Deciding on which email platform to use is far from easy. There are many factors that determine the right email platform for your business. In this article I compare ConvertKit vs MailChimp through the comparisons and findings I observed trying both platforms out on AMarketingPodcast.com.
Email marketing goals for A Marketing Podcast
So as I preach in the show I had established some goals and some objectives that the email marketing strategy had to achieve.
My goals for the show included developing a community to provide insights and to help be more strategic in their marketing.
The objectives included setting up a new email marketing platform and building my email list through automated processes and regular newsletter style eblasts. As well as personal emails of course. Part of achieving those objectives was to implement call to actions (CTA’s) that where effective and looked like part of the site.
Other goals and objectives included the creation of an email course in an effort to develop trust with my audience before providing a full on paid course for those seeking a deeper understanding and some time with me personally to proof their strategy (the course is a work in progress – so stand by on that one).
So, basically I needed an email solution that delivered on the above. Period. Hence the ConvertKit vs MailChimp comparison.
Related: If you’re struggling with setting your own goals and objectives, or haven’t even thought about it yet, listen to Session 3: Establishing goals and objectives
I started with MailChimp
The first thing that MailChimp does differently to ConvertKit, is provide a free account which allows up to 2,000 subscribers. Therefore, I started with MailChimp.
If there was one thing I’d suggest the folks at ConvertKit do, it’s implement the free account (but I understand why they don’t and I respect it – more on that later).
The benefit to the free account is you can get started and test the functionality of MailChimp without spending a cent. However, the functionality is basic to say the least. Obviously the reason for a free option is to get you to pay later. So most of the features were paid features. But this is to be expected.
MailChimps first downside
I had implemented a launch page for the Podcast and it was making use of a MailChimp form, and this is where I had my first bit of frustration.
I wanted to implement something that looked professional. Luckily I have many years experience in front end dev, so selecting the naked, or slim, style form was where I started. But I had to do a fair amount of dev work to get the form to look just right (and this was only for a simple launch page).
Below is a screenshot of the WordPress widget which places the form at the end of the article. I also used the short code in a widget placed in the right column. You can see that to, just look right a bit. See how good they look!
Double Opt-in options
I live in Canada and as such the Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) requires that you provide the option for the visitor to provide expressed consent for you to use their email address for marketing purposes. Meaning double opt-in is a must.
As far as the double opt-in, ConvertKit vs MailChimp comparison goes, both provide this option just in different ways. MailChimp requires double opt-in regardless, so that’s good. ConvertKit actually gives you the option between auto confirmation and double opt-in confirmation.
But what ConvertKit does is allow you to alter the confirmation form in ways that MailChimp simply does not. What I’m talking about is placing content before and after the confirmation button. Not a huge benefit, but the text on the actual button, HUGE! As you can see below I’ve updated the text to be a less harsh call to action, when compared to the CONFIRM SUBSCRIPTION that MailChimp requires you to use. I also make use of a single “One more step” page for all my forms, to handle the double opt-in hurdle. It provides my subscribers with some basic info to make sure they go to their email and confirm their subscription. So being able to update the subject to “One more step.” aligns with the pages heading and just makes it a little less of an issue getting that confirmation click.
The example below is for the checklist download I have. You can see the custom button text “Grab your checklist Now!” which is much more effective than “Confirm Subscription”.
Email courses and Automations
Now I’m going to be perfectly honest here. I didn’t try the MailChimp automation features (they were paid features of course). But looking at the feature overview they appear to be much more complex than ConvertKit.
I did try the ConvertKit features, and WOW! So simple to setup, and so easy to plan your campaign by using the drag and drop interface. Here’s a peek.
This is an example of the AMP 7 Day Marketing Strategy course (A work in progress – so don’t judge). As you can see a really simple interface. You add each email you want to send, order it as you wish, set how many days between each and provide great content in each! Publish each email and set a signup form to start the sequence and you’re off to the races. That Easy!
Automations within ConvertKit
In addition to the automation of email sequences to deliver email courses and marketing funnel emails, there is a feature called Automations. Automations allow you to create various triggers that perform actions.
These automations allow you to create quite complex sequences (by starting another when one ends, or ending one if another is started, and more). You can tag subscribers when they perform certain actions as well as generate broadcast emails from your website RSS feeds.
The biggest feature for me is the tagging or segmentation of your email list. This allows me to send the right content and insights to the right people. For example when someone signs up to the newsletter I send an automated message asking you to click a link that refer to you. Once that button is clicked I tag the user with a corresponding tag and I can send certain email to then in the future. The link also provides value on the landing page on the website.
To clarify MailChimp does have segmentation, however this is within each list. So segmentation does not extend to other lists, unless manually adding the same segmentation to the other list. I’ll get to multi-list subscribers in a bit.
Templates for Broadcast emails
Both MailChimp and ConvertKit provide template interfaces for custom templates. I’d give the interface award to MailChimp just barely thanks to a handy preview screen to the left of the code. This allows you to see changes as you make them. ConvertKit has a preview option but it’s a click away.
As far as ConvertKit vs MailChimp goes in regards to templates they’re pretty even. Both systems provide an html preview and a “send a test email” preview. Make sure you preview the template as an email before you move by performing the test email option. Email clients have a way of messing up your perfect template – so double check.
Subscriber duplication – no longer
This is the hands down biggest differentiating factor when comparing ConvertKit vs MailChimp, subscribers are single entities in ConvertKit, not the case in MailChimp.
This means that if firstname.lastname@example.org signs up to be part of my newsletter, to get the free template download, and signs up for the setup checklist, in MailChimp Bob would be in the system 3 times on three different lists. In convert kit, there’s just one Bob.
So an email in ConvertKit equals a single subscriber. With that subscriber is detail on the forms they sign up through, the sequences they are currently in, and any tags they’ve been tagged with (either manually or via automations).
Reporting is a very important piece of the email marketing puzzle. Being able to understand how your emails are being received and how they are performing allows you to try different tactics and approaches by how your subscribers react.
When it comes to ConvertKit vs MailChimp, the reporting is fairly close. MailChimp provides a prettier display of broadcast results than ConvertKit, but ConvertKit provides conversion rate metrics on each form that you place on your site. Understanding that conversion rate is the most important metric related to your online marketing (in more than just email), it’s a pretty important metric to have on your dashboard.
Price is always a factor in choosing anything. In the case of ConvertKit vs MailChimp the prices are fairly comparable. Apart from the free 2,000 subscriber option (without any real features – just subscribers and broadcast campaigns) that MailChimp provides here’s a quick break down (as of publishing of this post).
*All prices in US dollars.
There are many more levels of pricing. If you’re looking to compare other levels of subscribers (congrats on the great list), you can check them out on each platforms website.
As I mentioned earlier MailChimp has the free account, and honestly it’s a good place to start if you’re just getting started. Nathan Barry, the founder and CEO of ConvertKit, discussed the reasoning behind the no trial, no free option, on Pat Flynn’s Podcast – Smart Passive Income. What he outlined was that he wanted customers who were serious about email marketing and that the credit card being required on sign up and being charged would ensure that only serious customers would use the system. Well, that being said, it worked and now ConvertKit is a full blown player in the email Market. It also demonstrates the level of commitment ConvertKit has to serving their audience and being a real player in the industry.
Why I chose ConvertKit vs MailChimp
As I mentioned at the very beginning of the article, the right solution will depend largely on what you’re trying to do. However, it truly is ConvertKit vs Mailchimp as they mainly play in the same ball park. So the comparisons above, coming from a blogger/podcaster/marketer/online teacher, resulted with the ConvertKit vs MailChimp battle, going to ConvertKit as my email marketing platform.
If you have any more questions about the ConvertKit vs MailChimp comparison or some insight into MailChimps automations to help deliver a better comparison, feel free to get in touch.
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