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As an email copywriter, I get asked all the time which email service is the best. Should I start with MailChimp? What about MailerLite? Is ConvertKit really worth it?
Here’s the thing – there’s no perfect solution. What you need will depend on your business and your goals with email marketing. That said, I’m declaring my love for ConvertKit.
I made the switch a couple months ago and the more I use it the more I like it. The tagging, the sequences, the link triggers – it’s got everything I want for my email marketing!
But ConvertKit isn’t the first email service I used. When I started my business, I was using MailChimp. Then I switched to MailerLite. But I found shortcomings with both.
This post is all about sharing my experiences with each service and why I ultimately decided to make the switch to ConvertKit. If you’ve been looking for an honest comparison and review, keep reading.
When I launched my business, I got started with MailChimp. I’d used it before when I had my yarn business, so I was already familiar with it. I wanted to get up and running, so I chose the service I knew best.
I wanted to send new subscribers a 5 day mini course, so I had to sign up for a paid plan. (This was before they offered autoresponders on their free plan). Since I didn’t have very many subscribers, it was cheaper to pay for credits as I needed them rather than sign up for a monthly plan.
One of the issues I had with MailChimp was getting the opt in forms to look good. I ended up purchasing another plugin to create the opt in forms, but I still had issues with them looking wonky on my site. (I wouldn’t recommend this particular plugin – it had a lot of bugs and poor support.)
Within a few months I also signed up for Leadpages. MailChimp doesn’t have a way to create nice looking landing pages. Back then I didn’t know how to do it with WordPress either, so I spent the money on Leadpages.
Even though I was trying to keep my email marketing costs down, I had to buy additional services to make MailChimp work like I wanted. I regret buying Leadpages and have canceled my account. It’s not that the service isn’t great, but it wasn’t something I needed at that point in my business.
My list was growing, but it was slow. I wanted to create more content upgrades, but setting it up in the back end of MailChimp was complicated. Every content upgraded needed its own list and its own form, which meant messing around with that plugin I hated to create the opt ins, setting up a new landing page, and creating the sequences, which involved a lot of steps.
Plus I was getting charged for every email I sent. As my list grew, I had to keep buying more credits. I was at the point where I either needed to upgrade to a monthly plan or switch service providers.
That’s when I decided to give MailerLite a try.
MailerLite is growing as an alternative to MailChimp and ConvertKit. When you look at their list of features, it’s easy to see why. They’ve got autoresponders, opt in forms, landing pages, pop-ups, and more – all on a free plan.
In a lot of ways though, MailerLite was lacking some of the features I’d come to expect from an email service. They don’t have a lot of integrations, so I couldn’t use any of the landing pages I’d created with LeadPages. They don’t automatically build footers to be CAN-SPAM compliant. And they don’t host PDFs for you.
But MailerLite was free. So I decided to look past what it lacked and make the switch.
MailerLite worked well for me for a while. But as my list grew, managing subscribers became a problem.
Like MailChimp, MailerLite makes you create a new subscriber group for every freebie and content upgrade. I had about 12 different lists and I was never sure if my weekly emails were going to all my subscribers or if I was missing people. I found it difficult to find the stats I wanted and get a clear picture of how my subscribers were interacting with my emails.
I also couldn’t find an easy way to purge old subscribers. Deleting subscribers who don’t open your emails is key for keeping a healthy list. But MailerLite didn’t make it easy to find who was opening and who wasn’t.
MailerLite has a responsive customer service team. Whenever I needed help, they were quick to answer.
But the thing that frustrated me about the company was the promises that never seemed to come true. They’d share features they were working on, but things were slow to show up on the platform. Tagging was supposed to be released in March 2017, but as far as I know it’s still not available.
The last straw for me came when I was testing out a new automation. Everything seemed fine with the emails at first, but then I noticed something weird. I set the emails to send every 3 days, but I’d get 2 in a row just a few hours apart.
That was it. I wasn’t going to risk upsetting subscribers because my email service was acting buggy.
I was tired of hacking MailerLite and dealing with its quirks just to have a free email service.
Email marketing was becoming a bigger part of my business.
As an email copywriter, I know more than anyone just how much ROI you get from email. It made sense to take the plunge and invest in ConvertKit.
And I gotta say, ConvertKit lives up to the hype! I’m going to break down a couple of the best improvements I’ve seen since switching.
Right away I noticed a big improvement in my open rates. With MailerLite my open rates averaged 25-35%. Sometimes I could get them up to 40%.
With ConvertKit, they’re consistently around 45-50%. That’s huge!
Open rates are one of the most important metrics to me and ConvertKit is known to have some of the highest open rates in the industry. I was skeptical before I tried it, but the proof is in the numbers.
With their simple plain text email format, ConvertKit’s emails have better deliverability rates. They look more like an email from a friend than a marketing message, so they’re more likely to end up in the main tab of Gmail (instead of the dreaded promotions tab).
ConvertKit also makes it easy to resend your emails to the people who didn’t open them the first time. Just edit the subject line and send it off. I love this feature and it’s been a big help for my open rates. How many people are actually seeing you emails matters a whole lot more than how many people are on your list.
Finally I’ve got all the forms I need! ConvertKit’s forms don’t offer a lot of customization options, but they’re simple and modern. They have landing pages, embedded forms, and pop-ups, so you have lots of options for growing your list.
And if you want to use something like Leadpages, they’ve got a ton of options for integrations (with new ones coming all the time).
ConvertKit uses a one subscriber model. What that means is that instead of using lists to sort subscribers (like MailChimp and MailerLite), you use tags.
So if a subscriber signs up for my Welcome Sequence Blueprint, ConvertKit tags them for me. That way I know that person is interested in welcome sequences. So if I’m launching a new service all about welcome sequences, I can send emails to the subscribers I know are already interested.
It makes it easy to send targeted emails to the subscribers you want to talk to without blasting your whole list with things they might not care about.
If it sounds like a lot to keep track of, trust me, it’s not. With automation rules, ConvertKit tags subscribers for you based on their behavior.
What you get is a really clear picture of how your subscribers are interacting with your emails. And as a stats nerd, I love getting this insight into my subscribers. I’m learning more about what they want so I can send them even better emails.
I could go on…but if you’re thinking about switching to ConvertKit, I genuinely recommend them. It’s easy to use and it’s helping me grow my list faster and get more of my emails read.
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