ConvertKit Review 2018: Irresistible and Way Better Than Mailchimp

ConverKit reviewI took out a free trial of ConvertKit. Now in this 2018 ConvertKit review I’ll explain why I switched from MailChimp to ConvertKit and haven't looked back.

I'll also help you decide if this email software is right for you.

But first… I think you’ll agree we all want to find more readers.

Well, email marketing is the best way to communicate with the readers of your blog and your books.

Most people don’t see a tweet, and it’s quite difficult to get engagement on Facebook these days unless you’re prepared to pay for it.

Email marketing offers a larger return than social media.

Once you master it, you can expect a return of USD44 for every dollar you invest (according to a study by Experian).

But before I get into this ConvertKit review…

What Is ConvertKit?

ConvertKit is an email marketing service provider that's purpose built for professional bloggers. It supports landing pages, content upgrades and more. It's like a cross between Infusionsoft and MailChimp–except more affordable and easy to use.

Getting Started With Email Marketing

Before I get into this ConvertKit review, let me explain why you need a tool like this.

I recommend email marketing software for bloggers and writers who are serious about building a lasting relationship with their readers and for bloggers who have great articles to share on a regular basis.

I know some writers and bloggers find email marketing off-putting, but I’d like you to reframe that thinking.

Think of it this way: it’s not marketing, you’re just writing a letter to a friend.

Through email marketing, you can write directly to your readers, tell them stories about your work (or your blog posts) and even sell more books. You can also use email marketing to promote your courses and so on.

The most popular email marketing tools are MailChimp and AWeber. Some bigger bloggers and businesses rely on more powerful solutions like Infusionsoft for advanced email marketing and automation.

However, these email marketing tools are quite complex to use and it costs several thousands of dollars to get them up and running.

How I Got Started With MailChimp (And What I Did Next)

MailChimp is free if you have less than 2,000 email subscribers.

When I first started blogging (long before I wrote this ConvertKit review), I signed up for a free MailChimp account. I used it for two years, and I was relatively happy with it.

When you’re starting off, there’s a lot to love about free software. I upgraded after a few months to the premium package, which cost me around USD25 per month.

I did this because I wanted access to premium features like email automation and the ability to create email autoresponders.

Over time, I discovered this email marketing software wasn’t developed with bloggers or writers in mind. Many of the email templates, for example, relate to selling goods and services and promoting online stores.

Mailchimp vs ConvertKit review
MailChimp templates

Now, I’m a guy who gravitates more towards words than fancy looking templates.

I found MailChimp mildly cumbersome to use. I had multiple lists inside of MailChimp for readers of my blog and books. I found it difficult to navigate between these lists, organise my subscribers and send the correct emails to the right people.

I first heard about ConvertKit after reading about Pat Flynn’s experiences switching from AWeber.

After some research, I discovered some of the most popular big-name bloggers using this email marketing software include Leo Babauta of Zen Habits and Mike Vardy of the Productivist.

Then, I read a few articles by Nathan Barry wherein he explained that he created this marketing software for bloggers and authors who want to sell more books.

I felt like he was talking (or writing a letter) right to me!

I switched from MailChimp to ConvertKit 12 months ago, and I haven’t looked back.

How to Switch from MailChimp to ConvertKit

For this ConvertKit review, it took me two to three hours to migrate my email list, figure out how ConvertKit works and then set up my autoresponders and so on.

If you’re going to switch, you’ll need to:

  • Export your email lists from MailChimp and then upload them to ConvertKit.
  • Copy the text and images from your autoresponder and other campaigns to a ConvertKit sequence.
  • Change all of your opt-ins and landing pages so they connect to ConvertKit and not MailChimp.

But, what if you’re short on time or the thoughts of doing all of the above gives you a headache?

Well, the ConvertKit team offer a concierge migration service. They’ll take care of your subscribers, forms and more.

There’s a small fee, but if you’re opting for one of the more expensive plans, they’ll waive it.

Looking back, I wish I’d saved myself the time and opted for the concierge service.

My Experiences With ConvertKit

While writing this ConvertKit Review, the first thing that struck me about ConvertKit was the plain text and simple HTML emails templates.

A broadcast in ConvertKit - ConvertKit review
ConvertKit broadcast templates – ConvertKit Review

These minimalist email templates are perfect for me, and if I’m honest…

….they should be perfect for most writers as you can concentrate on writing directly to your readers rather than trying to create something that looks pretty.

Besides, most big-name bloggers don’t use fancy or overly-designed email templates.

They are more concerned with driving up engagement by interacting with readers through the power of their writing than with clever templates (as you should be too).

ConvertKit works great for bloggers of all types. You can use it to promote your latest posts, to build relationships with readers and to sell your products and services easily. It’s affordable too. I’ve used it on this blog for more than a year now.

Now, here’s how I use ConvertKit on Become a Writer Today:

For Promoting Blog Posts

It’s not enough to publish a blog post and hope readers will find it. You need to promote your writing, and you can’t count on a single tweet or Facebook update to attract new readers.

Email marketing should form an essential part of every writer and blogger’s strategy.

Here’s what I do:

Every Thursday, I publish a new blog post about writing on my site, on Medium or elsewhere. To promote these blog posts, I send a broadcast email in ConvertKit to some of my email subscribers.

Now, people are busy, their inboxes fill up quickly and they often miss these emails. So, my open rates usually hover around 30 percent.

With the click of a button inside ConvertKit, I can resend this broadcasts to people who didn’t open the first email. I can even change the subject line and amend the copy within the email.

This resend email feature is a great way of increasing open rates and sending posts to subscribers who missed the article the first time round.

If you switch to ConvertKit, you can even use this feature when launching a book or course to increase sales.

I recently read 78% of consumers – readers are consumers too –unsubscribe from email lists if they feel like they’re receiving too many.

The good news is resending emails to un-opens is a clever way of getting your writing in front of more people on your list, without sending the same emails to everyone on your list.

For Growing An Email List

Using ConvertKit (or even a tool like Mailerlite), you can gather email subscribers by either creating a landing page or a form. I don’t use the landing pages that much, but I use a variation of the forms all the time.

You can embed these forms on your blog posts or on other web pages and change the look and feel of them so they match your website design.

Once you create a form, you can write a short welcome email that subscribers to the form get and you can even upload a content upgrade that they’ll receive automatically.

ConvertKit will then give you a piece of code that you use on your site to embed the form.

Alternatively, you can use a variation of this code to create a clickable button (my preferred option) calling on readers to subscribe.

It’s quick and easy to do this, but if you get stuck there are a number of helpful videos in the ConvertKit Knowledgebase and support has always replied to my emails quickly.

It’s also easy to duplicate these forms and landing pages too, and I use this approach to offer content upgrades for almost all of my blog posts.

For Delivering Content Upgrades

Content upgrades are a great way of growing your email list faster.

What is a content upgrade? It’s a free bonus you offer readers of your articles or blog posts. To get the bonus, a reader must opt-in to your list with their email address.

Examples of content upgrades include book chapters, videos, worksheets and so on. On Become a Writer Today, I offer:

  • a blogging template for Scrivener users.
  • a spreadsheet for tracking your daily word-count.
  • a checklist for running a competition on 99Designs.

I upload these content upgrades to ConvertKit and then deliver them automatically to readers who opt-in.

This tactic is one of my favourites for growing an email list faster, and thanks to a ConvertKit feature I can see how each one of these upgrades performs.

For Tracking the Growth of My List

In MailChimp, I could always see how many people were on my list but I was always unclear about how they got there in the first place.

Why?

Well, I offer numerous content upgrades and have a number of landing pages. So, it’s difficult to see what people clicked on and where they subscribed to my list.

In ConvertKit, I can see all of this information in one place when I log in.

The central dashboard shows me what new email subscribers opted in to get and how each landing page and content upgrade is performing. I can also see how much I grew my list by over the past 30, 60 or 90 days.

subscribers convertkit

Why do I love this ConvertKit feature so much?

Well, when you’re blogging and self-publishing there’s always one more marketing tactic to try and one more thing to do. It can feel overwhelming.

Having this information about my email list up front helps me concentrate on marketing activities that grow my list and avoid tactics that suck up my time without a return.

In turn, this disciplined approach to marketing enables me to find more time to write.

For Hosting Landing Pages

When I first started blogging, I grew my email list and mostly through writing guest blog posts for sites like Smart Blogger and Write to Done.
Guest blogging on other people’s sites is a great way of growing your list, building your profile and working with other top editors… for free!

And the best part?

When you write a guest blog post for somebody else’s site, you can include a link to your landing page at the bottom of this guest post.

about the author guest post
An example of my bio on a guest post

Ideally, readers of your guest blog post will:

  • Read your bio or call-to-action at the bottom of your blog post.
  • Click on a link to your site (or ConvertKit landing page).
  • See what your bonus is about.
  • Opt in to your email list to get it.

But, what if you’re more concerned with self-publishing books?

Well, at the start of your book you could offer readers a free bonus if they opt in to your list. Then, you could link to a ConvertKit landing page.

In ConvertKit, you can customise your landing page templates, write headlines and change the colour scheme.

Now, the ConvertKit landing pages aren’t as powerful as what a premium landing page software like LeadPages offers, but they’re a nice alternative for bloggers and writers on a budget.

landing page template convertkit

For Creating an Email Autoresponder Series

Every blogger and author worth their salt goes to the trouble of creating an autoresponder series. An autoresponder series is a series of emails that’s automatically sent to new subscribers of your list.

What should you include in your autoresponder? Well, you could:

  • Introduce yourself and your writing.
  • Send a series of educational messages or tips based on your latest book.
  • Send new subscribers links to your most popular blog posts.
  • Send new email subscribers a short survey so you can find out more about their hopes/fears/dreams/frustrations (like a good copywriter!).
  • Introduce a soft-sell wherein you talk about one of your books and ask readers to buy it.

Putting an autoresponder together for the first time can feel intimidating. Even after paying for the premium MailChimp account, I procrastinated about what to include for weeks.

The good news is ConvertKit provides an autoresponder series template that is quick and easy to build out.

You can configure when to send these emails and, unlike MailChimp or even AWeber, you can drag and drop these emails with ease.

In other words, write it, set it and then forget it.

For Segmenting Email Subscribers

MailChimp treats each list separately and charges you for the total number of email addresses on each list. So, if an email subscriber is on more than one list, MailChimp counts him or her multiple times.

In ConvertKit, on the other hand, email subscribers are never counted more than once towards your monthly fee.

Instead of organising your email subscribers by list, you can tag and segment subscribers according to their interests. This is a great way of increasing your open rate and driving up engagement.

For example, I offer a course for new writers. I have tagged people have taken this course with the tag ‘students’. Now, whenever I want to email members of this course I just filter them by the tag ‘students’ and send them a broadcast.

For Email Automation

ConvertKit’s automation features are powerful and easy to use. They’re also what make this email software stand apart from MailChimp and AWeber.

It currently offers eight different triggers and seven actions. You simply select a trigger and then decide what happens.

For example, I have a trigger set up for my course Finish Your Book.

When somebody buys this course on Teachable, ConvertKit automatically adds the tag ‘student' and sends this student a series of emails related to this course. I can even use this tag to find these subscribers in ConvertKit and email them directly.

I have another trigger set up for my book The Power of Creativity. When a reader clicks on a link to this book inside an email, ConvertKit automatically sends them follow-up several days later to ask if they bought the book and what they thought about it.

You can also configure the software program so that if somebody clicks on a link in your email they are automatically added to a new sequence or series of emails.

Plus, you can find cold email subscribers and send them an email prompting them to engage before you remove them from your list.

It took me less than a half an hour to set up these automations and write the email copy, and it saves me hours of time each month. Services like Infusionsoft offer automation features like this but unlike ConvertKit, they cost thousands of dollars to get and running.

You can even integrate ConvertKit with services like GumRoad, SamCart, WebinarNinja, LeadPages and more. Or you can connect it to Zapier. Then you can set up automations based on how you use these services.

Sure these are advanced email marketing tactics, but they’re there when you need them.

automation convertkit
ConvertKit Automation rules

Pricing

In the tables below I have illustrated the comparative costs of  ConvertKit, MailChimp and AWeber.

ConvertKit

SubscribersMonthly Cost (USD)
0 – 1,00029
 1,001 – 3,00049
 3,000 – 5,00079
5,000+Get quote

 

 Features
AutomationYes
SegmentationYes
IntegrationYes
ReportingYes

MailChimp

PackageMonthly Cost (USD)Subscribers Extra
Forever FreeFree0 – 2,000Upgrade for automation
Growing Business201,001 – 1,500Automation, integration and segmentation
251501 – 2000Automation, integration and segmentation
302001 – 2500Automation, integration and segmentation
352501 – 2600Automation, integration and segmentation
Pro Marketer199High volume sendersAdvanced features: targeted sending, testing, reporting etc.

AWeber

SubscribersMonthly Cost (USD)
 0 – 500 19
 501 – 2,500 29
 2,501 – 5,00049
 5,001 – 10,00069
10,001 – 25,000 149
 25,000+ Get quote

 

 Features
AutomationYes
SegmentationYes
IntegrationYes
ReportingYes

 

Is ConvertKit Worth the Money?

At USD29 a month, new writers and bloggers may feel put off by paying for ConvertKit when MailChimp is free.

So if money is tight and you’ve yet to figure out email marketing, by all means, use MailChimp.

Similarly, if you want to create heavily designed email newsletters or you’re into lots of different templates, ConvertKit may not be for you.

When you get more than 2000 subscribers or when you’re ready to create an autoresponder series, you can always migrate to ConvertKit.

But…

If you can afford USD29 per month, I recommend ConvertKit.

Nathan Barry and the of ConvertKit developed this email marketing software program with bloggers and authors in mind. There’s even a pre-written sequence of emails that will help you launch your book.

Nathan’s background is in the user experience and design, and I found ConvertKit easier and faster to navigate than MailChimp. ConvertKit is more powerful than MailChimp and AWeber.

Although slightly more expensive than MailChimp, it costs far less than the likes of Infusionsoft. ConvertKit blends power and ease of use better than any email marketing software I’ve tried.

The ConvertKit team regularly add new features to this email marketing software and I’ve come to trust CovertKit as an essential blogging tool for growing my business.

This ConvertKit review contains affiliate links meaning I earn a small commission if you sign up for ConvertKit. 

Take a free trial of ConvertKit today

Sources

25 mind blowing email marketing stats – Salesforce

Search Engine Optimization Statistics – Hubspot

ConvertKit Review
  • Affordability
  • Support
  • Features
  • Ease of Use
4.5

ConvertKit Review: Summary

ConvertKit is a great email service provider for bloggers. It offers lots of advanced features that will help you grow your site and your blog faster. It's easy to use and the support is great too.

Pros

  • Easy-to-use
  • Powerful automation and tagging
  • Great integration with services like teachable
  • You’re not charged for multiple subscribers

Cons

  • Potentially expensive for new writers and bloggers
  • Doesn’t offer much customisation in the way of templates

12 thoughts on “ConvertKit Review 2018: Irresistible and Way Better Than Mailchimp”

  1. We started out with MailChimp’s free plan and stayed with them until we hit arround 10,000 subscribers. Than we got increasingly frustrated setting up various Content Upgrades for our Blog Posts and simple automation sequences and decided to switch to ConvertKit. We stayed with ConvertKit until we hit arround 30,000 subscribers and than switched once again to Drip. We now have arround 50,000 subscribers and are really happy with Drip and their advanced automation features.

    So my general recommendation is similar to yours:

    MailChimp is great to start out, especially if you are tight on money. There are a lot of things you can do with MailChimp that not everybody is aware of but that are easy to do once you know they exist (I wrote a pretty in depth Tutorial on it over here: https://growtheme.com/mailchimp-tutorial/).

    ConvertKit removes a lot of headaches and is a great option once you hit a couple of thousand subscribers or have some money to invest. Especially for Bloggers and Content Creators.

    And afterwards you have to decide what type of email marketing promotions you want to run. ConvertKit is great for simple sequences and automations. Drip would be my recommendation if you want to do some more advanced and complex automations where several things happen at once.

  2. Such a detailed review – now I totally know every difference and I can sort out my priorities. Thanks a lot for sharing this post with us! I am looking forward to reading more!

  3. TLDR; – use Mautic and Amazon Simple Email Service for the best price / feature / performance balance.

    One tip for those who have very popular mailing lists, or, a potentially very large audience, and have a reasonable level of technical knowledge with regards to cloud computing (or access to someone who does); use Mautic.

    Mautic is a *free, open source* mail management system, with workflows, campaigns, landing pages, email templates, etc. etc. etc.
    https://www.mautic.org/tour/

    There are many video tutorials online; here is an example of integration with Zapier for advanced workflows and integration with other systems:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWVJlMOhHtQ

    And more:
    https://duckduckgo.com/?q=mautic&atb=v81-3&iax=1&ia=videos&iai=yWVJlMOhHtQ

    It needs a little technical knowledge for the initial setup, but to make life easier, there are pre-configured installations available that can be deployed automatically to cloud providers such as Azure and Amazon.

    Here is a pre-built Mautic image to host on Amazon
    https://aws.amazon.com/marketplace/pp/B00YAY9OX6

    Amazon offers an always free tier, which also includes one year free usage of a small virtual machine. This set up will get you *unlimited number of registered users – for free*.

    Now, this does not handle the actual email *sending* – for that you need a third-party email provider. The good news is, Amazon offers its Simple Email Service, which is usually what the major email marketing providers use behind the scenes themselves.
    https://aws.amazon.com/ses/

    It has very high delivery rates (i.e. your customers email providers trust it as a sender, and do not automatically flag emails as spam, as they might do if you tried to send thousands of emails from your own email server).

    And, it includes an *always free quota of 62,000 Outbound Messages per month* to any recipient when you call Amazon SES from an Amazon hosted virtual machine.

    After the first free year, it would costs around $91 per month to host a t2.small virtual machine on Amazon.

    As an alternative, you can deploy a Mautic virtual machine on Microsoft Azure:
    https://azuremarketplace.microsoft.com/en-us/marketplace/apps/bitnami.mautic?tab=PlansAndPrice

    Tip: Use the Azure US West 2 region, it has the cheapest prices, e,g .US$37.944 per month for similar performance to t2.small on Amazon.

    There are several free programs offered by Microsoft (including BizSpark, which grants up to $750 per month of free usage to *qualifying* companies, for 3 years). You would need to research your eligibility.

    When calculating costs, Azure quotes are per month, Amazon per hour. Allow 744 hours for a typical calendar month.

    Note that hosting on Azure still allows you to use Amazon’s SES, but you do not get the free 62,000 outgoing emails per month. But it might still work out cheaper, depending on your needs. Here is Mautic’s “choosing an email service” video:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vkel5Ym2-k

    DISCLOSURE: I am not advertising my services, or affiliated with Mautic or Amazon in any way. I do not benefit by describing their products or services. None of my links are ‘affiliate links’. I am a Software Architect with 27 years experience,having built Motorola’s intranet for their European Cellular Infrastructure Group, a multi-lingual CRM system for Scania used in 17 countries, a custom CRM system for General Motors Europe, and the GEMS system for publishing the UK Acts of Parliament and Statutory Instruments. And I love dogs. I am posting my recommendations based on first-hand knowledge of many services such as MailChimp, First Response, Aweber, SendGrid, Amazon SES, Mautic, etc etc etc.

    My LinkedIN profile is here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/davidmcquiggin/

  4. Appreciate your analysis; thanks. I will look into ConvertKit.

    One slight correction: MailChimp _does_ support segmentation. Using multiple lists in one account to achieve “segmentation” is strongly discouraged, for all the reasons you discovered yourself.

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