November 28, 2018

ConvertKit Review

Read more about Business

Do content creators need a dedicated email marketing tool?

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If you're a blogger, a designer, or some other digital creative—you might already be using something like MailChimp or AWeber to connect with subscribers. If you've really got it together, you've probably added a landing page builder to your stack, too.

Most marketing tools cast a wide net—targeting small to medium-sized businesses across all sectors. However, content creators might have trouble making traditional tools work for them.

Podcasters, bloggers, and YouTubers are the product. As such, their livelihood depends on growing their subscriber list and keeping fans engaged.

ConvertKit claims to provide everything you need to grow a successful online business. But does it?

What Is ConvertKit?

ConvertKit is an email marketing and conversion rate optimization platform built by bloggers, for bloggers. The platform aims to pare down the customization options that get in the way of good design and ease of use.

It provides a curated selection of tools to help you build landing pages and set up automated campaigns. This means you can spend less time on busywork and get back to doing what you love.

Best Features

ConvertKit's main draw is the focus is on integration. They've put together a "kit" that helps bloggers grow their audience.

That kit isn't very customizable…by design. When you get started, you'll have the option of creating a landing page OR a form. The former is hosted by ConvertKit, while the latter is hosted by you.

As you collect leads, you'll use them to create emails and establish sequences and workflows based on user behavior.

ConvertKit's default settings start you off with a set of eight emails spread across 35 days. You can update the frequency and time frame, as needed.

Here's a quick rundown on features:

  • Build landing pages and forms
  • Send plain-text emails
  • Automate emails and set workflows based on customer actions
  • If/then automation rules
  • Drag-and-drop sequence builder
  • Organize subscribers with tags and segments
  • Send broadcast messages to subscribers

While the limited features may be a turn-off for some consumers, the company insists they've purposely focused on only what is necessary. It's a tool for minimalists who want to reduce choice paralysis.

Is ConvertKit Worth It?

Here's a look at the platform's pros and cons:

Pros:

  • Good Design: ConvertKit offers just a handful of email, form, and landing page templates, tested for conversion. While it may lack customization options, it makes up for it with an effective, attractive design.

    The rationale is that you don't need to send email templates, a la MailChimp. Founder Nathan Barry wrote an extensive blog post explaining that plain-text builds more trust than templated newsletters.

  • Intuitive Automation: Email automation allows users to create powerful, automated funnels.

    • Set your own rules and let the app take care of the rest.
    • Customize paths based on user actions.
    • Segment your audience's journey.
    • Simple workflows operate on an if this, then that principle.

    Additionally, you're able to automate with a drag-and-drop sequence builder, which lets you visualize which messages you'll send based on the action a user takes.

  • Content Editing Made Easy: Click on each part of your workflow to edit the associated content. That item opens in the same window, so you're not clicking between tabs.

  • If/Then Logic: ConvertKit simplifies if/then logic automation, which may be triggered when contacts perform a specific action.

    It's not super comprehensive, but it's easy to use. If you've tried other tools like ActiveCampaign or SilverPop, you know that this process can sometimes be daunting.

  • Customize with HTML or CSS: The tool comes with some pretty rigid template structures—if you can't code, you're out of luck.

  • Lots of integrations: ConvertKit connects with a broad selection of integrations like Shopify and Leadpages, as well as more niche integrations like Gumroad and Book-launch, which are platforms for booksellers.

  • Tag-based email lists: Like MailChimp, ConvertKit is easy to use in part because you can click a few buttons and build a targeted list.

    Tags allow you to classify your subscribers based on context or special interest. For example, you can tag users you met at a tradeshow or those who found you through Facebook.

Cons

  • Limited customizations: ConvertKit markets this as a "pro," but limited design options can feel stifling. This is especially true for users with a background in design or those who want something that better matches their brand.

    Now, if you know CSS or HTML, you can customize your forms, no problem. If not, you also have the option of adding a form created through a third-party app—but then you're paying for multiple tools.

  • A/B testing isn't ideal: A/B testing is super important, especially when you're trying to build a following. Without the ability to try out different designs, you lose an opportunity to understand your audience better.

    The platform allows you to split-test your subject lines, but you can't A/B test other factors like the email body, the time the message was received, or automation.

  • Email templates may be hard to use: You'd think plain-text emails would be simple, but there's a bit of a learning curve here.

  • Can't create advanced automation: Automation is easy—which makes sense, given that the goal of ConvertKit is to build an email list without hiring help. But some users might find the simplicity too simple. The idea here is that ConvertKit is a ready-to-go conversion tool that allows creators to spend almost no time on email marketing and collecting subscribers.

  • You Can't Use It for PPC: Another drawback of ConvertKit is that it's not so great for PPC. If you plan on sending traffic from PPC channels and collecting more than an email and a name, you'll need to pay for an additional landing page builder. This may end up being a waste of money for you.

Keep reading to see what ConvertKit costs.

Price Breakdown

Pricing is based on the size of your subscriber list. Features remain the same across the board—and you get unlimited forms, email sends and visual automation.

Here's the breakdown:

  • $29: 0-1,000 subscribers
  • $49: 1,000-3,000 subscribers
  • $79: 3,000-5,000 subscribers

If you have a more extensive list, you can enter the number of subscribers into a calculator to determine your monthly cost.

Finally, the custom plan comes with a free concierge migration, which you won't get with the other plans. But all customers have unlimited email and chat support.

ConvertKit also comes with the option of signing up for a 14-day free trial. You can even schedule a demo with a team member—they'll walk you through the platform and answer questions along the way.

How It Compares

ConvertKit vs. ActiveCampaign
ActiveCampaign is an all-in-one solution built for marketers. They remove some of the training wheels you'd get with ConvertKit, but the two options have some things in common.

Pricing is similar—ActiveCampaign starts at $39 a month, compared to ConvertKit's $49 entry point. Both are email automation platforms made for ease-of-use and simple segmentation. They each have a form builder and limited customization options.

ActiveCampaign comes with a built-in CRM and more detailed automation features, but lacks a landing page builder.

That said, it comes with A/B testing, lead scoring, sales reports, and a long list of other tools that ConvertKit does not provide.

ConvertKit vs. AWeber
AWeber is one of the most popular email marketing services on the market. Their target market is small and medium-sized businesses aiming to manage their email marketing with an easy and affordable solution. Where ConvertKit has about three templates, AWeber has 700.

Compared to ConvertKit, AWeber is more of a traditional email service provider. The platform comes with an intuitive drag-and-drop editor, as well as an autoresponder and advanced automation.

The downside is that AWeber makes it hard to move between different lists, and it doesn't remove unsubscribes.

ConvertKit vs. Drip
Drip, another email marketing platform, is similar to ConvertKit in that the service targets bloggers as well as ecommerce and marketing businesses.

Drip doesn't let you build lead magnets directly from the tool. But it does come with several integrations that allow you to combine email marketing and lead collection with relative ease.

Drip starts at $41 per month, which makes the ESP seems like less of a "deal" than ConvertKit. Still, Drip boasts intelligent marketing automation, which is far more advanced than what ConvertKit offers.

Bottom Line

ConvertKit makes marketing automation both approachable and attractive. And the platform's focus on content creators distinguishes it from its competitors.

The tool won't solve all of your problems. But it simplifies the email marketing process for people who don't know how to code yet still want high-end design for their brand.

We like ConvertKit quite a bit, but there are a few caveats.

One, it's not going to work for you if you're an SaaS provider or ecommerce retailer. The lack of templates and reporting features will prove frustrating when you want to learn more about your audience to boost conversions.

Two, if you care about customization and having tons of options, ConvertKit is not for you.

For those who understand the limitations, ConvertKit may well be worth a try. Making automation easy for the tech-averse is a considerable feat. However, opting for convenience means sacrificing A/B testing, detailed reporting, and customization.

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