Last update November 13, 2018.
At the start of the summer 2018 I made a big decision for my business.
After being with Aweber and using them as my email list provider for 8 years I made a switch to ConvertKit (affiliate link) instead.
That’s what I want to share in this post.
Note: I use ConvertKit for all my email lists and this post contains affiliate links to their service.
Now, this was no light decision to make.
I was deep into the comfort zone with Aweber after having been with them for pretty close to a decade and I had only used them and no other provider for my email lists and business.
I had many tens of thousands of subscribers. About a dozen different email lists set up.
But I had reached a point where I needed to make this change for my business to continue to grow.
My main reason for doing this was to more quickly grow the amount of people that subscribed to my email newsletter.
Because my experience in the past years have been that most of the connections I make with my readers, the inspiring stories I receive and social media mentions and virality mostly comes from the email list.
Plus, somewhere between 80-90% of the income I make comes from the newsletter.
It’s my top source of just about anything positive for my business.
So that was the top priority to improve even more just before my summer holiday this year.
And I knew from reading Brian Dean at Backlinko.com and many more case studies that the likely key to growing the number of email subscribers faster and better was what is known as content upgrades
Something that ConvertKit has focused on more than any other email list provider (more on content upgrades later in this post).
This was the main reason but not the only one.
A few other important reasons were:
- Used by people I respect. ConvertKit not only gets plenty of positive mentions online but more importantly is used every week by some of the bloggers I like and respect the most such as Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income, Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project and Derek Halpern of Social Triggers.
- Less expensive than Aweber. At least for the number of subscribers I had at the time. ConvertKit also offers an annual payment option where you only have to pay for 10 months a year which brings down the cost even further.
- Email sending reliability. The emails I sent out via Aweber in the past 1-2 years were sometimes delivered 20-30 minutes after I pushed the send button. And a couple of times they were sent almost an hour after that button push. Not good if you have a deadline for a product launch or promotion for example. So this also encouraged me to try another email solution.
- Aweber felt a bit old and clunky. While for example WordPress and other software and services I used for my business often was updated and improved to change with the times Aweber did not change much over my 8 years there. And in the last few years it started to feel a bit clunky, slow and old. Especially when I compared it to a few other email list providers by watching the video tours of how their services worked.
That’s a quick recap of the most important reasons for why I finally got out of my comfort zone and made this switch for my business.
Now I’d like to share my experience with ConvertKit after being with them for 5 months.
9 reasons why I’m glad I made this change
1. ConvertKit was made for online creators.
It was founded by Nathan Barry who was himself an online creator (of a very popular handbook on creating apps).
So he knew what he wanted to be able to connect with an audience, market and sell his product.
That shows in how simple ConvertKit is to use for someone that’s not so technical (like me) and how easy it makes it to do the things I need.
2. I don’t have to pay for a subscriber twice (or trice).
ConvertKit is centered around subscribers instead of email lists. So even if Lisa is subscribed to several of my email lists I only pay for her once.
That is not the case with many other email list providers.
3. It’s quicker to load.
ConvertKit’s pages and databases simply load quicker for me than Aweber used to.
This is not a huge thing.
But waiting a second or three extra every time you want to do something can become annoying when you use a service like this pretty much every day.
4. Very simple resends.
An unexpected but welcome surprise. If I want to resend an email to the people who didn’t open it the first time I sent it then I can do that by using one button push.
This simplicity has helped me start doing that more often and this has helped me to boost open rates quite a bit.
5. Simple link triggers for segmentation.
If someone clicks a link about one of my courses in one of my emails then I can very easily tag that subscriber with an interest in that particular course.
By doing so I can split my thousands of subscribers into smaller segments with specific interests. And then send laser-targeted content to those groups.
I can also tag and segment subscribers in many other ways. The main point here is that it is very easy to do and so I’m not held back by complicated instructions or by feeling overwhelmed.
6. Very easy to reengage or remove cold subscribers.
Some people stop reading your emails. Maybe it’s not for them anymore or they’re too busy lately. It happens.
But having people on your list that won’t read your emails can reduce the delivery rate of your emails and will cost you more money than you need to pay.
Reengaging such subscribers and then deleting the rest that obviously don’t have an interest in your emails anymore is very simple and ConvertKit even has a template that you can copy and paste to do that.
7. Friendly and quick support.
I’ve been in contact with ConvertKit support a few times and they’re been friendly and quick to fix or respond to things.
They’ve even reached out a couple of times to ask what they can do better or what I’d like to see in the future to help me do an even better job.
Such requests are something I like a lot.
8. Emails are sent out without any delays.
I’ve had no delays since June at all and I’ve been sending emails 2-3 times a week since then.
9. Free concierge migration if you have a bigger email list.
ConvertKit will help you to transfer all your subscribers, lists and emails from your old email list provider. And they’ll do it for free if you have 5,000 subscribers or more.
I do but still did the migration myself to learn more about their platform. That migration was quick and went off with a hitch.
But offering such a service is a big upside and says something about how ConvertKit wants to make things easy and simple for their customers.
All of these reasons are good to great and make me happy that I got out of my comfort zone.
And I have frankly not found much to complain about so far. Things have just been running smoothly and better than before (although I have couple of smaller ideas for what I’m missing or what I’d like to see next in ConvertKit).
But #1 benefit for me is that ConvertKit has helped me to fulfill my goal of growing my email list faster than before.
Now, I mentioned earlier in this post I wanted to do that by using something called content upgrades.
So what’s that?
The power of content upgrades
I have for example one post on self-esteem that is quite popular. In that post I offer anyone who signs up for my newsletter a free PDF with all the tips and steps from the article in an easy to print and digest checklist.
So instead of offering a more general personal development guide this free gift for new subscribers is very specific and targeted to just the people who read that post each week.
I also for instance have an offer of 3 more general personal development guides for anyone that signs up at the end of any blogpost on my website.
This offer converts 0.2% of my website visitors into subscribers.
My content upgrades on the other hand convert 1-2% of website visitors into subscribers. So that’s 5-10 times better.
Quite the difference.
And ConvertKit has been essential to do this because using and delivering content upgrades in specific posts simply and quickly is one of the main functions in their setup.
If I was with another email list provider then I’d need an extra service like Leadpages to deliver content upgrades.
And so I’d have another service that I’d need to learn to use and keep track of. And another monthly cost to add to my bills.
That’s my experience and results with ConvertKit so far.
Now, I’d like to end this post by sharing a handful of tips and strategies that I’ve learned in the past 8 years…
My top 10 tips for starting a successful email list
Don’t make my mistake: invest a bit to grow.
The first few years when I was running my own website and business I wanted to do everything myself and for free. That was mistake.
Because it limited my growth and had me spending plenty of time and energy on software that was free but didn’t work as I wanted (an in some cases worked pretty poorly overall).
It was when I took the leap of, for example, starting to pay a bit for services like an email list provider that my income really took off and enabled me to make my business a full-time thing.
Use double optins. Not single optins.
When someone signs up for your email list, make sure you use a double optin form so they have to confirm their subscription by clicking a link or button in an email you send out.
This helps to keep spammers away from messing up your email list and makes sure you only get subscribers who truly want your newsletters.
Send simple emails.
I’ve over the years found that the best way to connect with my audience is to write simple and plain emails without any fancy templates and usually without images.
Just like an email you’d send to a friend of yours. Keeping the language simple, friendly and conversational like you would with a friend also helps a lot.
Write email subject lines that get your emails opened.
If you write a good subject line for an email then many will open and read it.
If you write a boring one or that people don’t understand too well then a lot people will leave that email unopened and it will stay stuck in the inbox or be deleted.
I have found that the two types of email subjects that work the best for me are focused on benefits for the readers or driven by curiosity. Or sometimes both.
One example of a subject line about benefits: What to Do When You Start to Feel Really Worried
One driven on curiosity: The Biggest Mistake I’ve Made in My Business
One based on both: Don’t Let This One Common Mistake Hold You Back from Living a Happier Life
Use more than one link in longer emails.
Here’s one I’ve discovered in just the last few years. Not everyone – even if they could be interested – scroll to the end of an email.
So be sure to put in 2-3 links in your email. I use one at the start, one in the middle and one at the end of a longer email to ensure I get as many people as possible to click the link and read more on my website.
Let people opt out if you’re doing a launch.
This is something I’ve just started doing this year after I switched to ConvertKit.
If you’re, for example, doing a launch of a product then put a link at the end of your email that lets people opt out from follow up emails about this product launch. Tag everyone that clicks that link and when you send a follow up email about your product just make sure to not include that tag.
This helps a lot to give the people on your list more choices, reduce unsubscribes and avoid displeased subscribers.
Don’t let your email list go cold.
Plenty of people start an email list and then it goes quiet for months. Until they suddenly remember it or are promoting or launching a product.
Not a good way to keep a good relationship with the people who signed up for your email list.
So remember to keep in touch. Email at least a couple of times a month. Send out tips and strategies, share new and old blog posts or links to other things you may have found online that your audience would really like.
Use the newsletter to boost the popularity of your blog posts too.
A simple way to get a new blog post out there into social media and to get it mentioned on other websites is simply to send a quick email to your newsletter subscribers about it.
I start doing this a couple of years ago and it has helped plenty to get the word out, have posts go viral more often and to help grow my readership.
Don’t just sell or promote stuff.
People will get tired of it and unsubscribe or simply stop reading your emails.
Instead, share plenty of free and really helpful stuff in the majority of the emails you send.
And then promote your products, services or an affiliate offer from time to time. Find a balance that works for your audience and for you.
Don’t be afraid to sell when you have something really helpful to offer.
Here’s a big mistake of mine from the past.
I was afraid of what people would say or that everyone would unsubscribe.
And so I promoted things extremely sparingly and in way where I was almost apologizing the few times when I was doing it.
I’ve since learned that people will seldom be upset or unsubscribe if you have a good offer that’s a good fit for your readers.
Not if you don’t overdo it with the promoting and offers. So be sure to share plenty of free and valuable stuff too each month.
And that's my top 10 tips.