ConvertKit Review [2018 Update]: Easy Email Automation For Bloggers

Email marketing is so critical for any small business to get right.

And for good reason. Implemented properly, it will certainly become the most important tool in your business for creating relationships and making sales.

According to Capterra, the average return on $1 spent on email marketing is $44.25!

This is why you should take your time and invest in a good email marketing software for your business.

ConvertKit Review

Last updated: Sept 22, 2018
First Published on: Nov 3, 2015
Product Rating: 4.6 / 5.0

tl;dr Summary
ConvertKit is a powerful new email service provider that provides Infusionsoft like automation capabilities without the Infusionsoft price.

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If you are a blogger, the consensus autoresponder of choice used to be Aweber or MailChimp. Sign up to any email list, and there was a good chance they were using one of the two.

For a long time, the standard feature set of Aweber worked perfectly fine. All marketers needed it to do was reliably send out emails and integrate with their favorite tools like LeadPages and Click Funnels.

Nowadays though, email marketing automation has become more and more important.

For example, Infusionsoft used to be the go-to service for big-name bloggers and businesses wanting more advanced email automation capabilities.

The problem with Infusionsoft though is that it is a hugely complicated system to learn. Couple that with a hefty price tag and an initial setup cost put it out of reach for most bloggers.

But things are changing for the better and ConvertKit has emerged as one of the more popular email services that can provide marketing automations without the huge cost.

ConvertKit logo

Here’s what I will be covering inside this ConvertKit review.


What is ConvertKit?

ConvertKit is an email service provider that is specifically marketed towards bloggers, podcasters, and other businesses who are building audiences.

It was started by Nathan Barry who I was already a fan of, being a regular reader of his blog.

For a brief moment, it was rebranded to Seva, until they reverted back to ConvertKit.

What’s interesting about ConvertKit is how transparent Nathan is about the entire process of taking ConvertKit from scratch to making $30k a month in 2015. Now in 2018, they have 19,500 active customers and doing over $1 million a month.

We are basically getting a front row seat on his journey to building a successful SaaS product. It’s pretty cool since we get to read about both the highs and the lows.

Even if you don’t end up using ConvertKit, his blog posts are always interesting and I recommend giving Nathan a follow.

Part 1: What are some of my favorite features of ConvertKit?

Cool Feature #1: Seamless Visual Automation Editor

I really like the ConvertKit’s visual automation editor. It’s a joy to use, especially when you compare it to some of the other automation editors out there.

That’s because ConvertKit makes editing each step in your automation workflow seamless.

Let’s say one of the steps in your automation is sending an email. With other services, editing the email will take you out of the automation editor and into a separate email editor page. This can cause you to lose context of what you were doing.

With ConvertKit, everything is done inside the automation editor itself. So clicking on an email step will allow you to edit it inline. And you can also edit your forms in the same way.

ConvertKit automations inline editing

It’s a great experience and it puts other automation editors to shame.

Cool Feature #2: Simple Segmentation within emails

Another useful feature is ConvertKit’s ability to segment individual emails using conditional tags.

So let’s say you wanted to create a single email to your list, but add a bonus coupon to your VIP customers. You can do that in ConvertKit like this:

ConvertKit In-Email Segmentation

Pretty cool, right?

The syntax might look a little strange to non-techies and you might have a hard time remembering what to type when you go to use it.

To help with this, you can click on the Personalize menu in the editor toolbar and click the Subscriber’s tags menu item. ConvertKit will then insert the appropriate code snippet template directly into your email.

All you need to do is change to your tag, and update the content for the two branches.

Cool Feature #3: Auto resend broadcasts to un-opens

Every time you send out a broadcast email, a certain percentage of people won’t open it.  Hubspot says marketing and advertising emails only get 25% email open rates.

Maybe you didn’t write a good headline, or they were too busy at the time to take a look.

ConvertKit has a neat feature where you can resend your broadcast to the people who didn’t open it the first time.

This is available in stats page, where you’ll see a button named Resend to Unopens.

Pressing it will allow you to re-send your email again, where you can make changes to your Subject Line if you wish.

I love this because you can maximize the eyeballs you get for every broadcast you send out.

Cool Feature #4: Lead Magnet Double Opt-in

There are debates everywhere about whether you should use double opt-in vs single opt-in.

The main reason why you want double opt-in is that it will improve your email list quality. But the main argument against is that the extra step will hurt your conversions.

All this is true.

However, if you’re using lead magnets, then ConvertKit can handle double opt-in for you automatically like this.

ConvertKit Lead Magnet Auto Double Opt-in

When the user clicks the download button to get their lead magnet, they are automatically opted in. So you get the best of both worlds!

Part 2: What I don’t like about ConvertKit

Bad Part #1: Limited set of triggers/actions for advanced automations

Here are the triggers available on ConvertKit.

ConvertKit Triggers

Compare that with ActiveCampaign.

ActiveCampaign automation triggers

This means you can’t really build the same type of complex automations that you can in ActiveCampaign or Drip.

You also won’t get advanced features in ConvertKit like page tracking and lead scoring.

And I miss having list management actions like unsubscribing people so you can do regular list hygiene.

Bad Part #2: Limited A/B Testing

A/B testing is a really important feature to have for any email service. Doing this regularly will help you improve your open and conversion rates.

ConvertKit allows you to split test your subject lines like this:

Which is useful, for sure.

But there’s no way to split test for things like delivery time, email body content, or automations.

Bad Part #3: Not a ton of customization options for forms and templates

I do like the forms that ConvertKit provides. They are nice and clean.

But the form editor is very limited. Besides color, there’s not much you can change. For example, there’s no way to change the font for any of the text.

Unless you’re willing to add in your own CSS.

This is not a big deal for me, as I use Thrive Leads for my forms. But for people who don’t use a third party tool, the lack of customization could be an issue.

Bad Part #4: No email templates

I don’t personally send out email newsletter type emails, so this is not that big a deal to me.

But I know some companies do need this, which is why MailChimp is still popular.

ConvertKit has a couple of email templates, but the process of using them is very tedious.  You’ll need to muck around with HTML and CSS which not everyone wants to do.

So you’ll want to look elsewhere if this is what you need.

Part 3: A Look Inside ConvertKit

ConvertKit consists of 5 major building blocks. Let’s take a quick look at each.

Forms

Forms are how you get subscribers into your account. ConvertKit allows you to create both forms and landing pages.

Forms can be embedded on any page of your website, or through a standard modal popup. Landing pages are its own dedicated page hosted on ConvertKit’s servers or your own site via a WordPress plugin.

There are 3 main styles to choose from for regular forms. Full, Minimal, and Clean.

ConvertKit Landing Page Templates

As mentioned above, the form editor doesn’t give you many customization options, although the built-in styles do have a nice clean look to them.

Landing pages also only have 3 styles to pick from and the same limited customization options.

Subscribers

Unlike MailChimp or Aweber, ConvertKit is tag and not list based. This means that you have a single database of subscribers in your ConvertKit account.

To group subscribers together, you can use tags or create segments. With segments, you can do things like creating a group of contacts that subscribed before a certain date.

ConvertKit .Segments

Or group subscribers by location or any custom field you create.

ConvertKit also lets you drill down into any specific subscriber you have. You can see things like what sequences they are on, what emails you have sent them, and if you are doing e-commerce, what products they have purchased from you.

ConvertKit Subscriber Profile

Broadcasts

Sending one-off emails in ConvertKit is simple.

Since there are no lists in ConvertKit, whenever you send a broadcast email you’ll want to use their filter mechanism to target who you will be sending your broadcast to.

You’ll most often use the Subscribed to filter where you can segment your broadcast to specific forms, sequences, tags or products.

The email editor is just your standard HTML email editor, with a couple extra options. Click on the A/B button next to the subject line and you can start a split test between a couple different headlines.

The personalization button can be used to enter in merge tags into your email or to use the in-email tag segmentation I talked about above.

Sequences

Sequences are where you can create autoresponders, a series of emails that get sent to your subscribers at a predefined schedule of your choice.

ConvertKit Sequence

On the left, you’ll see all the emails in your series along with when they’ll be sent out.  You can drag emails around on the left to quickly change the order they are sent.

To the right, you’ll see the same email editor as you get for Broadcasts.  So all the same features apply, except you can’t split test subject lines here.

Automations

To tie everything together, let’s talk about ConvertKit’s automations.

In ConvertKit, subscribers can enter an automation in 4 different ways.

Through a form, getting tagged, having a custom field updated, or from a purchase.

From there, you can add an Event, Action or Condition.

Actions are the easiest to understand. The most common actions are adding a subscriber to one of your email sequences, add or remove a tag, setting a custom field, or introducing a delay.

Conditions let you branch your automation based on a tag or custom field.

So you could use branching to have your VIP customers go down one path and your non-VIPs go down a separate path like this:

ConvertKit automation conditionals

Finally, you have Events, which pull your subscriber forward to the next step in the automation when an event occurs.

Let’s say one of your subscribers is on day 2 of your 5 part email sequence, which is trying to get them to buy your product.

You can add an event to your automation using the Add tag event. If on day 2, the subscriber buys your product (and you tag them as a customer), it will pull them out of the current email sequence they were in.

ConvertKit automation events

Which is handy because you won’t annoy them with the last 3 emails in your sequence (by asking them to buy) since they are now a customer of yours.

ConvertKit’s automation editor is very fast and easy to use. As mentioned above, I love the ability to seamlessly edit forms and emails directly within the editor itself.

It makes for a much better experience when creating new automations.

Part 4: ConvertKit Pricing

ConvertKit’s uses the same tiered pricing model as most other email services do. So the price goes up the more subscribers you have.

When compared to its competitors, ConvertKit’s pricing comes out in the middle of the pack at lower subscriber levels.

But as you get past 10,000 subscribers and beyond, ConvertKit actually doesn’t jump up as much in price as some of the rest.

Prices below are if you pay monthly, but if you pre-pay yearly, you get 2 months of service free.

Subscribers5001,0002,5005,00010,00015,000
Active Campaign (Lite) $15$29$49$89$139$225
AWeber$19$29$29$49$69$149
ConvertKit $29$29$49$79$119$149
Drip$49$49$49$99$149$184
MailChimp$10$15$50$50$75$150

ConvertKit doesn’t normally offer a free trial. But occasionally for different promotions, you will see them promoting a 30-day free trial.

I’ve never seen any ConvertKit discounts either. They do offer a nice 30-day money back guarantee, however.

Part 5: Everything else you need to know about ConvertKit

How is their support?

ConvertKit’s support is good from my experience. While there’s no phone support like Aweber has, they offer email and live chat 365 days a year, 24 hours a day.

Email response time ranges from 2-3 hours in my experience. But live chat is usually pretty responsive.

Do they have an active community?

They have a Facebook group called The ConvertKit Family. It currently has 6k members and averages around 6 posts a day.

It’s a good place to get your questions answered by other ConvertKit users.

What integrations do they offer?

ConvertKit has a ton of third-party integrations. I currently count 86 at the time of the review, including with tools like LeadPages, ClickFunnels, SamCart, and Shopify.

You can find the full list of ConvertKit integrations here.

How good is ConvertKit for lead magnets?

ConvertKit is awesome for lead magnets. Not only will it host your lead magnets for you, the automatic double opt-in is a great feature.

How good is ConvertKit for eCommerce?

ConvertKit is getting quite a bit better when it comes to eCommerce. They just launched a new feature that’s going to allow you to track every purchase made by a subscriber.

What makes this cool is that you can then start automations based on a purchase.

It’s only working with Shopify and Teachable at the moment, but this has a lot of potential once they get things working with all e-commerce integrations.

Can it handle live events or webinars?

To handle live events and webinars, you have to be able to send emails out at a specific date and time.  It’s typical for webinars to send out multiple emails at specific times before it starts, like 24 hours before, 8 hours before, 10 minutes before, etc.

ConvertKit can handle live events and webinars through broadcasts only.  Which is not very convenient because then you have to schedule all your emails manually.

It would be preferable if ConvertKit gave you a way to send emails at a specific date and time.  But that’s currently not possible through sequences or automations.

Do they have an affiliate program?

Yes, ConvertKit offers the standard 30% recurring commissions as part of its affiliate program. The affiliate program is hosted on Ambassador.

Alexis is their affiliate director, and she does a nice job of keeping you updated on the various promotions they are running.

Who’s switching over to ConvertKit?

ConvertKit has been growing by leaps and bounds, and I’m reading about people switching over to ConvertKit every day.

Here are a few examples of bloggers who have switched over to ConvertKit from their old email service:

ConvertKit vs MailChimp

MailChimp has a couple of things going for it versus ConvertKit. It’s cheaper, and it has better email templates.

But for everything else, ConvertKit definitely wins out. Especially when you compare MailChimp’s crappy automation editor versus the beautiful ConvertKit one.

Plus ConvertKit has tags which gives you much better flexibility for segmenting your subscribers.  MailChimp is very much lacking there.

ConvertKit vs Aweber

The only reason I would recommend Aweber versus ConvertKit is if you’re purely doing affiliate marketing/CPA offers. Then, it might be harder to get approval on ConvertKit, and Aweber will be your best bet.

Aweber is also slightly cheaper than ConvertKit.

Otherwise, ConvertKit is better than Aweber at pretty much everything else, including automations.

ConvertKit vs ActiveCampaign

This is a much harder comparison. ActiveCampaign is a great email marketing software, with tons of features for power users. You can do more with its automations, and it has better split testing capabilities.

Price wise, it’s cheaper than ConvertKit at lower subscriber levels, but it gets more expensive as you add more and more contacts.

But ConvertKit is easier to use, with a nicer and crisper interface.

Which one you should pick depends on your business needs. Do you want something that just works for everyday email marketing tasks, without a ton of effort?  Then ConvertKit would make a great choice.

But if you need more advanced or complex automations, then ActiveCampaign is the better way to go.

Final Thoughts

When I initially wrote this ConvertKit review, it was an up and coming email marketing service.

But three years later, ConvertKit has firmly established itself as one of the major players in the email marketing space.

Marketing automation is the future for email. It will help you target your customers better, resulting in higher conversion and sales.

What ConvertKit does is make marketing automations truly accessible to even non-techie people.  It also provides you with a headache-free user experience.

While it may not be the most powerful email marketing software out there, it doesn’t aim to be.  You need to understand it’s an email service that’s targeted towards bloggers and other content creators.

Just make sure you understand its limitations, and decide whether you are ok with it.

If you are, then I highly recommend you give ConvertKit a try.

Try ConvertKit Today

ConvertKit Pros

  • Slick, intuitive interface.
  • Works great with adding content upgrades to your site.
  • Tag-based (versus list based like MailChimp)
  • Really nice visual automation editor.
  • They don’t charge you for duplicate subscribers.
  • Can add conditional content using tags in emails.
  • Easily auto resend broadcasts to un-opens.
  • Automatic double opt-in for lead magnets.
  • 365 days a year, 24 hours a day support via live chat and email.
  • A solid number of integrations.
  • Very nice reporting.
  • Constantly being updated with new features.

ConvertKit Cons

  • Can’t create super advanced marketing automations.
  • Limited customization of forms.
  • Hard to use email templates.
  • Split testing limited to subject lines only.
  • Doesn’t work well for live events or webinars.
  • No free trial.
Affiliate Disclaimer: I hope you enjoyed our ConvertKit review. Please note that some of the links inside this article may be affiliate links for ConvertKit. That means that if you click on one of the links and sign up, we may get an affiliate commission for it. If you do happen to click, we really appreciate it! Any money we make keeps this site running smoothly and allows us to keep producing these high-quality reviews.
ConvertKit Review on SmartBusinssTrends.com
  • Lisa Kubo says:

    I’m glad you updated your ConvertKit review Kinley.

    I’m currently with Mailchimp, but I’ve actually been looking to switch as my business is starting to outgrow them. Their automations are just so limited in what you can do with them!

    I’m trying to decide between ConvertKit, ActiveCampaign and Drip. ActiveCampaign and Drip both look really nice, but I’m afraid they would be too technical for me to use effectively. So it seems like ConvertKit might hit the sweet spot for me.

    • Kinley McFadden says:

      Hi Lisa! Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment!

      ConvertKit is certainly perfect for less technical people so I think you will like it. I also forgot to mention this in the review, but the ConvertKit team will also migrate your list over from Mailchimp for free. I know that’s always a worry when switching ESPs, and it’s a great thing that ConvertKit offers.

  • Kulwant says:

    Hi Kinley,

    Even I have used multiple email marketing services in the past, but I found ConvertKit as a winner and pocket-friendly till now. 😀

    I recently switched from Aweber to ConvertKit, and I am loving the automation.

  • Lisa says:

    Hey Kinley!

    Thanks for this review. It was just the info I was looking for – straight and to the point. I am looking for switch from Aweber. Too many problems over there and lack of features that I prefer.
    You gave a good idea of what it might be like to use ConvertKit.
    The pricing seems reasonable for the feature that you get. I also like the double-optin feature you talked about.
    I think I’m sold!
    Lisa

  • I am totally loving Convertkit after using it, I was using few alternatives before but i personally felt that something was missing on each tool. But now i’m totally satisfied with using convertkit. Best tool for bloggers..

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