Firstly, what is ConvertKit?
ConvertKit says it best themselves: “ConvertKit is email marketing software for creators.”
They provide a simple way of collecting email addresses from your audience, so you can communicate with them, and grow your business.
Several years ago (2016? 2017?), I came across designer & YouTube-r Charli Marie (her video on wireframes, specifically) and started watching her vlogs. Then she started talking about how she works remotely for this company called ConvertKit and I was curious.
I signed up for the Product Masterclass they were offering at the time and dove in with my free trial.
Absolutely loved it.
I loved the masterclass. I loved the webinars. I loved the culture of the company and their desire to teach their customers how to succeed. It was very different from my experience with Mailchimp, which was incredibly hands-off.
I’m still an avid follower of Charli’s and love how open she is with her work at ConvertKit. The company culture appears to be one that fosters growth and communication and transparency. And their entire team is remote.
Like… hire me, I love you.
The issue back then was that I used ConvertKit in that… I didn’t use it.
I couldn’t commit myself to put myself out there as an expert in my field, grow an email list, and speak to my audience. (25+ years experience is just not enough to talk about a topic, right? Hello, Imposter Syndrome.)
I couldn’t bring myself to pay every month for something I wasn’t using, as much as I wanted to use it. So I went back to Mailchimp. (Admittedly, I barely used that, too.)
Fast forward several years to 2019, when I started ramping up my self-confidence and pushing Imposter Syndrome to the side. And using Mailchimp more, while eyeing ConvertKit every time I had to create a campaign to send a basic email.
ConvertKit starts at $29 a month, for up to 1,000 subscribers.
When you’re just starting, this can be a steep monthly investment, which is why I stayed with Mailchimp for so long. I felt like I couldn’t financially afford the switch.
However, just this year, they have started offering free accounts. This encouraged me to pay for their service for a few reasons:
- I’m at a point in my business I can’t afford not to utilize email lists
- I missed ConvertKit every time I logged in to Mailchimp
- In theory, my paying for my account helps keep free accounts for others available, right?
Because I’m now paying for the service, I am more encouraged to build and utilize my mailing list now than ever. It’s like a gym membership: we’re paying for it, let’s use it!
Plus, it’s a business expense and I get to write the expense off on my taxes (Check with your local tax professional.), which is nice.
The biggest reason is kind of selfish: I’ve always recommended ConvertKit but felt weird that I wasn’t using it myself. Now, I can recommend the service and even help clients navigate it when needed, because I am using it, too.
That makes me feel so much better.
Y’all! Y’all. Their integration with WordPress is seamless, compared to Mailchimp.
Trying to get a “pretty-looking” Mailchimp signup form embedded on my WordPress site required a lot of jiggery-pokery, HTML & CSS and understanding of Mailchimp’s forms. Fine for me, tho time consuming, and a bit much for folks that don’t want to deal with code.
ConvertKit makes it very easy by comparison. You download their free plugin, put in your API key/s and you’re done.
There is a widget you can use on any of your sidebars, and at the bottom of every page and post. When writing up a post, you can select which form you want at the bottom of that page/post. This means you can have any number of forms in ConvertKit to use on any post for incredibly succinct segmenting for your audience.
It’s fully integrated and fully designed. Less work.
Can you get granular with the CSS and design it how you want? Of course. But you don’t have to.
Their landing pages are relatively new and are very beautiful. When you utilize a landing page, or form, your list is segmented automatically.
And, again, if you have a WordPress site, the integration is seamless. You create a new page, select from the Landing Page dropdown box at the bottom of the screen and boom. You have a landing page on your website.
This is ideal for “Coming Soon” launches and promotions where you want to keep your branding tight and make sure everything is on your site.
Visual Sequence Building
I’m a designer and a web developer. I understand complex ways of thinking and structuring things in a “developer way” very methodically, but I’m also a very visual creature.
One of the biggest reasons I didn’t want to leave ConvertKit years ago is their visual sequence building. You write up your emails and drag them around in the order you want them to go out. This is ideal if you have evergreen content and want to start new subscribers on a specific email and send emails in a sequence.
Combine that with their visual automation builder and you can see your email plan in a flowchart. This tickles my developer heart with delight because it’s logical, and my designer brain because it’s laid out in a visual way that is concise.
Setup with Freebies In Mind
Doing a free pdf download with Mailchimp requires jiggery-pokery. ConvertKit was built around incentive giving for your audience, such as a free PDF, to grow your mailing list.
Whether you are building a form or a landing page, it doesn’t matter. When creating your form or landing page, right in there is a “Send Incentive Email” checkbox and a place to either link to the incentive (URL) or attach it right there (upload file). Once the person’s subscription is confirmed, they get the incentive they signed up for!
No additional emails to write up (unless you want) to link to the PDF… they get the PDF straight away.
Sending a one-off email?
In Mailchimp, you have to set up an entirely new campaign. While you are essentially doing the same thing in ConvertKit, the way they handle it is very different.
With ConvertKit, you click” New Broadcast”, choose your recipients, and start writing. You can just write an email and hit send. This is fabulous if you send monthly handwritten newsletters in addition to all of your automated sequences.
By comparison, Mailchimp felt like it was constantly getting in my way when I just wanted to get in and make my email.
The writing experience is clean and straightforward, just like writing in a Word or Google doc. I appreciate this a great deal.
Formatting is basic, but really, I don’t want to spend my time formatting every piece (truly, I don’t), I just want to get my email written and sent.
ConvertKit’s writing environment encourages this. The tone of my newsletters has even changed to a more relaxed format because I am more relaxed and it feels more personal in this writing environment.
Mailchimp is stuck in content boxes for the moment, and I don’t miss them.
HTML & Text emails. It’s a formatting, standardization, and SPAM ridden war in the email deliverability world. Which is better? It often feels like Mac vs PC …
I say whatever is opened the most is better, and when in doubt let your audience decide if they want HTML or Text emails.
That said… if what you are sending out is mostly text? Send a damn plain text email.
Now, my deliverability with ConvertKit is up from Mailchimp. My open rates are higher and links are clicked MORE and I have a strong suspicion it is because there is far less HTML formatting in the emails. I need more data to be certain, but I’m going to go with my gut reaction of “yes, plain text wins.”
Switched & Going In Less Than 1 Hour
My list at the time of my switch was under 100 people, but I was able to get up and running and emailing everyone in less than an hour. I retained most of my tags from Mailchimp, too. The ones I lost were easy enough to replace because there weren’t that many.
Convertkit will help you switch, too! Migration can take from 2-3 days to 2-3 weeks, depending on list size. Oh, and, it’s free.
Size of List & Maxing out on Emails
Convertkit wants you to be actively emailing your audience and therefore doesn’t put a cap on the number of emails you can send. Their pricing is based on the size of the list you have, not a combination of the size of the list and the number of emails, which his very freeing.
Okay, but what sucks about it?
Data and reporting
It just does not feel like there is as much data as Mailchimp gives you or I haven’t figured out how to access it. (Still getting used to the setup differences.)
Mailchimp is great for huge lists, with e-commerce tracking and analytics surrounding shopping and re-marketing.
ConvertKit integrates with all of my e-commerce, too, but I am either not utilizing it properly, or not paying the same attention to it. The setups and audiences are very different from each other, and really, I have noticed a difference in how I’m using the two services.
Mailchimp felt very commercial and data focused, whereas ConvertKit feels very relaxed and audience focused.
Is it me? Is it the services? Not sure yet.
No mobile app.
I’m on my phone. A lot. (Maybe too much.) Mailchimp’s mobile app was limited in functionality, but it was nice to be able to quickly see reports while on my phone.
ConvertKit’s website isn’t very mobile friendly at the moment. It’s functional, but you have to do a lot of pinching and scrolling on an iPhone.
They fucked up, big, on a rebrand.
In transparency, and because someone asked me to find out about the name ConvertKit (for which I can find no concrete explanation or history and that is frustrating) I do want to bring up a fiasco from 2018.
In 2018 they announced a massive rebrand from ConvertKit to “Seva.”
Did they apologize in the right way? Not for me to say. Should they have attempted to use a term from a different language and/or a different culture to brand their company just because they liked it? Hell no. Did they learn from their mistake? Only time will tell.
Honestly, I grapple with this fuck up and the fact that I love their product and service, which is why I bring it up.
You have to make your own decisions here.
I still don’t like the logo.