MailChimp is seen as one of the best-known email marketing platforms out there. But, like all great titans of industry, there’s always a small business with potential. ConvertKit might be that destroyer.
The system focuses on its email marketing tool. It also combines automation, eCommerce, and page-building features.
You wouldn’t call it an all-in-one marketing tool like Kartra. But you would call it a way to turn emails into profit, like Sendinblue.
To find out whether ConvertKit is a good alternative to these platforms, you can check out our review.
What is ConvertKit?
- Alt: ConvertKit home page screenshot
ConvertKit refers to itself as a creator marketing platform. Nathan Barry founded the platform in 2013 due to his dissatisfaction with existing tools. He invested 50 thousand a year later, eventually leading to millions in earnings several years later.
Nathan Barry is unique because he built the platform for content creators. He was a writer, selling books and blogging things to his audience of followers.
Ultimately, this eventually led to some success and a professional-looking website. The company is still relatively small, only hosting about 65 different team members across 49 different cities.
The team admits it has room to grow of course, as it has a vision that wants to earn $1 billion for its customers, $100 million in revenue, 250 thousand total creators, and with a 100% remote team.
Throughout this, they reference what they call an “unfair advantage:” that they care more.
I’m all about businesses with a soapy, romantic story. After all, the aspiration of every five-year-old who wants to be an astronaut is a reminder of this.
But, in the case of businesses and products, our astronaut-level dreams need to be grounded a bit. Because if ConvertKit isn’t a good product, none of it will matter.
Who is ConvertKit best for?
While other tools are meant to be the complete marketing experience, ConvertKit is more for content creators. If you write books, produce things on YouTube, or run a podcast, ConvertKit has some excellent features.
Tools like the tip jar are ideal for content creators who take donations for making content. However, you can also sell digital products and subscriptions through the platform.
Ultimately, this makes it less useful for those who want pure marketing tools (like HubSpot or LeadPages). However, you get a lot of value for a relatively low investment.
ConvertKit Pros & Cons
- Free plan supports over one thousand subscribers
- Pro plans are not very expensive
- Landing page editor will appeal to those who want to focus more on results than design.
- Sorting your email list is incredibly easy and very powerful
- Email building and sequence tools are simple and powerful
- Automation features are effortless.
- Great customer service ratings
- Landing page editor lacks all creative elements (no drag-and-drop, no border adjustment, just colors and fonts)
- Customer support not available for free plan users
- Few default email templates to choose from
- Email snippet builder is in a tiny window for no reason.
- Automated features lack some potential power with a lack of “or” statements.
- Integrations are built for content creators, not for marketers.
ConvertKit Pricing and Plans
- Alt: ConvertKit plans and pricing breakdown
ConertKit breaks its plans into three different types:
- Creator Pro
The Creator and Creator Pro plans require payments (judging by how it’s not “free”), but the free plan is a great way to test the system.
The two paid plans start at $9 and $25 monthly. However, you’ll end up paying more based on how many subscribers you get.
The Free Plan
The free plan is the only one that doesn’t go up depending on your subscribers. After all, you wouldn’t call it “free” if you suddenly had to pay. Instead, your limit is 1,000 subscribers.
The 1,000 subscriber limit gives you a great way to test these features. Here’s a breakdown of what you get:
- Unlimited landing pages, forms, and email broadcasts
- Audience tagging and segmentation
- Can sell digital products and subscriptions
- Community support (no customer support)
As you can tell, the main drawback of the free plan is a lack of customer support. So, you’ll have to ask fellow users if you end up having errors.
The Creator Plan
The creator plan starts at $9 monthly for support for 300 subscribers. If you need more subscribers, you’ll need to pay for them:
|Subscriber count||Cost (per month if you pay yearly)|
The Creator Plan will support up to 500 thousand subscribers. But the Creator Pro plan is recommended for users above 100 thousand.
You also get some extra features we will break down below:
- Email and live chat support
- Free migration from other email marketing tools
- Access to automated email sequences
- Third-party integrations
- One team member
The Creator Pro Plan
For even more features, you can pay for the Creator Pro plan, which starts at $25 per month for 300 subscribers. Of course, you can pay for more subscribers:
|Subscriber count||Cost (per month if you pay yearly)|
When you exceed 500 thousand subscribers, you need to contact customer service. You also get some extra features:
- Unlimited team members
- A newsletter referral system (so your subscribers can make you more subscribers for rewards)
- Subscriber scoring (to get more information about the value of subscribers)
- Advanced reporting tools
When using any advanced plans, you are given a 14-day free trial to check out those features. Also, you don’t need to provide a payment card to get started.
Getting started with ConvertKit
- Alt: The ConvertKit post-registration page
After creating your account, you’ll see two areas of interest: the left-hand link to a tutorial teaching you how to use ConvertKit and the navigation bar on top where you can switch between areas.
As a free user, you are limited to the grow, send, earn, and learn menu items. To use automate, you need to pay for Creator or Creator Pro. You can get started with the checklist to see how everything works.
Creating a landing page with ConvertKit
When starting the tutorial, you first need to create a landing page. After all, your emails will lead to this page (or vice versa), letting customers purchase your products or put themselves on your subscription lists. You can find this under the “grow” tab on your navigation bar.
Selecting your landing page templates
- Alt: Choosing your page templates on ConvertKit
Like other landing page builders, your first step is picking a template. Your templates are grouped by different uses, like events, links, newsletters, videos, webinars, or eBooks.
There are many templates with dynamic designs to choose from. But, given the lower cost of this tool, there are fewer templates than other platforms like ClickFunnels or DropFunnels.
Clicking “choose” will bring you to the page builder.
The landing page creation tool
- Alt: The ConvertKit landing page editor
When you pick a template, you are brought to the building tool. It is a simple landing page editor with fewer bells and whistles than many others.
You’ll find that ConvertKit is ideal for creators who aren’t picky about creativity. The layout you see is what you get, as you can’t drag different page elements like with other builders.
Instead, clicking on each element will let you edit basic styles. You can replace images, change fonts, and change button styles. You can also enter new fields in your subscription forms, which can be custom fields or related to a specific tag (a way to group your subscription lists).
The settings in the upper-right corner is where you can set what this page does. The incentive tab will let you send new subscribers an incentive email. For example, you can give them a free eBook to join your newsletter. You can also use the settings to set a custom domain name, create SEO settings, and advanced settings like reCAPTCHAs, thank you pages, and what happens after the form is sent.
It’s interesting to see this limited capability because this page builder was said to be the choice for content creators. Given many of these creators like creative pursuits, I’m surprised there aren’t more options. Thankfully, the tools here are simple and well made, making it appeal to those who want to get their plans off the ground.
After you publish it, you are given a temporary URL which you can share on Facebook or Twitter. So, you could literally spend two minutes with the page builder and be done. You can also embed your page with WordPress (which requires you to have a paid subscription)
Creating a form using ConvertKit
The second option under the “grow” tab refers to forms. When you get started here, you can pick one of four display formats: inline, modal, slide-in, and sticky bars (the popups that appear on top of the screen).
- Alt: Four types of ConvertKit forms
These forms are identical to the landing page builder, starting with simple templates with multiple design options. Selecting your template will bring you back to the familiar landing page builder.
Much like the landing page editor, the form builder is no different.
Adding your first email marketing subscribers
- Alt: ConvertKit email subscriber list page
For free or non-pro users, the subscriber list will be where you spend most of your time. Through this page, you can use ConvertKit’s powerful email marketing software. You can find the subscriber page under the “grow” tab.
You need to create segments, tags, and products to get started creating subscribers. Here’s a breakdown of how those three categorization tools can help:
- Segments – This categorization type is mainly for email automation and broadcasts. With different segments, you can group people by the products you target them with and the type of emails they receive.
- Tags – Tags help you organize subscribers further within those segments. For example, you might tag people who have purchased a course you made as someone who doesn’t receive those course advertisement emails. But you still want them within the general newsletter segment.
- Products – These are the simple one-time items you plan on selling to your subscribers. You can also sell content subscriptions, set up a tip jar (as a content creator), and accept payments through multiple gateways.
Adding and sorting subscribers on your email list is painfully simple. You’ll see this in action when you start sending out one of those unlimited emails you paid for.
When adding subscribers, you can add them manually, import them from CSV or TXT files, or get them from third-party CRM software. Importing requires a creator subscription.
The building system lets you create completely custom fields. So, rather than rely on what’s available, ConvertKit enables you to control the information you gather.
- Alt: Subscriber data you can find on ConvertKit
Once you get them added, ConvertKit will automatically generate graphs on purchases, total subscribers, new subscribers, and those who have unsubscribed.
Again, email list management is effortless.
ConvertKit email marketing services
The “send” tab contains everything you need to send emails to your subscribers. There are four different areas we will cover here:
Creating an email broadcast
- Alt: Using the email broadcast feature
Email broadcasts are an essential piece of any email service provider. These broadcasts are sent to entire groups of people on your list or in different segments.
Using the email-building tool
The email broadcast system also provides a convenient space to talk about the email editor (seen above). The email-building tool is simple, just like the landing page builder. However, there are few email templates.
By hovering your mouse over the content area, you’ll find a “plus” sign that lets you see all the design elements you can add. There are a lot of creative options here that include everything from videos to social icons.
The unique element here is the Bandsintown content, which lets you list all the upcoming shows where that band is playing. If you work in the music industry, this is a great tool. Here’s an example using Metallica:
- Alt: ConvertKit Bandsintown integration
Of course, non-musicians won’t find this helpful. Instead, they will rely on a healthy number of alternatives for them.
Creating email sequences
- Alt: Email sequences using ConvertKit
Email sequences are part of the Creator Plan. With this tool, you can use the same email content builder to make a series of emails that happen after your subscribers do something. For example, you can use this tool to send them a welcome email as a new subscriber.
These email sequences are great at engaging new subscribers. For example, if you want to integrate them into a course you’ve made on Kajabi, you might send a series of emails encouraging them to continue the course.
Creating these sequences is just as simple as creating plain-text emails. Clicking the “add email” adds a new stage in the sequence. You can send the email after a certain number of days. You can even exclude certain days (like weekends).
Email snippets and templates
Snippets and templates let you create pre-made designs and content to include in emails. For example, you might use this to advertise a new product.
To create a new email template, you can start with another template (which feels a bit meta). From there, you can choose to edit the template using simple style changes. Much like all things ConvertKit, it’s simple and easy to use but could be more detailed.
- Alt: ConvertKit email designer for building templates
Snippets, on the contrary, are about building repeat blurbs from within the content. These can be used to repeat your consistent CTAs (calls to action) or product purchase requests. The editor is the same as your standard email designer (only in a small window).
- Alt: Snipper builder on ConvertKit
There’s no reason that the snippet creator needs to be limited to this small window. So, if you are reading this ConvertKit, make it identical to the standard email builder.
ConvertKit email automation tool
These days, a big part of your email marketing efforts can be linked to automation. The less time you spend doing things for your business, the more time you can spend on growth activities. When looking at ConvertKit, automation is broken down into four areas:
- Visual automation
Creating visual automation on ConvertKit
Visual automation refers to a way to make visually-driven email sequences. Many of these are standard email sequences, not requiring Creator Pro. However, advanced tools will need a higher-cost subscription.
Much like Sendinblue, you are given a series of templates which help you understand how this system works.
- Alt: ConvertKit – automated advanced email marketing templates
When clicking the “use” button, it brings up the process for automation. For example, you can use this system to thank your subscribers for finding new subscribers through rewards. This system, known as SparkLoop, is part of the pro-level package.
To get the most out of this automation, you need to understand the rules.
Creating rules and connecting integrations
Rules are your “if-then” statements, basically creating triggers and actions. Through these, you can dictate what your email automation systems do in given conditions.
- Alt: Creating if-then statements using ConvertKit’s email automation
For example, you can use this to create opt-in lists for your newsletter subscriptions. However, you can also respond when people unsubscribe.
You can also use tags (mentioned earlier) to determine what additional elements you want to apply.
For example, you might send them marketing emails if they have a tag that tells you they haven’t bought your product. However, you might have another tag for a potential upsold product. ConvertKit makes it easy to see a path to higher conversion rates by focusing on simplicity.
If you combine these with integrations, you also get some additional power. ConvertKit connects with LeadPages, OptimizePress, OptinMonster, and Patreon.
You might notice some weird names here that are not often found on other marketing tools. That’s because ConvertKit is built for content creators, putting less pressure on them to integrate with more platforms.
What do users say about ConvertKit?
According to Capterra, the majority of customers love this product. It is an emerging favorite in the current year for marketing automation software. Other sites, like G2, share a similar opinion, giving it an average of 4.5 stars.
Most customers love how easy it is to use. They think that its attempt to focus on email marketing prevents it from running into the same errors others do. In trying to be everything, like GrooveFunnels, you sometimes end up being all over the place.
Critiques you often see criticize ConvertKit for needing more. Much of this comes from the need for more integration. Also, the complete lack of a drag-and-drop editor for the landing page is a considerable flaw.
Is ConvertKit worth your money?
ConvertKit is one of those software creations with a solid email marketing focus. Because of this, its simplicity will appeal to marketers who hate being overwhelmed by tools that try to do too much. So ultimately, it is worth the money if you want something other than an all-in-one solution.
ConvertKit is particularly useful for content creators trying to grow an audience. In the modern world of content creation, it’s not about putting stuff on YouTube and praying the algorithm sees you. It’s about user engagement, meaning you need to reach out to your people.
It can still be a solid tool for marketers, especially if you are an entry-level marketing specialist. However, we wouldn’t call it a total replacement for alternatives like MailChimp, which is better for marketing.
ConvertKit is easily one of the most effective email marketing platforms for beginners.