I firmly believe that email marketing is a key part of your internet marketing strategy. Email might be old fashioned, but people still read them, people still write them, and people click on links in them.
But to do email marketing you need an auto-responder. Basically an Email Service Provider (ESP) that takes care of your list, your messages, and your workflows.
For a long time I used Mailchimp. They might have seemed like a good choice at the time, but that time has gone. In fact, Mailchimp became a big problem for me, and I was forced to choose another email service provider.
In case you are new to email marketing, I’ll briefly explain what an auto-responder does. If you already know this stuff, feel free to jump to the next section.
If you are going to be collecting and sending emails as part of your internet marketing activities (and you really should), you will need a tool to manage this.
You can’t just put the emails in a spreadsheet and send them out yourself. That might work if you have collected ten emails, but what if you have 100? 1000? 10,000? Yes, there are people with lists that big (and even bigger than that).
So you’ll need an autoresponder. The main thing this tool does is store all your emails in a big database, and automates the sending of emails to them.
You just create the text and links for the email, push a button, and it sends that email out to all the people on your list.
Some of these tools have widgets or plugins for collecting emails. Some of them even let you build and publish your own mini-landing pages. Which is great if you don’t already have a blog or website (though I really recommend you do start a blog).
You can have multiple lists, and even segments or groups within those lists. You might build up one list for a certain niche, and then start a new list if you want to branch out into a different niche.
These are really useful tools that anyone doing internet marketing and email marketing must start using ASAP.
When I started blogging a few years ago, I decided to start with Mailchimp. I had heard good things about them, and they had a free starting plan that let you get up to 2000 contacts without paying. It seemed like a good deal.
Mailchimp has a pretty good interface and it was easy to get started. I was building lists, sending out lead magnets with groups, and things were going fine.
There were some things I found annoying though.
Firstly, the email editor was a bit clumsy. It came with some pre-defined templates, but they didn’t look very good. So I had to build everything from scratch.
Getting things to look right was a struggle. And the really annoying thing was, emails looked a certain way in the editor. But when you sent and opened them, they looked quite different. Especially fonts and text formatting. I never got to the bottom of this.
One thing I liked about Mailchimp was that it let you send a test email before sending out the real campaign. Though this was only necessary because their formatting often came out wrong!
As it turned out though, there were a lot of problems with Mailchimp that I didn’t know about. And that was because I didn’t know what other products could do.
Anyway, in 2018 I started up multiple blogs and funnels in multiple different niches, and started building up multiple email lists. In July 2018, I sent out an email to a small list I had started building up, with an affiliate link to a very popular Clickbank product.
But this to me is just madness. I had collected these emails by telling people I was going to send them offers in that niche – and that’s what I sent them! An offer which they had ASKED to receive via email. A relevant and valuable offer. Not some random spam or shady MLM link or anything. Why should this be a problem? Just because someone else built the product and not me?
So the next day I logged in to Mailchimp to check my campaign and saw big red bars on my screen.
Mailchimp had suspended my account! No questions, or second chance, my account was shut down. My data was still there, luckily, but I couldn’t use any features. I logged a ticket with the compliance team, telling them that I was sorry and that I wouldn’t do it again.
In the meantime, I looked around and decided to try GetResponse.
I will admit there was a bit of a learning curve when I started with GetResponse – but that was only because I wasn’t familiar with the tool. And some of the terminology was different too (“subscribers” were now called “contacts”, “campaigns” were now called “newsletters”).
But I could quickly see that this was a superior tool.
The email campaigns all looked beautiful – and the editor was much simpler to use. And best of all, the damn things looked right in the actual emails, not just in the editor.
All the basic features that MailChimp had were there – A/B testing, auto-responders, list segmentation, and so on. List management was a bit smarter in GetResponse (it was easier to move people around between lists).
But the big money feature of GetResponse completely blew me away… the Automation Workflow tool.
The jewel in the GetResponse crown is definitely the workflow automation manager. That thing might not sound sexy, but it is seriously amazing. I don’t believe any email tools out there have anything like this.
Just say you want to build up some custom rules around an email sequence. You might want to send an email to a list, then wait 18 hours and send a similar email to those who didn’t open the first one, then wait 6 hours and send a second one to those who did open but didn’t click the link, and another 6 hours and send another one to those who did click a link in the email.
Now you can do stuff like this in MailChimp. I played around with it a bit. But I never really used these workflows because they were a PAIN to set up. You had to create an email, create an automation rule (which itself took a few minutes), link the rule to the email, then start again. It would take half an hour or more to set up one of these email sequences.
GetResponse has a visual editor that lets you create these in a graphical way, using drag and drop blocks. It’s hard to describe, so here is a screenshot. This thing just rocks my socks.
It is so easy to use I actually have to pull myself away from setting up more of them! It’s not only not a chore, it’s almost fun to use.
I actually work on software development as my main job and I have to say, hats off to the crazy Polish people who built this thing, because it would not be easy to make this.
And it just works. It’s pretty inuitive, there is a free interactive tutorial that shows you how to do it step by step, and there are more templates and presets than you would ever need.
There is one more clear decider for me – actually two. Firstly, GetResponse won’t shut down your account just because you sent an affiliate link to people in that niche. I’ve sent multiple emails with links to different affiliate marketplaces and they have all been fine.
So if the Workflow editor wasn’t a deal-breaker, this advantage definitely is.
But there’s one more lovely feature that I didn’t know I needed until I saw it: a Spam score checker! Once you’ve got your email ready, GetResponse analyses it and gives you a score out of 10 for how spammy the email is and how likely it is to be delivered.
Mailchimp certainly doesn’t have that and it is really useful.
Anyway, that’s my story of why I moved from Mailchimp to GetResponse. The move itself was a bit annoying but not too bad. I could pretty easily export my contacts via CSV and upload them into GetResponse.
And you know what? I have found that I do not miss that stupid monkey in the hat. Not one bit! Good riddance Mailchimp!
Oh and a couple more final things. If you are interested in GetResponse, I really recommend you check them out. You can start with a free trial, and if you like it, their starting plan is pretty cheap, about $15 per month.
And that ticket I lodged with Mailchimp compliance? I’m still waiting for a reply – two months later! Terrible.
And now it’s your turn…
Have you had a particularly good or bad experience with an autoresponder? Let me know in the comments below!