I’ve used MailChimp to send my newsletters for the past few years – and I still think it’s a great service (and you can’t beat the free price when you’re starting out).
But now that my business is moving away from service based offerings to more products and courses, I needed a more powerful solution. I’ve been doing a lot of cumbersome workarounds with MailChimp to make it meet my current needs. For example, when someone bought my ebook, I had to use a 3rd party tool (zapier.com) to connect the two services. I had a “zap” connecting a purchase on gumroad.com to a new list in Mailchimp. I had various other “zaps” doing everything from adding people to special MailChimp groups to sending a sample .pdf from one of my ebooks. And I had 10 lists (and counting) to keep track of special offers and groups of people that I wanted to keep separate.
I felt like I had outgrown the chimp, but I didn’t really want to move to infusionsoft or ontraport. I work behind the scenes with larger clients that use both of these services and honestly, I didn’t want to have to spend the time reading the hours of documentation to get setup (nor did I want to have to pay a “specialist” thousands of dollars to do it for me). As a designer, the interfaces of both services are a pain to deal with. Plus I couldn’t really justify the cost of either service to meet my specific needs.
Why I switched
I’ve been hearing about ConvertKit* for a while (and even got an account last year but never got around to looking at it in-depth until a few weeks ago). It can be overwhelming to contemplate switching services, so I kept putting it off (yes, designers do this too…)
When I finally dove in, I fell in love. I could tell that this was a product created by people who actually understand what their customers need. And it’s a joy to use.
Here’s what I love about ConvertKit
One list for everything.
In ConvertKit you only have one list. This took my mind a bit of time to wrap my head around…but it’s awesome. Instead of multiple lists, ConvertKit uses “tags” to identify what your subscriber is interested (or not interested in). Tags are similar to MailChimp groups, but a heck of a lot easier to setup and use. Since you only have one list, subscribers are only counted once, but can be endlessly tagged. (In MailChimp subscriber count is based on lists – so the same person could be counted multiple times, which can add up when you’re paying a monthly fee).
The signup forms. Finally easy for everyone.
I’m techy. I can dig into code. But the ability to drop a bit of pre-made code on a site and have it just work and look decent? This makes my heart happy. It takes just a few seconds to create a new form or landing page – with pre-set styles that are modern and clean. Want to get fancy? You can copy their code and customize it with CSS. Oh, they’re mobile friendly too. No more endless media query fixes that can take forever to make it look right on mobile devices.
The forms are SMART.
This is way cool. Say someone has signed up already – you don’t want to keep showing them the same form, right? Well ConvertKit gives you the option to promote other things if that person has already signed up. So smart.
Triggers & Actions. Oh my.
This is where it gets fun. Want to create new offers on the fly? Say you want to give away a freebie .pdf download and track those subscribers so you can send them a specific offer. Simply copy another form, change the text and upload the .pdf right there. So easy. Then you can add an “automation” (what ConvertKit calls triggers & actions) to tag a subscriber when they opt-in to that form. Now you can see exactly what subscribers are interested in what (and no more cumbersome workarounds if someone is already subscribed to your list).
Glorious metrics. Data can be fun.
Statistics was the one class I avoided in college, but now I’ve learned to love it. And ConvertKit makes it so easy to see what’s converting … and what isn’t. It’s dead easy to setup new forms for new offers. Check out this screenshot (left image) from the dashboard that shows me exactly what forms people are using to opt-in.
If you know me, you know I love testing – and now I can easily see what forms are working. Subscribers are tagged with where they signed up (even if they signed up multiple times) – which allows me to do further analysis of the customer journey based on where they opted in. Should I keep the sticky header or the sticky footer signup? Both are converting well – so it makes sense to keep both.
WordPress integration is a snap.
Sure I could write a function to show a different form after every blog post, but that would be a pain. ConvertKit has an awesome plugin that allows you to select a specific form to show at the end of blog posts. Want a different opt-in offer after every blog post? Go crazy, because now you can.
(On SquareSpace? You can still use ConvertKit).
Campaigns are easy to create.
I’m a designer – I always “felt” like I had to create a “designed” newsletter. And this would stop me from writing a lot. Yes you can create “graphic” newsletters with ConvertKit, but it’s really meant for clean, simple text based newsletters. And guess what – I don’t dread writing newsletters anymore (so you’ll likely hear a lot more from me)!
Open rates are higher.
I’ll be watching this closely to see if it changes over time – but I’ve already seen a 5-7% increase in open rates. That’s huge.
No spam signups
This was a huge problem for me with MailChimp over the last 6-9 months. I kept getting obvious spam signups (even though it was a double opt-in). Sometimes I’d get 5-10 a day. And then I’d have to manually remove them. I tried everything – from special captcha settings to anti-spam plugins. And nothing stopped the flow (and judging by the forums, I wasn’t the only one). So far I’m not having that problem with ConvertKit (knock on wood).
The power of courses.
I haven’t even explored this in great detail – but I’m excited about the potential. What MailChimp calls automations and other services call auto responder sequences, ConvertKit calls “courses” (name soon to be changed). Courses are an easy way to do sales sequences and freebie samples of your content.
I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about a few things I don’t love…
- There’s no app. Campaign Monitor and MailChimp both have great apps for on the go reporting. I’m hopeful ConvertKit will add this feature later on.
- It’s not really setup for graphically “designed” emails. So for those clients that need this feature, I’ll be sticking with Campaign Monitor.
- It’s new. Really new. This means that it’s not as well-known as a lot of the big guys. And it’s not integrated with a lot of other 3rd party services just yet. However, it is integrated with the services I do use (and recommend) for courses and products like Gumroad, Thinkific, Teachable, Gravity Forms and Wishlist Member. And customer support is fantastic.
Wondering if you should switch?
If you’re running a yoga studio or fitness business…
You probably need to stick with Constant Contact since it’s integrated into MindBody Online. Keep your life easy for now. But know that it’s going to be harder for you to implement some strategies because of the limitations of that service.
If you’re looking to create graphically gorgeous newsletters…
I would stick with Campaign Monitor or MailChimp. I use Campaign Monitor extensively with a few clients and I love it – it has a lot of the same features as ConvertKit (and a great app) but doesn’t have tagging. However, it does have a gorgeous drag-and-drop editor and the ability to do robust auto responders – so if you’re already using it, I’d stay there.
If you need to integrate with courses you’ve already setup…
You might want to stick with what you’re currently using if you’re already heavily invested (especially if you’re already using Infusionsoft or Ontraport).
If you’re a blogger and/or going to create courses and products in the future….
If you’re looking to create courses or products (especially using Gumroad, Teachable or Thinkific) ConvertKit might be a great option for you. It has native integration with those services, making it a snap to connect your products and courses and tag subscribers.
Checklist of what you need to change before, during and after the switch
A few notes on what to do if you do decided to switch email providers.
- Make sure to export (and save) your current lists.
- Make a note of ALL the places you have linked to your newsletter signup forms and update your links. (Don’t forget your social media accounts and profile bios!)
- Don’t delete your old account for a least a few weeks (people often open newsletters days later, so you want to make sure you get an accurate accounting).
*Please note: I’m a proud affiliate for ConvertKit and may receive compensation if you sign-up using my link. I only recommend products I use for myself and my clients.
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