ConvertKit: The Perfect Email Marketing Software For Bloggers

ConvertKit Review - FIZAre you frustrated with your email marketing software?

I was. For a very long time!

I used Aweber for a year, then it was MailChimp for the next two; I tried my hand at GetResponse and signed up to Benchmark Email and Vertical Response, but all these tools lacked one thing or another.

Aweber did not offer landing pages, MailChimp kept sending me fake subscribers, GetResponse forms kept disappearing on my sidebar, Benchmark opt-ins wouldn’t integrate with my lead-gen plugin Thrive Leads and Vertical Response was missing RSS campaigns. I was THOROUGHLY and UTTERLY frustrated.

I almost gave up on email marketing until I chanced upon ConvertKit, a relatively new email marketing software from designer, author and blogger Nathan Berry. My instant attraction to ConvertKit was that it was designed by a blogger, a person like me who probably went through the same pains any fellow blogger goes through when he’s looking for an ideal marketing solution that fits his needs; a tool easy enough to use, yet powerful, customizable, and affordable.

I quickly checked out the ConvertKit website and found out that the tool had some pretty impressive features. BUT there was no free trial period to test out the product. I had to do a minimum payout of $29 (for 1000 subscribers) to see the tool hands-on or forget it. I was like a cat on a hot tin roof– should I pay up and risk getting disappointed again or play safe with what I had. Better the known devil or the unknown angel?

After a long debate with myself, I decided I had nothing to lose and took the plunge. I signed up for the smallest plan and within an hour, had my opt-in forms and landing page all set up.

ConvertKit totally took me by surprise. Was I Happy? Disappointed?

The answer surprisingly is YES, to BOTH.

Happy because that was the fastest setup I had ever done in my life. Just like that, my forms were ready to go live on the site.

Disappointed because I had become used to choosing from a wide selection of templates with other software and ConvertKit offered me just 3, which felt more like 1.

Happy again, because there were some pretty radical features I never dared to consider using on other platforms but  ended up being so easy to set up on ConvertKit.

Happier still because I get to share my view of this awesome tool ConvertKit, which I believe will be a great fit for you if you are a blogger and have struggled with other tools like I have. After all, you don’t often come across a product that excites you so much that you want to wake up and sing its praises everyday. ConvertKit makes me want to do that. Everyday!

So here goes!



The ConvertKit UI – Clean, Polished and To the Point

Do you remember when you signed up to your first email provider?

I’ll bet you had no idea on how to get started. You probably watched a ton of YouTube videos and followed the step-by-step guide to get started and after a lot of stumbling, bumbling trials and errors you finally got it set up!

I know I had a really tough time with MailChimp and although it got a lot easier with other tools, it still required a learning curve, in some cases not so much, in other cases, a lot!

The most intuitive feature I found with ConvertKit is the UI, which while simple and clean is designed with a logical workflow in mind. At a glance, you know exactly what you have to do to get started. The Home page, for instance asks how you want to collect subscribers and gives you 2 straightforward options; either create a landing page or a form. Simples!

Creating Forms and Landing Pages with ConvertKit

Now to the unhappy part. ConvertKit only has 3 forms and 4 landing page templates and that’s all! Really? This can be off-putting for people who like to be dazzled with hundreds of templates, landing pages, forms and what not. But the fact is, ConvertKit keeps things simple and straightforward which is more than enough to get the job done. There is no distraction or overwhelming options to choose from.

Once you’ve selected your choice of newsletter, you move to the next logical step; customizing the email contents. You navigate to the Settings tab to do this and here is where ConvertKit really stands out.

  • You can set a ton of options from just one single page.
  • You can choose to embed a form on the site, host a full landing page, and determine what happens when a subscriber signs up. You can also set options to give subscribers an option to sign up for an email course as a thank you gift.
  • You can set up an offer of an incentive to new subscribers.
  • You can stylize forms to show up as full forms, keep it minimal, strip it down to the basics, or show up inline, slide in, or be modal (click a button and pop-up appears). If you are CSS savvy, you can add your own custom CSS too!
  • If you already have subscribers who have opted in, you can choose whether you want to hide the form (so sensible!) or display a form with custom content such as another product pitch. (so smart!)
  • Once everything is set up, you select your one-line JavaScript code or raw HTML  if you prefer and save the form.
  • If you have a Twitter for Business account, you can even setup Twitter Lead Generation cards integration.
  • And, should you need more forms, use the one-click option to quickly duplicate existing forms.

All this can be easily accomplished in a step-by-step fashion from just ONE SINGLE PAGE. There is no need to go back and forth, no need to check out video tutorials and no need to go through how to guides. The workflow is laid down in a COMPLETELY USER FRIENDLY style so you can have your form set up in minutes.

The Cool Factor: Logical flow of sequences and clearly organized inputs means creating forms should take less than 15 minutes.

Adding, Importing and Managing Subscribers

Convertkit subscribers

Moving lists from one email service provider to another can be risky and in case of huge lists, it can quickly become messy. I don’t have a big list of subscribers, just under 500 but a simple process of importing a CSV file was all that was needed to get the job done.

It took about a minute or two to receive a confirmation email and I was set. I doubt that a huge subscriber list would be a problem for ConvertKit.

Another advantage is the subscriber drop-down list, which lets you see who your confirmed, unconfirmed, complained, cancelled, bounced and cold subscribers are. You can easily manage your subscriber list by tagging the cold subscribers and sending them a broadcast mail to confirm their subscription. If you don’t hear from them, they can be easily taken off the list.

The Cool Factor: You can click on a subscriber name to learn more information about the person, including the ability to see a profile picture of the person.

Integration With All The Best Tools

ConvertKit Integrations

For anyone who is not pleased with the simplicity of the ConvertKit forms, there’s always options to use lead generation tools like LeadPages or Thrive Leads. Chances are, most professionals who are in the business for a long time are probably signed up to one service or another. Users on a tight budget can still use ConvertKit with free tools like SumoMe. Here are some of the tools ConvertKit integrates flawlessly with:

  • SumoMe
  • Thrive Leads
  • DPD
  • Easy digital downloads
  • Teachable (formerly Fedora)
  • ClickFunnels
  • Zapier
  • SendOwl
  • Genesis eNews Widget
  • SamCart
  • Shopify
  • Webinar Ninja
  • Gravity Forms
  • WooCommerce
  • Gumroad
  • WishList
  • OptimizePress
  • Optin Monster
  • Zippy Courses
  • Squarespace
  • and more…

Fans of WordPress plugins can also use the ConvertKit WordPress plugin to effortlessly add ConvertKit forms to their website.

The Cool Factor: Integration with Zapier means you can use ConvertKit to integrate with just about any software that is available online.

Opt-Ins – Responsive, Easy to Embed and Logical

ConvertKit WordPress Plugin

ConvertKit forms are all built to automatically adjust to any screen size. They are responsive, polished, light to load and look great on any device, whether mobile, tablet, laptop or desktop.

They are also easy to add to any website. As I mentioned earlier, its no-fuss integration works seamlessly with many of the best tools but a simple copy-paste of the code would work just as easily. You can place your forms inline, modal, slide-in or on the sidebar, and you can choose to show a different opt-in for someone who is already subscribed to the original.

After all, it would be amateurish to show the same opt-in form to someone who has already subscribed before. Showing another form such as one promoting a sale would be a great way to nudge the targeted subscriber into completing the sale.

The Cool Factor: With the WordPress plugin, you can display custom forms on different pages. So if you have a blogging post, you can display the blogging-related opt-in; if you’ve written a social media article, you can input the social-media-focused option.

Option to Deliver Incentives

Incentive email in ConvertKit

Incentives are a really clever and powerful way to get your visitors to part with their email address. If you are an author, you’ll probably want to give away a free chapter from your latest book; if you’re a blogger, you probably want to give away a blog planner or two. This can be tricky with tools like Mailchimp and Aweber and pricey with tools like LeadPages.

ConvertKit on the other hand makes it a breeze to set up incentives. You can create an unlimited number of opt-in forms for each of your incentives and have them auto delivered to new subscribers without you having to do anything extra.

The best part about ConvertKit is that you can then tag subscribers according to their downloads, making the job of segmentation super easy.

The Cool Factor: You can see at a glance which opt-ins and placements are best performing/converting and which incentives are more popular than others. This gives you the power to focus your attention on building better products and creating better content around that topic and improve your marketing efforts.

Easy Autoresponder Setup

ConvertKit Courses ConvertKit Courses 2

Setting up an Autoresponder campaign for sending drip email messages, especially if your first time doing it, can be exhausting. Since email messages need to be sequential, managing them often requires a lot of back and forth. If you haven’t completed your email setup, there is the added danger of an incomplete email being sent out. ConvertKit’s Autoresponder feature is called Courses and they are dead simple to create and manage.

Since Nathan has sold a number of his eBooks using this email marketing system, you bet he knows a thing or two about how to make it work successfully. His systematic system just MAKES SENSE. The whole process of sending drip email doesn’t have to be complicated and ConvertKit again proves that with its logical workflow.

The Course page has an easy-to-understand sequence where you can see how your messages flow from day 1.

  • 1 Day after subscription : new subscriber receives an introductory email.
  • 2 Days after last email:  subscriber receives an educational email.
  • 2 Days after last email:  subscriber receives an educational message along with a product introduction.
  • 4 Days after last email:  subscriber receives a soft sell message.
  • 5 Days after last email:  subscriber receives an educational email.
  • 6 Days after last email:  subscriber receives a hard sell message.
  • 4 Days after last email:  subscriber receives an educational email.
  • 5 Days after last email:  subscriber receives a soft sell message.

You can add more levels if you need to, but this smart sequence takes all the guesswork out of preparing an autoresponder series.

ConvertKit lets you get instantly started with your autoresponder series. The learning curve is negligible if not non-existent and you can start typing out the email contents in the convenient on-screen editor right away.

You can then preview the email and mark it as published or draft depending on the status. If you want to move an email up or down the sequence, the dashboard acts as a drag and drop editor so its just a question of clicking and dragging the tabs to make the adjustments. The dates automatically readjust themselves too!

I don’t know many tools that can make creating an autoresponder series such a breeze. Do you?

The Cool Factor: Autoresponder (Courses) feature is super intuitive with a logical workflow giving you the freedom to choose who you send out emails to.

Broadcasting to the World

convertKit Broadcast

Another popular feature that most email marketing tools offer is broadcasting. Most tools, again MailChimp seems to be the perfect example to bring in, makes this a convoluted process when it doesn’t have to be so.

With MailChimp you:

1. Create a new campaign by selecting from one of 4 types.

2. Select the list you want to broadcast to. (Multiple lists are not allowed.)

3. Enter basic details about the campaign such as the name, subject, from and to address, tracking options and so on.

4. Choose a template and customize it to match your content and brand.

5. Type out the contents of the broadcast email.

6. Confirm all the changes and schedule it to go or send it right away.

The broadcast process is no better with Aweber either.

With ConvertKit its just a simple 3 step process.

1. Choose your subscribers. You can choose all subscribers or filter them by segments, forms, tags and courses.

2. Type your content.

3. Preview and publish your email or schedule it.

ConvertKit also lets you choose who to broadcast your email messages to. For example, let’s say you want to send a broadcast email to promote your eBook. You can exclude certain subscribers from this list, such as those who already purchased the eBook earlier. The exclusion process is simply a matter of ticking some checkboxes.

The Cool Factor: ConvertKit lets you resend broadcasts to subscribers who haven’t opened your mail increasing the chances of engagement and open rates.



CONVERTKIT’s MOST POWERFUL FEATURE YET! – AUTOMATION

Automation Rules

When your business begins to expand and grow, you’ll want things to be automated. Automation is all the buzz now and it doesn’t come cheap or easy.

For instance, many of your subscribers probably signed up to read a free chapter of your eBook, but did not go on to complete the sale. Maybe they totally forgot about it, maybe not. Sending them an email a few days later may bring them back to complete the sale. manually, this is next to impossible to do. With ConvertKit this is a breeze.

At the moment there are about 8 automation rules you can perform. All you need to do is select a trigger on the right to perform an action listed on the left pane. Let’s look at an example.

Let’s say you created an autoresponder course to promote your new WordPress plugin. You can set an automation rule to tag subscribers who click a link in your email message to take up the free 30 day trial of your plugin to FREE TRIAL. During the course of the autoresponder series, ConvertKit will automatically tag subscribers who opted for the free trial offer.

Now you don’t just have a list of subscribers you have a highly targeted list who are interested in your plugin. You can now focus on this targeted list to send follow up emails encouraging them to complete the purchase. The follow up message could include a special discount or an extra bonus.

But the BIG DEAL here is that ConvertKit is able to automatically segment your list making it easy for you to gain more engagement and conversions. With no extra effort on your part!

Another example is how automation can help eCommerce websites target consumers. Since the tool plays nice with shopping carts such as Gumroad and Shopify, anyone purchasing a specific product can be tagged using automation rules so that follow up messages can be sent to the targeted group.

The follow up messages could promote items similar to what they purchased or educate them about a benefits of a comparatively similar product, get them to sign them up for a new educational course or simply be a request for testimonials.

Automation is an extremely powerful feature in email marketing. It ensures that you don’t SPAM users with too many email messages or force them to read email messages they are not interested in, which could prove counter-productive, leading to more unsubscribes and damaging your reputation in the process.

The Cool Factor: Automation works fluidly and rookies can get the hang of the whole process without much of a learning curve.

Easy Analytics

ConvertKit Forms

MailChimp’s stats reveal nice numbers such as how many people signed up, how many email messages were sent, how many were opened, and how many clicked a link within the email. But can you honestly tell me if you were able to figure out which campaigns worked the best for you? No? Well, not unless you had another software to measure that for you and not unless you spent quite a bit of time on it.

With ConvertKit, I don’t have to do a thing except look into my dashboard. At a glance, I can see all my sign up forms, number of visitors who saw the opt-in, number of them who signed up and the % of conversions. I can also see a tiny little graph at the bottom of the form showing the trend-line, which I think is totally rad!

The top of the dashboard also displays a nice big bar chart that displays how the various forms fared on each day. By hovering over the markup’s on the bar, I can tell that “n” number of people signed up with form A while “x” number of people opted in to form B.

The end result is easy analytics! I am not just saving hours and hours of my precious time with ConvertKit analytics, I’m also becoming more confident in my email marketing setup. And I now have extra time to plan my next marketing strategy.

ConvertKit Pricing

ConvertKit pricing

ConvertKit’s pricing is like a bitter pill. Its an instant put-off. Once you check out the pricing page, you’ll close the screen and move right on. That’s because of 2 good reasons. There is NO FREE PLAN and there is NO TRIAL PERIOD. You take it or leave it. You can actually ask for a refund after 30 days if you are unhappy with the product, but who wants to do that?

So there you have it. The catch. BUT WAIT!

Bitter pills often hide the pleasant truth – the cure.

ConvertKit hides a pleasant truth as well.

ConvertKit’s lowest pricing is $29 for 1000 subscribers. That’s steep for a new-kid-on-the-block with no free trial. But the truth that it hides is that every single feature in ConvertKit is ready to use, right-off the bat. You don’t need tutorials, guides, how to videos, step-by-step walkthroughs anymore. If you believe that time is money, then ConvertKit just saved you a whole lot of money! and then some!

Also take a look at some of its radical features like tagging or resending broadcasts to unopened subscribers. These are extremely powerful features that you’d find only in high end enterprise-level providers. You get them on ConvertKit at no extra cost and no extra effort either. If that’s not a deal breaker for that price, I don’t know what is.

The Cool Factor: ConvertKit doesn’t charge for duplicate subscribers unlike MailChimp and Aweber. In ConvertKit, one email address equals one subscriber. If that subscriber is signs up to 3 different opt-ins, it counts as just 1 subscriber, not 3. That’s the right math, ain’t it!

Very Few Restrictions

Most email marketing tools come with restrictions in one form or another. You cannot have multiple lists, or send unlimited email messages, or create multiple autoresponders. ConvertKit puts no such restrictions on use. You can create multiple forms, have one email in multiple forms, include incentives, create unlimited autoresponders or courses and so on.

What You Won’t Like with ConvertKit– Probably!

RSS to Email is a popular feature that almost every blogger loves to use. Most people would say that MailChimp does a pretty good job of it. I wish I could say the same but I’ve been having issues with spacing, placement and appearance of the social buttons on a sister-blog, and after a long and hard struggle, I’ve just given up.

ConvertKit doesn’t offer a complete RSS to Email solution. You need to create an automation rule and manually publish the RSS feed, which is a little convoluted. The only thing I can say in ConvertKit’s defense is that the money is still in the list, so you might reconsider using the wildly untargeted option that is RSS.

Pretty much every software that is designed on the planet for lead generation and email marketing integrates with MailChimp and Aweber, since they are the two most popular email marketing tools available. ConvertKit still has some way to go.

Despite many popular services being added everyday, many users may be forced to use Zapier as a workaround for adding non-integrated services. Also, if you a looking for a robust CRM-type platform, ConvertKit is not for you. Its not an all-in-one solution and will probably never be!

I’ve already discussed the pricing aspect before. This is not a negative for ConvertKit but clever pricing mechanisms of other service providers can easily fool you into thinking that ConvertKit is expensive. Where it might hurt a bit is the absence of a free plan.

Templates are a big deal for a lot of users. All the kings horses and all the kings men cannot make a subscriber sign up for a service that has no value. And all the fancy templates and stylish opt-ins won’t help either. If you’ve got something valuable to share with your readers, a simple user-friendly template is all that is needed to get the job done. Nathan was able to do all his book sales via the same options and that’s living proof of its success. Don’t agree with me? Then ConvertKit is probably not for you.

Bottom Line

This is the longest post I have ever written on any subject and if you’ve reached this far, thank you for staying with me.

In the course of my 5 year blogging journey, I have been through my share of email marketing tools. I’ve read top reviews on the best email marketing software, struggled with some free tools, paid my way through premium ones and yet never found a tool that was worth my time and money. That’s why even though I did come close to doing a full review of my personal best choice, Aweber, I never really sat down to do it.

I guess deep down, I always know a better one would come along. And it did.

You often hear the saying “there’s no place like home” and for good reason. To me, ConvertKit feels like home.

The better part of my email marketing journey was spent with MailChimp. It’s a tool I chose to use for the simple reason that everybody said it was the best, it came with impossible-to-resist FREE plan (send up to 12000 emails a month for up to 2000 subscribers), integration on my site was relatively easy and it even worked flawlessly with every theme that I used and with my lead-gen plugin Thrive Leads.

Just like me, I’ll bet there are hundreds and thousands of rookie, small time bloggers and entrepreneurs who have fallen hook, line, and sinker for a free plan or a cheap service. What no one will tell you with such a service is the long, frustrating, hair pulling hours you’ll spend figuring out the different features of the tools and how they work. And then spending time setting it all up.

If you’ve been through the same frustrations as I have, you know you’ve not had your money’s worth. You’ve settled for less than the best. And you don’t deserve that! I know I didn’t!

Mainstream marketing tools like AWeber, OntraPort, and InfusionSoft are great tools in themselves, but I believe they are designed for companies with a handy marketing team who can take care of all the different aspects of setting up campaigns in their 8 hour work day.

Individual bloggers, podcasters, entrepreneurs and others who make a living online single-handedly or with some outsourced help need a powerful email marketing tool they can rely on to get the job done with ease. In my view ConvertKit is the best option I’ve seen thus far.

Its user interface is clean and minimalist, yet shows you exactly what you need to do without needing to reference any guide. Whether you are  creating a landing page or an opt-in form, setting up a broadcast or autoresponder, or triggering an automation rule, ConvertKit makes it possible for even a layman to do it like a pro!

You don’t need to take up a course on email marketing at Udemy to understand how email marketing works. Simply start using ConvertKit and it will all start to make sense.

If you ever feel like email marketing is not for you or you just want to give up, give ConvertKit a try. Prepare an awesome plan to offer a great incentive to your readers, follow it up with a great autoresponder series and make your sales push. Its easy as apple pie with ConvertKit.

What has been your frustration with your email marketing tool? Let us know and we’ll see how ConvertKit can help you out!



 

3 Comments

  1. I just signed up for ConvertKit three days ago and I’m already impressed. Oh, there are bugs for them to work out, but I’m pretty sure they’re on top of that. I’m looking forward to more fields (where do I put last names, birthdays, etc?), which they’re working on.

    It’s expensive, but it’s effortless. The customer service is fantastic. And you know what? I’m beginning to think I prefer the honest “this is what it costs” instead of “Oh, it’s FREE … but you can’t have this or this or … no, you can’t have that, either, until you pay.”

  2. Hi Zabroc,

    You listed awber and some more software for building email listing with.But recently i got mailchimp for this .I noticed many blogs using awber .so think awber is very good tool like if top blogger are using it.

  3. Thanks for this exhaustive review. I got Convert Kit a few months ago and have been struggling with some of the features, but I have high hopes for using it with both Thrive Leads and Leadpages (better templates) for a Master class I’m working on. Your review helps me look at the app more clearly.

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