ConvertKit is a practical email service for content creators that want full control over their email marketing, provided they’re okay with simple email templates.
- The Bottom Line
- ConvertKit Pros & Cons
- Creating emails with ConvertKit
- Sending emails with ConverKit
- Marketing automation
- Forms & landing pages
- Other notable features
- Customer service
- How to get started
- ConvertKit alternatives
- Final thoughts
The Bottom Line
ConvertKit is a sensibly designed email marketing platform made for content creators.
ConvertKit has one-time broadcast emails, scheduled email sequences, and a flexible visual automation builder. With the tagging and segmentation options available, you’re unlikely to ever feel restricted with how or to whom you send your emails.
Since it doesn’t have a robust template builder, ConvertKit is best for creators who want to send plain text emails.
ConvertKit Pros & Cons
|Interface is easier to use than most alternatives||Can’t create complex email templates without coding yourself|
|Automation rules are very flexible||RSS-based broadcasts have some limitations|
|Lots of segmentation options||A/B testing only available for broadcasts|
Like many email marketing services, ConvertKit’s pricing begins at $0 for up to 1,000 subscribers. The free plan includes most features but leaves out automation funnels and reporting.
If you want all the features ConvertKit offers or you have more than 1,000 subscribers, the pricing begins at $29/month.
This pricing is in line with what other popular email marketing platforms charge per subscriber.
Creating emails with ConvertKit
Before diving into the segmentation and marketing automation features, it makes sense to begin with email creation.
What’s it like designing and writing emails in ConvertKit?
Email templates work different in ConvertKit than many other email marketing apps.
The email templates don’t give you complex layouts like the ones you find in MailChimp, for instance. Rather, the templates are more like a style guide for the emails you write.
There are two different default templates, but if you know how to write a little HTML and CSS, you can create your own templates too.
Here’s a look at what you see when you click on the “Modern” template that’s included in all accounts:
As you can see, the style options are on the right, and the content on the left is simply preview content using those styles.
ConvertKit has a simple editor for writing emails. At the time of writing this review, they’re releasing the new editor which acts like a front-end editor.
Here’s a look at what composing a simple broadcast email looks like:
The left side has a preview. In the left margin, there’s a plus button you click to reveal the insert menu which you can see pictured above.
This is a straightforward system for adding basic elements into your emails like paragraphs, headings, images, and lists.
The right sidebar lets you send preview emails and switch the email template on-the-fly.
If your plan is to send simple emails with mainly plain text, you’ll love how much simpler it is to use than other solutions. However, anyone looking for gallery layouts and flashier templates won’t find these options in ConvertKit.
Sending emails with ConverKit
There are two different ways to send emails with ConvertKit:
Broadcasts are used to send a single email to your subscribers, and sequences are used to send a series of scheduled emails to subscribers. Both have tons of segmenation options available.
Let’s take a closer look at both now.
A broadcast email in ConvertKit is an email you send once. Creating a broadcast email is easy, you just:
- Decide who will receive it
- Write/design the email
- Schedule & send
Broadcasts are great for timed offers like a Cyber Monday sale or regular newsletter emails.
There are some pretty advanced segmentation options included which you’ll learn more about in a moment.
You may know this feature as an “autoresponder series,” but they’re called “Sequences” in ConvertKit.
The sequence creator is really intuitive and easy to use.
On the left side, you can add and reorder the emails in the sequence. Above the editor, there is an option called “When to Send” which is used to set the number of days or hours after the previous email to send the next one. For a weekly series, you would set each email to send 7 days after the last.
You can use the segmentation options to send certain emails to specific subscribers which unlocks a ton of personalization opportunity.
With sequences, it’s possible to write an “evergreen newsletter” that’s potentially years-long with emails scheduled to send weekly or at whatever frequency you’d like using ConvertKit sequences.
Now that you know about the three ways to send emails with ConvertKit, let’s look at the segmentation options.
Tags are the backbone of ConvertKit’s segmentation options.
While you can also segment subscribers based on profile data like their location or subscription date, you’ll mainly use tags to build segments.
From the main subscribers page, you can create:
If you create a new tag, you’ll see a simple popup where you just give it a name.
You can assign tags to subscribers in automation flows or based on the forms they subscribe to. For instance, you could have a popup form on your site advertising a free ebook and add an “ebook” tag to anyone who subscribes through this form.
Then you can create a new segment using that tag, like this:
You can choose to target subscribers matching any, all, or none of the filters. You can add multiple filters into one filter group and create multiple filter groups.
Here’s a look at the available filters which all have their own sets of potential values:
You could then send a broadcast to only subscribers in this new segment.
Segments are really useful when sending one-off broadcasts, but you are less likely to use them with sequences because you’ll probably use automation flows to trigger them.
Marketing automation can get really confusing in many email marketing apps. ConvertKit luckily maintains it’s brand of simplicity with the visual automation builder.
The first step to building a new automation is to select a trigger to begin the flow.
You can begin the flow when a subscriber:
- Joins a form
- Is added to a tag
- Fills a custom field
- Completes a purchase
Here’s how it looks once you choose the “joins a form” option and select a form:
You can click the plus button below to decide what happens next. Most likely, you’ll add an Action.
The first option can be used to send subscribers into the email sequence you have prepared. They would then stay at this step in the automation flow until they have received every email in the sequence before continuing onto the next step.
Events are used to pull visitors down the flow skipping other steps, and Conditions are simply “if statements,” as in, if the subscriber has “customer” tag already, don’t send them the sales pitch email.
Since you can end and begin automations with tags and add/remove tags throughout, you’ll find that there are usually multiple ways to accomplish the same goals, and you never struggle to make anything happen with ConvertKit.
ConvertKit has a simple set of personalization options.
By far the most important (and obvious) need for personalization is to include the subscriber’s name in an email. ConvertKit includes this in its simple set of personalization options.
You may find yourself a bit restricted if you want to include other personalized language like the name of a product the subscriber bought. In this case, ConvertKit allows you to add if/else statements directly in the email.
For example, if you want to include a sentence only for customers and not for free product users, you could use an if statement to check for a “customer” tag and otherwise show a different sentence.
It’s not a perfect solution, but it works well enough in conjunction with all the other segmentation options.
Forms & landing pages
You can create both optin forms and complete landing pages with ConvertKit.
When you create an optin form, you get to choose what type of form to create first.
You then choose the template for the form.
The folks at ConvertKit have a great design sense and all of their designs look really nice.
The form editor lets you change the text, image, and colors of the form.
You’ll also use this page to configure the success message, display options, and confirmation email.
When you’re ready to embed the form, you can choose between the following embed options:
- Hosted link
The form builder is good if you want to quickly create an attractive optin form for your site. If you want more customization and display options, you’ll do well with a plugin like MailOptin which integrates perfectly with ConvertKit.
The experience of creating a landing page is similar to that of creating forms. The only difference is that you don’t embed the page on your site. Rather, you use their hosted URL or you map it to a subdomain on your site.
Also, there are a lot more templates to choose from.
While many marketers choose to use 3rd-party tools for list building and lead generation, ConvertKit has a decent offering of forms and landing pages to choose from.
Other notable features
There are a few other features worthy of special mention in ConvertKit.
In practice, you’ll often find yourself wanting to check an individual subscriber to make sure they’ve received your emails. This is really important during early testing, and it’s also nice to check occassionally if someone has opened the emails they got.
It’s surprising how many email marketing services don’t’ have this, but ConvertKit nails it. Their subscriber profile pages include everything you need in a simple and clean interface.
It’s also helpful that you can add and remove tags from here.
If you use Easy Digital Downloads or WooCommerce, you’ll see your sales populated in the ConvertKit Subscriber page by flipping over to the Purchases tab.
You can also use purchases to segment your customers, and you can review their purchases on their subscriber pages.
ConvertKit has a support chat button (powered by Intercom) available at the bottom of every page.
While their support reps are genuinely helpful, they are a bit slow since ConvertKit is a smaller company. You may have to wait a few hours to hear from someone.
While their support can be slow, they make up for it with their detailed knowledge base, slack group, and tons of training resources. As a popular platform, you can usually do some Googling and find tutorials from bloggers on most topics as well.
How to get started
You can signup for ConvertKit here.
If you don’t have any existing subscribers then you can simply get started with creating your email sequences and automations.
If you have 5,000 or more subscribers, you can take advantage of their concierge migration service.
The ConvertKit team will migrate you over to their platform including copying your email flows.
If you have fewer subscribers, it’s easy enough to do on your own. Importing subscribers can be done via a CSV or one of ConvertKit’s specialized importers:
ConvertKit has an automated import available system for:
You’ll find the transfer especially easy if you use any of those platforms.
ConvertKit has a few popular competitors.
While ConvertKit lacks some email templating features that are popular in other platforms, it more than makes up for it with flexibility and ease-of-use.
If you believe that fancy emails hurt business the way the ConvertKit team does then you’re not really giving anything up.
Overall, ConvertKit is extremely flexible and way easier to use than other email marketing services with robust marketing automation tools.
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