Why We Switched to ConvertKit for Email Marketing (And How to Get Started on ConvertKit)
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In the Fall of 2015, we switched all of our email marketing over to “ConvertKit.”
It’s been one of the best investments we’ve ever made, and our decision to choose ConvertKit over any other email system has helped us grow immensely (and saved our sanity).
Since then, we’ve received so many questions from people asking us why we made the switch, what was involved with moving our lists over to a new platform, and what our experience has been with ConvertKit since then.
So today I’m showing you behind the scenes of our business into the platform we use to send all of our emails, build and run our funnels, and more.
This article goes in depth into what you need to consider when choosing a technology or system to use in your own business, why we had to get off of MailChimp ASAP, and why we chose ConvertKit (as well as how we use it in our own business, with examples).
What is an email platform? What does it do?
If you're brand new to building an email list, you’ll need to choose an email list provider service.
Your Email Management System will help you organize your list, keep track of your subscribers, and send out the actual email broadcasts.
Your email platform collects your email subscribers, can add tags and levels of organization to your subscribers, and allows you to broadcast emails to your list.
Leadpages can create opt-in pages and landing pages for your freebies, but it can’t actually “hold” or collect those emails.
You have to send those email addresses to ConvertKit to be organized, tagged, and housed.
(MailChimp, ConvertKit, AWeber, ActiveCampaign, OntraPort and Infusionsoft are all popular options.)
We know you’re curious about why we chose ConvertKit over so many other options! We’ll explain everything in this article.
First off, let’s just cross a few off our list.
Infusionsoft, OntraPort, and ActiveCampaign are all fine options - but they are very much advanced.
You would need a dedicated tech person on your team to be able to use them to their potential. They’re a bit clunkier, harder to use, and very expensive.
Aweber and MailChimp just don’t have the features that modern online business owners need, and are also not ideal.
(I answer the question “Why not MailChimp?” in the section below.)
It can be hard to decide what to spend your money on when you are first starting out.
When you have a budget, you have to make the most of each dollar before you start making a profit from your business that you can re-invest into more tools and tech.
But I also want you to make the smartest, best decisions for you.
I do not want you to start using a platform or system now that you regret using 6 months from now when you have to migrate your content, move your email lists, and re-do your website.
There are real costs involved with not using the right tools from the start. Let me explain.
When I cheaped out on my systems and software from the start, I ended up paying for it 10x later when I had to hire someone to fix it for me. I spent about $3000 having to migrate my email lists, courses, and everything over to the RIGHT platforms. Playing catch up is expensive.
I cheaped out by staying with MailChimp for way too long. My emails weren’t delivering, to the tune of about 30% of my audience not seeing any of my emails. That means 30% of my audience didn’t get my launch emails.
That means by not using a better platform, it cost me 6-figures in revenue. Yikes.
Stress and headaches:
Hacking together systems that only half-work half of the time caused me mega meltdowns and bad, stressful days.
Spending hours trying to figure something out on my own instead of just paying someone to help me or do it for me...not worth the pain and anxiety.
And then there’s your students and customers...
When you invest in your email marketing, you make more sales and connect with your customers and students. Think about their experience. With ConvertKit, the right students and subscribers get the right emails based on their actions and behavior, a better experience for them.
Instead of spraying and praying like with other platforms that just send blasts to everyone, you’re never sending promo emails to existing customers.
You can exclude people who already registered for a webinar from a reminder email.
You can give your subscribers a pleasant experience! Instead of being annoyed with you, they'll love you.
You’ll want to consider these three things when you go to choose your platforms and systems:
How much can you afford now and if you made a few sales, what could you afford for your business? I often can justify buying a certain software knowing that if I put it to use, I can make the investment back! That’s definitely the case with ConvertKit - since it helps you grow your list and make sales, it has a return on investment.
Do you know how to set things up? You want to choose a platform that’s easy to use for not only you, but gives your customers and audience a simple experience too.
Choose platforms that are beginner friendly (simple and easy for anyone to use) and empire equipped (able to scale up when your business grows and you have more sales and more subscribers). If you're not tech savvy - like me! - platforms like Squarespace, ConvertKit, and DPD are perfect.
Why we left Mailchimp:
"Why not MailChimp?"
I actually started out on MailChimp when I first started my online business selling digital items.
It’s pretty widely recommended as a great way to get started. But after using it myself and then using other platforms, I really can’t recommend it to you.
Complicated to use:
Even though it’s easy to do SOME things in MailChimp and it “made for beginners” - it’s actually very complicated to do things like set up a webinar list, create an email course, or create a welcome email. It took me months to learn how to do certain things that now I know are just so easy to do in ConvertKit.
Our biggest gripe is that we had delivery issues. Meaning people who had opted in for our list were not receiving any emails from us! Many emails would end up in Promotions or Spam, which has a huge impact on your business and revenue.
I’ll admit, when I first started growing my email list I didn’t understand why tagging and tracking my audience was important.
I mean, if they’re on my list, who cares why they signed up or how they got there right?
It is so imperative that you keep track of who opted in where and with what lead magnet, which topics people are interested in, and more. MailChimp made this impossible to do. Huge regret not doing this sooner.
The biggest difference between ConvertKit and MailChimp is that MailChimp is “list-based” where as ConvertKit is “subscriber-based”.
With MailChimp, we were paying for the same person multiple times to be on multiple lists.
My email list on MailChimp cost up to $250/month at one point - for very basic features - because I had so many duplicates trying to keep it organized.
We saved a ton of money by switching to ConvertKit.
So yes, I started on MailChimp back on the day. But I wish I hadn’t and I wouldn’t do it that way again. I wish I had switched over to ConvertKit sooner.
Choosing ConvertKit for Email:
When your business grows, you are going to wish SO BADLY that you had been tracking and tagging your list from the start - really. ConvertKit is also going to deliver your email courses if that’s your preferred format.
I am so happy that we now use ConvertKit. It’s so simple to use, I love the interface, and how fast it is to send emails. We actually make more money now because we can really effectively segment our emails, promote to the right people, and create multiple email “funnels” for our courses that people can opt in to.
A big question we get is “Why did you switch to ConvertKit? How did you decide to choose that platform over all the other options?” There are so many reasons, but here are the big ones:
So Easy To Use:
I love how minimal and simple ConvertKit is. It’s designed and built by designers, so usability is tangibly better than any other platform I’ve used. I can send out an email in 5 minutes instead of spending an hour building out, designing, and preparing my emails like in MailChimp. It’s very intuitive to use - everything just makes sense from the first time you look at it. If I can comfortably use it, you can too!
Built In Email Courses and Sequences:
ConvertKit was built on the principle of using email courses to sell more of your products (yes, it was built by someone who created and sold eBooks and courses before creating the software - it’s literally designed for people like us!).
Delivering email courses in a simple, easy to implement way is baked into the software. It’s so simple to set up.
And creating more complex funnels and email sequences is a breeze - things like removing people who purchase from a sequence, or sending extra emails to people who visited the sales page is all possible and more important simple to set up.
Delivers Content Upgrades for You (No extra software needed):
One awesome thing about ConvertKit is that it delivers unique “content upgrades” or post-specific bonuses to subscribers in a simple, streamlined way.
No having multiple lists or weird opt ins. In a lot of ways, it does what LeadPages does in terms of delivering lead magnets. We get a ton of questions about how to deliver all of those different freebies without having tons of lists and complicated set-up - and ConvertKit makes it simple.
Tagging, Segments, and Leads:
My favorite feature is the tagging, segmentation, and identification of Leads.
When someone downloads a specific opt-in on my site, they get tagged.
When someone clicks a link to read about a product, they get tagged as interested in that product.
When a subscriber opts in for a webinar, I can tag them too.
Over time, we get this amazing sense of what our customers and readers really want, what they are interested in, and how we can better serve them. We can see how many people are “leads” or especially interested in one product. We can remove people who already purchased from launch sequences. We can invite people to webinars who downloaded specific freebies. It’s amazing.
This one is really important and often overlooked. The same thing that makes MailChimp email pretty to look at is the same thing that makes it so they never show up in your audience’s inboxes.
When an email has a lot of fancy stuff going on - images, HTML, etc - your email sends it to spam. It looks like a “promotion”. This is REALLY BAD!
ConvertKit has a dedicated deliverability team that makes sure emails get into inboxes. This means that the people who opted in to be on your list actually get your emails about webinars, products, and blog posts - meaning more revenue for you.
Learn our Top-10 List Building Techniques to Get Your First (or Next) 1,000 Email Subscribers - watch our free workshop with Convertkit’s own Isa Adney!
Our Experience Migrating to ConvertKit:
If you’re starting your list from scratch, “Migration” doesn’t necessarily apply to you.
But if you have subscribers on a different platform, you’ll need to import them into ConvertKit by simply downloading a CSV (excel spreadsheet) from your current provider, and uploading into ConvertKit.
We had about 8,000 subscribers when we made the switch, and lots of different lists and sequences that became tags and automations in ConvertKit.
It took us a few hours to do it all. It’s not complicated or hard, just takes some time depending on how big or segmented your list is now.
If you just have one main list, then it won’t take long at all! And ConvertKit is ALWAYS happy to help you move your list over if you get stuck. They want you to have the best experience on their platform, and they’re customer service is quick to jump in and help you in any way.
Understanding ConvertKit terminology:
Form: How a subscriber joins your list. Enter a name and email address and you’re subscribed!
Landing Page: like a form, but with more content and design.
Sequence: A series of emails sent automatically based on subscription date. MailChimp calls them automations, Aweber calls them follow-up sequences, Infusionsoft calls them campaigns, other tools call them autoresponders.
Broadcast: A one-time email sent to a specific group of subscribers (or your entire audience). These are called campaigns in MailChimp.
Subscriber: Someone who gives you their email address to receive updates. Subscribers are account-wide with a single profile. This as you add data it all goes onto one profile rather than creating duplicate subscribers across lists.
Tag: a bit of metadata added to a subscribers profile to track their activity or preferences. Tags can be used to keep track of purchases, what a subscriber is interested in (e.g. design vs marketing), how engaged they are (clicked a link in a launch sequence) and where they were imported from. A subscriber can have an unlimited number of tags.
Segment: A saved selection of any combination of Forms, Sequences, and Tags. This makes it easy to access later for sending a broadcast or viewing the total number of subscribers. Segments never have duplicate subscribers even if the subscriber is in multiple sources for that segment.
How we use Tagging and Segments:
In our business, we loooove using the tagging and segmentation features in ConvertKit. It’s one of the main reasons we switched.
As your audience gets bigger, you’ll notice that your subscribers start to fall into different groups. Maybe you blog about both nutrition and yoga - but you notice that some of your audience signs up for all of your yoga related freebies, and others sign up for the nutrition related freebies.
Here are some of our tags, which is how we organize our subscribers by their interests.
This can help you segment your audience into different interest groups. Then when you go to launch a product, you know who to send those emails to.
Here's an example of some SEGMENTS we have created. For example, that Webinar Attendees segment is made of a collection of forms and tags related to any webinars we've done.
This is so much better than just spraying and praying and sending every email to every person on your list. Overall, tagging and segmenting our audience and being able to send only relevant emails to the people who want that content helps us create happy subscribers and get way less unsubscribes.
Again, with ConvertKit setting this up is not difficult or technical. It’s very simple - and very powerful. If the idea of tagging and segmenting sounds overwhelming, just remember you’ll start small and go from there, slowly adding more tags as you go.
Here are a few examples of how we use tagging and segmenting:
We remove everyone who purchases a product from receiving any more promotional/launch emails about the product.
We keep track of who downloads which content upgrades on our blog, then send special and relevant emails only to those groups (for example, if you sign up for a content upgrade about doing webinars, you’re going to get emails about webinar stuff).
We send extra “last call” emails during launches to those who have clicked on the links to sales pages and have shown extra interest, thus being tagged as a “warm lead” in our system.
We use automations to create one-click webinar registration in our emails. No need to go sign up on another landing page, just click and be automatically registered! This makes our conversion rates insanely high.
Those are just a few examples. You can go as simple or as complex with tagging as you want. It’s a very powerful tool!
Example tags to set up on ConvertKit:
Track the interests of your readers
Track leads for courses
Lead: Launch Your Signature Course
Lead: Webinar Rockstar
Lead: Your First 1K®
Track students in your existing courses
Student: Launch Your Signature Course
Student: Webinar Rockstar
Student: Your First 1K®
Example segments to set up on ConvertKit:
Differentiate between students and non-students and include any tags, forms, and segments that indicate a subscriber is a student
See how many students have registered for a webinar or giveaway(s)
All Webinar Attendees
All Giveaway Attendees
How we use ConvertKit Sequences:
Mainly, these are the funnels we have in place to sell our products on autopilot every day. But there are a few other ways Sequences come in handy, such as:
Creating a sales funnel with a specific offer related to the content upgrade the subscriber just opted in for
Create a course onboarding sequence for new students, so they receive weekly emails as a student to stay on track, get encouragement, and remind them to log in for the next week’s lesson.
Create a free email course to grow your list
Create a paid email course (my first successful course was a $97 email course)
Create a webinar onboarding sequence that leads up to your webinar to increase live attendance
Again, those are just a handful of examples! There are so many benefits to being able to easily set up a Sequence in ConvertKit.
ConvertKit is one of those rare tools that’s simultaneously dead simple to use (seriously, I can set up my own automations and tags in seconds) and also incredibly full-featured and robust.
It’s usually very difficult to find a platform that does both - simple and robust.
Even if you’re just starting out, your main focus should be setting up your email list. If you’re a brand new blogger or thinking of starting a business, you’ll want to start collecting and organizing emails in ConvertKit right now. The longer you wait, the more you’ll regret it (like me!).
And if you’re growing your current business, ConvertKit gives you the features to start segmenting your audience, having better launches, targeting the right people, and REALLY grow your list quickly with things like email courses and content upgrades.
If you need training on using ConvertKit and growing your list, Your First 1K® has everything you need in clear, easy to follow tutorials and videos.