Why I Switched From Aweber To Ontraport

I recently moved all of my mailing lists from Aweber to Ontraport. This was a big decision. I had been with Aweber for almost 12 years, and my lists are the lifeblood of my business.

After all, if you can’t communicate with customers and prospective customers you are out of business.

Before I begin let me say that Aweber is an excellent company. The provide a valuable service and provide excellent customer support. I have known their owner for many years and respect what Tom and his team have accomplished.

But the needs of my readers have evolved and it was time for me to make a change.

Here are the reasons I made the move, including major changes in the market that you need to know about.

Email Marketing Has Changed

For many years, decades in fact, email marketing has remained pretty much the same. A person came to your site and expressed interest by filling in a form.

Once they did that you would send them a series of messages extolling the virtues of your product. This is called a follow-up system or sequence. Some would buy. The better your messages, the more people bought.

Your marketing was automated and life was good.

I call that the “old style” of email marketing, and wrote about it recently in this article.

While that method still works, it does not work nearly as well as it did in 2002 or 2010.

In fact, the changes in doing business online are so great that I predict this style of marketing will be completely ineffective within 2 years.

Today we need to adopt a new style of email marketing. That style of email marketing nurtures prospective customers with content on a regular basis. It offers readers value before asking them to consider buying anything.

And it only offers them “selling” messages when they have specifically asked to know more about a particular product.

Plus, and this is a big plus, the new style of email marketing does not continue sending messages if the subscriber is not engaged.

In other words, today’s smart autoresponders know when a person has opened and email or clicked and link and will only keep sending information if they have taken an action.

This is a huge shift in thinking and practice. It is 100% in line with the Seth Godin school of “extreme permission” and respects the prospective customer in ways they value and respect.

I believe so strongly in this new style of email marketing that I am changing my entire business to use it, and re-creating my email marketing course (Follow Up Selling Systems) to teach this new, more effective, method.

By far, this is reason #1 for me moving from Aweber to Ontraport.

Count The Cost

While being able to use “smart” email marketing was a major factor, cost was another big consideration.

I have long objected to Aweber’s practice of charging customers by the subscriber and not by the unique user. While they have a right to price their product any way they want, the impact to the bottom line was considerable.

You see, with Aweber I was being charged for each person on each list, even if the same person was on multiple lists.

And it turned out, I had many people in that category. We had some subscribers who were on over seven lists! And they had been on my lists for years.

That created too much cost for me and too much email for them.

And that is exactly how my Aweber bill ballooned to over $650 per month.

Another complaint I had was that people who unsubscribed were not removed from my account automatically. That meant I had to pay for them even though I could not email to them.

Yes, I could remove them one by one. But that was time-consuming. And I did discover that Aweber support, which is outstanding, would remove them all if I asked. But it could not be automated.

I tried solutions like AW Pro Tools but they did not work well for me.

So be sure and count the costs wherever you are and make sure you are not paying for more than you actually need or use.

Less Email = Happier Customers

One of the best features of the new way of email marketing is that you end up sending less email, which creates happier customers and readers.

Here are a few of the things that a smart autoresponder can do that older autoresponders either can’t do or, if they can, it becomes a logistical nightmare.

  • Not sending sales messages for product A to buyers of product A.
  • Not sending more messages about a particular product or topic unless the subscriber has opened or clicked the previous message.
  • Pausing a sequence of messages when a person takes a specific action.
  • Sending messages only on certain days and never on other days.
  • Moving a person from one series of messages to another when they finish the first series. (Good for adding subscribers to your ezine once your “welcome” series is over).

There are many more reasons why a smart autoresponder is must, but these alone make the pain of change pale in comparison to the benefits to your reader. And to you.

Content Really Is King

As I said in the beginning, the new style of email marketing depends heavily on nurturing your readers with high-quality content before asking them to buy. Only a smart autoresponder can do that well.

This is the old “ask a girl to marry you on the first date” analogy in practice. Ask a girl to marry you on the first date and you will likely get a big fat no. Or slapped.

Ask her to marry you after you have dated for two years and have a real connection, and real history and the outcome could be much better!

Consider this example.

Let’s say you promote five different products. And let’s say you have a lead magnet (free gift) for each one and you offer that free gift on a squeeze page.

Jane comes to your site and fills in a form to get a free report about one of your products. On your form you mention she will also receive your fun and informative ezine (newsletter).

Because Jane is totally new to your company and has never been on your list before (your smart autoresponder knows the difference between first-time subscribers and returning subscribers) you want to send her your welcome series.

A Welcome Series is a short series of three emails that let her know who you are, how you can help and how she can engage with you.

Jane reads your welcome message, reads the free report, and decides she wants to know more about you and your company. This is a good thing!

Now she goes to your site and sees offers for other lead magnets, and gets them all!

Believe me, this happens more than you may know.

Now let’s look at all of this from Jane’s point of view.

If you are using an old-style autoresponder how many messages will Jane get from you every day?

In the beginning, she will get SEVEN messages from you a day.

  • Your welcome series.
  • Your ezine series.
  • One email each for all five of your products.

No matter how excited Jane is about you and your company, or how sincere you are in wanting to help Jane succeed, she will switch from fan to unfriendly very quickly.

She just can’t keep up with that many emails!

But if you were using a smart autoresponder here is what could happen. These are all options that I would choose, but can be set in any way you want.

  • You could be notified that someone joined all those list in a short time so you could choose to take an action.
  • Jane would receive an email (based on her action of joining multiple lists) thanking her for her interest and offering personal contact.
  • Your ezine could be paused until the Welcome series is over so she gets less email.
  • If Jane does not open a message or click a link in any one of the five follow-up series that series is paused until she opens the email or clicks a link. Once she opens a message or clicks a link the series continues.

There are many more things a smart autoresponder could do than these things, but that gives you a feel for how customized the experience can be for the reader.

Your Subscribers Matter Most

Few people truly understand the value of every subscriber on a list.

Because I once made a full-time living with a list of only 12,000 people, I have experienced it first hand. And believe me, it’s fun! You are SO connected to your readers.

I even wrote a book about my experiences called Big Profits from a Small List.

When handled right, your mailing list can be the key to your success. When handled wrong, it can damage your reputation and cost a small fortune.

It is vital we all adjust to the new reality of nurturing our subscribers with content and doing our very best to help them achieve their goals.

I will say again, I respect Aweber and am happy for my time there. But, for me, email marketing has changed dramatically and these changes require new thinking, new strategies, new commitments and, for me, a new autoresponder company.

I will write more about the new way of email marketing if you like. If you want that, just leave a reply and let me know.

Email marketing and automation can set you free. But it is vital we keep up with the times, even if you are 60 like me! 🙂

Evaluate your email marketing in this way – if you were your most active subscriber what would that feel like, and would it be something you want?

If, like me, you discover the answer is no take whatever action is needed to better serve the people on your list. When you do you will see their satisfaction increase, your own costs decrease and your automation rise to new levels.

Reader satisfaction PLUS more sales PLUS more free time?

Now those are beautiful things indeed!

Charlie Page Signature

17 thoughts on “Why I Switched From Aweber To Ontraport”

  1. Pingback: 5 Things You Must Do To Succeed Online - CHARLIE PAGE

  2. Thank you so much for stating the comments you have in such a professional manner. They have help and I am going to use the autoresponder you suggested.

    Thank you

    Russ Torbet

  3. Thanks for this post. Its good to know what to look for !
    I have unsubscribed from many lists because of getting too many emails.

    Linda 😀

  4. Hi Charlie,

    Appreciate you making such a detailed post about your experiences, it’s very helpful to understand how you use the tools in your business.

    If you haven’t seen AWeber’s new Campaigns functions, I think you might be pleasantly surprised. It addresses right now nearly all of the items you said you wanted to be able to do with many more advanced things coming shortly.


    1. Hi Tom,

      Always great to hear from you. I am a beta tester for this and look forward to digging into it. I hope my post made it clear how much I respect you and Aweber. For me, it was time to move to a more robust CRM and email combination, but I will still recommend Aweber to those for whom it is a good fit.


  5. Hi Charlie,

    Didn’t the AR companies see this coming, and you do think they will advance their offerings to meet these shortcomings? I do know of one new product called Sendlane that allows you to do similar conditional email marketing.


    1. Al,

      Many of them are seeing it, but they are very late to the party. I’m preparing a report on alternatives for my Common Sense Social Sales Funnels course and have found 12 that do more than the old guard companies.


  6. use your own auto responder. a one off payment no more monthly or annual fees. no one else telling you what you can and can not do. the internet is full of google tyrants telling us how to run our own businesses when we are paying them. it is like having a good company then letting the accountant number cruncher to ruin your hard earned business. accountants have NO people skills they are greedy money motivated heartless beings.
    yes you can have your own autoresponder and they are not all about whistles and bells they do what they should do. then it is up to you to send your valued client the best that you can send them even if sometimes it costs you personally.
    the sites not to send them to are the sites “without” the so called free bonuses, why i hear you say, because if the product you are trying to sell them is what they need then why do you need to give bonuses, all said bonuses are not worth anything like what they are valued at that is just vanity dressing and people now know all about that B.S.

    1. Respectfully, I could not disagree more about the autoresponder. Running your own mail server is a full-time job these days. And there are laws, like CAN-SPAM, that must be obeyed. Also, being a trusted server among ISPs matters, a lot, and that is not achievable by an individual in my view.

      I do agree about the bonuses. I saw a site the other day selling a $7 product that had “$58,000” in bonuses. Who is going to believe that? But, on the other side of the coin, people do like bonuses and so my approach has been to add things to my courses that compliment the learning or help them take the next step. I even give away memberships to my sites under rare circumstances.

      I appreciate you commenting, and you have every right to your opinion, but on the autoresponder front running your own, especially on a shared server from a popular hosting company, is a recipe for disaster.


  7. Charlie,

    Thanks for looking closely at these subscribers’ needs. I have to admit that I am one who wondered why I was getting advertisements for Common Sense products that I had already bought.

    I KNEW it wasn’t your nature and now I understand the market better. I try to help people with my blog (www.SuccessIsUnlimited.com)who are attempting to get involved with marketing yet don’t have a fortune to spend on advertising. (By the way, thanks for taking the lead on my site with Common Sense Blog Blueprint.)

    The use of a “smart autoresponder” will be MUCH better from the subscriber’s point of view. This WILL be the future of email marketing. (This is preaching to the choir, isn’t it? YOU know all this.)


    1. Larry,

      I love your blog and recommend it. You are meeting a need in the market, and doing it well.

      I am so glad I made this change, and your comment reinforces the goodness of the decision. Thank you for being patient during a period when things got out of hand email-wise.

      Much better things coming!


  8. This is not good news, I just signed up with Aweber and I was never told that I would be charged for each customer. I don’t understand
    and I am trying to get going here. I was told that I will pay quarterly.
    nothing concerning per customer.

    Thank you for keeping me informed, I am looking for a partner that knows they way around on WordPress and can set up a squeeze page and a landing page and I will place all advertising. And I also need someone to show me how to upload content from eBay, I already know how to upload products from ClickBank, and I will be willing to split 50/50 on all sales.

    Vernetta Sims

    1. Vernetta,

      Aweber is a great company and might be exactly what you need. I outgrew them because I own 14 membership sites and had people on all those lists. Plus, I have a dozen engagement series and some people were on all 12 PLUS being members of four or five of my sites. So I needed a better solution.

      I can recommend someone for you if you need to hire a person to help with WordPress. Just write to me at support@charliepage.com and I will be happy to make a recommendation.


    1. Good point. That’s been going on for a while actually. In the good old days people would send out their ezines and they were like mini-blogs. Now people don’t want to work that hard and so send announcements about their blog posts instead. I like the older model myself because people don’t have to click. They just read your content in their email program.

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