My current email marketing provider is GetResponse. I’ve been using them for around two years now. They are far from perfect, however I liked their user friendly interface and their RSS to email feature.
The RSS to email feature is vital to me as I email my newsletter subscribers every week with an update of my latest blog posts. I can sometimes go months between sending an email blast to newsletter subscribers, but the latest posts email is consistently sent out to subscribers. Therefore, I place a lot of importance on that feature.
From the very start, there was problems with their service. More and more issues have been cropping up over time. The annoying thing is not that these issues arise, but that GetResponse are not interested in fixing them.
After reporting issues to GetResponse, they take down all the details and advise me that the IT team will look at the issue and resolve it. They never do. It would not surprise me if the IT team just hit the delete button whenever an issue is brought to their attention that they do not deem important.
I have recommended GetResponse to my readers a few times and advised that I am happy with the service. If they can address the issues they have with the service, I would be happy to continue recommending them to other bloggers and internet marketers. However, if you are looking for a new email marketing service, I would perhaps avoid GetResponse until they get their act together and start treating their customers better.
Let’s take a closer look at the current issues I am having with the GetResponse service.
RSS-to-Email Feature is Flawed
Shortly after signing up to GetResponse, I noticed a major flaw in how their RSS-to-Email feature handled images. The way the tool chose featured images was poor. It would not choose the image you chose as featured in WordPress. Instead, it would use the first uploaded image.
In theory, this should not be a major problem, however RSS-to-Email counted smilies as images. Therefore, if a smiley was used before an image, the small 10×10 pixel image would be expanded to around 200 pixels in size and displayed as your featured image.
I reported this to GetResponse, however they advised that this was just how their tool was set up and they were not willing to change it. I made the suggestion that a minimum size for images should be implemented for any image that be used for an image; however the suggestion fell on deaf ears, despite the fact it would only require one additional function.
Another issue arises if the first uploaded image has a large vertical length in comparison to its horizontal length. This issue has occurred on a few occasions and it makes the newsletter look terrible.
Both of these issues remain a problem. I have had to accept the fact that GetResponse will never fix them and I just need to move on.
A few weeks ago, Rise Forums members Adam Connell (from Blogging Wizard) and Brian Jackson (from Okay Marketing) both reportedan issue in which my form was not displaying correctly. The sign up box was being displayed above my website design rather than integrated into my page.
I am unclear as to whether this was caused by an update on WordPress or by a change at GetResponse. My belief is that it is the latter as WordPress does not cause any problems with any other third party solutions. Plus the form does not display correctly using their suggested HTML and CSS code either.
After a long lengthy discussion that took around an hour, GetResponse’s only suggestion was to install the GetResponse WordPress plugin. I have been very reluctant to do this as:
- I spent weeks trying to debug their plugin two years ago and it was a buggy mess that created errors – I am reluctant to waste more time on it again
- I am not keen on installing another WordPress plugins needlessly and increasing my page load
As you can see from my discussion with their support staff, it took an hour for them to even acknowledge there was an issue. I spent most of the discussion trying to convince them that this was an issue with their service, not my website.
Andy Hello Kevin. How may I help you?
Me Hi Andy. Visitors of my blog have reported that the GetResponse form is not displaying correctly on my blog.
Andy What is your blog url?
Me They said that http://www.kevinmuld…ts-habits-successful-bloggers/
Me is being displayed as this:http://screencast.com/t/dVZlaudkaW
Me the same problem occurs onhttp://www.kevinmuldoon.com/newsletter/
Andy This is your view or theirs?
Me two different people reported this problem at http://www.riseforum…ertising-still-economical.718/
Andy That is how it looks to me. What should be different?
Me well it shouldn't be displaying at the top of the page before the content area.
Andy That is the webform you built.
Andy Where it is located is a setting inside your website.
Me hold on ill check the code for the top form
Andy We don't cinfigure websites. We help you build the form. You have to set up where the form goes.
Me i realise that
Me but i am not displaying the form you are referring to
Me the top form has the id 416986
Me the one that is displayed at the top of the page is KevinMuldoon – Header Form
Me and that is displaying correctly
Me the one you are referring to is for a completely different website
Me there is something wrong
Me its an issue with the getresponse form
Me Are you still there?
Andy I am juggling 3 chats. Please, bear with me.
Me Sorry, I don't have time to wait around all day. I pay on time every month, and for that I want GetResponse to address any issues with their service when I report them. I shouldn't have to wait around.
Me Is telephone support available just now? I will call.
Andy Sorry. M-F.
Andy I have gone above and beyond by looking into the code on your website.
Me that is not going above and beyond
Andy I can see that there seems to be 4 forms on your page.
Me you looked at my website and then pointed to a form from another website
Me how is that going above any beyond?
Me that newsletter form is not displaying correctly
Andy I am not a programmer. If you want me to stick to my training, and not try, I can simply say We don't help with your website.
Andy You choose. Either way is fine.
Me Wow. I must admit that I am surprised at how bad your customer service is.
Andy Sir, it was busy, I was trying to help. I explained what I was doing. And you complained.
Andy Looking at the code, I see what appears to be 4 webforms.
Me I was waiting for more than 5 minutes for a response and you then told me you were talking to other customers. You said you checked my website and then showed me a screenshot with an arrow pointing to a form for another website I owned – one that I am not even promoting GetResponse on. I checked the code and showed you the correct form and you have yet to explain why that form is displaying incorrectly.
Me Sorry, but that is not going above and beyond. That is doing the bare minimum.
Me So why is that form displaying above the page
Andy That is a setting inside your website.
Me above the design.
Andy I am not a programmer, yet, I was trying to read code and find the webform ids for your page.
Me I know the ids of the forms
Me I know because I put them there.
Andy I didn't.
Me you are not answering my question
Me I will summarise the issue for you
Me Those forms are not displaying correctly on the page for some users – they are displaying before the website design.
Me So, I am sorry, that is not a website configuration issue, that is a GetResponse issue.
Me The issue is only occurring on two pages
Me and I know the exact forms that are causing this.
Me so I don't need to know all the form ids on my page – I already know that. As I said, I put them there.
Me if you look back at my support records, you will see that I used the GetResponse plugin initially.
Me It was full of bugs and the developers could not fix those issues.
Me I have emails with the developers about this from years ago.
Me So I don't want to install a buggy plugin on my website. It's a security issue.
Andy If this was years ago, the plugin may behave differently.
Me it still doesn't address the issue. Your only solution is use the plugin as our forms do not work. I want to be able to use GetResponse properly.
Me I don't want to increase my page load by installing another plugin.
Me Sorry, that is not a solution.
Andy Can you try the HTML?
Me the HTML doesn't work
Me I tried it before I messaged you
Me The code is incorrect.
Me I just added the HTML ode without styling
Andy Okay. You know far more abouit programming than I do. So to go back to the beginning, I am trained to help with building the webform. As for installing it on your website, this link is what I have:
Me it displays like this : method="post">
Me style="display: inline !important; width: 112px !important;">
Andy I know you don't want to use the plugin.
Me im not installing another plugin on my website
Me sorry – i place a high importance on page speed
Me and i am not going to add another query just to get the form working – that is not a solution.
Andy I can help with the webform. We are not trained to troubleshoot websites.
Me I appreciate you trying to response to these issues, but If you are not trained to troubleshoot websites, why are you the one speaking to me on this. I should have said from the start that you are not trained to help me rather than waste 30 minutes of my time explaining to you what the issue is.
Me Is there someone there who has more technical experience that I can speak to?
Me It's nothing personal Andy. But I am a busy man and I cannot afford to spend all my time explaining to you what is wrong. I need this to work. This is an essential feature of GetResponse.
Andy 1. No one is trained to troubleshoot websites. Anyone that assists you is going to use their general experience.
Me I will say this for the third time – this is not a website issue. This is a GetResponse issue.
Andy 2. It is Sunday morning, and there is no one here more experienced than I.
Andy Okay. You state that is it a GR issue.
Me I have illustrated to you that it is.
Andy But I have offered the advice I have to use different methods. You have other wants.
Me It isn't other wants.
Me To give you a little background on me Andy
Me I am a WordPress blogger and reviewer and consultant.
Me Two years ago, I tested the GetResponse plugin and spent weeks trying to get the plugin working with the help of GetResponse. They stopped helping me and the plugin remained both buggy, and badly coded – which is a major security concern.
Me I wasted a lot of my time trying to resolve that issue. So sorry, not using the WordPress plugin is not a "want". I simply do not have the time to go through all of that again. Not do I want to install another plugin on my website to address an essential feature of an email marketing company.
Me This has to be resolved by GetResponse.
Me You are implying that I am being difficult, which cannot be further from the truth. The code for both forms generates errors. That is a GetResponse error. You need to recognise that.
Andy I am saying that GetResponse trained me to help build webforms. GetResponse trained me to show customers WordPress' document for installing webforms.
Me well the webforms do not work
Me that is an issue
Me ok – here is what I would like you to do. I would be very appreciative if you can do this.
Me Can you please raise this whole issue as a bug and escalate it to someone who is trained to resolve errors like this.
Me I realise you are not trained in this. So I think the best thing to do is refer it to someone who can.
Andy I can do that.
Me Thanks Andy.
Me I appreciate that
Me Many thanks.
Andy I am serious about this question, because you have better phrasing for what you want…
Andy What is your description of the issue and the result?
Andy Great. Do you have the webform ids?
Me Do you want the full code or just the IDs?
Andy Id's, please.
Me http://www.kevinmuldoon.com/newsletter/ is 416962 andhttp://www.kevinmuldoon.com/books/traits-habits-successful-bloggers/ is 416965
Me Do you have everything you need?
Andy Lastly, what is some of the troubleshooting you have done?
Me I tried the HTML code but it generates errors. As I said above, I have been unable to do a lot of troubleshooting myself as the issue is not occurring on my browser – but it is appearing with two associates of mine.
Andy This is an old document. May have some relevance.
Me haha I must admit it's funny that GetResponse are saying that it could be a validation error – when the W3 validator reports nearly 100 errors with GetResponse.com
Me but for the record
Me my blog has 0 errors
Me I take that kind of thing seriously
Me so I very much doubt it has anything to do with validation.
Me The GetResponse blog design has 87 errors.
Me So it is hard to take the advice of your blog seriously saying that errors are so important when your own website breaks so many recommended guidelines.
Me But anyways, we are moving away from the point
Me So is everything ready – is this being raised as a ticket?
Andy I am typing it up. I have to put it in a couple of places.
Me do you need anything else from me as this has been close to an hour and I need to head out.
Andy I am good.
Me Thanks. Appreciate you raising this. Best of luck and I hope you have a good day
Andy Good luck with your email marketing and make sure to let us know if you have any questions! Thank you for contacting GetResponse and have a great day!
Nothing has changed since I raised this issue on 20 July (more than three weeks ago). It is clear that the only way for me to resolve this issue is to increase my page loading times and install their WordPress plugin. The last time I used that plugin, it generated lots of errors and did not do what it was supposed to do. I’m very annoyed that I need to install another WordPress plugin just to insert a form.
The question is: Why don’t they want to resolve this issue? Surely this is a big problem for all GetResponse customers?
RSS-to-Email Feature Has Stopped Working Altogether
Last week, the RSS-to-Email feature stopped working altogether. Instead of listing all of my latest blog posts, the newsletter was blank. I would rather no email was sent out instead of one that was sent with no content.
I brought the issue up with them last week. Unfortunately, one week later, another blank email newsletter was sent out to subscribers.
I have a lot of great readers who contacted me and advised me of the issue. Thanks to all of you who did so. I really appreciate it as I had not noticed the error myself.
I apologise for the inconvenience so far. Hopefully, it will not happen again.
GetResponse Trying to Resolve the Issue
I contacted GetResponse this afternoon about the fact my weekly RSS email was not sent correctly again. Rather than get into another lengthy discussion with through their online chat box again, I asked for their contact number and gave them a call.
My call was answered by a lady named Shelley who was very understanding of my position. She emailed me an hour or so later with this response:
I am emailing you as I was able to locate the
task that was created for you by my colleague.
The IT team gave an update about this an hour
The IT team have informed me that they have
fixed this issue and once again I truly apologise
for the inconvenience that this caused.
Our technicians were working extensively on
the coding for this feature in order to improve
the way it works and this should not happen
In regards to your enquiry about a smiley face
issue in RSS, I was able to have a look at the
previous correspondence and it seems that
my colleagues informed you that unfortunately
we are not planning on re-building the RSS
feature at the moment.
My colleague wrote “since we are detecting the
first URL in the RSS feed to obtain the image, all
you need to do is make sure that your actual picture
is the first URL present in your feed. As long as this is
the case, the correct image will always be detected”
I see that she also sent another reply regarding your
RSS message not being sent, but you didn’t reply, so
I am not sure if you received this:
“I just wanted to send you some information
about the outstanding issue linked with your
RSS-to-email message dated 2013-05-15.
Our technicians checked the logs and they confirm
that the message linked with the following feed:
has been sent correctly on 2013-05-15”
Once again, I’m really sorry for these issues and
the inconvenience caused, but I have been
assured that this should not happen again.
Please let me know if there is anything else
that I can help with.
Customer Success Team
Shelley has sent a few more emails and has advised that the RSS-to-Email blank email issue should now be resolved. I have asked them to verify this again before I send out another email newsletter as I don’t want people to start unsubscribing because of this.
As you can see from the above email, Shelley took this opportunity to reiterate that GetResponse have no desire to resolve the smiley image problem.
While I was awaiting a response from GetResponse today, I got a message from a new Rise Forums member who was having difficulty signing up. I am always quick to act in those situations as I know how frustrating it can be. The new member (Bridget) was very helpful in me resolving the issue and helped me determine that the issue was being caused by an anti-spam add on I had installed.
Not every situation is resolved so quickly, however I always do my best to resolve issues as soon as possible. That is what has been frustrating about the issues I have had with GetResponse. I manage my forum myself and manage to deal with the majority of issues right away. GetResponse are a huge internet company with a large team of sales staff and technical staff; yet it seems like nothing is taken seriously. It is frustrating that they are acknowledging problems with their service and not trying to resolve those issues.
I hate being in this situation. I always pay my bills on time and all I want in return is an email marketing service that works. I have been more than understanding when issues have came up, however their unwillingness to resolve issues that crop up show that GetResponse need to rethink their overall strategy moving forward. Shouldn’t they be looking to improve their service by listening to the needs of their customers? I am sure I am not the only one that has raised the issues noted in this article.
Hopefully, the problem with blank email newsletters being sent has been resolved. However, this problem has raised the issue as to whether GetResponse are the best email marketing solution for me moving forward. Changing to a different email marketing service is a pain, however if GetResponse does not function the way it should, I will be left with no other choice but to switch to a different email marketing solution.
Bottom line. When I pay a company for a service, I want that service to work in the way it is intended; the way it was sold to me. I am not content with paying full price for a sub-part product. GetResponse need to recognise that or they are going to lose a lot of customers.