Even if email is not modern and cool anymore since instant messaging is getting more and more popular, it still is one of if not the most important tool in the toolbox of marketers. Depending on the source, its average ROI is between $36 and $42. In other words: For each dollar spent, you get between $36 and $42 return.
So, no matter what kind of business you run or which industry you operate in, you want to get started with email marketing. And, the tool you use matters more than you might think. Everything matters: from initial setup and daily use to automation potential – and of course, price. If it’s cumbersome to use, it’s not going to help you reach your marketing goals in any way because you just aren’t going to touch it (again).
The ideal email marketing tool for you should support your marketing strategy in the best possible way. This also means that you need to be clear about your requirements since the providers differ significantly from each other. Particularly in terms of ease of use and set of features. For email marketing to really get a return of investment of $36 to $42, you want to set up and tweak your campaigns exactly the way you want them to be.
But how do you know which provider offers what functions? It can be really difficult to see the value of one tool compared to another, and they all sound similar…
One of the often named tools is Convertkit. It’s often mentioned together with Mailchimp, but surprisingly, it’s more than a decade younger. Founded in 2013 by blogger Nathan Barry, it primarily targets content creators, such as bloggers, podcasters, graphic designers, youtubers, or course creators. So, you’ll feel its origins and its target market strongly.
Pros and cons of Convertkit
ConvertKit is an email automation tool that comes with a landing page editor, forms, email automations, an online store for digital products, and more. It’s is free to use for managing up to 300 email subscribers, albeit with a limited feature set.
- Free forever plan with landing pages and forms but without automation
- Quick competent 24/7 live chat
- Uncluttered easy to use interface
- Landing pages and forms have a template gallery and come with advanced features
- Only text-based emails can be sent (but that could also be a boon since its deliverability is excellent)
- Limited range of templates
- Limited reporting
Who is Convertkit for?
It’s clear that Convertkit is made for creators by creators. You see it in its target market: It’s mainly aiming at bloggers and people who sell products through an online store. But still, nowadays, most small businesses could also put it to good use if they have an online presence.
It comes with forms and landing pages so that you don’t need to hunt for a separate tool to collect email addresses. If you subscribed to a paid plan, you also get automation and can then build a customer journey that fits your needs.
But, whether intentional or not, it’s not for people who want to target multiple audiences. It’s also not a good choice if you want to create very visual emails since Convertkit focuses predominantly on text emails. If you’re not too friendly with code, you might not like the services, since at times you need to mess with HTML and CSS, for example, to format emails.
Convertkit user interface
It’s really nice to see how easy signing up is. It’s done within a few minutes and you don’t need to undergo a review and wait for approval. And it’s always a boon to sign up without giving your credit card details. You can evaluate and decide if a service is for you without any pressure.
After signup, you’ll get onboarded with a checklist. To help you get started, the checklist will take you step by step through all the sections. Contrary to other email service providers, Convertkit doesn’t have a main dashboard on which you can get an overview of all the aspects of your campaign (You can get all the info in the respective menus).
You’ll also see that Convertkit focuses on subscribers because the first tab is Grow which houses your subscriber list and forms & landing pages. The interface is easy to use and navigate.
Everything you need to set up a campaign you’ll find in the second tab Send. The traditional email campaign is called broadcast in Convertkit. The other type of email you can send is sequences. For this review, I’m going to talk about broadcast emails.
Sending an email campaign is simple: You just need to select who you want to send it to, write the email and then send it. Or course, you can preview it and if necessary, fix what’s not correct.
Again, I can’t emphasis enough that Convertkit mainly focuses on text email. Therefore, the email builder is a text editor. It looks more like a classic email client. It’s self-explanatory, so it’s easy enough to use. And, the range of email templates is very limited.
Although, that might be intentional because highly designed emails often don’t land in the normal inbox but in promotion. Such emails should look and feel more like personal emails rather than the colourful and visually attractive promotional emails that you get from large corporations. The high delivery rates seem to prove Convertkit’s approach right.
Sign up forms and landing pages
To grow your list, you want to capture new email addresses. For that, you can create forms and landing pages. A form can be embedded on your site and a landing page is hosted by Convertkit as a standalone page.
You can create 4 different types of signup forms
- Slide in
- Sticky bar
Both signup forms and landing pages are excellent, in that they have a template gallery and are really easy to create with the editor. The landing page can be optimised for search engines with a meta title, meta description, and an image. It can be linked to third-party analytics such as Google Analytics.
Convertkit gives you advanced features for your forms and landing pages such as
- What action to do when someone fails in your form
- Automatically send an incentive email
- Automatically change what’s shown to returning visitors
The forms and landing pages come with reports showing you visitors, subscribers, and subsequent conversion rates.
List management, segmentation, and personalisation
If you’re coming from another provider, you’ll find that you can
- Import contacts from a csv file
- Important from leading services such as Mailchimp and Aweber
- Manually create a contact
You can automatically tag everyone who has joined a certain course or assign tags to new contacts as soon as they’re created. This can then be used as triggers for categorising and segmenting or for email sequences and automations.
Even though its subscriber management is excellent, it doesn’t have the features you’d normally expect from a CRM such as lead management or scoring.
An automation workflow usually has 2 main components: A trigger and an action. A trigger can be when a contact takes an action or a condition is met and then an action is taken. You can create simple rules – think of it like this: If this happens, then do that. You can also create multistep workflows for your funnels.
With the visual automation editor provided, it’s easy to create a multistep workflow. Convertkit provides you what a template gallery so that you don’t need to start from scratch – although that’s also possible.
Convertkit provides integration with the major CMS and ecommerce platforms such as Shopify and WordPress. Zapier is not missing so that you can integrate with almost anything else.
Reporting lets down the otherwise well-rounded features of Convertkit. It comes with just the basics – unsubscribes, click and open rates. You won’t get the exact rates on unsubscribes, opens, or clicks. You also won’t get geo and live data or bounce rates even though you can split test.
If you’ve subscribed to a paid plan, you get 24/7 live chat and email support. When you’re working in the backend, you’ll find in each section a detailed tutorial videos in which all functions are clearly explained. There’s also a searchable help centre that looks a bit like a social media platform. You’ll find helpful contributions by experts and user.
The pricing of Convertkit is based on the number of subscribers.
Is Convertkit right for you?
Convertkit is clearly geared towards creatives such as designers, bloggers, consultants, authors, and consultants. It’s for people who want to send text-based emails and who don’t want to target multiple audiences.
It’s set up to grow with you. So, when you start, you’re probably concentrating on collecting email addresses and sending broadcast emails. As you grow, you’ll want to personalise your messaging so that you can get in front of the right people at the right time with the right messages. This means you’ll want to segment your audience and automatically send the right message. Then, it’s time for you to upgrade your plan.
It always focuses on the essentials in all areas, clearly visible when you look at its interface. It has an uncluttered almost stripped-down interface so that it’s easy enough for anyone to get to grips with it. But this is also its weak point. For example, you’ll be missing detailed reporting and of course the option to send colourful and designed emails.
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