Email marketing is a critical weapon in your marketing arsenal. Tweets, Facebook posts, and Instagram stories can be easily missed by readers of your books and blogs.
Email, on the other hand, is much more engaging. A direct email to your readers allows you to craft an engaging message without the constrains of a social media post that may get lost in a user’s feed.
Plus, when mastered effectively, it has a ROI of $44 for every $1 invested. That’s a huge return on investment which can dwarf the ROIs of twitter and Facebook campaigns when implemented correctly.
Point being: a great email marketing campaign can be the difference between profit and deficit. When such a critical business component is on the line, it’s of the utmost importance that you use the right tool for the job.
And that is why I have made the jump from Mailchimp to Convertkit.
Why I left Mailchimp
When I first started out with email marketing, I worked with Mailchimp. It’s not hard to see why: they’re one of the best known outfits in the game. If you have fewer than 2,000 email subscribers, their product is also free!
So, I started out with them at first. Shortly after, I started to pay for a premium account (only $25 a month) that allowed me to access a suite of tools — such as auto-responders, and additional automation.
Eventually, however, I realized that there were a few issues that kept cropping up — issues that made me feel like Mailchimp was a bit like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.
The main one was that Mailchimp seemed to revolve around boosting online stores with physical products — I’m talking clothes, foodstuffs, electronics, you get it.
It wasn’t what I was selling. I’m a blogger, I’m a writer. I was paying for a product that was sending my emails to my subscribers, but not showing them the things I wanted to highlight.
Mailchimp’s templates left me feeling frustrated. They were cumbersome to use, revolved around all these lists of subscribers that I had to swap between, and felt very disorganized. It felt like I was putting a lot of work into creating these lists for emails that were using these templates that weren’t what I wanted, leading to an email campaign that I wasn’t happy with.
So I started looking for another option.
What is Convertkit?
Convertkit is an email marketing software (or an email service provider) that is specifically built around the needs of bloggers, writers, podcasters, and others who are working to build an audience.
This is an email tool for the creatives.
What are some great Convertkit features?
I went over earlier what I didn’t like about Mailchimp, so let me tell you what I DO like about Convertkit (spoiler: quite a bit).
There are a bunch of unique features that allow Convertkit to be a great marketing tool for any creative.
Seamless Visual Automation Editor
This is a major quality-of-life upgrade (kudos to the UX team).
Here’s the problem: in other Email Services, when you’re setting up your automation, you get to edit your email itself, and the editor takes you out of your Automation Workflow and into the email. Then you have to complete your email, leave, and head back to your workflow.
Not so with Convertkit! The Visual Automation Editor allows you to work on your email while your Workflow is still visible — you’re editing without having to X out of your Automation Editor!
This saves you a bunch of clicking back and forth, streamlining the automation process.
It’s annoying to have to send endless variations on the same email to a bunch of different customers, right?
Convertkit makes this easier. You can add segmentation tags within your email to have certain elements of text + images only send to certain customers.
Want to add a part for only repeat customers? You can segment that out within a single email, allowing Convertkit to do the heavy lifting. All you need to do is ensure your tags are properly formatted, and Convertkit will send the variations to the respective subscribers.
Auto Resend on unopened
75% of marketing emails get unread. That means that for every 1 person who read your email, three did not!
With Convertkit, you have an auto resend feature that will, as the name suggests, auto resend these marketing emails to the 75% who didn’t open on the first pass.
I can’t guarantee that everyone will open your email on the second go around, but two passes are better than one!
There is a free plan
Yay free! Though it caps at 500 subscribers (and you don’t get access to the visual automation features), Convertkit does have an excellent free plan that you can take advantage of. At the very least, it’ll give you a good glimpse of what Convertkit offers if you do decide to go full premium.
How to switch from Mailchimp to Convertkit?
Here’s a problem I see time and time again. You know there’s a better product out there, but you can’t bring yourself to leave your current one. It’s not just email marketing. Wi-fi, dentists, health insurance, banks, you name it. There is comfort in sticking with what you know.
Problem is: what you know often isn’t the best option.
Luckily, swapping from Mailchimp to Convertkit isn’t a major pain. In fact, Convertkit makes it pretty seamless by offering two different ways of transitioning.
You can manually swap over by:
- Exporting your mail lists
- Copying your email images
- Changing landing pages to Convertkit
It’s not the worst in the world, though it does take a little bit of time. BUT, Convertkit does offer a simpler, more elegant solution.
They have a Concierge Migration Service.
For a small fee, Convertkit will migrate your entire email platform (forms, images, subscriber lists) from Mailchimp to Convertkit without you having to break a sweat.
Sure it costs a little money, but it saves you a tremendous amount of time in the long run.
My Experiences with Convertkit
One of the first things that struck me about using Convertkit was the simplicity of its templates.
Compared to places like Mailchimp, Convertkit places a stronger emphasis on minimalism, which I found perfect for creative work like blogging.
When you’re a writer, your email marketing should feel conversational — not flashy, splashy, and salesy. Convertkit fits this requirement to a T, allowing me to send friendly emails that didn’t feel pushy or overly sales-laden.
Look: I want to build a relationship with my readers. I want them to view my emails as an extension of that relationship — not a blunt advertisement.
For this purpose, Convertkit shines. If you’re serious about tailoring your email marketing campaign to fit your creative approach, you definitely need to give Convertkit a try.
Convertkit: Promote my blogposts!
If a blogger writes a blogpost and nobody reads it, did it ever make an impact?
Unlike trees falling in forests, the answer is a resounding no! If no one reads your blogpost, your blogpost can’t impact your readership.
So you have to market your posts. Sure, you can publish it on Twitter and Facebook, but getting people to click through a social media link is an uphill challenge.
Email gets a significantly stronger return on investment ($44 for every $1!)
With Convertkit, you can send a broadcast email to your readership that hosts your latest blogposts.
Every week, I send out a broadcast email to my readers alerting them to my new posts.
Now, as I mentioned earlier, clickthrough rates often hover around 25%, which leaves 75% of my emails left unread. WIth Convertkit, I can rebroadcast these emails automatically to those who haven’t read them, helping me increase my clickthrough rate, and thus ultimately boosting my readership.
It gets even better — by only resending emails to those who haven’t read them, you avoid double emailing those who have read them. Over emailing leads to a real risk of unsubscribing (a real negative), so this precision tool helps you avoid losing subscribers.
How to grow an email list?
Convertkit is great for growing an email list on your website. You can either build a landing page or embed a form into a blogpost.
I’m partial to the embedded form, as it feels like an extension of my writing.
All you need to do is create a form in Convertkit, and then Convertkit will give you a small piece of code that you can then embed in your blog posts, thus populating your posts with the subscription form.
If this isn’t exactly your cup of tea, you can easily change it to a “subscribe here” button that is easily placed on your blog posts as well.
If you find yourself getting stuck on this, fear not! Convertkit has a bunch of excellent video tutorials that show you how to get through the nitty-gritty of creating and embedding these forms. It’s really a lot easier than it looks!
Ever see those “enter your email for 10% off” ads? Content upgrades operate on the same principle.
You basically send a bonus to your readers in exchange for them subscribing to your email list.
The bonus can be:
- A new ebook
- A blogging template
- Video content
- Really anything you want it to be
What’s important, though, is that this content is only available to your subscribers. Upload them to Convertkit, and then auto-email them out to your subscribers. Additionally, you can then place previews for these content upgrades on your site, along with a Call to Action, driving your readers to sign up for the subscription in exchange for bonus content.
Everybody likes a free bonus!
Easily track list growth
I’m a data nerd. I love seeing how many readers are viewing each blogpost, each email, etc.
With Convertkit, I can easily see critical data like growth in email subscribers and (critically) where they came from.
This is a welcome change from Mailchimp, whose data always seemed really opaque and difficult to understand for me. I never knew where my new subscribers were coming from.
With Convertkit, I do. This allows me to redeploy my resources more effectively, allowing me to put maximum energy into channels that have maximum ROI.
No one likes to throw good money after bad, and with Convertkit, you absolutely do not!
Convertkit has over 90 different integrations across a whole variety of categories, including Ecommerce, lead capture, Facebook ads, CRM, and webinar services. They even have a whole page dedicated to integrations that you can use to help you customize your services for optimal use.
Convertkit really shines when it comes to email deliverability. It requires users use Plain Text instead of design-heavy emails.
Why is this good?
Design-heavy newsletters have a bad habit of being screened as spam. Something about all those splashy graphics screams “promotion” and email services give them the boot.
With Convertkit, your email campaigns are sent in plain text, helping you avoid this perilous fate. Ultimately, this means more eyes on your emails. More views = success.
Perks of Segmenting
Here’s something I didn’t realize: in Mailchimp, each time a subscriber appears on a list, they’re counted as a unique subscriber against your subscriber count?
That means if I put you on my general list and my VIP list, you’d be counted twice.
Doubling up like this means that you can hit your subscriber cap way faster than anticipated.
With Convertkit, each subscriber is only counted ONCE — regardless of how many different lists they appear on. This gives you far greater bang for your buck.
What I don’t like about Convertkit
Convertkit is great, but it’s not perfect. There are a few features that I found frustrating, and I figured I ought to share them with you so that you could make an informed decision.
Limited Triggers for Advanced Automation
Convertkit’s triggers are elegant, but limited. There are only four triggers that you can automate:
- Joins a form
- Is added to a tag
- Custom Field
By contrast, services like ActiveCampaign have 15 triggers that you can automate, giving you a lot more customization over your campaigns.
Convertkit’s triggers work great, I just wish they had a few more for me to play with.
Limited A/B Testing
A/B testing is critical for marketing. It helps you easily see which option (a or b) performs better.
You can split your subject line into two different options, which is great for seeing which hook is gonna get the most opens.
However, the A/B testing stops there. There are no ways to stagger times, content, or automations to see how modifying these variables changes the success of your campaigns.
Again, like the limited triggers, it’s not bad, it’s just not as robust as I would have hoped.
Limited Test Emails
Maybe the average Convertkit user is a better self-editor than I am, but I definitely need to send a test email when I’m working on a campaign — just to make sure I didn’t make a terrible mistake like forget the letter “L” in the word “public” (this almost happened on a college paper of mine).
With convertkit, I can only do a test email to myself. I can’t send it over to a buddy to take a look. I have to be my own second set of eyes. It’s not a big deal, but it is another small problem that could be easily rectified.
Convertkit has some really nice, slick templates. They’re minimalist, which is great for creatives who want their words to be the star of the show.
However, going off script gets tricky. You can create your own template, but you have to use HTML.
I gotta be honest: I am not fluent in HTML. This is a bit of a problem.
If you’re looking to try your hand at crafting new templates, you better have a solid HTML foundation. If not, you need to find someone who does.
Again, this isn’t a problem if you stick to their default templates, but I know that not everyone wants to do so.
So what’s the pricing?
For under 500 subscribers (with limited tools), the price is free.
This goes up to $29 a month for up to 1000 subscribers with full capability.
After that it goes:
$49 for 10001-3000
$79 for 30001-5000
Quotes available for 5001+
Mailchimp, on the other hand, is free for users who have fewer than 2000 subscribers (though this doesn’t include full automation).
They have more tiers than Convertkit, with most falling between $20-$35 a month for 1000 to 2500 subscribers. Anything above that and you get a huge jump to $199 a month.
This leaves the pricing between the two platforms a little strange, with Convertkit having more expensive at lower numbers, and then being more affordable as you add further subscribers. You should do the math to see which one makes sense for you.