The never-ending debate, ConvertKit vs MailChimp, have you putting off adding email marketing to your web design business marketing plan? In this blog post, I explain who ConvertKit is for and how to use ConvertKit to start an email list and communicate with your ideal client.
WordPress and ConvertKit Tutorial [PART 3 EMAIL MARKETING SERIES]
Welcome to part three of the four part email marketing series! In parts one and two I walked you through the pros and cons of using MailerLite and MailChimp as your email service provider. In part 3 we’re going to chat about the pros and cons of using a paid email service provider, ConvertKit, for email marketing. Plus, there’s a tutorial on creating email opt-in forms and integrating them with your WordPress website.
Looking for a different part of the Email Marketing Series?
Why Choose ConvertKit as Your Email Service Provider?
There are a lot of email service providers out there as I’m sure you’ve noticed. There are platforms like MailerLite and Mailchimp that are free until you have a specific number of subscribers. Then there are platforms that charge you right from the start, exactly like ConvertKit does.
So what’s the benefit of using a platform like ConvertKit if you could essentially have email marketing that costs you nothing until you’re really killing it in the email game with over a thousand subscribers?
If you’re just starting your email list there’s one huge benefit to using ConvertKit from the get-go. When you’re ready for an upgrade you won’t have to migrate all your contacts, emails, automations, sequences, lists, etc. from a free platform to a more sophisticated platform because you’re already on that sophisticated platform. Not only does this save you time, but it saves you a lot of stress and struggle. It eliminates the frustration you’ll feel when trying to transfer everything. All while learning a new platform!
“Does this do what I think it does?”
“How the hell did that person receive this email? They shouldn’t have!”
Those are questions you won’t have to ask yourself because you’re already comfortable with the platform.
But there’s also a huge downside to starting out with a platform like ConvertKit. If you’re JUST starting your email list let me ask you this, do you have any clue what you’re doing? I sure as hell didn’t when I started my list! All I knew was that growing an email list was important but as to how to grow the email list and what to send people once they were on that list, forget about it. I had no clue!
When you don’t know exactly what you’re doing and how to best use an email list, paying a monthly fee is brutal. It’s basically like paying for that gym membership you never use. You know it’s a good idea to pay for the gym membership because you’re trying to be healthier but in reality… you have no idea when you would even go to the gym. You’re so busy and when you got there, do you even know how to use those contraptions without embarrassing yourself?
You know you need an email list because your subscribers will be your most valuable customers!
So, what’s the best way to set up your lists, how do you get people to join your list, and what would you even email them about? Without knowing the answers to these questions, paying a monthly fee for a platform that has fancy features isn’t the best decision.
If you’re killing it with email though and you’re ready to move off your free platform or if you have a solid game plan for moving forward from the get-go with a platform like ConvertKit, how do you choose between the different paid email service providers?
Pros of ConvertKit
Let’s start off with the positive things about ConvertKit.
Great Customer Service
ConvertKit has outstanding customer service (which is a good thing considering the cons). For example. I’ve been using ConvertKit for one of my clients for almost two years and whenever I need to do something new I almost always send customer support a message on chat.
The con of this: They don’t reply instantly. It appears to be a ticket (email) system set up to look like an instant messaging system. You send your message and then wait until your message is assigned to someone.
The pro of this: They’re really helpful and will even send you video tutorials if you can’t figure something out.
Not all email service providers offer landing page creation (even though so far MailerLite and Mailchimp both have, ActiveCampaign doesn’t). Instead of needing to purchase another program like Leadpages, you can build branded landing pages directly in ConvertKit which cuts down on the overall cost you might experience depending on your needs.
Testing subject lines, send times, etc. is really important for someone trying to increase the amount of money they make off their email list. ConvertKit actually allows for testing so you can begin to optimize your email marketing strategy.
Cons of ConvertKit
Having used ConvertKit and ActiveCampaign with my clients for almost two years, I’ve found that ConvertKit is in fact not all that it’s cracked up to be. When I was first tasked with looking into email service providers for one of my clients I kept hearing “I use and recommend ConvertKit” or “ConvertKit for sure! It’s the best platform out there.”
But seriously? These people must not have used any platform other than ConvertKit because if they had, they would know what they’re missing!
If you’re looking for a paid email service provider, go with ActiveCampaign. It’s far more superior and user-friendly.
The learning curve associated with ConvertKit is steep. This is not a platform you can jump into and know exactly how to use in a matter of hours. I was able to understand and use MailerLite in a matter of hours and ActiveCampaign took a couple of days. ConvertKit… I’m still learning after two years!
Expect to do a lot of Googling if you’re trying to do more complex automations (but also see con #3 below). You should also plan to have their customer service team in your favorited contacts.
The back-end of ConvertKit is pretty comparable to Mailchimp… confusing! If you’re hiring a ConvertKit expert to set things up for you then you can ignore this. But if you’re trying to handle email marketing yourself… creating a template, making your opt-ins GDPR compliant, sending emails to just specific people… you probably will struggle.
One of my clients was trying to send emails to a specific group of people and ended up deleting a bunch of her contacts accidentally. It’s not because she’s tech-illiterate but because ConvertKit just isn’t intuitive like other platforms are.
Automations are Limited
Remember in con #1 I said to refer to con #3 if you’re trying to do complex automations? Automations can only get so complex in ConvertKit. And if you already use ConvertKit maybe you’re thinking, “It’s been able to do everything I want it to do so far,” and that could be true. But I want to let you in on a secret, there are far more complex automations you can do in ActiveCampaign that allow you to get super specific about who you’re sending certain emails to in automations. Trust me when I say ConvertKit automations are ridiculously basic.
Templates are Code Only
Now this is a biggie if you don’t know CSS. Forget about the drag and drop email templates we all know and love from those free email marketing platforms like MailerLite and Mailchimp. ConvertKit only allows for code based email templates. Now ConvertKit claims that they do this because it helps with open-rates and click-through rates and even delivery rates but based off my client’s email performance (each uses a different platform: ConvertKit, ActiveCampaign, Mailchimp, or MailerLite). There’s no difference in perfomance JUST because of the template being coded or not.
Again, if you’re hiring someone to manage your email marketing and they know code then this doesn’t really apply to you. But if you’re trying not to spend more money (because now you’re paying a monthly fee for ConvertKit) and you don’t know code, odds are you’ll struggle with creating a template you like.
HOW TO INTEGRATE WORDPRESS AND CONVERTKIT
If you chose ConvertKit over ActiveCampaign, let’s walk through how to create your email opt-in forms so you can start building an audience.
Start by logging into your ConvertKit account and clicking “Forms & Landing Pages” in the top menu. You’ll notice the first thing you see is a dashboard of analytics followed by all of your current opt-in forms (if you’ve already created some and if not, they’ll appear here as you create new ones).
Click on the “New Form” to get started creating your first opt-in form.
Inline, Modal, Slide In Form
The cool thing about ConvertKit forms is that three are made in basically the exact same way. After you click on “Form” under the “How do you want to gather subscribers?” question, you’ll notice a few different option. We have inline, modal, and slide in forms.
An inline form will sit in a specific location on your website, a modal form will popup when someone is leaving your website, scrolls a specific percentage down the page, or spends a certain amount of time on your website, and a slide in form will (obviously) slide onto the page at a specific time based on your settings.
Choose which type of form you want to add onto your website to get started.
Next choose the template you will use to design to your opt-in form. Notice each option has a differentiator to them. For example, some allow for images and some don’t. Some allow for a lot of information and others are simple with just the opt-in fields. Think about where this opt-in form is going to live on your website and what information you’ll want to include on it before you select your template.
After you’ve picked your template by hovering over your preferred template and clicking “Choose,” you can start editing the template to add your branding, text, images, etc. To edit a section of the template, you simply need to click on the area you want to change (easy, right?).
To add additional fields, click the plus button on the form. You can easily delete fields by clicking on it and then clicking “Delete” in the left hand menu.
Does your template have an image? Wondering how to edit it? Continue through the tutorial to learn how!
(Note, one limitation of ConvertKit opt-in forms is that you can’t drag anything to a new location except for the actual opt-in fields.)
Now it’s time to edit additional settings:
Start by clicking on the envelope icon. To be GDPR compliant you’ll want to send an “Incentive email” also known as a double opt-in email. You can edit what you say in that email by clicking on the “Edit Email Contents” email. Anyone who doesn’t confirm their subscription via this email won’t actually be added to your list. You do have the option to not send the incentive email and instead autoconfirm subscribers but if you do that, you need to make sure your opt-in form itself is GDPR compliant.
Once someone confirms they want to join your list they will need to be redirected to a page on your website or they will need to download a PDF. This is a great place to add your freebie if that is what you’re messaging in this opt-in form. If you’re not messaging a freebie here, then simply add a custom thank you page URL here letting them know they’re officially on the list.
Next click on the magic wand icon (that’s what it is, right?). This is where you can change your template if you’re not a fan of the one you selected at the beginning. You can also change that image you’re seeing in the template (if your chosen templates allows for images) by uploading a new image under “Background Image.” The background color can be changed here as well. If you want to get real fancy and you know how to code, you can add Custom CSS into the box at the bottom of this section.
Now click on the two gears icon to decide what happens the next time someone sees this opt-in form. If someone opts into your list using this opt-in form do you want them to see the form again or do you want the form to be hidden if they happen to scroll by it again at a later time?
Decide whether or not you want reCAPTCHA on your form as well.
Lastly, click the gear icon toward the left of the screen. These settings will vary depending on which type of opt-in form you chose, inline, modal, or slide in.
Here you’ll choose what you want to happen after someone opts into your list using this opt-in form. Do you want them to receive a custom success message or do you want to direct them to a new page (potentially a custom thank you page)? Either edit the custom success message or select the radio button next to “Redirect to another page” and enter the URL.
In this section you’ll choose what happens after someone opts into your list using this opt-in form as well but you will also choose WHEN the opt-in form pops up. There are 4 options:
- Exit Intent: when someone is detected leaving the website
- Scroll percentage: when someone has scrolled X% down a page
- Timing: when someone has spent X amount of time on your website
- Link: when someone clicks a specific link or button
Select the settings you prefer best based on the purpose of the modal opt-in form and where it’s going to appear on the website.
Further down this section you also can choose what devices this pop-up opt-in form appears on and how frequently it appears. Choose “All devices” to have it appear on desktop and mobile or select “Mobile devices” or “Desktop” to have it appear on just one specific type of device.
For the timing, it’s important to use Google Analytics to see how frequently people are visiting your website (plus GA gives you a bunch of other great information that will help you run your business). Not sure what to do and unable to check Google Analytics? Do you blog frequently (ie. once or twice per week)? If so, people are most likely visiting your website frequently. Having that pop-up appear every single time they visit is annoying (personal preference here!), so setting the timing to every 14 days may be a good idea. Again though, this should be based on Google Analytics data!
Similar to the modal opt-in form, in the settings section of the slide in opt-in form you can choose when the form appears, what device is appears on, and how frequently it appears. Set those settings to your liking.
You can also select where the form appears under “Display form in.” There are two choices: slide in from the bottom right or slide in from the bottom left. Since this is going to cover up some content that is on your website, you want to make sure you select the correct side of the page (just in case people don’t close out of the opt-in form).
In the top left hand corner, give your opt-in form a name that is easy to distinguish from other opt-in forms you’ll be making in the future. For example, “Inline Form | Freebie #1 Download.”
To see what your form looks like, click the “PREVIEW” button in the top menu.
When you’re done, click “Save.”
IMPORTANT: Your opt-in form is ready but it’s not currently set up to add people to a specific tag. You’ll need to create an automation in order for your opt-in form to work correctly.
Inline, modal, and slide in opt-in forms are great for using on your website but what about if you want to share a link on your Facebook page? That’s what a landing page is for! So let’s create one.
Click on “Landing Page” after clicking “New Form.”
At the time of writing this there are 23 templates to choose from. That’s a lot! Above the templates are categories that refine the select based on what you’re creating the landing page for. If you’re creating a landing page to give away a freebie, you could narrow your search down to the “Newsletter” category and select from 7 templates instead of 23.
After you’ve selected the template that works best for you, edit the template to include your brand colors, copy, logo, and desired opt-in fields by clicking on the specific areas you want to edit.
Looking to edit the background image? Keep reading!
I highly recommend that you collect an email address AND the first name of the subscriber. Why? When you ask someone for just their email address it’s as though you only care about having them on your list to sell to. They’re just another email address on your list. You’re not taking the time to get to know them in any way, shape, or form. By asking for their first name, they become a person on your list, not just an email address. Plus you can personalize emails to them by saying something like “Hey Kristen!” or “How’s your Monday going, Kristen?” Any more information than just their email address and first name starts to feel invasive. (You can always ask for more information AFTER they’ve joined your list, gone through your welcome sequence, and got to know you better.)
Once you’ve edited the branding and copy, head over to the right hand menu to finish setting up your landing page.
Under the gear icon, choose whether to show a custom success message or send subscribers to a custom URL after they’ve entered their information.
Under the envelope icon, make sure the radio button next to “Send incentive email” is checked and edit the contents of the email using the “Edit email contents” button. Also choose what happens after someone confirms their subscription via this email. Do they receive a download (freebie) or are they sent to a custom URL?
Under the magic wand icon, update the background settings. (This is where you update that background image!)
Under the two gear icon, choose what happens when someone opts into your list using the landing page and then returns to the page later on and enable reCAPTCHA to reduce the amount of bots that subscribe to your list.
When you’re done editing the settings, preview the landing page by clicking the “PREVIEW” button in the top menu. If it’s to your liking, click the “SHARE” button to grab the custom URL. This is the URL you want to add to your Facebook page or Instagram profile.
Don’t forget to click “Save” when you’re finished!
IMPORTANT: landing page is ready but it’s not currently set up to add people to a specific tag. You’ll need to create an automation in order for your opt-in form to work correctly.
There you have it, the pros and cons of using ConvertKit plus how to create opt-in forms and a landing page for your email list. Get started now with ConvertKit. Don’t forget to check out the blog posts about MailerLite, Mailchimp, and ActiveCampaign (coming soon!) if you’re not using or planning to use ConvertKit.
You Might Also Like…
- [Part 1 Email Marketing Series] WordPress and MailerLite Tutorial
- [Part 2 Email Marketing Series] WordPress and Mailchimp Tutorial
- [Part 4 Email Marketing Series] WordPress and ActiveCampaign Tutorial
- Best Places to Add Email Opt-Ins on Your Website
- Why You Need a Pop Up Email Opt-in Form on Your Website
9+ resources to help you start and grow your web design business with ease (and make more money!).