There’s a ton of tools for email marketing out there. However, they’re not all created equal, and their impact on your business is so vital that it’s smart to be choosy. ConvertKit has been on the market long enough to significantly influence small businesses, just like Serve No Master, trying to grow.
In this ConvertKit review, I’ll share my personal experience with this excellent email marketing tool. The features that made me succeed and case studies of practices that I had the best result with.
As an online marketer successfully doing business for the past 10 years, I tried most of the tools for small businesses available on the market. And I can’t say that I’ve been completely happy with my success rate while using them. Finding the one that suited my business needs was an obvious challenge because when you’re just starting out everything is new and the budget is limited. But switching to ConvertKit was a match that my business needed.
Back then, in 2016. I was just starting out, probably like you now. I had no idea how to make the best of my content and how to use it to the best advantage of my audience. I wanted to engage them in a meaningful way and with actionable stuff, not spam them and hope they return.
After more than 4 years and 6 million emails sent, I can confirm that my business doubled and my email list grew from 0 to a total of 16.636K.
How did ConvertKit change my business?
The tools you use can have profound effects on your business. The key lies with the right automation, which saves you time, enables you to reach a large number of people, and become more effective. Naturally, this will impact your bottom line and return on investment positively. This is why I value ConvertKit so much. The software provided me with features of automation and subscriber tagging which progressed my business just at the right time, something I haven’t experienced with other tools. Also, they provided me with a payment plan per the actual number of subscribers, not per list which enabled me to use their features extensively with more than 50 products in my catalog effectively.
Continuing is my review of ConvertKits’ main features, pros and cons, and pricing.
In this ConvertKit review, you’ll find:
Email marketing is one of the most effective channels. It’s estimated that for every dollar you spend on email marketing, you get $44 back! You need to be on top of your game when it comes to writing and sending emails, or you’d be leaving a lot of money on the table. Learning how to write great emails is super-easy, and you can start by finding your email tone of voice in order to write emails that sell.
Nathan Barry and his team developed the software back in 2013. It wasn’t an overnight success. It took about two years before it started gaining traction. ConvertKit is being used by top players like Pat Flynn and Joanna Wiebe with a marketing angle as a dedicated email marketing software for bloggers, authors, podcasters, and any other type of creator.
ConvertKit is marketed as “Email marketing software the way it should be”. As an author, blogger, and designer, Nathan gets it. The tool was born partly out of his experience with the shortcomings of popular email marketing software.
The essence of ConvertKit is captured in the idea of it having the power of Infusionsoft (now Keap) and the ease of use of Mailchimp. In addition to its main function, it also supports landing pages and content upgrades, and its ease of use and affordability are two of its heart-warming attributes.
Follow the text as I share its pros and cons more in-depth and case studies of practices that I had the best result with.
My Experience Using ConvertKIt
When I switched to ConvertKit, unlike other email marketing providers, it was a breeze to switch to. You can either do it yourself or let them do it for you. This service, though, is reserved only for paying plans and customers, so make sure you have more than 500 subscribers to import.
How has ConvertKit affected my ability to make money?
Well, my business doubled. It seems simplistic, but it’s true: the money is in the list. My list had steady but solid growth from the moment I signed up to ConvertKit. Currently the number of subscribers is 16,636 and rising.
Below you see how that progression took place. I can’t say that I was discouraged when I started, but I knew I had to break the equation of bringing new subscribers somehow and persist. Success didn’t come overnight. As you can see it took almost a year to bring the list above one thousand threshold another year to bring it above 2 thousand and almost 3 years to bring it above 4 thousand.
Techniques used are all legitimate. My list was built with all-white hat systems without buying a single subscriber. Buying a list is something I strongly don’t recommend. Risk of privacy policies breach is very high here, but most importantly list engagement is weaker with subscribers who haven’t had an interaction with your brand, blog, or website than if you built it steadily based upon your visitors or buyers. Because of this, the quality of the prospects’ category is poor. You don’t want to waste your time like that.
Ideally, you want to segment your audience by engagement on your webpage, content, and/or email sent and/or actions taken.
Which brings us to the first feature I love.
Tagging – It leverages a tag-based subscriber system
ConvertKit makes it really easy to handle your email list from the first list import and an email sent. Once the list has been imported, position yourself in the subscribers tab and select Tags to create a new one.
The tagging system makes your marketing more effective because you can group subscribers based on the kind of actions they’ve taken and send targeted, appropriate messages to them. The tag-based system is more evolved and robust. It takes care of the “inner workings” in a more intelligent way – the way automation really should work.
My first tags were very simple. Back then I just wanted to group my subscribers based on the action they took after an email has been sent. This helped me to understand what kind of content they are interested in and to serve them accordingly. Tagging and segmenting audience provided me with direct feedback from my subscribers which is why this feature is pure gold.
Some email marketing tools charge you unfairly because one subscriber may be counted multiple times if they subscribed to different lists. Lets’ say that they entered your list signing up on a form and later opted into a challenge or bought a product from you.
With ConvertKit’s use of the tagging system, you only pay what’s fair. You pay for the actual number of subscribers. This saved me hundreds of dollars once my list started to grow exponentially.
Probably the most beautiful thing about ConvertKit automation are their ready to use templates! Six templates to choose from representing the most frequently used for most small businesses. A default set of emails.
- Evergreen Pitch
- Evergreen Newsletter
- Product Launch
- Tag Driven Survey
- Non-buyer follow up
If you hadn’t had much experience in creating an automated sequence, just like me, this is really going to make your life easier. You just have to choose one and it will directly be copied to your newly created account. You can start with Evergreen Newsletter. This automation includes 2 forms, 1 tag, and 1 sequence which will be copied. The only thing you have to follow up with is your unique content.
Another big win for ConvertKit is its Visual Automations feature which is way cleaner than its competitors like ActiveCampaign. Since, automated email messages average 70.5% higher open rates and 152% higher click-through rates than “business as usual” marketing messages, jumping into automation is the way to grow your business
ConvertKit automation basically skyrocketed my conversion rates. I have more than 50 products on my catalog list. Of course, I didn’t start that way, but I wanted to future proof my business and I began to look into ways of inviting people to my other products based on their initial response.
What I did was no rocket science, but ConvertKit made it so easy. My recipe was:
once a subscriber was welcomed to my list by the initial purchase or action, they would get a sequence of emails based upon their interaction. After that I would send another sequence introducing my other products thus strengthening the relationship, building trust, and increasing the overall revenue as they opted in and bought more.
I have almost 100 automation sequences and about 100 email flows to date. Each one is equally important because it’s carefully designed to support Serve No Master brand.
A total of 4 years of experience proved to me that every single time I improve my automation process, a sequence or automation rules, overall revenue for my business increases.
AB testing is essential in any email marketing strategy. You want the best content to reach and engage your audience and AB testing is simply going to help you serve the best variant. Recommended is to have at least 2 versions and test how do respondents react to every one of them. Common test elements are email titles, CTA button colors, and wordings.
AB testing became very important as soon as I set my selling funnels in place. I wanted to make sure that the email my audience gets makes the desired outcome. My experience with ConvertKit AB testing is that the reliability of the results comes with the list count of 1k or more. That way with average or small open rates you can still deduct valuable conclusions.
To turn on A/B testing in your account simply select the Broadcast tab and then New Broadcast. You’ll notice the A/B option to the right of your subject line.
Ease of use
Simplicity is a word that defines ConvertKit. One of its main upsides, and the reason why people even switch to it from more expensive premium tools, is its ease of use and design. Nathan’s background is in user experience and design. It’s understandable that the tool he developed is user-friendly and has a color theme and design that enhances your work. Starting with your account, dashboard waiting for you is very simplistic, and selecting “Create new” button will lead you to create a landing page or a sign-up form.
When creating a new form in the next step you’ll have to choose the type base on where do you want it to be shown on your webpage.
Choosing the form will lead you to fill it with all the necessary details. The process when choosing a landing page is even simpler – you just have to choose a variant of the template you want based on your needs and follow the process through with entering all necessary information.
Seeing as it was developed by a designer and info-product seller who’s been in the trenches and knows our pain points, the software is highly effective and powerful. It gets the job done. The software’s deliverability is excellent which is understandable because ConvertKit delivers text-focused emails not only giving your marketing efforts a personal feel but also helping you avoid spam filters.
That means you’ll start seeing higher open rates that turn into more conversions to help you grow your business.
CovnertKit additional pluses
- Migrations from other providers
The reason some creators stick with their current tool is that they dread the stress that’d be involved in switching. With ConvertKit, you have nothing to worry about: it offers concierge migration.
If you have more than 5000 subscribers you would like to import, migration is free and will be handled by their team. It’s a full migration that ensures all your data is imported. More than 500 subscribers sets you up with a paid plan, though, so have in mind that migrations are enabled for paid accounts.
- ConvertKit Plugin
If you’re a WordPress user, there’s a ConvertKit Plugin for you. Awesome addition to your paid plan since it requires minimal settings effort on your side. So, once your landing page or a form is set up and live you can track their performance.
- Its reporting capability is rather limited
Blogger or author, you’re still running a business. It’s critical to have reports, so you can gauge your emails’ performance. ConvertKit’s reporting is basic, irrespective of the plan you’re paying for. In comparison, Mailchimp’s pro plan offers detailed reports.
- A/B testing function is rudimentary
For example, you can’t A/B test automated series. It’d be nice to be able to do this for all sequences. These tests help because you can have data about which versions are likely to explode your response.
- There are only a few options to customize templates and forms
There are email tools that come with an array of beautiful templates and forms. ConvertKit is lean in this respect. Their forms and landing pages are simple with little options of changing the original layout besides fonts, colors, and images.
Your choice isn’t completely limited here as they leave an option to upgrade your template with custom CSS. However, this will require additional knowledge and effort which makes things more complicated and it’ll require more time on your side to set up initially.
- Improvement Feedback – It’s not easy to manage “cold subscribers”
ConvertKit defines Cold Subscribers as anyone who hasn’t opened or clicked an email in the last 90 days and has been subscribed for at least 30 days. This rule can’t be modified or adjusted. Pruning your list will mean you’ll have to put some effort in keeping your list tight. Overall, this is a good thing because cleaning your list from subscribers who don’t engage with your content is going to boost your open rates, but it will be more time consuming as your list grows.
To prune your list go to Subscribers tab and select Cold Subscribers. Select all subscribers from the list and assign a tag.
With the tag, I’ve assigned an automation of 2 email sequences to give them time to respond. Maybe they’re just busy and they want to keep receiving my emails. So, in the first email sent I ask them to confirm their subscription.
Anyone who clicks on that link gets pulled away from the automation and stays on the list. Other subscribers receive another email with a farewell message from me saying I’ll never email them again. It’s important to highlight here that I send these a couple of days apart to give people enough time to respond. So, this process is not a full con for me, rather feedback on future improvements I would like to see. Dealing with an email list is important, but just as saving my valuable time.
ConvertKit vs Active Campaign
Both are good, but Active Campaign is a more robust solution that does a lot more than email marketing.
If you need CRM functionality, lead segmentation, SMS marketing, lead scoring, and other sophisticated functions, Active Campaign is more suited for you. But if you’re a blogger, author, or podcaster who is only interested in a great email marketing solution, ConvertKit is ideal.
In a nutshell, Active Campaign has a lot of features that relate to how to automate most of your marketing activity as an online entrepreneur. In comparison with ConvertKit their multi-choice of triggers and events to set in an automation campaign is far more developed. You don’t have that complexity with ConvertKit which is focused solely on email marketing for bloggers and their ilk.
ConvertKit vs Mail Chimp
Is ConvertKit better than MailChimp?
Mailchimp is a good email marketing software. You can even use it for free if you have less than 2000 subscribers. It compares favorably with ConvertKit, but it’s list-based, while the latter is tag-based. Tag-based tools offer greater value because the tag system helps you track a lot of interesting stats, which you can leverage to improve your business.
Mailchimp sends everybody to “the list.” You cannot put subscribers in segments that reveal their preferences and behavior, only apply tags post subscription or on import. Mailchimp will allow you to have multiple lists based on the plan paid which makes the handling of the list time-consuming. Also, you pay by the numbers of subscribers, and having one contact in multiple lists will count as many times you copied the same contact.
Mailchimp does have it’s advantages, though. It offers beautiful ready to use templates, while ConvertKit does not. Being a text-focused email provider, ConvertKit has better deliverability than Mailchimp.
Until plan change, ConvertKit had a relatively affordable start at $29 per month. Introducing a FREE plan enabled many entrepreneurs to test its’ unique features and steadily grow into a paid plan with their business growth.
Available with the FREE plan are almost all features; unlimited, customizable CTAs & signup forms, 30+ premium landing page templates, customizable domain setup, mobile responsive designs, and subscriber tagging. Ideal when you’re just starting up.
Getting more serious and enabling automation will require you to go with a first paid plan.
Simple plan structure
The good thing about ConvertKit pricing structure is that no matter the paid plan you opt for, you have access to all of the software’s functionality. This is great if you think about it. You’re not being limited because your business is small. You can implement some cool strategies from the start without upgrading to a higher plan.
How much is ConvertKit monthly?
- Up to 500 subscribers FREE
- Up to 1000 subscribers $29
- Up to 3000 subscribers $49
- Up to 5000 subscribers $79
- Up to 8000 subscribers $99
You are charged extra when the number of subscribers you have exceeds a certain limit. All paid plans have more complex features included such as reporting, visual automation funnels, and automated email sequences.
What do You Think?
In this ConvertKit review, I have shared why I switched to ConvertKit. I have several projects I am juggling at any time, so I don’t have the time to figure out a complicated piece of email marketing software. This tool is effective, easy to use, deliverability is higher (my business doubled), and it uses a tag-based system, which offers you peace of mind because it’s automation as it should be.
The tool lives up to its promise of the power of Infusionsoft and the ease of Mailchimp. ConvertKit is indeed what’s it’s cracked up to be. It’s laser-focused on its primary function and target audience. Read more of SNM reviews.