So, you need to market through email. You’re lucky, because there are many options out there.
But you’ve got a problem: how do you know which one is right for you?
Here’s where ConvertKit comes in:
It’s one of the more unique email marketing tools around.
Substantially, it’s just like its competitors. Most of the basic features you want will be there.
But ConvertKit is specifically geared towards small/individual, online creators. And it’d seem they have done an incredible job:
Yep. A BILLION earned by ConvertKit’s customers, and ConvertKit itself earns at least $100 MILLION in annual revenue.
So if you’re an individual or part of a small group that creates content online, and you want to know if this is a software that will be of specific use to you…keep reading!
And if that’s NOT you?
Keep reading anyway, because ConverKit has some perks that may surprise you, and may be useful for you.
Let’s get started with a major priority:
Performance is everything for email marketing software. After all:
You’re counting on this software to help you reach a lot of people. You’re counting on it SUCCESSFULLY reaching people’s mailboxes.
And you’re also especially counting on the features working. Especially automation features—if they don’t perform well, it’s kind of ruins having those features in the first place.
And oh boy, does ConvertKit hype up its automation tools:
This SOUNDS amazing. If the tool actually performs well, it would make your life WAY easier. It could make ConvertKit worth investing in.
Don’t worry! I WILL show you the tool, but later. For now, I can just tell you:
Yes, the automation works fine.
In fact, if the automation tools do things you don’t want them to, it’s usually because you neglected a detail in setting them up. But that has to do with ease of use, not performance.
And as far as the big question of email deliverability goes, I have no complaints.
It’s true that sometimes emails will end up in your recipients’ spam folders, but that can happen with any client, and there are a variety of factors under your control that can change that.
So relative to competitors, ConvertKit doesn’t have any real performance issues.
Aside from the core automation features and email sends, the overall web application also works fine.
Actually, I’ve never experienced a glitch or serious issue. Everything has run super smoothly for me.
Short section, right? It’s okay. That’s a good thing!
It means there aren’t many issues to talk about. Yessir, ConvertKit is a very good performer.
Now, all this talk about the importance of features performing well makes you wonder how easy they are to use. So up next:
Ease of Use
So this may not come as a surprise, but ease of use is especially important for email marketing, because you’ll have to juggle a lot of details and make use of more advanced features.
Although people have different levels of experience and proficiency at using these types of software, the general ideal is software that is easy to use, or at least intuitive, but which still lets you make the most of the tools.
Cool. Ready to dive in? Here we go:
Remember the automation I just talked about in the last section? Well, ConvertKit also really hypes up how easy to use it is.
It’s a ‘visual builder/editor,’ so users can visually edit the steps of their automations. It’s not exactly cutting edge or a super unique feature, but it’s still very well done.
When you get started, ConvertKit will greet you with a brief introduction and quick tutorials:
Don’t worry, you’ll get to see what it looks like in action…when I talk about the features!
But let’s look at what the overall user-interface of ConvertKit is like:
This is part of the main website/portal once you’re logged in.
The very top has a little toolbar with the different main features of ConvertKit, the main contents of the page will have fairly simple buttons/graphics/forms depending on the feature, and the bottom has customer support buttons.
It’s in general a pretty clean site design.
So…in the image above, I’m in the page for landing pages and forms. This was taken before I dived deep into experimenting with the platform, so take note of the page design:
It’s practically empty, with a simple graphic and text. Super simple, so beginners won’t be intimidated.
And clicking the graphic in the middle will open a short video that explains visually how to navigate and manage the features:
This basic pattern is in place for the other pages, so if you’re new to the software, you get walked through it handily.
Plus, when you actually try to make use of features, things stay simple and clean.
Or this, where ConvertKit explains what to do directly where you can make those same changes:
Something I love about ConvertKit’s user-interface is that it’s not just simple, it’s smart. Let me show you a simple example.
This is what it looks like when I edit the subject line of a new email broadcast:
Simple. See that little A/B thing on the far right?
Clicking that lets you very easily add a second subject line:
This is an A/B split testing feature, which lets you test how different subject lines perform against users.
But you don’t need to go to a separate page to do this. You can work it right into your regular email drafting, and it barely takes up any extra space.
Plus, it looks good.
There is a drawback though:
That split testing tool is super simple. I mean, there are almost no extra features to it. It might be “good enough” for individual bloggers, but others will need more robust testing.
So while I love the design of that button, I have to admit it’s a little too simple for others.
This is just one example, but it’s an indicator of how ConvertKit’s web app handles the different tools offered.
Not all of them are as intuitive as the split testing button, but for the most part they’re all clean and simple.
The good news is that the A/B testing tool is actually one of the simpler tools. Yes, other tools are clean and simple-looking, but they have WAY more details and settings to mess around with.
So there you have it:
ConvertKit is great at onboarding new users with tutorials and quick explainers, plus the tools are designed with simple aesthetics in mind that make it easy to navigate and work.
Sometimes complexity gets lost, but most of the time this is not the case. So overall, the user-friendliness is GREAT—ease that maintains power!
Okay, let’s talk about that “power” and complexity that keeps coming up:
Pricing and Features
I know, I know—here’s the moment a lot of you have been waiting for the most.
Prices and features are important for just about any software or online tool.
But with email marketing tools, they’re extra important, and ideal price-feature setups vary a lot customer to customer.
Before we get started, I want to remind you that ConvertKit is very particularly oriented towards smaller content creators online (and similar people).
So with that in mind, let’s take a look first at the prices:
There are three main tiers, going up to 5,000 subscribers/contacts. You can still use the software if you have more than 5,000, but the pricing is more dependent on your number.
Also, these are prices if you pay month-to-month. You can save by paying yearly:
While what makes a price good is obviously affected by everything else about the service—especially features and performance—let’s quickly talk about the prices themselves:
Even if you pay yearly, this is still on the pricier side of things. Some competitors will let you do up to 1,000 contacts at a $10 range.
But don’t worry too much. It’s definitely NOT the most expensive email marketing software out there—for example, Constant Contact has a similar price range at the first two tiers, but for 500 contacts.
So I’d say for now, it’s on the pricier side but not too far.
Okay, let’s take a look at the features that come with ConvertKit’s plans:
If you’ve looked at some other options, you might be expecting a longer feature list.
It’s true that on paper, ConverKit’s list of features is on the smaller size. So it’s important to dissect what they’re actually offering:
First off, the visual automations: this basically lets you visualize and experience the marketing funnels that you’re implementing. In short, it gives you a very customer-like view of your strategy.
I already talked about it in the ease of use section, but let me show you something else about it here:
It’s good on ease of use, like I talked about, but it’s natural to worry about losing complexity because of the simple interface. Take a look at this next step in the automation process:
Even though it’s a simple looking user interface, and even though I’m using a template, I’m not really losing any features here.
I can add new steps in the automation and have plenty of options in customizing those extra steps.
I will admit it’s not the craziest tool ever. But it is still quite effective, definitely enough for most individual creators, or smaller sites.
Okay, that was a bit of a digression on the automation. Let’s keep going with the other basic features. Next up:
The customizable forms speak for themselves—they help you get signups on your site. I’ll show you how those look, along with landing pages, at the end of this section.
The first three features (automation, customizable forms, and unlimited emails) are not too ground-breaking, if we’re being honest.
In fact, they’re fairly common, or to be expected of any decent marketing software. BUT, they are still well-done tools that can be powerful when used correctly.
Subscriber tagging also offers a lot of potential to users:
It’s a contact management system. It’s different from a list-based system, which is what most of us think of when it comes to email marketing.
You can scroll down to the FAQ for an explanation of the difference, but the short version is that a tag-based system is usually a little more complex (more moving parts) but also increases how customizable your contact management is.
It’s also good for reducing the amount of repeat emails you send to the same people.
Anyway, here’s what this looks like in action:
And as you can see at the bottom, you DON’T have to add subscribers to your lists with tags only.
You can also create segments:
And ConvertKit takes care to let you add filters and nuance to your segments:
So there’s a good amount of detail you can add to your contact management and organization.
Like I said in ease of use, this stuff is still designed such that its intuitive to work with the tool. But power is not sacrificed here, despite the generally “easy” format.
Unfortunately, the sane can’t be said for the reporting tools:
Okay, I know. This isn’t a great example, because I took the screenshot when I had no reports.
But honestly? Not a huge difference. You’d basically see the numbers filled out here. There isn’t a lot of details in the reports, though the core stuff is there.
I’ve seen more advanced reports from other software, but usually such tools cost a lot of money.
As far as integrations go, I’ve got mixed feelings:
On the one hand, most people will find ConvertKit has plenty of easy integrations available. Certainly the most popular software services are there.
However, ConvertKit offers 70+ integrations, while some other email marketing software can offer well over a hundred, or even hundreds.
But again, we have to keep in mind ConvertKit’s target customer base: individual creators online usually won’t need an insane amount of integrations, just some of the biggest.
So in that sense, ConvertKit has enough integrations for its target user.
Now I’ll cover one last major aspect:
The design tools. These are the things a lot of people are pretty interested in knowing about, because it lets them craft flashy, stylish emails and landing pages.
First, here’s some of the templates for forms and landing pages:
At the time of this writing, there are only 27 templates, spread across 9 categories. That’s pretty limited, even if you can customize.
A lot of the templates are substantially different, so you’re not really getting too many overlapping templates.
Still wish there were more, though.
As far as editing the templates goes, it’s a mixed bag:
The editor is sort of drag-and-drop, but not fully. You can change the basics, but more advanced customization tools are missing.
So don’t assume the lack of template options is unimportant—the lack of customization options actually compounds it to limit your design choice significantly.
But now we’re going to get even more limited. It’s time to look at the big finale feature…the actual email editor.
The email editor is meant for simple emails, like I’ve said.
ConvertKit does a good job explaining why this is the case, in a blog post about why some people should NOT go to ConvertKit from MailChimp:
Another article is just about why flashy emails are “not the answer.”
This is where ConvertKit’s peculiar focus is really important, and will matter most to potential customers.
So far the features have been a little limited here and there, but overall solid. But here is where the limitations and core focus is clearest.
Now, I almost don’t need to go through the email drafting customization after that explanation of ConvertKit’s design philosophy.
But here we go. When you make a broadcast—an email sent out at once to everyone you want to send it to—you get a lot of precision over who the recipients are:
When you actually get to designing the email’s contents, though, that design stuff resurfaces hard:
Yep. It’s as simple as your normal, personal email client is. The main difference between your formatting tools here and with a regular email client?
You can use that personalization tool to automatically plug in your subscriber’s info.
There’s also a very handy split testing feature at the top. I already mentioned in ease of use, but it is a very efficient way of testing different email subject lines even if it’s rudimentary.
But all in all, I think that wraps up the bulk of the features!
In general, features are fairly straightforward but still powerful. The tools for managing and customizing subscribers, automations, and sequences all look simple, but they still allow for a lot of control and flexibility.
The features that lack depth are less important than the core features: reporting and split testing, for example.
Design capabilities are limited too, but whether that’s a really big flaw or a minor one depends on the customer.
The ultimate result then, is this: if you think simpler emails are better for marketing, and fit your marketing style better, ConvertKit’s features are just fine, and in fact are pretty good.
But if having lots of control over design is a main priority—not just for emails but templates as well—then you’ll probably find ConvertKit lacking compared to many competitors.
Maybe you’ve used tools like ConvertKit before. You don’t really think you’ll need help.
Well guess what? Customer support is still really important.
Because even if you’ve got some experience, customer support can help you do more with the tools you’re paying for.
Not to mention their usefulness in fixing glitches or mistakes, and helping beginners learn the basics.
Okay, I’ll cut to the chase:
ConvertKit has amazing customer support.
There are three main types of support ConvertKit offers: information and resources, support staff that can take questions and solve problems, and in-depth training sessions/workshops:
Now let me show you why ConvertKit’s support is good. First up:
It’s always easy to contact customer support. You may remember me showing you a screenshot of what the main web application looks like, and how bottom right always has a chat button ready.
You just need to click it to start chatting:
When you actually use it, you usually won’t be disappointed.
But that’s IF you can use it.
See, I have found that even when I have tried to use the live chat within its limited hours (yeah, it’s also not 24/7) the representatives have been busy.
This has happened to me several times, to the point I cannot honestly consider the live chat support consistent even within its normal working hours.
If you DO get ahold of a representative via live chat, though, they’ll do a good job.
You can also contact support by opening a ticket via email. It’s also speedy and useful…actually, it might be preferable to live chat, at least in my experience.
Plus, there’s a FREE migration service for those with over 5,000 subscribers:
So your options for contacting support are good. But what I find to be especially impressive is the abundance of on-site resources and information that anyone can use on a whim.
Take the blog, for example.
I often find the blogs of software companies are fluff that mostly exist to drive traffic. And while I’m sure ConvertKit also has self-interested reasons for maintaining its blog, I’ve got to hand it to ‘em:
There’s a LOT more substance that can be educational for beginners and intermediate users.
Plus, it’s more elaborate than most other blogs. You can view articles that have been packaged together into “issues”:
Or just look at articles themselves:
These articles may have some fluff, but for the most part they are full of content: in-depth, accessible, informative, and with plenty of graphics.
So the blog is impressive just for being worth checking out.
The main thing though is the knowledge base:
I’ll actually deviate a bit from what I was saying before:
This knowledge base is good, but it’s not phenomenal.
While the blog and the live training/workshop options are pretty standout customer support features, the knowledge base is closer to the standard I’d expect of most platforms that are good with customer support.
See, the articles themselves are good, which is one of the biggest concerns. Better yet, those articles get into technical stuff, not just beginner help—and they stay easy to read.
My only real complaint is this: I think more articles would be better.
But that being said, the basics and much more are covered very well. So while it’s not the best knowledge base I’ve seen, it’s still pretty good.
When we put that together with everything else I talked about?
We end up with a very strong customer support, one of the strongest in the business.
Options for contacting customer service representatives are accessible and effective, except for the live chat, which is inconsistent. Representatives are very good.
Plus, you can “attend” live workshops, and informational material is overall really good.
The ultimate result is that while ConvertKit is a large-ish, successful email marketing company, the customer support still feels as if it’s a smaller company’s.
It’s especially good for beginners, but just about everyone stands to benefit. So overall…yeah, ConvertKit has great customer support.
Ready for the last factor?
I’ll admit to you that security may be a little less important with your email marketing software than some of the other stuff I review—like web hosts.
At least, that’s how a lot of people look at it. But security is still really important, for at least one major reason:
If you’re using an email marketing platform, you’re interacting with potentially hundreds or thousands of people’s contact information.
Not only does that add some extra responsibility—you have to worry about more than your own info, here—it adds some extra risk:
Some people’s marketing strategies would suffer if their subscribers found out their emails got into the wrong hands.
So it’s important. And how does ConvertKit do?
Honestly, it could use some improvement.
That really isn’t saying much.
True, no system is impenetrable. Yes, users must be proactive in communicating with representatives if something fishy is going on.
But some systems are better than others, and ConvertKit should make it clear to users what goes into its security.
So to be clear, I’m not actually saying ConvertKit necessarily has poor security…
I’m just saying that it doesn’t tell us nearly enough, and I am suspicious because of that. Some companies DO have decent security, and they simply neglect to talk about it.
But more often, companies don’t talk about it because they’d rather avoid the subject. And this is unfortunately what I would suspect to be the case with ConvertKit.
After all, “commercially reasonable security”? Hm…
Well, there you have it. The security factor is a big question mark. There’s probably something “reasonable,” as ConvertKit says, but it’s unlikely to be particularly strong or standout.
I know that won’t matter to everyone, but some will care a lot.
I don’t want to go out on a bummer. Let’s remind ourselves of the major good points ConvertKit has:
- Very good performance.
- Very easy to use and intuitive; great user-interface that looks good and is still useful, too.
- Flexible and custom pricing for those with over 5,000 contacts/subscribers.
- Automation tool is simple but still flexible and effective.
- Contact management and sequence tools are also flexible and strong, while still being intuitively designed.
- Excellent customer support.
To be balanced, here are some of the negatives.
- On the pricier side.
- A/B split testing and reports lack depth.
- Also, small selection of landing page and form templates. The editor for them is basic.
- Less focused on visual design of emails. The email editor is barebones and meant for simpler, plain text emails.
- Live chat inconsistent: although it works fine when it’s available, often it is unavailable even during its official hours.
- Security measures not very clear, and could possibly be sub-par.
Conclusion: Do I Recommend ConvertKit?
I’ll admit…my verdict on ConvertKit is more nuanced than I expected.
Here’s the main point of contention:
ConvertKit is pretty good at most things. It performs very well, is very user-friendly, and has great customer support.
Its core features are powerful and allow for a lot of customization in the different aspects of email marketing—contact management, automations, sequences.
However, some things are limited that will be a deal-breaker for users in search of advanced suites of features:
Landing pages and forms have a limited template selection and limited customization, and the email editor is very basic.
Plus, some of the more minor features are kind of simple, like split testing and reporting. Not to mention, security is something to be wary of.
If you’re a larger organization trying to use more design tools, this really isn’t for you.
But if you’re a smaller team or individual producing content online—that is, if you’re ConvertKit’s ideal customer—this could be a great platform.
The key thing is whether or not you agree with ConvertKit on the importance of flashy emails. If you do, I’d say that ConvertKit is worth the price!
But if ConvertKit’s marketing philosophy doesn’t resonate with you, you may want to look elsewhere…even if you’re an individual creator. Other options can be less pricey with more design features.
But hey, don’t run away until you’ve experimented with it a little!
Because you can do that for free:
So what are you waiting for? Go have fun with it!
A list system lets you make lists for specific traits or lead magnets, which lets you target your auto-response tool better (i.e., have this auto-response to List A and that auto-response to List B).
But often, this means contacts will get listed more than once—so you may end up emailing the same people multiple times because they’re on multiple lists. You have to do extra work to avoid that.
A tag-based system operates mostly off the email address, so you can add different tags to contacts for certain traits, the way you would have with lists, but the contact won’t be duplicated in your system.
Lists are simpler, but the tags are more powerful and more precise—they’re much more customizable. You can read more about the differences here.
Yes, you can.
But, the migration help is only handled for free if you have 5,000+ subscribers. This means you’d be paying at least $79 a month already.
You can still get the same service done if you don’t have that many subscribers—but you’ll have to pay a one-time fee.
ConvertKit has a list of certified experts you can hire to do this.
You will, of course, be unable to continue using the service once the trial ends, unless you enter card information and pick a plan.
But as far as testing it out goes, no—you just need to make an account
No need to worry about refunds or canceling before a deadline!