Email marketing is responsible for 30-40% of my revenue each month so to say I take it seriously is a gross understatement.
It pains me when I hear people say things like, "email marketing is dead," or "email marketing doesn't work for me." I know that when done properly, email marketing works for nearly any internet business.
The results I'm getting with email marketing remind me of this daily.
As you have likely inferred based on the headline above, I use ConvertKit for my email marketing.
Here is why it isn't perfect but I still use it.
Where ConvertKit Is Lacking
Most reviews start (and often end with) the pros of a product, but I think it's fair that I start with the cons.
Here is my beef with ConvertKit
#1 A/B testing is limited to email subject lines in broadcasts only. I would love to be able to test body copy as well as the email subject lines in my sequences (my follow up automations) but ConvertKit is bare bones on this. This is frustrating because it's very standard to be able to test more than just subject lines. Most don't let you test things inside of automations but it is possible.
#2 Reporting is very minimal. ConvertKit doesn't give you nearly as much data as some of the alternative softwares like ActiveCampaign.
If you want to see a simple timeline with your broadcasts, open rates etc, you'll have to do that on your own.
The really frustrating part is that in November of 2019 they added better reporting BUT they are charging an additional $199/month for it.
THAT'S MORE THAN I PAY PER MONTH TOTAL!!!
Keeping this in mind, ConvertKit is still going to be my go to software for the foreseeable future.
In the rest of this post, I'll explain why.
Pricing starts at free and goes up depending on the size of the list you bring over (my bill is north of $400/month currently but I have over 42,000 active subscribers).
If you're hesitant, just remember that
I average over $1/email subscriber per month on my email marketing efforts. I gladly make my ConvertKit payment each month without batting an eye.
If you aren't ready to switch to ConvertKit or join right now, simply bookmark this article and check it out if and when you're ready in the future.
If you're using another software for your marketing, some of this article will still apply but will be slightly different in terms of where things are located and how to use them.
The underlying concepts I'm going to share here apply to any marketing software, its the technical things that will be a little different from platform to platform. If you use ConvertKit, everything will be much easier to follow.
ConvertKit Vs. Other Email Marketing Platforms
At the time of this post, there are dozens of different email marketing softwares on the market.
ConvertKit is the "new kid on the block" relatively speaking.It is young but complete.
There are a few big name softwares that most internet marketers have heard of.
These include Infusionsoft, Aweber, Drip, Get Response and many others.
I have tried Aweber, Infusionsoft, Drip, Actionetics and Mailchimp extensively in the past either with my business or with the businesses of clients. Most marketers can't say they have seen so many of the available platforms with this sort of perspective.
From what I've heard about the others that I haven't tried, it's safe to say that none of these softwares flat out "suck." They all send email in one way or another.
The value comes when you transition from just sending a few email blasts to taking your email marketing efforts seriously.
It's important though to choose the provider that is going to be a good fit for you. There is no solution that is best for everyone. Even Convertkit might not be right for your business.
Here is why Convertkit is a great fit for me and why you might want to consider it as well (after all, if you read this blog, we probably have a lot in common in terms of the types of businesses we run).
#1 ConvertKit is straightforward and minimalistic. I recommend that most brands focus on sending emails that focus more on text than flashy banners and graphics. ConvertKit makes it easy to avoid the distractions that the more complicated platforms might offer. Features that I believe are often unnecessary.
#2 ConvertKit has enough under the hood to do everything I need. While it is "minimalistic," you can still do more than enough to drive serious results. Even as an advanced user of ConvertKit who creates pretty complex sequences and builds very targeted user segments, I don't find myself lacking any necessary functionality.
#3 ConvertKit integrates with all of my favorite 3rd party tools. It would be impossible for me to use a software that doesn't integrate with my other services (like Clickfunnels who offers their own email marketing option) and the Zapier functionality makes it easy to integrate almost anything else I could want (Gumroad, Stripe, PayPal).
I will be the first to admit, ConvertKit isn't perfect. None of the solutions I have tried are. The longer you use them, the more the grass is going to seem greener on the other side.
For example, there are features of Drip I'd love to see in ConvertKit (automations based on page views for example) but I know that switching isn't going to be worth it right now.
Switching an email list is a huge hassle and it can impact your metrics for quite awhile.
If I transfer my list of 10,000+ subscribers to another provider, I am going to get a lot of bounced emails on my first blast since the server won't be recognized by my subscribers' email providers. There are other issues in transferring, but let's save that for another day.
Overview of the ConvertKit Interface
ConvertKit differs from other email marketing softwares because of its simplicity. I consider ConvertKit to be the embodiment of the "80/20" rule for
Don't be mistaken though, it isn't completely stripped down. There is still plenty of horsepower under the ConvertKit hood.
If you're a small business or blogger (like me) you shouldn't be weighing yourself down with overly powerful softwares that end up leaving you confused and less effective in the long run.
Lots of the available tools for email marketing are completely overkill for people like you and me.
In my experience working with new marketers, more often than not, they aren't even close to utilizing the basic features that would improve their email marketing success.
Now, if you're part of a large team and have a full scale marketing department, I don't recommend ConvertKit Large scale softwares like InfusionSoft (ConfusionSoft as Russell Brunson of Clickfunnels calls it) should be worth the investment.
Many companies have entire positions made for Infusionsoft experts (and they pay well compared to basic marketing jobs).
Let's go over the ConvertKit dashboard section by section.
I will cover (in order):
- Visual Automations
- Subscriber dashboard
Once we cover each of the key sections, we will bring it all together in the end and I'll touch on some general best practices for email marketing.
Forms are opt-in pages. These can deliver lead magnets (bribes to subscribe) in exchange for email addresses.
You can make either landing pages or boxes within the ConvertKit program.
A basic box form looks like this. That demo shows the opt-in on it's own page, but these would actually be shown inside your blog posts.
You can append these to the bottom of a post or anywhere inside the post with short code, assuming you are using the ConvertKit plugin, or with Java or HTML codes.
Here is where my opinion of ConvertKit differs from many of the other users.
While I am in love with 99% of ConvertKit's features and functions, I HATE the way that their forms and landing pages look.
That's ok because there are a lot of other options for creating landing pages, forms and pop ups that look fantastic and integrate seamlessly with ConvertKit.
Unless you have a solid understanding of CSS and the willingness to work harder than you need to to make these look good OR you are ok with their mind numbing simplicity (many bloggers do use these) I recommend you use one of the following tools instead.
Sequences (originally called Courses) are automated email series that are sent when triggered by a user action such as signing up for a form.
Many of my readers are searching for that magical passive income. What most of them fail to realize is that you need to put systems in place like these email sequences to make sure that each reader is getting exposed to all of your best content, becomes indoctrinated to your brand and sees your most compelling offers.
Writing a quality email sequence merits more than a short mention in this massive blog post.
An entire book could (and should) be written about the power of email sequences and how to implement them.
For now, just realize that email sequences do the following.
- Get your relationship off on the right foot with your subsciber
- Help you put your most important content in front of your new subscriber
- Help you reach your subscriber while you are still "top of mind"
- Increase the lifetime value of a subscriber
ConvertKit is certainly not the only software that has sequence functionality but it is my favorite.
Each email sequence should be targeted to the individual who signed up for the list. This means if they signed up for a lead magnet that relates to personal finance, your emails should be catered towards personal finance.
You can make your sequence as long or short as you'd like. Having just 2 emails in place is much better than having none. Some marketers go so far as to write email sequences for months in advance!
I send a lot of manual broadcasts (more on those next) so I don't lock my new subscribers into sequences longer than about 14 days max.
ConvertKit Broadcasts and Subscribers
I need to touch on these two components simultaneously since you can't send broadcasts without understanding what tags and segments are.
Broadcasts are emails that you send manually to a selected subscribers (tags, segments and more).
ConvertKit forces you to keep these email broadcasts simple. With ConvertKit, you focus more on the text than flashy images, headers, etc.
Here is an example of one of my most effective email broadcasts selling a software for wholesalers that I wrote on the day of the Mayweather vs. Mcgregor fight.
Broadcasts can be scheduled to be sent immediately or at a future date and time.
Subscribers are broken down in several ways.
- Form subscribers
In a broadcast, we are given even more ways to target these subscribers (more on that later).
Whenever we create a lead magnet or import a list of subscribers it is critical that we tag and segment them. This allows us to send the most relevant emails to the right people at the right time.
For example, I can send a broadcast to people who are in a large segment while removing anyone who has purchased a certain product.
Don't fall behind on this part. If you have thousands of subscribers and no tags or segments, I recommend you make segmenting your list a high priority.
If I want to sell something, it isn't smart for me to bombard existing buyers with sales pitches for products they already own! Especially if there is a new discount on the product. This is a great way to get unsubscribes and even refunds in some cases.
If I tag my buyers, I can create logic that makes it so they don't receive sales emails for the product that they already bought going forward.
Creating a Broadcast Audience from Subscribers
We create our audiences using a combination of identifiers.
We can use logic that will include or remove certain subscribers based on how they are identified.
The skill of consistently targeting the right subscribers with the right emails is going to make or break your email marketing success.
Sending users too many emails or emails that aren't relevant to them means an increased unsubscribe rate and decreased open and click through rates.
When creating a broadcast, we must first select "Any," "All" or "None" matching option.
Next we can choose which groups to start with. These can be any of the following shown below.
Once the first identifier is chosen, we can expand or reduce it with new filters.
The more filters you run, the more defined your audience should become.
If you have created segments and tagged your users properly, this part should be easy.
ConvertKit Rules and Visual Automations
One of the more advanced features of ConvertKit is it's ability to create custom automations.
These automations allow you to get tactical with your list and make sure you're always optimizing your efforts.
Think of these triggers like an internal IFTTT.com or Zapier.com that only does ConvertKit related functions.
Yes, I know I said ConvertKit was simple and this might be a bit overwhelming at first but understand a few things.
- You don't need to use these right away. It is ok to keep things very simple.
- You don't need to use a lot of automations. I have about 10 and I am more than happy with the results.
I can't go into every possible automation but here are two that I recommend most highly.
A majority of the power of ConvertKit lies in the ability to connect with 3rd party softwares.
ConvertKit currently shows 15 default integrations on their website. I know that there are many other softwares that do integrate directly with ConvertKit that are not displayed here. These include Sumo, Thrive Leads and Clickfunnels (three tools I recommended earlier).
If there is a 3rd party software that you see that isn't integrated directly with ConvertKit, you can use a software called Zapier to create your own integrations.
Zapier supports hundreds of different programs and makes it possible to do things that ConvertKit wouldn't be able to do on it's own.
ConvertKit Account Account Overview
The account section is where you will provide all of your personal information, where you will find your API key and where you can edit your email templates.
All three default templates are very simple and only slightly different.
If you want to create a more custom styled email, you will need to have an understanding of HTML and CSS or hire someone who does.
Just know that you can edit the font, font size, spacing and other typography elements so your email broadcasts have more personality.
I keep it simple and use the text only default template. I let my words convey my personality, not typography.
Any good software has great support. If you are having any issues with your ConvertKit account, this is where you can submit a ticket.
The help documentation is another great resource (although I cover most of what they do here in this mega post).
ConvertKit has world class support and they have always answered my questions completely and quickly.
ConvertKit Subscriber Dashboard
The dashboard shows you how many new subscribers you have acquired.
The best part of this is that it breaks down each day by the opt-in source.
ConvertKit Resend to Unopens
Imagine you're about to pick up the hottest date of your life. You arrive at a house to pick him or her up. You knock on the door (just once), but no one comes.
Now, you wouldn't just leave at this point, would you?
You'd knock again (after of course waiting to make sure that they really didn't hear you if they are in fact home).
Maybe your date can't hear you because she has a giant fan blowing in her face like this lady...
Email marketing is like this.
Many of you are knocking just once and then leaving your hot date (readers) behind.
Sure, maybe they didn't want to let you in, but maybe, they just didn't hear you knocking or thought you were someone else! This analogy is getting out of hand I think... let's just dive into the meat of this simple email marketing trick that helps increase my open rates by at least 8% every-time I use it.
I am about to show you an extremely simple concept that may change the way you approach your email marketing. While the concept is simple, don't oversimplify the tact and finesse you need to apply to make it work properly for your list. You have been warned.
I have been unwittingly practicing this concept for about two years now, but I credit Robbie Richards with blogging about this method and really giving teeth to it.
If an email was worth writing, it is worth your best effort to get it in front of your readers.
The average email open rate (across all industries) is only 22.87%.
That is pitiful!
You and I won't have this problem though because the average email marketer isn't resending to their subscribers who didn't open the original broadcast.
Light bulb should be going on now.
"If an email was worth writing, it is worth your best effort to get it in front of your readers."
Don't accept 22.87% open rates (whatever your specific industry average is). Get more out of each email campaign by resending to your unopens!
Now, you need to accept that you're going to lose some subscribers in this process.
When you have thousands of readers on your email list, some are going to unsubscribe.
You could literally wire money to 10,000 people and at least 40 will unsubscribe and most won't open the email.
Now, I don't want to annoy anyone, but if someone wittingly subscribes to my list and doesn't press the one click unsubscribe button if I start to be too much for them, I don't feel bad.
You shouldn't either.
Aim to keep your unsubscribes between .2% and .5% for each broadcast you send. If the rates go above .5%, you need to fine tune some things.
Here is a very recent email I sent out to a tag in my list of people interested in learning internet marketing (oh, be sure to tag the shit out of your email list, but we will touch on that another day).
- Time Between Broadcasts: I waited three days between the initial broadcast and resend.
- CTR: 4.3%
- Unsubscribe Rate: .57% (Too high)
Be sure to change up your email subject line on your resend broadcast.
If you see two emails from me in the same week starting with "I wish..." you will probably feel I am bugging you again.
Resending doesn't need to be bugging but it should be tactful and not obvious.
Even though this only netted an additional 21 clicks, this did well for me in terms of conversions.
I actually only made $1 less on the resend to unopens than I did in the original email.
This email also netted five trials which may convert into $2
Here is another example...
This was a big email for me because I had really overbooked myself for the week and needed this one to get opened so my webinars would be as full as normal.
- Time Between Broadcasts: 22 hours (way too soon!)
- CTR: 4.8%
- Unsubscribe Rate: .5% (too high!)
Definitely not an ideal showing but not terrible. Here is what I did wrong.
Be sure to put at least 48 hours between the original broadcast and the resend.
This time I only waited 24 hours! Not ideal, but I wanted to experiment a bit.
This segment was larger so sending the extra email resulted in an additional 48 clicks.
Clicks on this email were lucrative (hence why I resent with only 24 hours in between).
The ability to resend to unopens is becoming industry standard for email marketing systems.
Here is how you do it.
Step #1 Navigate to Broadcasts
From within your ConvertKit dashboard, navigate to your broadcasts and locate the email that you want to resent.
Step #2 Select View Report
This will be to the right of the broadcast.
Step #3 Select "Resend to Unopens"
Once you select this option, it will take you to a new broadcast page that is pre-populated with the original content.
It's important to make minor adjustments to the email before resending as sending identical messages may lead to them going into your recipients junk folders.
#4 Create a New Email Headline
This new subject line has to be completely different than your first one!
#5 Update Email Content Accordingly
Most of the content can be sent again without changing, but some parts of the content will need to be revised properly.
Dates are important (I am speaking from experience!)
If you said "only five days left" in the first email two days ago, you need to update that accordingly.
The question is not just when but IF you should resend to your unopens.
In the following cases, I wouldn't send another email to your unopens.
- If you send emails every day. Unless you email your list multiple times a day (doubtful) it will be impossible for you to pull this off without sending double emails to a huge number of people who are already not your hottest subscribers.
- If the original broadcast had lower than average click through and conversion rates. If you DO decide to resend a poorly converting broadcast to your unopens, you should consider redoing the entire copy of the email body. Even if you can double your open rates with another blast, it means nothing if your opens aren't resulting in actions (clicks). If the issue is the product offering, pocket the credibility and go back to the drawing board.
- If you just recently did a resend campaign to the same audience. Put some space between your resend campaigns. You can't do this all the time.
Imagine you're driving and your email marketing is your car. Open rates are a street you turn onto along the way to the click freeway which leads you to your final destination: sales! This concept will teach you how to get more opens first and the clicks and sales will hopefully follow (but the conversion rates shouldn't change).
In ConvertKit, you can schedule a "resend to unopens" broadcast days in advance and ConvertKit will update the unopens at the time scheduled.
So, if I sent an email yesterday and there are 5,000 people who haven't opened it and I schedule a resend for five days later, the resend will not go to all 5,000 people who hadn't opened at the time of the scheduling but to the 5,000 minus those who will have opened the email between the broadcast dates.
Basically, Converkit won't let you accidentally send your resend to unopens broadcasts to people who actually opened the original email.
After using a handful of premium email marketing services, ConvertKit fits my needs. The pricing is the best in the industry, the support is amazing and it offers just enough fire power to accomplish your goals without over complicating things.
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Awesome blog post! Made me really think more about the importance of segmenting my list. Definitely going to be switching over to ConvertKit.
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