Why I moved my email marketing from Mailchimp to ConvertKit

I started my email list on Mailchimp. It's cheap and easy to use: perfect for a beginner. But as I've learned more about marketing techniques for books, courses and digital products, I've found a tool that works even better: ConvertKit .

Why I started with Mailchimp

If you run a website you probably do email marketing. You'll have forms to collect addresses, a tool to manage your list, and a way to send emails and newsletters to subscribers. (If you don't have something like this for your website, here's why you should.)

Many people start like I did, with Mailchimp. It's great. The email editor makes it ridiculously easy to create gorgeous emails. It integrates with all the e-commerce and blogging platforms you might ever want. The support site doesn't just teach you to use Mailchimp: it teaches you how to be a successful and responsible email marketer.

And it's free.

Did you know Mailchimp does email automation?

For a small extra cost, you can set up email sequences triggered by specific events. Maybe you want a welcome series for new readers on your blog. Or a 'getting started' series when someone signs up for your app. Or you want to email customers if they abandon a basket on your web store.

Automation (beyond a single welcome email) is only available on paid plans. But Mailchimp paid plans can be really, really cheap. If you only have a small list, Pay as You Go is like buying a book of stamps for your emails.

Where Mailchimp started to hurt: content upgrades

For most online businesses, Mailchimp is all you will ever need. But if you sell books and courses, you may use 'content upgrades'. And if you do, Mailchimp isn't quite so much fun.

Content upgrades are how bloggers like me encourage people like you to subscribe. Uniqlo offers you a discount; I offer you a free workbook.

For Uniqlo, it's simple. Everyone gets the same bribe in exchange for their email. But bloggers and other authors offer many different bribes.

I have around a dozen on my site at the moment, from ebooks on blogging to project planning templates. Problem number one was delivering the right freebie to the right email.

This is another job for those automated email sequences I mentioned earlier. But I need lots of different email sequences. And Mailchimp makes it hard to trigger the right sequence for each new subscriber.

The point of free stuff is the followup

If it was only about delivering the goods, it wouldn't be so bad. There are ways around that. But the point of all these different sequences is to be able to send more relevant follow-up information afterwards.

For instance, if you download my planning workbook, you might like my other planning articles. You might be in the market for a planning workshop or project management coaching. You're less likely to care about my blogging series. That influences what I put in each sequence. (Read more about segmenting your email lists on the Smart Passive Income blog)

And what if people download more than one of my freebies? Mailchimp makes this hard to track, without setting up dozens of different tag fields.

I did try to make this work. I followed this super helpful post on How to manage multiple lists in Mailchimp to the letter. I spent all Christmas reorganising my forms and lists and tagging until I wanted to chew my own hands off in despair.

And then I remembered ConvertKit , which I'd read about a while back, on the Smart Passive Income blog.

"Email marketing for professional bloggers"

ConvertKit is designed by a blogger, for bloggers. It starts from forms, rather than lists. And it understands that you want to give every subscriber a freebie, but not the same freebie for everyone.

You start by creating a form to collect the address and deliver the freebie. Then if you want to offer a welcome series, you link the form to an email sequence with a simple 'if this, then that' trigger.

Once you've made a form, you can insert it anywhere on your site with one line of script. (Or via the plugin, if you use Wordpress.)

It doesn't matter how many forms someone subscribes to. ConvertKit keeps track of it. You can even pull in data from Gumroad and other platforms to track what people actually bought. This lets you be even smarter: once someone gives in and buys your book, you can stop sending them sales emails. Maybe start sending them 'get more from the book' emails instead.

Potential drawbacks with ConvertKit

I'll admit, there's a price to pay for all this awesomeness. ConvertKit starts at $29/month for the cheapest plan. But given how much time it's saved me, that's worth it.

It's also allowed me to create things I wouldn't have dared try on Mailchimp, like 20 part email courses.

The other downside is the customisation. In Mailchimp, you can change a lot of settings without touching any code. In ConvertKit, you can't change much without using HTML and CSS. I don't mind. I appreciate the flexibility and control. If you do mind, you could get a developer to help you customise the forms.

My take: Convertkit for authors, Mailchimp for normal people

If you don't share my need to handle dozens of free downloads, I'd go with Mailchimp, at least to get started. But for me, ConvertKit is a total winner. If you're a blogger or author, I recommend you check it out.

What email marketing software do you use? What do you love (or loathe) about it?

Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.