I’ve been thinking about whether I should consider a different email marketing strategy for a while. Namely one that is free!
I use AWeber and I absolutely love it. It’s also considered by many the best company to use for email marketing. But is there a free alternative out there that would allow me to do something similar? Maybe not with all the bells and whistles that come with AWeber.
Over the past few days I’ve been ferociously researching some viable alternatives to see whether they would be suitable for me. So, does the old adage, “you get what you pay for”, stand true here?
Well, to a large extent I think it does. While there are a number of free options for email marketing, there are compromises I may have to make if I go down the free route.
Here’s a run down of the options I looked at.
With Mailchimp’s free account, I can:
- Send 12,000 emails a month
- Have a list of up 2,000 subscribers
The main compromises that I can see are that there is no autoresponder available on the free account and you also have to keep MailChimp’s logo in the footer of your emails.
One thing which does concern me about MailChimp is the stance on affiliate links. They don’t sound affiliate friendly from what I’ve read on the search engines. This article has allayed my fears a little however.
Mad Mimi looks like an interesting option. As of November 2012 they have changed their free account. I can now:
- Send 12,500 emails a month
- Have a list of up to 2,500 subscribers
There are compromises with Mad Mimi but they’re not as many as MailChimp. I can only have one web form, 25 hosted images and no custom or plain text emails.
Now what I like about AWeber is that you have lots of templates for your web forms or you can make your own. Mad Mimi’s not so advanced and I find the web form template very basic.
There is a WordPress plugin for Mad Mimi which will allow me to add an optin form in my sidebar but to make any stylistic changes to it, you need to know CSS. That’s not going to happen any time soon! Still Mad Mimi looks like an interesting option for email marketing.
Imnica Mail offers a free option and with that I can:
- Send 6,000 emails a month
- Have a list of up to 1,000 subscribers
The only other restrictions mentioned are that you have to keep the Imnica Mail logo in your email footer and you can only get subscribers by double opt-in. I use double opt-in with AWeber in any case so that’s not such a hardship!
I think Mad Mimi or MailChimp would be better options though as they offer more emails a month and a larger subscriber list.
OK, so Listwire is completely free right? I think this is where things start to get a little hazy around the word “free”.
It is a completely free service in the sense that you don’t have to pay any money for it, however banner ads are included in any emails you send out.
From what I’ve read, Listwire are also likely to send marketing emails to your list. At the end of the day, you are getting a “free” service after all though so these would be your compromises.
I think Listwire would be the very last resort I would go for as I think the compromises are a step too far.
If I wanted to self host my email marketing then GWA Autoresponder looks like a good option.
It’s a WordPress plugin which allows you to build a list directly from your blog with an autoresponder and double opt-in.
With GWA Autoresponder I can:
- Build a list of unlimited size
- Send daily email auto-responses
- Easy to add, edit, and reschedule mailings
- Broadcast single messages to my list anytime
- Import/Export csv list format
Sounds pretty good, although I’m not sure my web host would be too keen if my list got to any size. It could be a good start-up option though.
So, What Now Then?
From the free email marketing options available, I have come to the conclusion that Mad Mimi would be suitable for my purposes with GWA Autoresponder coming a close second.
Mad Mimi is certainly an interesting option. I signed up for a free account to have a look over the user interface and it’s very easy to use. You also get the autoresponder option in the free account. The only thing that put me off was the web form.
GWA Autoresponder would be my next best option and I think if I started again, that is what I would use in the first instance until I had grown my list a little more.
After taking everything into account though, I just can’t see my way beyond AWeber. I really wanted to find a free email marketing alternative that would convince me otherwise but I just don’t think there is one.
I’d really like to throw open the floor to you though and ask for your advice.
Have you used any of the free options I’ve mentioned or any others that I haven’t? What were your experiences of them and would you recommend any of them? If you moved from a free to a paid option, how easy was that to do?
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