This weekend, I thought that I had finally settled on one service that I would use exclusively.
But I was wrong.
I let my inner cheapskate cloud my better judgment and now I have to take my words back.
But my wiser self now has a story to tell you about which email service provider I finally settled on and why – and I also have a few lessons to share.
If you want me to cut to the chase, I will tell you that the winner is (drumroll, please): ConvertKit.
And this is why.
Why I Chose ConvertKit Over Other Email Service Providers
My very first ESP was AWeber – back in the day. Different site, different era.
While I liked the features of AWeber at the time, I found the interface to be less than intuitive and I spent far too much time, figuring things out on that end than I would have liked.
New Site, New Era
When I first started AlmostPractical.com – free sounded pretty good to me.
MadMimi offers a free plan – so I started out there and was happy with their service. Their customer service is over the top helpful and I could see myself settling in and growing with that platform.
But somewhere along the line, I moved my site over to the New Rainmaker platform.
What Is New Rainmaker?
New Rainmaker is an all in one WordPress platform that includes everything from hosting to membership and courses, to podcasting, to forums, to landing pages, and more.
The features that it includes just keeps growing, and the value is amazing.
But there are limitations.
First, you can’t use plugins – and really you don’t have to because Rainmaker already includes so much under the hood.
The other limitation was email service providers.
Rainmaker works best if you can integrate it with an ESP – so your email list meshes with your membership list seamlessly.
I had already tried AWeber, Infusionsoft was beaucoup bucks, so MailChimp was a logical choice and so I moved from MadMimi to MailChimp.
My Experience with MailChimp
Crafting emails in MailChimp was easy. The drag and drop email builder was simple and for the most part I could create good looking emails quickly and easily.
But I was getting frustrated with the way contacts were organized.
MailChimp, AWeber, and even MadMimi all use lists to keep contacts in order.
And the segments and groups in MailChimp were not intuitive in my opinion.
I had been hearing so much about the flexibility of using tags and lists in email marketing which is a feature offered in Infusionsoft, that I was hungry to learn more. So, I bit the bullet and gave it a try – even thought I knew that I probably could not sustain the cost just yet.
Seeing the Possibilities with Infusionsoft
If you do an internet search on Infusionsoft, you will likely find reviews from people that love the power behind it, but find it difficult to use.
The interface is confusing. There is a lot going on there and many screens to navigate and views to set up.
Managing an Infusionsoft account is a big job, and there are even consultants that make a full time living by providing Infusionsoft support to small business owners.
Needless to say, I loved it.
The possibilities were amazing.
Being able to hone in on a person’s interests based on their actions in an email sequence is not only marketing genius but used correctly, it can also help you to provide value to your clients and prospects.
However, Infusionsoft was cost prohibitive and time intensive. Money and time are two things that can be in short supply.
At this point I heard about two newish contenders in the email marketing space – ActiveCampaign and ConvertKit.
Neither one at the time integrated with New Rainmaker, but I was hooked on the automations and tagging features that I learned about using Infusionsoft.
ActiveCampaign had the lowest cost to entry so I decided to give it a try.
I loved it.
I could tag people based on their interests, or where I met them, or anything really.
I could create automations that could be triggered by 20 different factors. I used ActiveCampaign almost like a secretary.
When I scheduled a podcast – Active Campaign sent out my reminders with dates filled in.
It is powerful. (You can read more about some of the features in ActiveCampaign that I love here).
But then Rainmaker threw me a curve ball and integrated with ConvertKit.
Giving ConvertKit a Try
I am sure you can guess by now that I had to try ConvertKit for a month to compare it to ActiveCampaign.
I was torn.
Both are great ESP’s.
They both offer automations, tagging contacts, and form builders
But ActiveCampaign has a more robust email designer and more triggers to start automations.
So, I stuck with it.
However, like Infusionsoft, a more powerful email service means more of a learning curve and more time involved to create great automations so email does what you want it to do.
And I was really missing the Rainmaker integration.
Enter Rainmaker Email Service
As I said before, Rainmaker is constantly adding new features and making the platform even better.
One such feature is email.
They just rolled this out for primetime last week and I was all over it.
The idea of having email right in my WordPress interface was exciting.
Composing a newsletter update became infinitely easier. I could use links and photos right from my WordPress database. I could use the WordPress visual editor for the email layout.
It was a fantastic thought.
The folks at Rainmaker say that tags are coming and I am confident that as the Rainmaker email service matures it will be something fabulous.
So, this past weekend, I thought, what the heck – I am going to move over to the Rainmaker email service.
The one caveat, was that I had to make my whole list optin again.
But I thought I would try it.
The lure of not having to pay for email service separately than I what I pay for Rainmaker plus being able to use WordPress to compose emails, plus the natural Rainmaker integration was too strong.
However, my optin request results have been less than stellar.
I realize that some people may not want to receive email from me.
But I actually know many people on my list – good friends, neighbors, family members – that did not re-optin.
Now I could take it personally, please no troll-like comments here. But more likely than not, either the optin email ended up in spam, or they just ignored it.
Back to ConvertKit
So after all that – ConvertKit has emerged the clear winner.
It is simple enough for me to manage and add content to easily.
It is powerful enough to handle automations and sequences and really allow me to hone in on the needs of my list.
It integrates with New Rainmaker.
While anyone can use ConvertKit – it was designed for the needs of professional bloggers, which is who I am. ActiveCampaign on the other hand – really hits the nail on the head for small businesses. (I’ll say it again – it was an incredibly tough decision between these two).
And that is my sordid email service provider story.
One thing I have realized is that I might continue to use the Rainmaker service for some email and I am really excited to explore new features as it evolves.
What Email Service Do You Use?
If you have a saga (or just a comment) to share – please chime in the comment section below.
At this point, you probably think that I am a bit crazy, having tried just about every email service on the planet.
But if you need help with your email marketing I would be happy to assist.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links which means that if you click a link in this article and purchase something, I may make a small commission at NO cost to you.