I’ve been all over the place when it comes to the different email marketing services I’ve used. Today, I’m sharing my story of why I moved to ConvertKit. I started my online business journey in 2006, officially though it was 2008. Doesn’t really matter much though since that’s a hell of a long time in the internet world to be working online.
To say I’ve seen it all in terms of internet marketing might be a bit of an exaggeration but I really have seen a lot of techniques and tactics that have been used by many online entrepreneurs.
While I could easily write a whole article about the different techniques that have been used by a lot of on line experts, one thing I’ve become pretty good at is the quickly identifying the icky feeling ones. The ones where they use a lot of color and splash to convince you to sign up for the amazing “tool or technique” that they spent 100s of thousands on to develop and test, but for TODAY only you can get it for free by just giving up your email address.
Thankfully this article isn’t about that or those techniques.
A Convertkit Review: My Email Marketing Journey from MailChimp (insert many others) to MailerLite to ConvertKit
When I started in 2008, email marketing was THE marketing tool. Now we’re inundated with choices with social media.
But the reality is…Email marketing is still THE best tool to personally connect, share and get to know your community.Click To Tweet
Yes, Youtube and video can help build that bond.
Yes, Facebook can help build that bond.
Yes, Pinterest can give you the exposure you desire.
Yet, all of this means diddly squat if you can’t follow up with your community and share your awesome.
Email is the way to do this.
All of these other marketing channels could disappear at a moments notice and those subscribers on Youtube, followers on Twitter and Pinterest and your “friends” on Facebook will be gone. No way to follow up.
Getting someone to share their email address is a personal invite from your subscriber that they are inviting you into their inbox. They have opened the virtual door and invited you to stop by for a cuppa tea or lunch.
So it’s important to treat those emails with respect and to nurture that friendship in a way that is very much different than any other marketing platform.
This article will explore my journey as an online entrepreneur from the perspective of email and how I settled on ConvertKit as my email marketing service of choice.
I will share with you which programs I have used (and I’ve used a lot), where I am now in terms of my email marketing. I have more share about my email marketing journey and will share more about all of that in the coming months.
This article won’t dive into too much of the actual how of the programs, but should give you a good handle of what the different programs can do for you and even give you an idea of which program may be right for you.
Before I go further, I wanted to make sure you’re aware that many of the links in the article will be affiliate links and specifically the links with an * will be my affiliate links. Okay, public service announcement done! 🙂
Where My Email Marketing Journey Started
When I first launched the first version of my business, Redhead Business Management, I was offering general administrative support, but this quickly morphed into offering email marketing solutions along with many other technical marketing solutions.
Today, I don’t offer those services anymore, but supporting different entrepreneurs from small 1 person shops to large 7 figure + businesses, I have used, tried and tested pretty well all of the email marketing programs that mattered.
I have used or worked with:
- Active Campaign
- Campaign Monitor
- Constant Contact
- Get Response
- Mad Mimi
When I first started my business, I wasn’t thinking about using email marketing. I didn’t really think it applied to me and was going to be useful for my business, but I quickly discovered as I worked with my clients the value that email marketing brought to their marketing mix, so I decided to have a simple newsletter sign-up on my site.
In 2008, that still worked because email was still a bit of a novelty and people liked getting email.
I decided to go with MailChimp to get started.
At the time, I got full access to everything for the first 2,000 subscribers, so it was an easy low risk endeavor. Up went my email subscribe box and I started to see sign ups. No many but enough to make me happy.
As I got more exposure to different programs I started to think that maybe a different service could work better for me, at the time MailChimp was still pretty clunky and you needed to have a bit of a technical mind to figure it out.
As clients came to me and would ask me about different programs I saw the benefit in trying out different services if I hadn’t had a chance to test one out with a client. So I moved my email list a lot. I started with MailChimp then…
Phew, that’s a bit crazy just looking at that. I made all the changes in the name of “helping” my clients, but the truth is deciding which email service to use is a BIG decision and something you don’t want to make lightly.
Why I’m with ConvertKit Now
Choosing the wrong email marketing service can actually affect your open rates, click through rates and depending on the quality of the service it can also determine whether or not your email lands in your subscribers email inbox!
I loved the interface, support and some of the features are way above most of their competitors, but I found myself hitting a wall for some of the automation features. Which had me spending too much time to figure out too many work arounds to make things work the way I desired.
ConvertKit on the other hand was built by bloggers, with a focus on creating a system that works for bloggers and website owners. It made sense, even though I went from not paying for my service to paying $29 per month.
It made sense because it makes the work easier for me, it’s the same reason I use WP Engine for my web hosting. Though they are pricier than many webhosts the time I save not having to manage many maintenance tasks is invaluable to me
For the period of time I’ve been using ConvertKit I have have found the results to be worth the investment. I’ve also noticed an increase in subscriptions. I’ll share about this in another post, but for now let’s keep this high level.
What I like about ConvertKit
ConvertKit makes the on-boarding process a breeze, their customer support is helpful and they have pretty good documentation in their knowledge base if that’s your preference for finding answers (which is usually my first choice).
I like the way they have the focus on the subscriber when it comes to list management, so your subscriber is on your list once and then you use the tagging and segment features to make sure they are getting the right content they are asking for. The automations are really awesome allowing you to create some pretty advanced automations to make sure that your subscribers are getting just the right content at the right time.
I have a full article and video in the works to really cover all the amazing features for this program, I’m thinking I might create a training course for ConvertKit to share what I’ve discovered.
Is ConvertKit the only choice then?
There’s a reason why there’s so many options available for email marketing services. Each program offers different features and interfaces. We’re all different and different services work better for different folks. The same goes with website builders. When I started in 2008 WordPress was still a bit of out an outlier and many sites at the time were made with programs like Dreamweaver or even Microsoft FrontPage – in fact my very first site was using FrontPage, Yowzaa!
I now use and fully recommend ConvertKit, because it makes my daily business tasks easier to tackle.
You might be saying,
“Ok Renee, I get that but I really had to search the couch cushions to get the funds to get my web hosting.
I don’t think I’m ready to invest a regular monthly fee like that right now”.
I understand. Completely.
Though I am of the philosophy that you get what you put into your business AND if you’re serious about building your blog into a successful & profitable business for yourself you’ll need to invest in the right tools that will make your job easier.
Still Not Ready to Invest In ConvertKit?
What if you still feel you’re not ready to invest in a service like ConvertKit.
There are other good services and different price points that might work for you.
But first let me share why I’m recommending these programs. My experience let’s me give you an perspective that not many folks are able to offer. I have used all of these services and I feel that the two I share below are the best ones after ConvertKit if you’re just starting your blog business and your funds are tight. One is completely free to start and the other one has a very reasonably priced monthly subscription.
Let me break them down a bit for you.
A great service at a great price point even if you choose to upgrade to the a paid service. To start you can have up to 1,000 subscribers on their free plan and at the time of writing this you get access to all of their features.
This includes their automation’s and landing pages (which is easier to use than ConvertKit).
What’s to like about MailerLite:
- The user experience when using the service is important. They have a nice graphical user interface.
- Their support is good. I’ve heard of some folks having iffy experiences, but I think that might be due to growing pains
- The price point when you decide to upgrade is awesome, starts at only $10 per month
- I absolutely love that you can customize the Unsubscribe page. One thing I think all the other services are really lacking on.
- They have a nice drag & drop email builder. If creating emails with lots of images and other features is important then MailerLite makes this easy.
My opinion? If you’re super tight and you absolutely can’t invest in ConvertKit or even one of the other services then MailerLite is a great choice.
I used ActiveCampaign for about a year.
It’s a solid service and offers a lot of functionality at a great price point. If you’ve been using Infusionsoft and struggle with the monthly price point ActiveCampaign is in fact a great alternative. Offering pretty well all of the same functionality as InfusionSoft at a much easier on the pocket book price.
What’s to like about ActiveCampaign:
- Plans start at just $9 per month with free trial to test out the service and see if it’s for you.
- You get a whole automation email suite that can offer a lot of options for the long terms
- They email builder is pretty good and offers lots of flexibility for creating emails if using graphics in your emails is important.
My warning about ActiveCampaign is because it offers SO MUCH in terms of automation you can easily get overwhelmed by the options and if you don’t take some time to set up your foundation like your naming scheme for your tags you’re setting up can quickly get out of hand and turn into a pretty crazy mess.
My opinion: If you’re already using Infusionsoft and you’re looking for a suitable alternative at a fantastic price point then I encourage you to take a look at ActiveCampaign. If you’re a blogger with a focus on sharing your content with your readers then starting with MailerLite or investing in ConvertKit will be a better choice.
Wait! What about MailChimp?
Before all the MailChimp users hit me up with some nasty comments. I WAS a big fan of MailChimp for many, many years. In fact I had my own training that I offered that gave folks a quick launch plan to using MailChimp.
MailChimp though, in my opinion has taken a turn and seems to have forgotten where most of it’s community comes from. I think it could be a change in their monetization plans, realizing that what they offered wasn’t sustainable and now they are trying to make up for that. Yet, in the process they’ve lost what made them a pretty fun service to use. Recently they opened up their automation options to everyone again. I find how they manage subscribers old-school with a focus on individual lists pretty cumbersome. I was also never a fan that if you have a subscriber on mulitple lists the subscriber is included in your subscriber count multiple times.
If you offer very distinctly different products or services or if you have multiple blogs or websites that should remain distinct from one another then MailChimp may work, but personally I think ConvertKit, MailerLite or ActiveCampaign will do a better job of managing your subscribers.
Where am I now?
I use to be so hyper focused on my number of subscribers and that was the ONLY number that mattered to me. Today, that has changed I am focused on my engagement numbers and over the years I’ve culled my list of inactive subscribers and in doing so removed over 2,500 subscribers.
Does it hurt to do that? Yes, it totally sucks. But the reality is that those 2,500 subscribers weren’t engaging in what I had to share. They didn’t OPEN any of my emails for a YEAR. I was paying for subscribers just so I could say I had a certain sized list.
Now I regularly get 30% engagement and click through rates of 2%. Could this number be better? Yes! Most definitely and it’s something I’m working hard to improve. I’ll be sharing those details when I have the results to share.
Bah!Your engagement from your subscribers is far more important than the size of your list. Trust me on this. Click To Tweet
Here’s a bit of perspective: I participated in a joint giveaway event where folks would have access to a whole bunch of different gifts to subscriber to. Now this can be a great way to grow your list if the event is really targeted well, but you should always expect a high unsubscribe rate shortly after the event is over as many of those new subscribers just signed up to get your free stuff.
I’d rather receive emails like this from a subscriber to a recent email I sent:
I also focus on my revenue that I get from my email list. They experts say that you can expect to earn $1 for every subscriber on your email list, so if you have 500 subscribers you can easily earn $500 from your blog or website. My own personal experience this has been confirmed over and over again, but it doesn’t have to stop there. Last month April 2017, I earned a $5.71per subscriber! It’s more than 5 times the expectation so it’s a pretty awesome number to see and calculate.
How to do you figure out your revenue per subscriber? Take the revenue you earned that is comes as a result of your email list and divide that by the number of subscribes you have on your list that month.
Should you make the move to ConvertKit too?
While email marketing is one part of your marketing mix, I believe it’s the one area that you should focus on since engagement and the potential to earn a living using email marketing has great potential for any one that puts the time and effort into.
So, should you move to ConvertKit? That’s a decision I can’t make for you, but if you know you want to monetize your blog the best way to this is to encourage your visitors to sign up to your email list. ConvertKit makes this process easy and I believe is a service that you can use for the longer term and not be like me moving from service to service because they just don’t see to quite work for what you want to accomplish.
Got questions, leave a reply and get in touch I’m here to help you.
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