Why We Switched from MailChimp to ConvertKit for Email Marketing

Why We Switched from MailChimp to ConvertKit for Email Marketing | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

Donnie

Over the past few months Abby and I have worked to transition our email marketing systems away from MailChimp to ConvertKit. Chances are, you’ve never heard of ConvertKit. That’s ok!

It’s a tiny but effective company with just a handful of employees and around $15,000 in month recurring revenue (as of July 2015). On a side note, they share their financials publicly on Baremetrics so you can track their growth. How cool is that!?

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What I think is so awesome about online/software businesses is that a single talented and driven person can see a problem or gap in the marketplace and work hard to create a solution to that problem. That’s exactly what happened with ConvertKit. The owner, Nathan Barry, is a professional blogger who also creates and sells his own products. A few years ago when Abby and I prepared to launch version one of Building a Framework, we purchased his Authority product. We devoured the book and it shaped a lot of the way we think about selling digital products and marketing eBooks.

My biggest takeaway from Authority is the importance of email marketing when selling products. I know, I know… you’ve heard that 1,000 times… in the last week! But here’s the thing: most of the advice and strategies you read about are how to get more email subscribers. Advice on what to do with email subscribers once you get them is seriously lacking.

In blogging, both increasing your number of subscribers and effectively communicating with your subscribers once you have them are both equally important. In just a minute I’ll talk more about why ConvertKit does an amazing job at both gathering subscribers and also marketing to them.

It’s one thing to know how best to use email marketing, but it’s another thing entirely to be able to properly set up the systems in your email provider. Nathan’s frustration with being unable to use some of his advanced email marketing techniques with MailChimp led him to the creation of his own product. He created ConvertKit to solve his own problems. Fortunately for me, his problems with MailChimp were the sames problems I was having, and the integrated solutions in ConvertKit were the exact solutions I needed.

Why We Decided to Leave Mailchimp

MailChimp has a lot of things going for it: the design is great, the price is reasonable, and they make it easy to build beautiful email newsletters.

If all you need is a place to store your email subscribers and the only email marketing you do is sending out occasional newsletters, MailChimp could be the perfect place for you. They even have a free version (with limited functionality) for up to 2,000 subscribers! That really is a great deal for some people.

What MailChimp is not great at is automated email marketing — the exact thing I needed it to do. Here were some of my frustrations with MailChimp:

1. MailChimp only allows for one opt-in form per list.

There are no unique codes or forms for various incentives, so with MailChimp, if a reader signs up for more than one of your opt-ins, you can end up paying double, triple, or more for the same subscriber to be on multiple lists.

One of the most effective strategies for building an email list quickly is to create custom opt-in incentives to match the content. For example, Abby and I love the “after post content” opt-in box. I think it’s the most polite and most effective way to collect email addresses.

After someone reads one of Abby’s posts, they are given the option to enter their email address. It’s a value exchange that is built on trust: they are giving you their email address, and you are giving them something in return. The more value you can provide, the more likely this “exchange” will take place. It’s also important to offer something that the reader is interested in.

Does it make sense give your reader a free eBook on blog growth strategies if they just read a tutorial on painting baseboards? I don’t think so.

To give you an example, here’s a basic ConvertKit opt-in form that displays after paperless-related posts:

Here’s an opt-in that displays after some blogging-related posts:

And another one that displays after organization-related posts:

With ConvertKit, displaying a custom form to match the content is as easy as selecting from a dropdown menu after you compose a post. This all happens through the ConvertKit WordPress plugin. After Abby writes a post, it takes her about two seconds to decide which custom opt-in form with incentive to select:

MailChimp doesn’t offer anything comparable to this.

Some may argue that MailChimp does allow for groups and segments (something that still doesn’t make intuitive sense to me) within the same list to avoid paying double. This solution is fine when importing large batches of subscribers, but the only way to assign groups or segments in MailChimp when someone subcribers to a form is with hidden fields. It’s very complicated and does not work well as a solution for offering custom opt-in incentives.

2. MailChimp charges for duplicate subscribers.

I already touched on this a little bit, but it is one of the big reasons we began to seek out alternative email service providers. It seems strange to charge me twice (or more) for the single email address just because a subscriber was interested in more than one of my opt-in incentives.

Compare that with ConvertKit — you can have a single subscriber in multiple forms, courses, tags, segments, or whatever you want — you only pay once! It allows you to organize your account however you want, in a way that makes sense.

3. No built-in opt-in form stats.

How well is my free eBook opt-in incentive performing? What’s the conversion rate? With MailChimp we had no idea.

With ConvertKit, it’s easy to compare the success or failure of various forms on our blog. Here’s what it looks like in the ConvertKit dashboard:

Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 9.35.07 AM
4. Email courses and autoresponder series are less than reliable in MailChimp.

When Abby I implemented automated email series for her subscribers, it was a huge breakthrough for us. We use email series to introduce new subscribers to the best content on Abby’s blog as well as teach subscribers specific material in our various “7 day challenges.” Not only that, we use numerous email series to market our eBooks after someone has downloaded a sample chapter. Email marketing series are an amazing way to deepen the relationship with a reader, teach them advanced material, as well as market your products.

Setting up an autoresponder series in MailChimp is fairly easy, but we’ve had multiple instances where our series would get “stuck” for no apparent reason, and our subscribers would stop receiving our emails. We would have to keep a close eye on all of our automation series at all times to make sure they were working correctly. 

I even went as far as to setup a recurring task on my calendar where I manually went into each MailChimp autoresponder series to check for anything that seemed a little off. Most weeks I found something that wasn’t working correctly and it wasn’t always easy to fix. This frustration led to the avoidance of creating these extremely important email series.

With ConvertKit it’s easy to get creative and go crazy with helpful email series! You can drag and drop to arrange the order of the emails, make changes to any email without pausing the entire operation, and even start sending emails in the series before finalizing all of the emails.

Why We Switched from MailChimp to ConvertKit for Email Marketing | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

Other Things I Love About ConvertKit – Rapidfire!

1. ConvertKit is built around creating multiple forms with various opt-in incentives.

Multiple forms and opt-in incentives are not an afterthought with ConvertKit. We can embed the custom created forms anywhere on our blog with the WordPress plugin, provide html, or one line of javascript. Subscribing to the various forms will automatically send out the incentive file or re-direct the subscriber to a particular page — our choice.

Why We Switched from MailChimp to ConvertKit for Email Marketing | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com
2. Display custom message to existing subscribers

There’s no need to waste precious blog real estate with forms for those who have already subscribed. With ConvertKit it’s easy to instead display a custom message to those who have already subscribed to your list– maybe a link to your eBook sales page or some other posts or pages on your blog?

Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 9.41.59 AM

Instead of a form, existing subscribers will see this custom content with a link the book landing page:

Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 9.43.18 AM
3. Automations

You know all of those crazy email marketing ideas you dream up? The ConvertKit automations tab makes it easy to implement those ideas. For example… you can tag subscribers with any custom tag you want after they complete a particular course. Or you can enroll subscribers in a new course after the completion of one. The possibilities are endless.

Why We Switched from MailChimp to ConvertKit for Email Marketing | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

This is similar to what I described above. With ConvertKit you can turn any of the links in your emails into an automation trigger.

For example, in the first email you send out to new subscribers, you can give them the option of subscribing to any number of your pre-created courses with a simple click of a link. Abby and I use the feature to give our new subscribers the opportunity to enroll in our “7 Days to a More Organized Life” or “7 Days to Start a Blog” email challenges. It works like a charm.

5. Increase newsletter open rate by resending emails to non-opens

I haven’t implemented this yet, but ConvertKit makes it easy to resend a particular email to everyone who didn’t open it on the first go around. If you decide to use this feature, I recommend using it sparingly on only super important emails, waiting at least a week until re-sending.

Why We Switched from MailChimp to ConvertKit for Email Marketing | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com
6. Tags

This is a game changer that is usually only reserved for insanely expensive and complicated email solutions like Infusionsoft.

Now we can not only organize our subscribers around forms, but we can also organize our subscribers with various tags without ever worrying about paying for the same subscriber twice.

This is powerful and allows us to really target specific subscribers with certain emails. For example, with ConvertKit, I can send an email to all of our subscribers who have downloaded a sample chapter of The Paperless Home but who have not subscribed to an organizing email challenge. Tags make this level of precision super easy.

7. Custom CSS With Multiple Form Styles

If you don’t like the look of the standard ConvertKit form, you can easily customize it with a few lines of CSS. Also, with a single click you can make your form in-line, modal pop-up, or a slide in form. These features are built right into ConvertKit.

Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 9.50.33 AM
8. Courses

ConvertKit makes it so easy to create multiple automated courses targeted at various subscribers and customers. You can see a few of our courses below, each one tailored to a specific type of customer or subscriber. This targeted automation is the key to email marketing.

Why We Switched from MailChimp to ConvertKit for Email Marketing | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com
9. Integrations

ConvertKit directly integrates with a number of services already, like Gumroad and WordPress, but with Zapier you can connect with thousands of other services as well. Abby and I have been long-time OptinMonster users and ConvertKit recently announced a direct integration.

Why We Switched from MailChimp to ConvertKit for Email Marketing | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com
10. Easily include or exclude certain subscribers from your emails

When sending a broadcast email, ConvertKit makes it simple to include and exclude certain subscribers. Let’s say you want to send an email with a sales offer for one your products. You can choose to send the email to your entire list, but then also exclude those who have already purchased the product as well as exclude those who have already downloaded the sample chapter and therefore are already in the sales pipeline. This all takes about three seconds with ConvertKit.

Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 10.03.36 AM
11. Automated product pitches

Gather subscribers with a sample chapter offer form and then place them into a helpful and educational course to sell the full version of the product. You can easily create an exclusion that states that once the product has been purchased, the reader will no longer receive the sales emails.

12. Automated on-boarding process

It’s a shame to let your best content go to waste. What better way to introduce your brand new subscribers to yourself and your articles than through a series of introductory emails? This is also a great way to increase traffic to your past blog posts.

What MailChimp Does Better Than ConvertKit

I want to be honest here and mention a few areas where ConvertKit falls short of MailChimp:

1. RSS campaigns

MailChimp does this beautifully and automatically with custom merge tags. With MailChimp, it’s easy to automatically send an email to all of your subscribers whenever you publish a new post.

ConvertKit does have a very basic RSS feature; it creates the email draft, but you have to manually go into your account an send the email.

Out of Abby’s 30,000 plus email subscribers, only around 2,000 wish to receive an email notifying them of every post, so this is not a huge issue for us.

2. Email template designer

MailChimp has an easy-to-use and feature-filled email designer. It’s easy to add custom elements, typography, social media buttons, etc.

Why We Switched from MailChimp to ConvertKit for Email Marketing | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

The ConvertKit email designer is very basic. Here’s a screenshot of the dashboard:

Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 10.15.00 AM

If you like to design fancy emails with lots of graphics and custom elements, ConvertKit is not for you. If you prefer simple looking emails with a few links and maybe a picture or two, ConvertKit will work well for your purposes.

For Abby and I this is a non-issue, and I’ve found that people interact better with simple-looking emails. It feels more personal and less corporate and commercial.

3. Integration options

Let’s be honest… everything integrates well with MailChimp. It’s the most popular email marketing solution, so when other services and software companies are building their product, you better believe they are going to make sure it works with MailChimp. For example, SendOwl and Instapage — both services Abby and I subscribe to — integrate flawlessly with MailChimp.

Those same services have probably never even heard of ConvertKit. This would be a big issue if it wasn’t for Zapier. Zapier (for a cost) allows Abby and I to connect verious services together and wouldn’t you know it, ConvertKit has made their API available to Zapier. Now I can easily connect services like Instapage and “zap” subscribers into the appropriate ConvertKit form. Here’s what Zapier looks like:

Why We Switched from MailChimp to ConvertKit for Email Marketing | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

Zapier mostly solves this integration problem. Occasionally, you’ll find a service that doesn’t make its API available to Zapier but does integrate with MailChimp. In these cases we have to use MailChimp as a kind of “middle man” for the connection. The subscriber flow will look like this: XYZ Service —> MailChimp —> Zapier —> ConvertKit. It’s a little cumbersome to use MailChimp as a temporary holding place for some subscribers while they are being zapped into ConvertKit, but the process works well.

I’ve been encouraged by the number of services that do integrate with Zapier — more and more everyday. As time goes on this issue will become less of a problem.

Pricing

Every ConvertKit account is full-featured with no limitations on the number for forms, courses, automates, integrations, send limits, or anything else. What a breath of fresh air! For those reasons, there is no free version of ConvertKit {See pricing here}. You’ll pay from $29/month for 1,000 subscribers all the way up to higher tiered accounts.

In general, ConvertKit will cost a little more than MailChimp, and it should. It does way more. In practical terms, many will find that their email bill will go down when switching to ConvertKit. Remember that frustrating little duplicate subscriber issue with MailChimp? That thorn in your side vanishes instantly with ConvertKit.

With our roughly 31,000 subscribers we pay $259/month with ConvertKit and a similar sized list in MailChimp would cost us $230.

There are some strange tiers in MailChimp, so play around with their cost estimator here and compare the pricing with ConvertKit using their slider.

Bottom Line

I want to make sure you understand that I think MailChimp is still a great service for a lot of people. I’ve looked at AWeber, OntraPort, InfusionSoft, iContact, Campaign Monitor, and dozens of other services. I think MailChimp beats out most of the other “mainstream” email marketing services. I love their design, and I respect their company.

But if you are a professional blogger (or working your way towards that goal), ConvertKit is the better solution. In fact, next to hosting and possibly a custom theme, your first money as a blogger should be spent on a ConvertKit account. Building your email list and marketing to them effectively is one of the most important things you can do in the early stages, and ConvertKit makes it easy.

I encourage you to spend some time reading through the ConvertKit landing page as well as their blog articles. Each blog post features some of the new customers. There are some pretty big hitters on the list. July 2015 also saw a new customer in one Mr. Pat Flynn.

If you’re hesitant, commit to testing ConvertKit for a month. There’s no free trial, but paying for one month to test out the capabilities could have a huge impact on your business in the future. It’s easy enough to export your MailChimp list and import it into ConvertKit. Give it a shot!

From a personal perspective, I still like MailChimp and will continue to use the service on some level, although not with our “main” email list. I predict that ConvertKit will continue to gain substantial momentum with bloggers who take email seriously.


Abby

I am not exaggerating when I say that ConvertKit has greatly improved our business for the better! We’ve raised our traffic numbers, sold more products, and have drastically grown our email list since making the switch. We are so excited to see our business continue to grow as we take advantage of more and more of ConvertKit’s capabilities.

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This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

76 Comments

  1. Thanks a lot for the explanation, Donnie!
    Even though I am not (yet) on a point I could take advantage of ConverKit services, it is always great to have insights about what people are using and why.
    Great information!

    1. Thanks for reading Debbie! The free MailChimp account is fantastic for a lot of people just starting to build their email address. It was a lifesaver for Abby and I a few years ago.

  2. Jessica Burgess says:

    This is awesome! I had never heard of this, but it sounds like it may be better than mailchimp for me too!
    Thanks for all of the details and info! I love it when you share all of the good finds! ?

    1. Thanks Jessica! I thought it was important to let everyone know that we made the switch. I still love MailChimp as a company but ConvertKit makes my life a lot easier!

  3. Great post Donnie! I agree mailchimp is great and I often refer mad mimi because the dash is super easy to navigate and even easier for beginners to set up there campaigns plus they have instant chat for support which is a bonus. But with both Mailchimp and Mad MImi there are definitely areas where they fall short when you are moving towards creating a larger scaled campaign. I’ll be checking out convertkit as well since I’m moving in to more animations and drips. Thanks again Lesley

    1. Thanks Lesley! I’ve heard Mad Mimi is a great MailChimp alternative but I’ve never used it.

  4. Diane and Dean DIY says:

    Wow, Donnie! Great comparison post. I love that you took the time to do that for us. Thank you so much!

    I was an aweber customer a few years ago and got used to it but for me the interface of a program and the user friendliness is super important and that’s where Mailchimp won me over plus it was free ?. I have heard there is a big learning curve with infusion soft and have had no desire to switch over there even though they offer more so ConvertKit sounds like a perfect solution.

    Do you know what ConvertKit’s policy is on affiliate links sent out in emails? Do they need to be truncated? I know Mailchimp has a stricter policy.

    Also, I worry about emails ending up more in people’s junk mail than anything. I haven’t noticed this as much with mail chimp and mad Mimi subscriptions that I sign up for but with more expensive subscriptions from infusion soft have ended up in my junk mail often. Go figure.

    Thanks again for introducing us to ConvertKit and saving us a ton of time!

    1. Great post – thank you for introducing me to such an intuitive-sounding email option. I’m definitely checking it out.

      I have the same question as above about affiliate links. I searched on their site and couldn’t find any information – do you know if that’s an issue with ConvertKit? I’ll definitely be emailing them as well.

      Right now, I can envision maintaining my current list (with Feedblitz) for the RSS feed (I post multiple times a day) and then using ConvertKit for opt-ins on my own products as that amps up.

  5. Rachel @ Smart Mom Smart Ideas says:

    Donnie – thanks for sharing this comparison of the 2 email vendors. Your insights are very useful and helpful points to know when considering email service providers.

  6. Hi Abby, can you do a post on chnaging email marketing provider strategies? I want to change mine too but don’t know where to start without ruining what I have now.

  7. Leah Sannar says:

    Hey Donnie & Abby, thanks for sharing this super informative post! Right now I’m with Aweber and I have gone back and forth about switching to MailChimp. I initially signed up with Aweber because I read a couple articles like this one that talked about the downfalls of MailChimp and they seemed to prefer Aweber. However, I have found it to not be super user friendly, and I have a hard time designing opt-ins that I think are aesthetically pleasing. That kind of thing is really important to me, I am very visual and will ignore things that don’t appeal to me in that way… So I find this very frustrating. I’ve been blogging for a year, but only buckling down since I purchased Building A Framework in July. So, I’ve really only JUST now started to build my email list – and I only have like 8 subscribers so far, or something. And I think one of them is me and another is my sister. Haha! Anyway, I REALLY want to get focused on building this, so I’m excited to learn more about ConvertKit. Thanks SO much for spelling out all the pros and cons… I just want to make sure you know there are those of us out here who are hanging on your every word of advice as we try to grow our business! :o)

    1. Early this spring I did a serious look into Aweber, Infusionsoft, and Ontraport. Aweber was the only one that seemed reasonably priced but I just couldn’t get a handle on the user interface. It seemed very corporate and out of date. Aweber also seemed to have even less automation features than MailChimp.

      I know what you mean about visually appealing opt-ins… Right now it still bothers me that Abby’s ConvertKit opt-ins don’t exactly match her site. There’s a slight shadow by default and rounded button. I have no excuse for not adding a few lines of CSS in ConvertKit to change it. The ability to do that I think is one of the major overlooked advantages of ConvertKit… the custom CSS. I know that if you send a support request to ConvertKit to make a few small changes to the look of the forms, they’ll give you a few lines of code to make the changes. They’ll even help you design a basic but nice looking eBook cover to use on your opt-in forms.

      You can also look through some of the featured customers in each ConvertKit blog post and look at their opt-in forms. There are some really nice ones out there.

      If you have the budget, paying $29/month for ConvertKit even when just starting an email list could be a smart thing to do. It’s just so easy to change things and experiment that ConvertKit makes email fun for me.

      Thanks for reading Leah!

  8. Very helpful post. My e-mail provider situation is one giant mess right now!! It’s super frustrating.

    The worst part about Mailchimp if you have multiple opt-ins is not necessarily double paying for people on multiple lists (although that’s certainly not ideal), but they end up with duplicate e-mails! I send out a weekly newsletter and a lot of people would end up getting several copies of it. I had planned to merge lists each time before I sent out my weekly newsletter, but I can’t because they won’t let you if you’ve had activity on your lists in the past seven days. Too bad I did not realize this until after I had already set up all the autoresponders and opt-in forms and had a bunch of people on my Mailchimp list. So now I have most of my list in Madmimi, the most recent sign-ups in Mailchimp, an I still have to move somewhere else! It’s all a big mess.

    One solution to this if you use Mailchimp is LeadPages. They will send the opt-in freebie for you, so you can have tons of different opt-in freebies going to the same list. The problem is it obviously doesn’t work for series like courses and the e-mail they send is not too pretty. I might go that route for now.

    In ConvertKit, do you keep your main list and your blogging list on separate lists or all one one list using tags? Also, are your product purchasers on a separate list or just tagged in your main list? So do you have any separate lists or is all one giant list? I send a weekly newsletter, so I think I’d have to keep some list separation going. ConvertKit is super tempting, but the price has me a little worried. If you have 100k subscribers, it’s $679 ($3,000 year more than MadMimi) – ouch!

    Do you ever delete really old, completely inactive subscribers?

    1. I understand your frustration Laura! I feel like we are both probably trying to do similar (complicated) things with our email marketing.

      If you stay with MailChimp here’s one (expensive) solution for your multiple email problem: You can have all your multiple lists from multiple incentives “zap” new subscribers over to your main “I Heart Planners” list using a Zapier account. It’s really easy to setup but at minimum you’ll pay $15/month for the privilege of having the Zapier account. This is how Abby and I used to do it. This way you’ll have all of your subscribers on your main list and each of those subscribers may or may not be on your other small lists. When it comes time to send an email to everyone, you just send it to your main I Heart Planners list.

      Also, that 7 Day thing with MailChimp absolutely kills me creativity with email marketing. I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to change this or do that in MailChimp and I get the 7 day cool down period error. Super frustrating. With ConvertKit I can change, tweak, import, delete, and adjust everything at any time without any weird waiting periods or pausing entire campaigns. Super easy.

      LeadPages seems like a really effective and easy to use solution. If I liked their landing page builder I would be a customer. I prefer Instapage for that so it’s hard for me to pay LeadPages because I would only be using the link click pop-up feature. Speaking of that, I haven’t used it yet but I believe ConvertKit allows for link click pop ups on your site. I don’t think the standard ConvertKit pop-up is particularly attractive but it can be changed pretty easily with CSS.

      Good question about how we organize our lists in ConvertKit. With ConvertKit, instead of “lists” the language is “forms”. So I keep all my subscribers on seperate forms, even if they didn’t originate from any particular form. I set everything up before they created the tag feature. Keeping your subscribers in various tags makes more sense to me but right now the ConvertKit API only gives access to “forms” and not “tags”. Since I use Zapier for various tasks, I can only send new subscribers directly to forms. So right now it’s all organized by forms. That will change in the future once they update their API and it will be super easy to re-organize everything ConvertKit. It’s honestly dead simple.

      Right now we have 11 forms in ConvertKit. Forms for various customers for specific products, forms for all our affiliates, and forms for all of our various opt-in incentives. I also use the ConvertKit automation tab to send any new subscriber to any new form to our main “Just A Girl and Her Blog” form. So if someone buys Framework they are added to the “Purchased Framework Master Package” form and at the same time are automatically added to the general “Just A Girl and Her Blog” form. This makes it easy to send emails to the entire list by just selecting one form. In the future, I may re-organize everything around tags but it won’t take more than 30 minutes. ConvertKit works like my brain works so everything is just intuitive for me.

      You’re right, ConvertKit is not cheap, but email is becoming more and more important for us so I feel it’s money well invested. I just looked and we have 10 “courses” right now with ideas for many more. I know for a fact if we were still MailChimp I would be avoiding all of these various automation series.

      Before I signed up for ConvertKit, I wrote out a long email outlining what I would like my email service provider to do. I sent it to Nathan and he answered all my questions. His response had a lot of helpful tips on how to organize things and best practices for using ConvertKit. As your deciding on what to do with your list, It may be worth your while to send ConvertKit an email and see what they have to say. Let us know in the Facebook group if you make some changes. I’m interested to hear what you decide to do!

      1. Thanks for explaining how to use convertkit. I just signed up and I’m a bit confused concerning how to use it best.

        Do you have a main email course all subscribers go through?

        Right now I’m giving away a sample chapter from my book and subscribing people who sign up to a related email course. But I wonder if I should also sign up these people for my main email course, which is an email course that kind of introduces my website and philosophy. What do you do?

  9. Beth Anne says:

    GREAT post! We’ve been facing some of the frustrations you discuss with Mailchimp lately. We have several different freebies to offer, and if we want to do so, we end up with multiple lists that have repeat subscribers. And, as Laura discussed, then we have to make a difficult choice – send a duplicate email to someone who is on both lists, or ignore a list entirely and just send an email to our biggest list? I don’t like either answer, and ConvertKit seems like it would solve that problem.

    And, as you said, now that we’re selling products through our site, Mailchimp doesn’t make it easy to truly customize what emails someone receives based on where they’re at in the pipeline.

    Thanks for outlining all the features and being honest about the areas where Mailchimp is better too.

    Since we’re paying for Mailchimp and still feel unhappy with it, I feel like ConvertKit could be worth a try.

    1. Thanks BA!

      Take a look at my response to Laura above about how to avoid the duplicate email issue. It’s not a perfect solution but it should work if you stay with MailChimp.

      I understand what you mean about the products. What ultimately pushed Abby and I to moving everything to ConvertKit was the re-launch of building a Framework. With multiple packages and affiliates we wanted to be able customize what emails our customers receive and change things on the fly. It worked great!

  10. Lauren @ The Thinking Closet says:

    GREAT post! I’ve actually been looking into Lead Pages, and I couldn’t wrap my head around how all of my separate subscriber lists / groups / segments would all jive within MailChimp…and it’s clear that Convert Kit would make that aspect SUPER duper easy. (I love the screenshot in #10.) In fact, it sounds like Convert Kit might even eliminate the need for Lead Pages all together…?

    My weekly newsletter is very graphic-heavy right now…so that’s my main reservation, but I’m so glad to better understand how Convert Kit works and know it’s a strong alternative to MailChimp, especially for automated campaigns. It sounds like it can’t be beat! As always, thanks for the meaty info-rich post, Donnie! Pinning and clipping this beast for future reference.

    1. Thanks for reading Lauren!

      I agree that with ConvertKit you can do a lot of things LeadPages accomplishes without adding a second program to the mix. The automations tab of ConvertKit just keeps growing with options. It’s almost like if you can dream it up, ConvertKit can do it.

      ConvertKit would be tough for someone with a graphic heavy newsletter. I’ve thought about this before and it may work for you — pay someone to design a really nice html email template that matches your site. Then each week you can just paste it in to ConvertKit and make changes to the content. I’ve browsed around on Creative Market and people sell some really nice email templates. Abby and I may do something like that in future.

  11. Kathryn Griffin @TheDedicatedHouse says:

    Excellent post, Donnie! I am a current MailChimp user and have been satisfied with it for where my blog is currently. I’ve seen substantial growth in page views since sending out an email to subscribers 3x sometimes 4x a week. I’ve known for quite some time that as my blog grows, I will need to compartmentalize subjects and start making subscriber lists for those particular subjects. So, this is great information for my blog’s future direction. While MailChimp is perfect for right now, I do see switching over as a necessity unless MailChimp ups its game in this area. Thank you, to both you and Abby for putting your research out there to help the rest of us. It’s quite kind of you! Also, I’ve been making my way through “Building a Framework” and have learned so much! Thank you for the excellent insight and the commitment to excellent work. It shows! Have a lovely Sunday! Toodles, Kathryn @TheDedicatedHouse

    1. Thanks for reading Kathryn!

      I agree with your assessment that there is no need for you to switch providers at this point. MailChimp is great for a lot of people! Once you start running into limitations it may make sense to look around.

  12. Meaghan | Cook. Craft. Love. says:

    I love this! And this will definitely be something I’ll look into once I start really growing my email list 🙂 Just as soon as I figure out how best to do that!

  13. Thank you for this great post!

    It seems like many people starting out in blogging are looking for the absolute cheapest option for every service they use. This is probably because they don’t really have their plan together enough to feel sure they can get an ROI but know they need to at least start moving forward if they ever want to get the plan figured out — and really feel sure they are cut out for the whole thing at all. I think I would still recommend MailChimp to people in this early beginner phase, but I’m definitely going to start researching ConvertKit more. I’d like to try and find a good benchmark my web development clients in this beginning blogger stage can use to know it’s time to start investing in a more powerful email marketing tool. To me it seems ConvertKit will be a fantastic replacement for the very expensive and complicated Infusionsoft/Ontraport options as the next step up from MailChimp.

  14. Great write-up! It’s actually easier to get a feel for some of ConvertKit’s features from your post than from their site. Thanks!

    I am not as big a fan of MailChimp as most people. Google has plenty of reasons why. My biggest frustration has to do with the lack of features in the free version, most importantly automation. That said, my problem has less to do with MailChimp in this regard, and more to do with affiliates. I lose a lot of respect for an affiliate who talks up the importance of automation, then talks up MailChimp and how they’re such a great option for beginners because they offer a free version, and never mentions that the free version won’t get them the automation they need. I know people who never figured that out until after they signed up and started trying to figure out how to do what their favorite blogger is doing. Of course, buyer beware. I suppose they should have looked into that, but still. 🙂

    That said, I’m glad you mentioned there are limitations with MailChimp free. Many people don’t do that.

    I am using GetResponse for my “affordable” email service provider and I’m very happy. I too have been following Nathan for years now and Authority was one of my first “programs.” I will move to ConvertKit when I’m able. I’m still wrestling with costs right now. For 25,000 subscribers ConvertKit is $199, MailChimp is $150, and GetResponse is $145. BUT, if you pay annually, GetResponse is only $118.90. That’s significant. Moreover, I joined GR during a sale and pay even less as long as the account is active. I need to make sure I’m in a position to take advantage of the extra value CK offers before taking the leap.

    None of the ESPs are perfect, and I do like the MailChimp UI (I’m way OCD and the clean look is great!), but GR is my favorite overall at this level. I consider ConvertKit a level up.

    I like what Heather said up there. Early on it’s so easy to go with the cheapest option, and that might be good for many people. But for others, who have a good vision and a plan in place, investing in something like ConvertKit could be a game changer. Early bloggers (and entrepreneurs) are notorious for going way overboard when it comes to tools and plugins and all that. One of the best pieces of advice going is to use only the essential tools and make sure they are of premium quality. A good host (don’t get me started some affiliate marketing recommendations here), and a good quality theme (not just a good looking one), will save so much time and frustration. A good quality ESP will do exactly the same thing. Again, thanks for essentially mentioning that in the post. All that money you save with bargain hosting, a less than optimal theme, and a cheap ESP will come back to bite you when you add up the cost of your time spent fixing things and possibly the money spent having someone else fix things. That’s before adding up the value of premium features that come with premium products.

    Anyways, that was a long comment. 🙂 Thanks again!

  15. Just to be fair, I will mention one more thing about GetResponse that isn’t great (and it’s something that isn’t great about a number of ESPs once you dig into the FAQs or fine print. They, too, count one email address on three different campaigns as three different “subscribers.” I’m pleased to note that GR make this clear on their site on a page called How Does GetResponse Pricing Work which is linked to clearly from their pricing page. That’s better than some other ESPs who don’t make this as evident or easy to find.

    As the author here says, many people will find that they are paying close to the same or even less with ConvertKit because of this issue. Depends on what kind of email marketing you are doing and how many campaigns you are using.

  16. Very timely post for sure! I have been in an email list limbo for several months now. Having been a customer of Aweber for several years across several different websites I found it….well….lacking. Aweber just doesn’t have the functionality that I needed. Infusionsoft was too expensive and difficult to implement. I recently “glanced” at ConvertKit and after reading your article, took a deep dive. I have now decided this is EXACTLY the product that I need. I went ahead and signed up on the list for the “Academy” which is basically a 7 day training course and 6 months of their service. Excited to get my email list moving!!

    Thanks again for this great article and even more so for moving me to action!!

  17. That’s exciting about the Academy! You’re going to love ConvertKit!

  18. Rachel @ CanDo Kiddo says:

    Hey Donnie,
    Thanks so much for this super-informative post. I’m about to make the switch from MailChimp to ConvertKit and would love to know what resources, tutortials, tips you could share for making that transition smooth. I’m envisioning I’ll need to have both services providers for a few months of overlap, get all my autoresponders and lists duplicated in ConvertKit and then go to work changing all the links from my blogs and books. Is this what you guys did?
    Thanks in advance for sharing anything that helped you make the switch without wrecking all your hard work with Mailchimp and confusing subscribers!

  19. Marianne // DYOB says:

    Glad I’m not the only one who finds MC groups and segments completely unintuitive! I am so sold on CovertKit but just can’t do it quite yet. I’m hoping to very soon though. This was really a fantastic review Donnie and so much more informative than their website, ha!

  20. Debbie @ One Little Project says:

    Hi Donnie – Great post! And you’ve totally convinced me! I’ve been mulling around about it for a few weeks, but I just came back here to use your affiliate link and I’m going to sign up today. I just find Mail Chimp too cumbersome. You’ve also convinced me to write an e-book that I’ll launch in January. I’ve already got 3000 words. Your posts and income reports have been really inspirational! Keep up the awesome work guys!! 🙂

  21. Benjamin Houy says:

    Hi

    I’m considering switching to Convertkit, but I’m confused.

    I signed up for your email list and received a confirmation email from Mailchimp. Did you stop using Convertkit? Why?

    1. Hi Benjamin! We most certainly still use ConvertKit. If you signed up with the sidebar or header form you were most likely filtered through MailChimp and added to our ConvertKit list using Zapier. Those two forms were made with the Genesis E News Extended plugin which pulls the style from our theme so everything matches. Basically, that plugin was built to work with MailChimp. ConvertKit did just come out with a way to use the E News Extended Plugin with ConvertKit I just haven’t taken the time to set it up yet. Hope that helps!

  22. I loved this! I just switched over to ConvertKit after using Mailchimp for 3 years and then flirting around with MadMimi and Aweber this year. I LOVE the options with ConvertKit and have been busy building away at courses and more. Loved this detailed rundown.

    1. Hi Kirsten, how difficult was the transition from mail champ to convert kit?

  23. Hello! Thank you for this. This review is what helped me decide between different email services. I was wondering- is the newsletter form in your sidebar from ConvertKit? I’ve added a form to my sidebar but having so much trouble customizing it so that it has the button and the email field on separate lines and the “powered by convertkit” removed. Any advice?

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Hi, Emily! We used the Genesis eNews Extended plugin to put that signup form in the sidebar. My theme had formatting built into it that was made to work with eNews Extended. You could check with your theme designer to see if yours has something similar. I hope this helps! Have a wonderful day!

      ~Abby =)

  24. Mark Gandy says:

    Great post and appreciate the depth.

    I have multiple domains, and Aweber allows me to have just one account to support those three.

    How about ConvertKit? Do customers need one account per domain? Or can can one ConverKit account support multiple websites?

    1. Theoretically you could make it work but I wouldn’t recommend. You’d be constantly changing settings. You’d be best off with two separate accounts.

  25. Monica Galvan says:

    I’m just about to switch from Mailchimp to ConvertKit too so this was super helpful!

  26. This is a great review! Thanks so much for putting it together!

  27. I’m thinking about making the jump to ConvertKit. One question, I was looking into the features they provide. Do you still need LeadPages too or does ConvertKit have something similar? I thought I saw somewhere that it could replace LeadPages but now I can’t seem to find it.

  28. Alan Thompson says:

    So convertkit could replace LeadPages’ Leadboxes feature? (that’s all I really use leadpages for). So I could ditch leadpages, ditch mailchimp, use convertkit instead and SAVE money. Seriously tempting.

    How is convertkit for composing emails on mobile? That’s one thing I don’t like about mailchimp – i need to be on my desktop PC to do anything.

    1. Donnie Lawson says:

      It can replace the leadbox feature but it’s not as elegant. ConvertKit will not be good for composing emails on mobile.

  29. Thanks for all the information here, from the hosts and all those who sent in comments and questions. I’ve been dithering about what sort of email support I should choose, and this article sealed it for me: Convertkit. Just signed up and looking forward to learning all I need to know to take full advantage of it.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      So glad it was helpful to you Heather! We LOVE ConvertKit and hope you will too!

      ~Abby =)

  30. celistoire says:

    Thanks for this very well written article. I am at the point of wanting to move away from MailChimp, although as a professional emailmarketeer in the Netherlands, I used it happily for quite some time. Someone adviced me to look into Active Campaign, because of their better automation features; how do you compare AC with ConvertKit? Thanks for helping me out! Thijs van Halewijn

  31. Thanks for this excellent review. I recently left Mail Chimp for Get Response but am not in love with that, either. So ConvertKit is on my radar.
    Now, this is probably a dumb question (because I am admittedly a bit behind in the tech world), but do many of ConvertKit’s features rely on having a WordPress site? And, would they work on a basic wordpress.com blog, or only those made with wordpress.org? Thanks!

    1. Donnie Lawson says:

      I would think that the ConvertKit WordPress plugin will only work with self-hosted WordPress blogs and not free WordPress.com sites.

  32. Hi there,

    I am a bit of a newbie to email list building, but I’m getting the hang of it and found your blog in my search for understanding. Can I ask a few silly questions? So far, it seems that all I will need to start out is ConvertKit and Optin Monster, and that both easily integrate with the two sites I will have (one WP and one Squarespace). Question is, when people opt in, I want to do a double opt in (at least on one of the two sites), and also at the time of confirmation, ask subscribers to answer a few questions that will help me segment my list properly, so I can send appropriate emails to each subscriber in the future. Is this possible? If you can give me a hint on how to approach this, I’d be madly appreciative!!! (I mean, like really madly!)

    Thanks a ton,
    Dara

  33. Wendy Maynard says:

    That was a very eye-opening and helpful post. There are a lot of reasons I love MailChimp, but I can see how ConvertKit is so much more useful in a blog that needs multiple forms and list settings.

    Thanks for all of your work on this wonderfully, detailed post.

    Best, Wendy

    1. justagirlabby says:

      So glad it was helpful for you, Wendy! 🙂

      ~Abby =)

  34. Hi Abby and Donnie

    I’m just starting out developing an educational blog (in the brainstorming and learning stages, actually) and taking advantage of your wonderful resources. How easy is it to switch from free MailChimp to ConvertKit at a later date? What is the process?

    Thanks!

  35. Tarsha M. says:

    This was awesome and so comprehensive! Excellent resource and thank you!!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      So glad it was helpful! Thanks, Tarsha!

      ~Abby =)

  36. ConvertKit has more features than mailchimp. Exactly mentioned and thanks for posting.

  37. Tiff at 18thavenuemom says:

    Wow, this is really great information! Thank you for taking the time to explain the differences in these mail services in such detail! This is exactly what I’ve been looking for. I keep wondering “How do these bloggers make different opt-in forms for different incentives?” And I often get annoyed at blogs that display a huge subscription pop-up when I have already subscribed! You know who’s switching to ConvertKit now…that’s right: me! Thanks!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Aw, so glad it was helpful for you! Love to hear that! Hope you love ConvertKit as much as we do! 🙂

      ~Abby =)

  38. HI, great article.. I am just starting out and having major confusions. Sine you guys are very experienced you could probably answer this…. I want to use convert kit too,, but I thought they collected your email addresses, but you actually need a email service first, but it cant be free one, has to be @domain address, but my website on THE GRID does not host email, …. ultimately I want to sell an e-course hosted on Thinkific, but want a website too,, who what where do I have my email list hosted?? Did I confuse you now? sorry. Who hosts your email list even though you use convert kit for marketing? Thank you kindly

  39. Laurina | LaurinaMachite.com says:

    Thank you so much for this! It was super informative and has helped me make up my mind CK it is!! 🙂

    1. justagirlabby says:

      CK has been huge for helping our business grow! Best of luck, Laurina!

      ~Abby =)

  40. Mike Benedict says:

    So, it is full circle for me.!

    I used your guide to move to Convert Kit some 6 months back. It is a fantastic product! As for me I am moving on to sendx.io . Cancelled both the SumoMe and ConvertKit’s account. The value for money you get at Sendx so disruptive that it becomes a no brainier to use it. Again, nothing bad with convertkit and sumome – they are just expensive.

    1. Donnie Lawson says:

      Awesome! I just looked at Sendx.io very briefly but with our subscribers and the number of emails we send it would end up being just about the same price as ConvertKit.

      1. Mike Benedict says:

        Are you really sure? Did you check the Custom ESP pricing also ?

        It costs around $3 for 1000 subscribers and if you use a ESP like Amazon SES which gives 60k emails free + $1 of 10,000 emails post that.

        So, let’s say even if you have 10,000 subscribers and you send 1 email per day per subscriber then following will be the cost:
        Cost of SendX (for 10,000 contacts) ~ $17
        Cost of Emails (via Amazon SES) ~ $24

        Total Cost – $41 per month

        ConvertKit will cost you $119 for the same pricing. Even at this volume I see SendX 1/3 the price of ConvertKit. Also, you get free on-boarding services when you move your blog to them which includes setting up your Amazon SES account.

        Did i mention the money you might save by cancelling SumoMe ?

        1. Donnie Lawson says:

          I think I looked at the pricing wrong… We have about 100,000 subscribers and send around 1,000,000 emails per month.

  41. Wow.. everything about this page is impressive. Great job.

  42. #earthwalkcomm #teachenglish2me #rurallivinfree Very Informative.I have been struggling to progress to the next level – creating an email service and management system. I am currently in the beginning stages of implementing MailChimp; however, now I’ve taken a step back to investigate the Convertkit option. Better to find out early than to invest time in something that will require a migration later. Thanks Donnie.

  43. Amy White says:

    You totally rock! This was an awesome post and literally answered all of the questions I had about switching from Mailchimp to Convertkit. I’m not quite ready to take the plunge yet, but when I do I’m definitely using your affiliate link. 😉 Thank You!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Yay! So glad it was helpful for you, Amy! Love to hear that! Have an awesome week! <3

      ~Abby =)

  44. Abby, I just wanted to say thank you. Your blog has been a game changer for me as a new blogger. I used your tip with canva to make my promo boxes! Thanks SO MUCH ! Your emails are great too!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Yay! So glad it was helpful for you… love to hear that! Happy Friday!

      ~Abby =)

  45. I might be a bit late for the train, but that’s a great read still! I’m always open to learning what everyone else is using in terms of email service providers! When I was choosing my ESP, I also was looking to Convertkit as great alternative, yet I had some budget struggles, therefore went where I could save money (vs. Convertkit – always paying).
    So at that time I found another service called Mailerlite, it was very affordable. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting too much as pricing was too attractive, but once I started using it – it blew me away! I can’t comment on whether one service is better than other, because I still haven’t tried both, but in terms of pricing and features provided MailerLite looks also a great option. Have you heard about MailerLite before?

  46. Abdullah prem says:

    I love convertkit and in fact my ROI and conversion rate are increase after switching from Mailchimp to ConvertKit

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Awesome!

      ~Abby =)

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