Marketing Tools

Aweber vs Autoresponse Plus

Len sent me a message the other day that I thought was worth answering in public. Mark, I heard some big internet marketer promoting a self-hosted autoresponder system called "Autoresponse Plus", but I know you use third-party autoresponders. This guy went into all sorts of reasons about being in control of your own marketing and […]

Len sent me a message the other day that I thought was worth answering in public.

I heard some big internet marketer promoting a self-hosted autoresponder system called "Autoresponse Plus", but I know you use third-party autoresponders. This guy went into all sorts of reasons about being in control of your own marketing and not being at risk by the actions of the service's other clients. Can you clear this up for me, Mark. What should I use? Autoresponse Plus or a hosted service like Aweber?

It just so happens that I have a friend who knows a bit about this issue. His name is Tom Kulzer, and he's the founder of the Aweber autoresponder system.

I wrote Tom and passed along your question, and this is what he said:

"Hey Mark! Running your own script has so many issues it's almost hard to know where to start. I'll try to list a bunch of items here, but there are tons more reasons, too. Feel free to quote me as this is stuff I talk about all the time.

Here are the problems and issues with using a self-hosted autoresponder system (like Autoresponse Plus, or others).

Web host IP

  • In all likelihood your unique IP rented thru your web host has had dozens of different clients on it over the years. You are thus inheriting the reputation
    of unknown entities when you start using that IP address. Some of them may have been spammers (Think for a moment about why they aren't in business any more!)

  • A dedicated IP address on a dedicated box that's powerful enough to effectively manage a growing opt-in list costs a lot of $$$$.

  • Running a script requires the purchase of expensive, often fairly unsupported software. If that script has a problem, who is going to fix it when it's installed on your own server? You are… Do you have the resources and knowledge to do so?

  • Who is backing up your data. Do you remember to do so every day, even twice per day? We do…

Technical Email Deliverability:

Properly setting up a mail server requires a deep technical understanding and knowledge of many elements.

  • Properly securing your mail relays to ensure you're not an open relay.

  • Configuring proper DNS, RDNS, and EHELO settings. (If you don't know what these are, then you don't know how to configure them.)

  • SPF records. Do you know which ISP's use them? Do you know which require SPF records in order to be white listed?

  • Sender ID records. Do you know which ISP's use them?

  • Setup Feed Back Loops with major ISP's so you can receive a copy of any spam complaints that users submit when they click "This is Spam". Do you know which ISP's have them? Do you have sufficient mail volume for an ISP to even want to bother with you individually?

  • Burstable Traffic. If you host your own list and have say 30,000 subscribers that you mail once per week your mail volume is nearly 0 for most days of the week and other days extremely high. What does that look like to ISPs? A spammer popping up somewhere and blasting out a lot of email and then moving on somewhere else. With an outsourced provider their mail volume is in the millions of messages per day and stays fairly consistent from hour to hour, day to day, and week to week.

Relationships and Reputation in Deliverability

  • Do you know AOL's postmaster? Would you know how to contact them if you have a problem? Even if you do, if you're waiting to contact them until after you have a problem you're too late. Resolving a problem can take 5-10 days in even minor situations.

  • I mentioned AOL, how about Yahoo, Hotmail, Earthlink, Excite, Comcast, Outblaze, Road Runner, and dozens of other ISP's.

  • White listing.. Have you spent the time to discover and implement the technical requirements necessary to become white listed at major ISPs? Do you know where their whitelisting information is located? Do you know which ISPs have whitelisting programs?

Deliverability of Tomorrow

  • Are you going to spend hours every day keeping on top of the email marketing industry and changes that occur at ISP's on both the legal front as well as the technical front?

  • Who's building your business while you're watching your email server?

  • I can nearly 100% guarantee that an individual running their own server can not obtain the degree of deliverability that a properly run outsourced email service provider can (ESP). In the long run how much does hundreds of man hours per month cost you in lost opportunity time to build and manage your business that you wasted trying to run your own server?

Feature Set

  • If you install a script, your feature set is defined. When you have an outsourced provider your software platform is constantly being maintained, upgraded, and improved. New features are added and new technology is included as times change without any downtime or action on your part. As your business grows what happens when your server grinds to a halt under the strain of your ever growing list? An ESP has the capacity and systems in place to manage that growth for you transparently.

  • As a case in point, in the last 3 weeks we've installed about $150,000 worth of new database infrastructure and load balancing equipment for web servers. At this point we could literally go to our datacenter with a sledge hammer and smash dozens of servers and have the service continue to work flawlessly. With your single server you would be offline until you go it back up and running again. What kind of redundancies do you have in place to keep your list up and running 24/7?


  • Who do you call for support? Most installed scripts come with very basic support where as an ESP has expert staff available to assist customers at many more hours.

Hopefully this gives you a good basis of understanding the issues here.


Thanks, Tom!


9 replies on “Aweber vs Autoresponse Plus”

I had a website designed before I knew anything about online marketing. Turns out I own a branding site and that pretty thing has made me zero $! Now that I am learning about website optimization, I am aware of the things that are important to be able to maintain a list and make money online.

This article really made it clear that an ESP is the way to go!
Thank you for the excellent information.


It’s really good to keep in mind that critical operations, such as Customer Relations/autoresponders etc. are best kept on extremely secure servers staffed by experienced professionals. Why risk it?
Thanks for the good read!


I went from using Autoresponse Plus to Aweber for (some of) the considerations above. ARPlus is great, in some respects it has better features than Aweber, but I really didn’t want to have to be responsible for keeping on top of installing updates etc. as spam issues get more complicated. That’s why I went with Aweber, so that they could have the headache. Both are good solutions, but I would now recommend Aweber to anyone who asked (and do so, on my site 😉 )


This post seems a bit biased. It’s like asking Hertz whether they are better than Avis. Do you really think that they would tell you to rent a car from the competition? I doubt it!
He forgot to mention that sometimed their servers are so overloaded that a mailing could take hours from the scheduled time to be sent. Or if they ever went down the thousands of businesses that would be crippled.
Next time, it would be better if you asked an end user rather than ab actual player in the game.

Good article. To be fair, perhaps you should have Neil from ARP to comment from his perspective.

For me, Im sticking with AYL (private label version of Aweber). 20bucks a month now has more value to me as i now know that its not what you see that is of concern but what is going on behind the scenes.

My goodness. we are internet marketers right?

Lets make sure we dont trip over dollars to pick up pennies.


I live in Italy and in the last 5 months I sold 5 licensies of ARP3 to 5 italian customers solving them the language problem too.

I have been working with ARP3 for more than 4 years without any of the above mentioned problems and I’m not an IT technician, I graduated in law and practised as a cauncelor.

But I like to use ARP3 and sell ARP3: why shoulda switch to Aweber?

Sergio Traversa

Interesting response from Tom to the question posed, albeit one-sided and you ought to have a response from Neil to make the argument balanced.

Many of the points that Tom makes are true but can be resolved easily, e.g. is it so hard to back up your data? I don’t think so and something like that can be automated quite easily. Remember he’s using scare tactics to make you buy Aweber over any other solution… that’s how salesmen work!!

I can see the merits of Aweber and GetResponse (I use GetResponse) but if the list size becomes too large then AutoResponse Plus will be better from a $$$$ perspective.

Why not try using AW and GR to get the client on your list by double opt-in and then move them across to AR Plus as your lists grow. Is that not a reasonable and low cost solution?

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