Email marketing has the * only * advantage over the likes of social media in that it's an asset that you own.
That's not to say that you can do "whatever you want" with it – but compared to the likes of a Twitter feed (who could ban you), a YouTube channel (who could de-monetize you) or Facebook page (who could censor you), an email list is * still * by far the most effective and resounding way for a business to keep in contact with its community.
Of course, strategy and functionality aside, the way that an email marketing system fits into the modern business landscape is to provide an extra "step" in the world of a "funnel" – allowing users to engage much deeper and more effectively with companies / people they value. This is pretty much where we're seeing the rise / resurgence of the various email platforms (especially paid ones).
In the present landscape, there are several email marketing offerings used by the majority of online marketers. These include:
- MailChimp (free)
- AWeber (starts at $ 20 / mo)
- GetResponse (starts at $ 20 / mo)
- ConvertKit (starts at $ 20 / mo)
Being honest, the "business software" market is massive – with many different providers fulfilling different needs. For example, MailChimp is primarily used by bloggers who want to increase their reach through the use of a "free" email system. Once they start to make more money from their blog, they tend to move onto the more premium offerings.
Two of these premium offerings – Aweber and ConvertKit are now considered the "best" mid-tier email marketing solutions. They are both premium-only (no free tier) and provide users with various levels of functionality to help them send emails to their subscribers in both a "singular" (broadcast) capacity and "automated" (autoresponder) capacity.
Understanding the difference between the two is the most important step towards creating a marketing stack that actually works to generate results …
Founded in 2015 by Nathan Barry, this is targeted at bloggers / "creators" who wish to enhance their offer with users through email.
The service is focused around providing an underlying mechanism through which the curator is able to share their content through a series of "automation" features – autoresponders which work to give subscribers the ability to receive particular content at particular times.
This system – coupled with ConvertKit's focus on providing users with the ability to publish "courses" for their audience – has lead to a large number of bloggers and creators signing up for the service.
It's now become one of the largest "email marketing" companies by revenue (their numbers are publicly available on BareMetrics) – with strong growth.
We've found a large number of Twitter influencers have adopted the system.
AWeber was founded in 1998 and has enjoyed a huge amount of success, particularly because it was the first to introduce a true "autoresponder" system to the email marketing scene.
Whilst its popularity has waned somewhat with the "new" generation of marketers, it's still easily one of the top 5 email marketing systems.
The main benefit of using Aweber lies in its simplicity – allowing you to send emails a number of days after someone subscribed to your various email lists. This allows you to continue providing updated content for the duration of their subscription.
The main downside of Aweber lies in its inability to integrate well into the "social" age. It doesn't have much by way of intractability, and thus means you're pretty much stuck trying to get a 90's tool to work in the 2010's. If you just want to put a "subscription" box on your website, it works well … but if you need anything more specific, you'll be better using the likes of ConvertKit.
Ultimately, the choice is between which service you feel more drawn to.
Aweber is for more regimented "Internet Marketers" who perhaps have a real consultancy practice, or are in some way involved with a more "industrial" type business (manufacturing or whatever).
Convertkit is designed to be more forward-thinking, "hip" and focused on "creators". This gives is a distinctly different set of "DNA" to the likes of Aweber, and thus has attracted many "new generation" marketeers who are typically much more "social" savvy.
For this reason, the best thing you can do is look at how you're going to be using the various applications. Aweber is mainly for people who need a simple service that is going to work regardless of where it's posted … ConvertKit is more for those who are focused on providing blog viewers with a reason to "sign up" for extra content.
If you're an artist, author or another "creative" type – ConvertKit is going to be better. If you're a marketer, salesperson, "brick and mortar" business – AWeber is going to be much more effective. Again, they both work in the same way (deliver emails to users) but the way in which they do it differs.