This is Big: A MailChimp Pro Switched to ConvertKit
This is one of the most difficult, anxiety-ridden posts I've ever had to write. The hardest, by far, was my post back in December 2013 in which I told my loyal readers that I was walking away from blogging, unsure if I'd ever return. (Spoiler alert: I did return. Bet you didn't see that one coming.)
If you don't know me, or how I run my business, you won't understand why this has caused me such anxiety. I've had sleepless nights, written list after list of pros & cons weighing my decision, thought long and hard about the potential repercussions, consulted with someone who speaks my language and understands the stress behind what I'm about to tell you....
After three months (yes really) of deliberation, I finally pulled the trigger last week.
Hi, my name is Kirsten. I'm a MailChimp expert who switched to ConvertKit*. (This post contains affiliate links.)
Oh my gosh, there! I said it. My hands are literally trembling as I type this. I swore ConvertKit wasn't for me. I told myself & others that everything I needed was in MailChimp and I saw no reason to switch.
Was I lying? Absolutely not. Everything I needed really was in MailChimp...until I needed more. Today I want to spend some time dissecting my decision to switch. I also want to share with you why you may not need or want to switch, and I also want to talk about what this means for my business going forward.
Full disclosure: My list for Sweet Tea & Saving Grace is still on MailChimp. I'll explain why in this post.
Buckle up, Buttercup. This is gonna be a big one.
Let's start at the beginning - the most logical place to start, don't you agree?
WHY MAILCHIMP WAS ENOUGH
I've been using MailChimp for the better part of 4 years and truly love the platform.
- The design tools provide limitless opportunities for me to create gorgeous, aesthetically pleasing newsletters that my readers enjoy.
- With the paid MailChimp account, which I've had for a long time, I've been creating and sending automated emails to welcome new subscribers to my community, educate subscribers with e-courses, send important information about webinars, etc.
- MailChimp syncs seamlessly with LeadPages, which I also use & love, and made it easy for me to create content upgrades with just a few clicks.
- I know how to segment my lists like it's second nature, so it wasn't difficult to send targeted emails to various groups.
- I successfully launched my first ebook (coincidentally, an ebook about using MailChimp) using the MailChimp platform, and was able to continually promote my ebook using different MailChimp features.
Overall, there was nothing I needed for my business that MailChimp didn't have.
WHY MAILCHIMP WASN'T ENOUGH
So, if MailChimp was so perfect, why switch to ConvertKit? The truth is, I'm an idea machine. I have several new projects that are on my radar, including a podcast, new in-person workshops & events, and a membership site. Each one of these projects will require vastly different email content, which creates a lot of moving parts.
The short answer to your question is this: To continue to grow, my email platform had to grow up.
Let me explain it this way:
I want my readers to be able to express interest in any or all of my upcoming projects, and in turn, I need to be able to send targeted emails to each interest group. If someone says they're excited about my membership site, they might be a good candidate for the beta test group. If someone says they're looking forward to my podcast, I want them to know when it launches and give them the opportunity to share it, or even be a co-host. And of course, if someone is interested in my in-person events, I need to be able to keep them updated on dates and topics.
I can do those things in MailChimp, but it would require a lot of set-up, segmentation, strategically placed checkboxes and hidden fields in various forms, etc.
The other part to this marketing strategy is this: If someone expresses interest in, for example, my membership site, but no longer wants to receive my weekly newsletters, they can one-click opt out of those newsletters but remain on my list for updates to the membership site.
Because of all of the moving parts, I had to bite the bullet and make the switch. It just made good business sense. Even if it hurts my heart a little bit.
WHICH PLATFORM IS RIGHT FOR YOU
Before I dive into specifics, I need to get something off my chest:
DON'T MAKE A DECISION FOR YOUR BUSINESS BECAUSE SOMEONE ELSE MAKES IT FOR THEIRS.
Man that felt good. If I'm being totally honest with you, one of the biggest reasons I was so hesitant to switch to ConvertKit was because it seemed like everybody and their mom was switching, and it wasn't good for all of them. One big blogger made the switch several months ago, and then all of a sudden, ConvertKit become the shiny new thing that every other blogger had to have.
And you know what? It's not for everybody. So hear me loud & clear y'all: Don't make the switch just because I did. Do your own research and make an educated decision for your blog or business.
Now, let's take a look at MailChimp & ConvertKit and I'll share some tips for making the decision yourself.
- Free up to 2000 subscribers
- Plans start at $10/month
- Beautifully branded newsletter templates
- Dozens of design tools, including RSS merge tags
- Drag & drop design functionality
- Basic list segmentation
- A/B testing for subject lines, send times, etc.*
- Automation workflows*
- No free option
- Plans start at $29/month
- Basic plain-text newsletter templates
- Customization available with HTML & CSS code
- Automation workflows (called sequences)
- RSS emails (saved as drafts, not sent automatically)
- Advanced list segmentation
- Built-in landing pages
*denotes options available on paid MailChimp accounts
Those are just a few of the features of each platform. To break it down a little more, let me share with you what I was doing on MailChimp (and still doing for Sweet Tea & Saving Grace), and what I'm now able to do in ConvertKit for my LLC email list:
- One master list
- Segments for each content upgrade
- Segments for each newsletter frequency (weekly, monthly)
- Automation workflow to welcome new subscribers
- Automation workflow for each webinar registration
- One master list
- Sign-up form specifically for MailChimp-related blog posts
- Automated sequence for MailChimp crash course (content upgrade in MailChimp-related blog posts)
- Ability to pause my weekly newsletters until new subscribers finish MailChimp crash course, so they're not bombarded with emails from me
- Sign-up form for master list
- Automated sequence to welcome new subscribers
- Track links for ebook purchase (won't send sales emails to customers)
- Ability to send affiliate emails only to ebook customers
- Ability to segment based on reader's interest in upcoming projects
If you don't sell products & services, and only need to send newsletters and welcome series, MailChimp is perfect. If you definitely want a "pretty" newsletter, MailChimp is perfect.
I miss the aesthetics of MailChimp, to be honest. I like pretty newsletters, and my readers have come to expect that from me. I also miss A/B testing - it's something I used every single week without fail for my subject lines.
But what I love about ConvertKit is that I can now add links in the body of my newsletters and trigger new sequences based on people clicking those links. I love that I can keep people interested in my upcoming podcast or membership site without bugging people who could care less. And I love that people can opt out of one type of email without unsubscribing from my list completely.
THE FUTURE OF SWEET TEA LLC
I've built my business on the MailChimp platform: writing an ebook, coaching clients, hosting webinars, teaches courses. So yes, it makes things just a bit difficult for me.
But I'm smart. I didn't limit myself to teaching only MailChimp. I teach email marketing. I teach blogging. I teach strategy and growth. So will this decision affect my business? Yes. But only in a positive way.
ConvertKit is a lot more time consuming to set up than MailChimp. There are a lot of moving parts, simply because it's a more diverse email marketing tool. I am most definitely not calling myself a ConvertKit "expert", but I am comfortable navigating the platform enough to show you how to do it.
If you have any questions at all that I didn't answer here, leave it in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them.
*post contains affiliate links