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One of the most popular pieces of advice floating around online for bloggers is to build your email list. There are thousands (millions?) of articles about how to build your list, what to create as an opt-in offer, how often to communicate with your list, and how to create a sales funnel to milk every possible penny out of your subscribers. There are also raging debates over which platform you should sign up for in order to maximize your list and create the best possible engagement. It’s intense and most people are pretty steadfastly committed to their choice…except me it seems.
I’ve used almost all of them at one time or another. I’ve been on MailChimp, MailerLite, Aweber, InfusionSoft, and ConvertKit. I’ve exported and imported my poor subscribers all over the place hopping from one platform to the next trying to find the one that gives me the best of everything although I was primarily looking for something that was cost effective, with helpful analytics, and easy to use. Over and over again I found myself coming back to MailChimp and ConvertKit so I want to break it down for you today and focus on those two options.
Disclosure: I currently use MailChimp.
Overall Impression of ConvertKit
I was on the fence about ConvertKit forever before I signed up with them mostly because they don’t offer a free trial. I hate signing up for anything that doesn’t let me try it free because I’m like, “So, if I hate it I’m just out money? What if your software just sucks?” but eventually Allison from Wonderlass teamed up to do a webinar with the people at ConvertKit.
I attended, they provoked my curiosity, and they offered a free 30-day trial of their system.
Hint: ConvertKit offers a free 30 day trial at the end of practically every single webinar they do so if you want to try ConvertKit, find someone hosting a webinar, watch it, and click the link at the end for the free 30 days.
I signed up for the free 30 days and it took me the entire 30 day trial to sort out just what the heck I was doing. Their platform is complicated and don’t let anyone sell you on the “Oh, it’s sooooo easy to use” BS because it’s not. It becomes easy once you’ve gotten over the learning curve but y’all, that learning curve is steep!
I’m not hating on ConvertKit though, promise. Once you learn it and you really get a handle on how it works it’s fantastic, for some people. The best thing about it is that you can filter your subscribers by tags rather than by lists and you can attach tags to your subscribers for almost any reason.
Let’s say, that you send an email with links to three different eProducts that you are promoting. You can associate a tag with each link in your email. If the user clicks the link, the associated tag is then attached to their user profile.
eBook 1 = tag “Launch business”
eBook 2 = tag “Grow email list”
eCourse = tag “Business Launch eCourse”
If a subscriber clicks the link to eBook 2 they are immediately tagged with “Grow email list” and you can target future correspondence based on that tag. Since they didn’t indicate any interest in an eCourse you can exclude them from future emails about enrolling in your course and instead target them for book sales instead. You can also use tags to remove them from future sales pitches about a product once they’ve purchased it.
That’s FANTASTIC and I loved ConvertKit for that but, for me, that’s where the beauty and fantasm of ConvertKit ended. ConvertKit is $29 / month for your first 1,000 subscribers and the pricing goes up from there. The webinar you’ll attend to get your free 30 days of ConvertKit is typically, “How to get your first 1,000 subscribers in 30 days” and while their steps work that also means that you’ll be paying $49 / month for 1k – 3k subscribers about a month after you sign up but since your list is likely to grow quickly if you promote it, you’ll be paying $79 / month or more within 6 – 12 months. To me, tagging subscribers wasn’t worth it when there were other more affordable options.
If you have an eProduct or service-based business that relies heavily on email marketing and requires the ability to segment subscribers based on actions and interests, ConvertKit is a great choice. They have amazing support personnel that are very helpful and responsive plus you can find groups on Facebook full of ConvertKit users that are able to answer your questions.
There are definitely things I love about ConvertKit, even though I’m no longer using them. Most notably:
- Segment subscribers based on tags
- Easy to customize opt-in forms
- Easy automation of emails and funnels
- Easy to attach opt-in offers
- Responsive support
There aren’t really a lot of cons about ConvertKit because it’s a great system but I do believe it’s far more robust and complex than a lot of people need. They have an amazing affiliate programs which pays out really well for referrals which I believe influences just how amazing some people claim they are. They are great, but they aren’t the right fit for everyone (as I’ll explain later).
- Steep learning curve
- More expensive than other providers
- Limited integrations when compared to other systems
Overall Impression of MailChimp
Obviously I’ve never been 100% sold on MailChimp because if I was I wouldn’t have switched and tried Aweber, InfusionSoft, MailerLite, and ConvertKit in the first place. There are definite pros and cons with MailChimp and again, it depends on your needs when it comes to your email marketing.
I’ve been with MailChimp for a loooooooong time and maybe I’m just super familiar with it at this point but I find it far easier to set-up and use than ConvertKit. The main dashboard is simple, lists and campaigns are easy to create, and reporting is robust. It’s a fabulous choice for beginners because everything is so straightforward. Plus, since it’s so simple to use, it’s popular and there are a ton of tutorials online to help you customize it to your needs.
MailChimp, unlike ConvertKit, is a list-based system so you are not able to tag subscribers based on their interests or activity. However, this does not mean that you can’t segment or group your subscribers.
Segmenting your subscribers allows you to target subscribers based on location, engagement, activity, whether they have made a purchase, or a variety of other criteria. For example, let’s say you wanted to target a new subscriber that has not yet made a purchase despite your welcome series that promoted your product or services. You can create a segment which indicates that you want to send an email to subscribers added within the last 30 days who have not yet made a purchase (assuming you’ve integrated MailChimp with your eCommerce system or online shop). You can then use this segment to send a special offer, discount code, or other promotional emails.
You can also set these segments to auto update so if a subscriber makes a purchase they are removed from the segment and new subscribers that haven’t purchased are automatically added. Per MailChimp, here are a few other segments you can create:
- Subscribed contacts who opened any of your last five campaigns
- Subscribed contacts who didn’t click in your last campaign
- Subscribed, unsubscribed, or non-subscribed contacts who recently purchased a product
- Subscribed, unsubscribed, or non-subscribed contacts who live in a certain location
- Unsubscribed or non-subscribed contacts who spent more than $500 in your integrated e-commerce store
MailChimp groups are similar but they let you categorize subscribers by things like interests or preferences meaning you can create a group for eCourses. That allows you to send eCourse updates to subscribers in that group without having to create an entirely new list (like some people would have you believe).
I’ve been with MailChimp for a long time and I have no plans to switch again. Even though other providers have their benefits, there are absolutely pros to using MailChimp:
- Segment and group subscribers based a ton of different criteria
- Easy to customize opt-in forms and integration to WordPress and Genesis framework plugins
- Easy customization of welcome emails and automation funnels
- Easy to attach opt-in offers
- A TON of integrations
- In depth reporting of campaigns
- The option for a free account
- Responsive support
I don’t have a lot of cons about MailChimp either but a few are:
- Automation of funnels and email courses is a paid feature
- Subscriber profiles including social network connection is a paid feature
Which one is right for you is completely up to you based on how you run your blog or business. Both systems are very robust with customizable opt-in forms, responsive support, and easy-to-automate email campaigns. What I love most about MailChimp is the ability to maintain a free account (up to 2,000 subscribers) and segment those subscribers for targeted marketing without having to pay for an account. I have the choice to upgrade but I’m not required to do so which means I’m able to get comfortable with a platform before investing my hard-earned dollars.
If you are new to email marketing, are looking for a user-friendly system with a lot of integrations, and are primarily a blogger with a newsletter and a few products, MailChimp is the way to go.
If you are experienced in email marketing, are looking for a robust platform with a lot of subscriber options, and are primarily a business which uses blogging as a marketing tool, I would recommend ConvertKit.
You can’t go wrong with either choice but whichever one you choose, read the help guide, watch the tutorial videos, and learn how to use it. One of the main reasons I see people being upset with their provider and switching systems is because they don’t fully understand what their current provider is capable of doing.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, the exit popup I use is PopupAlly which integrates easily with MailChimp. 😉