Use this Convertkit review to help you choose the right email service provider for your business.
Personally I have been searching for the perfect email service for quite some time.
Convertkit has become very popular with bloggers lately – and rightfully so.
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It offers ease of use and great features that I will describe below.
So, Why Am I Writing This ConvertKit Review?
What makes ConvertKit so special?
If you've outgrown your free email service provider (like Mailchimp and Madmimi), then you are probably thinking about switching to a paid plan either there or someplace else.
And in your research you may have come across the name Convertkit.
Convertkit is a relatively new player in the email service provider arena. But it is growing fast for 2 main reasons:
- it is easy to use
- and, it is not a list based system.
List Based vs. Tags
Let me start with the second point first.
A list based system means that you send out emails to lists of people. You can segment your lists and create groups of people – but as you start to customize your email to people based on things they have in common, it starts to get a little out of control.
People often end up on more than one list, which means you get charged for two subscribers instead of one. And it is easier to annoy your subscribers by mistakenly sending duplicate emails – or the opposite not sending someone an email because they are not on the right list.
If you understand what I am talking about then you are ready for something else.
With Convertkit, you use tags and segments to organize your subscribers – and each unique email address in your entire database counts as only one subscriber – so there is no double charging.
Booyah! – just sayin'.
Ease of Use
Another reason that people are attracted to Convertkit is that it is easy to use.
Always a plus.
You can easily create sign up forms to put on your website. And it is really easy to set up a sequence of emails to go out once people sign up. If you want to set up a one time newsletter – Convertkit does that too.
It takes a few minutes to figure out the flow – but then you can run with it.
The Nitty Gritty
So, let's talk details in this ConvertKit review.
Importing contacts into ConvertKit is relatively easy. Obviously, the more that you have, the longer it will take to get set up.
I won't get into this because the documentation on the site is good – and regardless of what email service you go with, this is a step you will have to take.
Getting New Subscribers
Forms and Landing Pages
To get new subscribers you want to put forms in lots of places so people can find them and be compelled to sign up.
The problem is that most email service providers don't offer you a way to put good looking forms on your website. So, unless you use another service for your forms like OptinMonster or Leadpages you are kind of stuck. And who is going to sign up on an ugly form, really?
Convertkit shines in this area – they make it simple to create pleasing sign up forms that you can put in your sidebar, embed in your posts, or put at the end of your posts. I love this.
They also have a basic landing page builder. This, and I am giving you my honest opinion, could use a little more work. There are not too many customization options and I wasn't able to create something that I really liked. But it is a good start.
One of the things to remember with Convertkit is that every new subscriber (not the ones that you import) should come through a form.
So to begin the process you want to create a form even for people that you add to your list manually.
The reason why you want to do this is because you can tie a form directly to a segment of your list.
Segments vs Tags
Convertkit makes it possible for you to use both segments and tags to organize your subscribers.
Deciding whether to use a segment or a tag can be confusing. So, if you figure out your process right at the beginning – it makes it easier to stay organized as your list grows.
I like using Segments to identify people a group of people that I want to send a specific email to.
Take my Book Club for example.
When people sign up to the Book Club using a form specifically for this (i.e. Sign Up For the Book Club form) they are automatically added to my Book Club segment.
I use tags in ConvertKit, on the other hand, to identify interests that a group of people might have.
So, let's say that I mentioned my book club in my general newsletter – the one that goes out to everyone. If someone clicks on a link to visit the most recent book club review but does not specifically sign up for the book club – then I will tag them with something like this “Interest – Book Club”.
Once I get a good number of people that are interested in the Book Club but who have not specifically signed up – I might send them an email letting them know what's going on and encouraging them to join.
In fact, I can even subscribe someone to a new sequence just by asking them to click on a link if they are interested. This ConvertKit tutorial will show you how it's done.
You can apply this strategy to a paid product or service as well.
Sequences and Broadcasts in ConvertKit
In Convertkit a “Sequence” is a series of emails that you send out to a subscriber.
A certain action will trigger the sequence.
Either the subscriber fills out a form, or they click a link, or a tag is added or removed, etc.
Whenever the action that you specify occurs – the first email in your series will go out (you can even set a delay so that it will go out within a certain amount of days etc.).
Then, the second email will go out a few days after that and so on.
The beauty of Convertkit is that they make this process really simple and visual.
On the left hand of your screen, you see every email in the series and whether it is in draft or final form.
You can drag the emails to rearrange and click into each one to easily edit.
This really is my favorite feature of the service.
A “Broadcast” is a one-time email that can go out to any combination of segments, tags, forms, and course subscribers.
If a person is in multiple segments or has multiple tags etc – you don't need to worry because Convertkit will recognize this and only send the email out once to that person (when I say person – I mean unique email address, if a person is signed up with 2 different email addresses, then the system will not know that they are the same person.)
Automations in ConvertKit
Automations is where the true power is in Convertkit and this can be a bit confusing.
You need to manually create automations to trigger a course and add/remove tags – which is logical.
But you also need to manually create automations to track links and get useful data reports (although this has changed slightly since I wrote this ConvertKit review) – which is both time and thought consuming.
I like the way this works for courses and tags, but I find it incredibly tedious for reporting.
One of the things that I want to know after I send out an email, is who clicked what links in that email.
This information may be immediately useful – or it might be something that I want to know down the line.
To track the actions of my subscriber in Convertkit – I need to create an automation for every link that I create in my emails.
So, basically, I would go to automations and say if someone clicks Link A – then add a tag.
The thing is that I might include Link A in several different emails that go to the same person over time.
I won't really know when and where they clicked that link.
Also, sometimes it is useful to see how many people clicked on a particular link vs “who” – just to use that information to gauge the general interest or to know whether a text link or a photo that is linked works better etc.
I am hoping that better reporting is in the works – as I am sure that it is.
The ConvertKit Email Builder
Writing emails in Convertkit is like writing an email in say Gmail or your personal email provider. The interface is basic with a toolbar of formatting choices.
This makes it really easy to compose a text based email quickly.
But if you want to dress it up with fancy formatting, there are not a lot of options.
The theory is that you want to keep your emails short and sweet – and drive traffic to your website or landing pages etc.
However, as a reader of emails – I am somewhat turned off by this trend towards largely text based emails. Some of the ones that I receive are long and take a long time to read. Sometimes the font is too small on my phone so the experience is less than ideal. Usually, I hit delete.
What I like to see is maybe one or two visuals (highly visual emails are a turn off too) and a decent font size for reading on a small screen that is “older eyes” friendly. You know what I mean. 😉
So for purposes of this ConvertKit review, I would say that the email editor could incorporate a few more formatting options.
One word: Awesome!
The folks at Convertkit are beyond responsive – and I love this.
I have been known to pick great customer service over a feature set many times.
Don't just trust my Convertkit review – try it for yourself. Technically there is no free trial – but they do refund your first month if you cancel within 30 days.
ConvertKit Review: The Pros and Cons
Pros of ConvertKit
- Tags and segments
- Easy to Use
- Nice opt-in forms
- Landing pages built in
- Creating “sequences” or automated email sequences is easy and flexible
- Email composer is no frills and easy to use
- There is a fabulous Facebook group that supports each other immensely.
- Integrates with the New Rainmaker blogging platform
Cons of ConvertKit
- Reports could provide more information
- Email composer is no frills – if you like to add more formatting to your emails
Overall, as I demonstrated in this ConvertKit review, CK is a strong contender in the email service provider market. It is definitely in my top two (ActiveCampaign is the other one I really like). As it matures I foresee that the responsive team will be adding tons of new functionality.
Many top bloggers like Pat Flynn use Convertkit to successfully grow and maintain their subscriber base.
Which Email Service Do You Use?
There are a lot of great email service providers out there.
I wrote this ConvertKit review because it is in my blogging toolbox. I'd love to hear what is in yours.
Which email service provider do you use in your business? Why do you like it?
Tell us in the comments below.