It wasn't long into my internet marketing adventure that I found myself hunting for an AWeber alternative.
For those of you unfamiliar with AWeber it's probably the most widely used email autoresponder service within marketing circles. There's a reason for this: it's an incredibly robust and feature-packed product.
So what did AWeber do to force me to look for an alternative when I was just starting out?
Well - very little other than making itself in my opinion a little unaffordable to new bootstrapping businesses and bloggers.
AWeber is after all a marketing product so it therefore comes as no surprise that it comes with a very cleverly marketed pricing strategy:
- Your first month costs $1.
- Every subsequent month costs $19 up to a maximum of 500 subscribers.
- Costs increase in stages as you move above and beyond this number.
A yearly subscription to AWeber is good value at $194, but if you're new to this game then that's still a fairly big chunk of money to be throwing down straight off the bat when you haven't even started to build your list yet.
I'm pretty sure you'll only be reading this blog post if you've come to the same conclusions yourself. I therefore want to introduce you to a little gem of an autoresponder service that might be a more attractive proposition when you're first starting out.
Enter Mad Mimi:
If you're like me then you might consider the branding of Mad Mimi a little odd but that does not take away from the extremely cost-effective service they offer.
Importanty - you can sign up for a Mad Mimi account absolutely free which will allow you to store 2,500 contacts and send 12,500 emails per month.
A free account is not without restriction. Most significantly you will not be able to set up multi-user / list accounts or run drip campaigns without upgrading to a paid subscription. These features are undoubtedly important but in my experience are perhaps lower down the priority list for new email marketers.
When starting out email marketing your primary objective tends to be pure and simple: collect email address and try to build rapport through some kind of regular newsletter.
Mad Mimi will let you do this for free whilst providing Facebook integration, social media linkup, IP reporting, RSS to email services, Google Analytics integration and campaign reports.
Looking under the bonnet some more, getting your hands dirty and starting to use Mad Mimi is pretty straightforward since all customisable elements of forms and emails are drag and drop.
The webform builder allows you to easily embed an opt-in form onto your site within a matter of minutes featuring your business logo or any other image you wish to insert.
The lack of flexibility of this webform was one of my only initial criticisms of Mad Mimi in only having this one stock template in comparison to the many that a service like AWeber holds.
However – I would strongly advise anyone serious about creating gorgeous looking opt-in forms across their WordPress sites to consider investing in a specialised plugin like Shane Melaugh’s Hybrid Connect of which can work hand in hand with Mad Mimi and is absolutely superb.
As your list begins to grow then it’s probably time to send some emails.
You’ll be glad to hear it's equally as easy as creating the webform.
Adding a header logo, images of varying sizes, content dividers, heading and text boxes is made easy through the drag and drop interface.
You can of course also colour theme and stylize your deliveries however you like. Amongst the many custom themes readily available it’s also possible to create and save your own themes for future use.
Keeping track of open rate, reader engagement and subscriber levels is an ever-important part of managing your email marketing. With Mad Mimi it’s easy to pull this information up at a glance but also dig deeper into the statistics for a more careful analysis.
I personally pay for my Mad Mimi account as some of my web properties make use of drip campaigns which are a way of automating a sequence of emails spread out over a period of time. This is a really great way to build trust with your subscribers and where email marketing services really come into their own.
As with the broadcast email statistics, Mad Mimi allows you to dig deep into where your drip campaigns are succeeding failing through various figures and charts.
Aside from allowing you to get started with email marketing for free, the other reason I like this service is that upgrading your account when a desire for things like drip campaigns develops is relatively inexpensive.
- Premium features for 500 contacts and unlimited emails costs $10/month.
- 1000 contacts is $12/month.
- 2500 contacts is $16/month.
As you can see there's great value in an allowable 5x as many contacts as you'd get on an entry level AWeber package at $3 less the monthly price.
Of course this is scalable onwards and upwards to a Gold Big Business tier account capable of looking after 350,000 contacts.
If you’re relocating to Mad Mimi from an existing autoresponder service and are concerned with how you’ll take your list with you then you needn’t worry since it’s easy to just import your existing contacts. There’s no additional verification opt-in required on part of the subscriber.
The standard double opt-in requirement enforced by some autoresponders is in fact waived by Mad Mimi if you’d prefer to just grab emails and let folk get on with their business. The only pitfall in doing this is of course you’ll need to stay on top of your bounce and open rates at fear of too many stray, spam email addresses cluttering up your list allowance.
Whether Mad Mimi is going to be suitable for you I guess is dependant on the direction of your business.
If you plan on managing a huge number of lists across a broad array of niches then something like AWeber might indeed be a more easily adaptable solution for you.
Mad Mimi certainly has this capability but the process isn’t as streamlined as elsewhere. Run your setup by the site support team on Live Chat if you’re questioning whether it will fit your goals. The response rate and level of service is excellent.
I hope this review doesn't come across as me hating on other email marketing services. That's not my intention. There are some excellent products out there - some of which I will likely end up in using in addition to Mad Mimi down the line for various projects I have in mind.
I am however a big believer in keeping costs down and getting value for money.
When it comes to ease of use and affordability then Mad Mimi is a great choice for those looking to begin building their email tribe with very little overhead. Give the free plan a try and see if it suits.
Which email marketing service do you use? What do you look for in an autoresponder? Comment and let me know!