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Warning: Did Aweber turn into PayPal?

What would you say if two of your AWeber accounts with 90,000+ double opt-in subscribers where suddenly closed?

And what would you say if one of the account was already 4 years old and the other one 2 1/2 years?

And what would you say if AWeber would not only not have the decency to warn you… but not even inform you that they closed your accounts after you pre-paid them for a year?

Would you be angry? Would you be confused? Or are you telling yourself right now that AWeber as the Internet Marketing leader in providing autoresponder services would be smart enough not do do that?

It’s sad, but true…

They don’t seem that smart after all. And they don’t seem to care that much about their long term customers either.

Yes… the above scenario is not only possible, but it did in fact happen end of last week.

I was about to send a message to one of my lists and noticed I wasn’t able to login anymore…

Gone???

Of course I contacted them as soon as I found out and got this short reply…

First Reply

Closed for spam complaint & batching subscribers? All my lists with AWeber had been double opt-in and either let subscriber subscribe using the Aweber forms or Mike Filsaime’s Butterfly Marketing Open Source script. And all it does it to let my members double opt-in my Aweber list with their real IP address while adding them to the script database. Nothing shady there.

As I couldn’t see anything that I did that breached AWebers terms in their reply, I kept digging and contacted Tom Kulzer straight as his staff didn’t seem willing to provide further details.

Tom then replied and provide a bit more details (after a little back and forth)…

Tom Kulzer's Reply

This opened again more questions then it answered…

Is AWeber saying that this was partially caused by other people using our links in spam?

Are they referring to blank lines between email signature and unsubscribe link as a way of hiding the unsubscribe link?

That doesn’t hide it… it just makes it better looking and prevents accidental clicking of unsubscribe links.

And are they saying that Butterfly Marketing has a function build in that is against AWeber terms?

Is AWeber closing accounts for mentioning links that end up on a blacklist during a launch?

And does it mean that if e.g. AOL users use the Spam button to delete your emails, AWeber can delete your user account?

Shouldn’t AWeber simply unsubscribe the AOL subscriber that did that?

I asked Tom Kulzer all these questions in my reply to him… and I will keep you updated on his reply.

I still believe that good customer service would have meant to talk first with a long term customer. What do you think?

It looks to me more like PayPal practice… it seems to me that AWeber is getting too big to care for their customers!

Now, I didn’t give up an kept contacting Tom Kulzer until he replied and provided further info on why my account was suspended without warning.

I did in fact make some mistakes and there where some factors out of my control, and all together that added up to them closing the accounts without warning…

Here is the first thing Tom Kulzer said in his reply…

AWeber Secrets?

So, since he didn’t give me permission to publish the content of his email except the links he mentioned, let me pass this vital information on to you in my own words…

Tom Kulzer said: - Spam complaints about mailings done via other systems that pointed to sites with AWeber forms on them.

My question: Is it AWeber policy that accounts can be terminated if people spam advertise a web site that has a AWeber form on it? Is that what you meant with the above reason given?

What Tom Kulzer basically replied: Yes, they can be terminated. See the second paragraph in bold type at www.AWeber.com/service-agreement.htm ...

AWeber Service Agreement

Conclusion: That means that any Internet Marketer that allows affiliates or JV partners to promote his web site with an AWeber opt-in form on it is risking that AWeber takes that at least partially as a reason to close the AWeber account without warning as those affiliates or JV partners might promote the site in a way that spam complaints are generated. If you have affiliates or JV partners promote your site for you, make sure they are not using any tactics that can generate spam complaints, like e.g. using misleading email subjects etc. To be 100% save, consider using a self hosted autoresponder solution like e.g. Add2it MailResponder Pro for web pages promoted via emails.

Tom Kulzer said: - Attempting to hide the unsubscribe link in messages.

My question: I assume you are referring to blank lines between email signature and unsubscribe link? How many blank lines can cause an account to be terminated?

What Tom Kulzer basically replied: This depends on a number of factors, but anything more than 3 or 4 blank lines usually means it's being done purposefully to hide the unsubscribe link.

Conclusion: My 10+ blank lines where definitely too much and will reduce it from now on to no more then 3 blank lines. Right now many Internet Marketer are using way more then 4 blank lines and are risking that AWeber takes that at least partially as a reason to close the AWeber account without warning. Check all your messages and make sure you don't have more then 3 blank lines in a row in them.

Tom Kulzer said: - Batching of subscribers thru non native forms.

My question: Can the use of the Butterfly Marketing script cause an account to get terminated? Or only the particular way that it is done at our ViralURL.com site?

What Tom Kulzer basically replied: You're not using Butterfly Marketing at ViralURL.com, so it's irrelevant to your account. All that I have in front of me is data from your AWeber account.

Conclusion: Since ViralURL.com is in fact based on the Butterfly Marketing script, we don't get a 100% sure conclusion at this time. It remains unclear what AWeber refers to in regards to "batching of subscribers". But at this time it seems safe to say that Internet Marketers that are using the Butterfly Marketing script are risking that AWeber takes that at least partially as a reason to close the Aweber account without warning.

Tom Kulzer said: - Numerous blacklisted URLs contained in messages.

My question: Does AWeber terminate accounts for mentioning links that end up on a blacklist e.g. during a launch?

What Tom Kulzer basically replied: That depends on a number of factors.

Conclusion: Internet Marketers that mention web pages in emails send via AWeber that got blacklisted during e.g. a launch are risking that AWeber takes that at least partially as a reason to close the AWeber account without warning. Make sure you test if a particular URL is blacklisted before you use it in an AWeber email!

Tom Kulzer said: - Feedback loop complaint rates.

My question: I learned in the meantime that AWeber does unsubscribe people that click the spam button at e.g. AOL, that's great. But AWeber is still counting how often it happens and does terminate accounts that are over a certain ratio?

What Tom Kulzer basically replied: Yes, AWeber counts how often subscribers click on the "Spam" button instead of "Delete" and do terminate accounts that are over the ratio.

Conclusion: There is not much Internet Marketers can do to prevent the risk that AWeber takes that at least partially as a reason to close the AWeber account without warning. As many users click the "Spam" button not to report spam, but to unsubscribe, the only 100% solution would be not to allow any subscribers from ESP's that have a feedback loop with AWeber like e.g. AOL.com, Hotmail.com, MSN.com, Yahoo.com, Outblaze.com, Comcast.net, Road Runner's rr.com, USA.net, Excite.com, Netzero.com, Juno.com, United Online & BlueLight.com. Or you could consider using a self hosted autoresponder solution like e.g. Add2it MailResponder Pro instead of AWeber.

My question: What's the measure taken by AWeber to decide to terminate an account for a too high number of complaints? How many times at what %age will cause a termination?

What Tom Kulzer basically replied: AWeber describes what a Feedback Loop is at www.Aweber.com/faq/questions/393/What+Is+a+Feedback+Loop%3F and explains what an acceptable complaint rate is at www.Aweber.com/faq/questions/568/What+Is+An+Acceptable+Complaint+Rate%3F ... It depends on a number of items to decide when AWeber terminates an account, if a customer is consistently going over the acceptable complaint rate, that's a big problem.

What Is An Acceptable Complaint Rate?

What Tom Kulzer basically replied: Any single one of the issues mentioned above may not get an account terminated, even sometimes more than one may not. However, when we see an extensive trend of abusive traits about a campaign or an account, then they add up.

Conclusion: As you can see... AWeber doesn't have specific metrics for "how abusive" they'll let a client be before that client gets terminated (possibly without warning as in my case), hence the lack of specific limits. Each case is different as every of their client's business is different. Different levels set off different warning bells for different clients of AWeber. So to stay save... follow the recommendations above to avoid a nasty surprise like I had it with AWeber.

‘Whatever the mind can conceive and believe… it can achieve.’
Napoleon Hill, Think & Grow Rich

To your success,

Frank Bauer
Frank Bauer
Frank Bauer

Director of Add2it.com Marketing Pty Ltd
Co-founder of ViralURL.com, ViralHosts.com & TimeToOutsource.com

P.S. – I did receive a backup copy of my lists from Aweber and I am now looking into a better solution. I contacted several autoresponder service providers, but so far the best solution seems to be using my own Add2it MailResponder Pro system on our own dedicated servers.


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