile picture of the author Henry White
        Originally Posted by AnniePot View Post

        For the last three months, I have been experimenting with this Wordpress autoresponder plugin: WordPress › WP Autoresponder And Newsletter Plugin « WordPress Plugins on just one new list I'm building.

        So far, I've seen no issues or problems.

        Regarding the better deliverability claims made by the big two: I have tested them by deliberately not "whitelisting" several new lists I've signed up for. Without fail, ALL their emails have been instantly been perceived by Windows Mail as spam, and marked accordingly.

        I'm seriously beginning to wonder if I've been wasting $$$ over the years, forking out for the big guys to manage my mail.
        I'm with you on the spam and scam aspects, Annie! Too many trigger-happy technocrats using the TSA gropers union as their model for customer service, and WAY too much greed and fear mongering for personal profit across the board in contemporary Western society!

        Thanks for the "testimonial." This might the "solution" I want.
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  • Profile picture of the author Ben Gordon
    Honestly, your host needs REALLY GOOD SMTP servers in order to host it yourself or you're not going to get the emails into people's inbox, even if it's a totally spam free email.

    Instead, I have my own self hosted email marketing script but all it does is capture emails. Then I find email marketing companies that ONLY send out emails.

    That's just my way of doing email marketing.

    Regards,
    Ben
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  • Profile picture of the author Rod Cortez
    ......For eg, in the case of amazon ses, they have the technology to ensure that mails get delivered. They are experts at it. They do deliver billions of mails to their customers and sure know what they are doing. So is the case with sendgrid and the like.
    This is not entirely accurate. Bear in mind that no matter what technology people are using or whatever platform, no one has any control on what filters companies put on their servers. So if you send an e-mail and it has to go through multiple servers (which is usually the case) you have no control over that.

    You also have no control on what filters people have put on the desktops or pcs, so it doesn't matter if you host it yourself or use a 3rd party service in terms of "ensuring" that e-mails get delivered. Most people don't even know what filters their own web hosting companies use (you should call them to find out if your using their platform to send out e-mails).

    There are good arguments for both schools of thought (self hosted solution versus using a 3rd party solution) and really, it depends. There is no one-size fits all solution. It depends on your business model, your level of knowledge if you're going to host your own solution, your budget, and what exact functionality you are looking for.

    A self-hosted solution isn't for your average marketer. You really have to know what you're doing, despite what the sales copy may promise. Sure, you can buy software for under $100 bucks and do it yourself, which I had done many, many years ago. But once your lists start getting bigger (I'm talking over 100,000) you start running into a lot of techical challenges, which requires the help of an expert. Then there's the issue of deliverability. Delivery rates went down the toilet when I tried various self-hosted solutions.

    Nobody has 100% deliverability. In fact, after testing a wide variety of services over the past several years, and millions of e-mails later, I've yet to find a company that has more than a 95% delivery rate. That's because of the items already mentioned; there are just some things that no one has control over. Companies like AOL, Yahoo, MSN, Google, etc. change their own filter algos all the time. It's a pain in the arse keeping up with them.

    Add tool bars, pc software, 3rd party e-mail filters, etc. it's getting more and more challenging, even for the pros.

    RoD
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  • Originally Posted by gananathan View Post

    There was always an advantage about using services like Aweber and other hosted email marketing services, deliverability and management of email servers and other tech issues. Now Aweber and other services like that had this advantage.

    Now we have services like amazon ses, sendgrid, postmark etc.. that offer the same level of sophistication. So is it time to move over to self hosted solutions instead of services like aweber?

    For eg, in the case of amazon ses, they have the technology to ensure that mails get delivered. They are experts at it. They do deliver billions of mails to their customers and sure know what they are doing. So is the case with sendgrid and the like.

    So is it time to move over to self hosted solutions? The advantages are immense. You control the list, you can integrate easily with your existing systems and so on and significantly cheaper.

    If the only advantage in using aweber & co is for deliverabilty and tech issues, with new services like the ones listed above isin't self-hosting the better option? You get the best of both worlds?

    Do you see any other advantage to the hosted services over self service?

    You might want to spend some time and read Amazon SES terms and conditions.... I doubt you will be happy.
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    • Profile picture of the author gananathan
      Originally Posted by Steve Peters Benn View Post

      You might want to spend some time and read Amazon SES terms and conditions.... I doubt you will be happy.
      Anything in particular?
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      • Profile picture of the author mywebwork
        Originally Posted by Steve Peters Benn View Post

        You might want to spend some time and read Amazon SES terms and conditions.... I doubt you will be happy.
        Originally Posted by gananathan View Post

        Anything in particular?

        I'm also curious as well.

        I have been working extensively with SES for a couple of weeks now, as a developer. I find it to be an excellent and dependable service, and although the original intention of our project was to use SES in another capacity we are strongly considering developing a "user-friendly" front end to allow SES to be used as a far less expensive and more reliable alternative to AWeber.

        I can find nothing on either Amazon's SES page or their AWS Customer Agreement page that raises a red flag or would appear to be detrimental to Internet Marketers, perhaps I overlooked something:

        Amazon Simple Email Service (Amazon SES)
        AWS Customer Agreement

        So please Steve, I'd very much appreciate if you could elaborate on what it is that would make us "unhappy" with Amazon SES.

        Thank you

        Bill
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  • Profile picture of the author royljestr
    I have used both POMMO and InterSpire and they both work very well. Right now I mainly use GetResponse just for simplicity, but feature-wise InterSpire beats them all!
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  • Profile picture of the author gananathan
    From the response here it seems that many see the benefits of self-hosted. Of course there are challenges on both sides.

    On thing to keep in mind is to ensure that you do not use your ISP to send the mails, a near certain recipe for disaster.

    Using services like sendgrid, smtp.com, amazon ses could be the key.

    One of the best advantages I see with self hosted solutions is that you can automate your marketing funnel easily and create segments and split test things very easily. Of course this assumes that you need this.

    But for those that do, I think self-hosted is the way to go. The other advantage is that you do not share the reputation of others in the group. If you deliver low quality/spam messages you are blacklisted, if not you will be fine.

    About spam algorithms, i am not sure we can even keep up with them. I am not sure we need to. It is like doing competition analysis for SEO. It does not matter how many pages are competing, rather who is in the top 10 and what it takes to beat them.

    Similarly, i think all it takes to avoid spam filters is to ensure you have high quality messages. This does not guarantee deliverability, but definitely gets you closer.

    I was interested in interspire and will be experimenting with that soon.
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  • Interspire is probably the best way to go. I personally own my own server, and so I would use it only on a dedicated server if possible. As if you do us it on a share service, then go with BLUEHOST.com and dont use emails you "Find" online.

    Only use double-opt-in emails that you gain through your traffic efforts. Most know this already, but its better to have a nice clean list, and you reduce the possibility for getting flagged for spam.

    Good luck to you.

    P.S.
    Interspire has support for Cron-Jobs. (automating your email sending & autoresponders)
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  • Profile picture of the author Mohsin Rasool
    Hi Warriors,

    I know this is old thread, but I wanted to ask that how is going Amazon SES, have anyone of you used or using it and would you please share your experience?

    I am thinking seriously to switch from aweber to SES... Would like to know from those
    Warriors who have done such switch from 3rd party service like aweber/getresponse to Amazon Simple Email Service (SES), would you please share your experience with us.

    Thank you,
    Mohsin
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  • Profile picture of the author flavius333
    Here's how the two options compare:

    Aweber/GetResponse/Maichimp & so on..

    - Not able to deliver in Gmail Primary tab (Promo tab)
    - No control over your list (provider can shut your account)
    + Solid anti-spam reputation
    + Delivery rates over 98%+
    + Not many technical skills needed
    + Anti spam filters pre-check
    - Not able to import subscribers
    (double opt-in required, which generates huge losses)
    - No real time tracking of opens/clicks

    Self managed e-mail delivery

    + Can deliver to Gmail Inbox if done right
    + Complete control over your list / backup your database
    - Build your own anti-spam reputation depending on your domain history, IP, email content, spam reports, bounce rates and so on
    - Delivery rates can range from 1% to 98% depending on your reputation
    - You should be able to set up & do maintenance (or outsource them)
    + Anti spam filters pre-check (depending on your software)
    + Import subscribers without double opt-in
    + Real time tracking of opens/clicks

    The decision is yours..
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  • Profile picture of the author Neil Morgan
    One benefit of self hosting that hasn't been mentioned here is the ability to drive up your delivery by testing SMTP providers against each other, choosing the best then repeating the process.

    You do need to choose software that allows you to add any number of these providers, preferably giving you the option to assign them to individual autoresponders and broadcasts.

    It's split-testing of delivery providers, if you will.

    Cheers,

    Neil
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    Easy email marketing automation without moving your lists.

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  • Profile picture of the author JimDucharme
    The choice is indeed up to each person based on what works best for them, but Just a few clarifications I'd like to make here...

    Originally Posted by flavius333 View Post

    - Not able to deliver in Gmail Primary tab (Promo tab)
    Let me share a paragraph from a Return Path report on the new Gmail tabs:

    "As many predicted, Gmail subscribers that didn’t read much marketing email before Tabs’ rollout read even less of it a week later. On the other hand, highly engaged users that historically read high percentages of marketing messages actually read more after Tabs’ rollout. The bulk of subscribers fall between these groups, but while read rates dipped slightly among users with medium levels of engagement, they didn’t plummet. The study found that these users read 10.55% of their marketing email before the launch of Tabs, and then 9.81% of their marketing mail after the rollout. This decline was partially offset because they received more of the mail sent to them: Inbox placement rates increased slightly after rollout."

    Originally Posted by flavius333 View Post

    - Not able to import subscribers
    (double opt-in required, which generates huge losses)
    This is not the case. You can indeed import a list with GetResponse and request that the confirmation emails be waived. Compliance will test the list and if it passes, you will not be required to reconfirm. Single optin is also an option which you can speak to compliance about.


    Originally Posted by flavius333 View Post

    - No real time tracking of opens/clicks
    GetResponse provides real time tracking of opens and clicks.

    Regards,
    jim
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  • Profile picture of the author thedanbrown
    I think it just depends on what you need out of your email marketing service...

    If you have no programming skills and are using software to create your funnels well then you will most likely need one of the bigger email marketing services that you can integrate with.
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  • Profile picture of the author seoed
    to my mind, self hosted autoresponders are the better solution.

    - your costs are much lower
    - you control what you can write there

    Lately, my emails of a very well-known autoresponder company landed in the spam folder although no spam alert was given out in their system!
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  • Profile picture of the author Mohsin Rasool
    Hi Warriors,

    Thanks for your input.

    I still look forward to read from some Warrior who has actually done it!
    That how hard the implementation/transition was and what challenging and benefits
    they faced/got.

    Has not any Warrior tried Amazon SES?
    Please share your experience.

    Thank you!
    Mohsin
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  • Amazon SES does not like promotional emails, even if they're legit and opt in through your own site. One of their reps told me. They just dont like promo emails (affiliate links) in the IM industry. They're 100% OK with transactional emails though.

    SendGrid, alas more expensive (much more) is OK with marketing emails.
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  • Profile picture of the author Henlus
    Self hosted email marketing software look promising. Have anyone used WP autoresponder script? Please share your experience
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  • Profile picture of the author Neil Morgan
    From the Amazon SES website...

    ========
    Building large-scale email solutions to send marketing and transactional messages is often a complex and costly challenge for businesses.
    ========

    So it seems they don't dislike marketing emails per se.

    We have many arpReach users who send through Amazon SES.

    Cheers,

    Neil
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    Easy email marketing automation without moving your lists.

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