Why We Switched To ConvertKit From AWeber for Email Marketing
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You see, each year as we get close to the end of the year, we take the time to reflect on what worked over the past year, what didn’t work and what things we want to improve for next year.
Near the end of last year when we were doing this activity, one thing that stuck out that wasn’t working was AWeber; our email marketing tool. You see, when we began to shift this business (coaching and training for entrepreneurs online), everyone was raving about AWeber. So naturally, as what seemed like the most popular tool, we signed up and began using it.
The Struggles That We Had With AWeber
Although we used AWeber for several years, and it served out needs initially, there were a handful of struggles that kept annoying us and were starting to limit our ability to run our marketing campaigns (and business) the way we really wanted to grow.
- AWeber is list focused, not subscriber focused
- People opting into multiple lists get counted as multiple subscribers
- You get charged for people who have unsubscribed
- There is not much in terms of automation
- The experience is not intuitive and it feels outdated
How AWeber and ConvertKit Compare on the Struggles
Below we will dive deeper into each of the struggle mentioned above and compare/contrast AWeber & ConvertKit.
List Focused, Not Subscriber Focused
AWeber is focused around lists. You create a list (for example, around a free download for business planning). When people opt-in to get your download, they join the list. If they opt-in to something else (for example, another offer such as a webinar), they get added to the other list.
This may not sound like a big deal at first, but here is the problem: you want to understand your customers holistically. By being list focused and not customer focused, you can’t get a complete view of your customers and their interactions with you. In fact, AWeber treats the same email address (customer) on two different lists as two different customers. This makes it next to impossible to understand your subscriber behavior and history in a holistic sense.
Contrast this with ConverKit, and you will see that it takes the opposite approach. Sure, you have e-mail list (called sequences), but the tool is built around your subscribers, not the lists.
What this means for you is that these subscribers can be on multiple lists (as well as in multiple segments and tagged – more on that in a bit). In addition, you can easily see all of the information for a subscriber in a single place;
- Key information (email address, name and other fields)
- What form/opt-in they signed up for
- What list (sequence) they are subscribed to
- What segments (grouping of subscribers across lists) they are a part of
- What tags they have been given
As you can see, this gives you a much more holistic view of your customer. You get key information about when they subscribed, what they are interested in and how they have been segmented and tagged over time. As you will see later in this post, the tagging can be done automatically based on what actions they take.
Oh, and maybe the best part… you get a full history of every email they have been sent and how they interacted with that email (didn’t open, opened, clicked a link).
Get Charged Multiple Times for Subscribers (and Unsubscribers!)
As mentioned above, AWeber is list focused, not customer/subscriber focused. This has some expensive consequences.
First, if a person opts into two of your lists, they are counted as two subscribers. Given that AWeber charges you based on the number of subscribers, you end up paying more than you should if your subscribers really like your content and subscribe to multiple lists. No good.
Second, AWeber counts unsubscribers as part of your overall number of subscribers (makes total sense, right)? So if you don’t go through and delete unsubscribers on a consistent basis, you will be paying for people who don’t actually receive any of your emails.
It’s simple. 1 subscriber is one subscriber. You don’t get charged multiple times or for people who unsubscribe.
Lack of Automation & Segmenting
In this day and age, marketing and the messaging needs to be customized to your customer. You don’t want to send a single message to your entire customer base. Instead, you want to send targeted and customized messages.
You likely have an audience that is interested in the same overall topic (ex. starting a business), but likely have different sub-interests (ex. some may be interested in online marketing but others are not). So you want to have the ability to indicate this and take specific actions based on this knowledge. AWeber severely lacks in this area.
Note: We made the switch to ConvertKit at the end of 2015/start of 2016. Since then, AWeber has added more features and some automation. They have likely improved in this area, but since we are no longer using them, we cannot comment on any new features. If you would like to test out both, you can try a 30-day free trial of AWeber and compare for yourself.
Contrasted with AWeber, ConverKit has a lot of automation built it. Not only does it have a lot of automation, it is pretty simple to use. Below are just a few of our favorite automation features.
At the heart of automation, when some action happens, you want something else to happen automatically.
ConvertKit has a very simple way to do this. In the screenshot below, you can see that you select a trigger and an action to take when that trigger is activated.
For example, let’s say that we had a link in our email to a blog post about how to validate your business idea. We could set up a rule so that when someone clicks the link, they get tagged with “Interested in Idea Validation”.
Once you set this up (and it takes ~30 seconds), now this automation will do all of the work for you.
Now let’s imagine that you create a course on how to validate your business idea. You can then send out an e-mail to your subscribers, but instead of sending it to your entire list (many who may not be interested in this topic), you can now choose to only send it to people who have previously shown interest in validating their business idea.
You can automate when people opt in, finish an e-mail sequence, clicks a link or purchases a product. You can also chain multiple automation rules together.
This is a game changer for small business e-mail marketing! The possibilities are endless!
We’ve mentioned tagging a few times this feature. You can tag people based on any of the action that they take.
Below is an example of the tags from one of our subscribers. We can see that they downloaded a few of our free guides and requested a coaching call with us.
Having this information on a subscriber (especially when it is automated based on their actions) is very powerful for being able to provide them with the right information and offers for them.
In addition to tagging, the next step up is creating segments.
Segments allow you to group and organize people. For example, you can pick a few different criterion and create a segment of these subscribers. This can be across various opt-in forms, sequences and tags.
Once you create this segment, you can then send e-mails specific to this segment. You can see below that we can select who the e-mail is from, then filter down the list of people who will receive it.
This is a broadcast message (a single message that gets sent once at a specific time). We can remove people from our e-mail list who we don’t want to receive the message. For example, if we were sending an e-mail to offer our Startup Academy membership, we would not want to include people who are already members. We also may want to exclude others, since they may be at a different phase of the sales funnel/purchase process.
You can see below that in this example we are using a combination of sequences and tags to filter this list down just to who we want to target.
Poor User Experience and Outdated Design/Features
When you log into AWeber and begin trying to complete whatever task you are working on, you quickly will find that it is not very intuitive and you have to click around a lot. As a small business owner/entrepreneur, you and your staff do not have time for tools that are not intuitive and take more time than needed.
AWeber, like many other tools that have been around for several years, has a very dated feel. They were built in a different time and haven’t kept up with advancements. That is one of the reasons that Nathan Barry created ConvertKit. He was frustrated with the existing e-mail marketing tools for small businesses and created a tool to solve his (and millions of other entrepreneur’s frustrations).
With advancement in technology, there is not a shortage of amazing tools to help you get the job done. Therefore, there is not a reason for you not to use a tool that is intuitive and doesn’t take a lot of time from you.
In contrast, ConvertKit feels modern, intuitive and simple to use.
When you first log in, you get a very simple and clear menu.
This menu give you quick access to your key functions:
This makes it very easy to get in and get to where you need.
Additionally, you are treated to some key subscriber information right on your main screen.
At a glance, you can see your subscriber trends for today, this week, this month and total.
You also get a graph of the past 30 days and can visually see how many new subscribers you have each day, including what they subscribed to (via the different color bars).
After getting logged in, one of the main benefits of using an e-mail marketing tool is being able to create a sequence of e-mails and schedule them out over time. This way, when someone subscribes, they automatically get emails on your predefined schedule. This is is one of the ways that you can use leverage in your business, because once you set this up, the tool does all the work when people subscribe.
When you go to your email sequences, you get a nice overview of all of your sequences and key information on how well each sequence is performing.
When you go into one of your sequences (either an existing one or a new one), you then can create and schedule the entire sequence from a single screen.
Along the left-hand side is your list of individual emails. You can add as many as you want, reorder them and schedule when they should go out.
You can quickly switch between each of the emails in your sequence and edit the content.
If you’ve ever crafted an email campaign, you likely realize how much time and frustration is saved because of this simple and easy to use layout.
Other Things to Consider
I just scratched the surface with all of the features that are available. Below are a few additional features that we really enjoy:
1. Built in Landing Pages/Opt-in Forms: We use a different service for our landing pages/sales funnels (ClickFunnels), but if you are just starting or want to save some money, ConvertKit has built in opt-in forms and landing pages. You can also integrate these with your WordPress site via their plugin.
2. You Can Choose Single or Double Opt-in: When people sign up for your list, you have the option of directly adding them (single opt-in), or allowing them to confirm by clicking a link in an email (double opt-in). This allows you to decide which strategy you use.
3. Easy Incentive/Lead Magnet Download: Building on the last point, you can give people an easy e-mail download button and use that as a double opt-in for your list. This is the best of both worlds.
4. Custom Messages for Existing Subscribers: If someone has already opt-in, you can provide them with a different page/message.
5. Increase Open Rates by Resending Non-Opened Emails: This is one of my favorites. You can send out an email broadcast, then send it out a second time to people who did not open the first email. When doing this, you can tweak the headline and test a different one. We do this often and it leads to anywhere from an 8-20% increase in our open rates.
6. Lots of Integrations: You likely use a variety of tools to run your business. ConvertKit has quite a few direct integrations with other popular tools. Additionally, you can use something like Zapier to perform additional integrations.
When selecting tools to help you in your business, the most important thing is that the tools meet your needs and requirements.
Beyond that, looking at the cost of your investment is also important. So below I’ll show you the cost investment that is required between these two tools with a few different scenarios.
You Are Just Starting Email Marketing
If you are just getting started with email marketing, you likely don’t have an e-mail list or you have a small one.
500 or Less Subscribers
AWeber Cost: $19/month
ConvertKit Cost: $29/month
1,000 or Less Subscribers
AWeber Cost: $29/month
ConvertKit Cost: $29/month
2,500 or Less Subscribers
AWeber Cost: $29/month
ConvertKit Cost: $49/month
5,000 or Less Subscribers
AWeber Cost: $49/month
ConvertKit Cost: $79/month
AWeber Cost: Starting at $69/month
ConvertKit Cost: Starting at $119/month
As you can see, you are generally going to pay a little more money each month for ConvertKit ($10 – $30). On the surface, it seems more expensive, but the thing to remember is how AWeber double counts subscribers and unsubscribes. This means that we are not comparing apples to apples, and the gap is not as big. We even know a few people who actually pay less or ConvertiKt than AWeber or other services for this reason.
There are a lot of options out there when it comes to email marketing tools. We’ve used the above two, and currently, use ConvertKit, but below are some other popular options that you could evaluate if neither of the above seems to meet your needs.
Note: We have not used or endorsed all of these tools, but simply wanted to provide them for awareness. As with making any decision, evaluate the offerings against your needs and use demos/free trials when available.
Also, we tried to give you an idea of cost based on an e-mail list of 1,000 subscribers. Each service has a different price range, so be sure to check out their individual pricing options. An example is one company may charge $29 for 1,000 subscribers, while another one charges $20 for 500 or fewer subscribers, but $40 for 501 – 2,500 subscribers.
ConvertKit (14 Day Free Trial, Then $29/month for 1,000 Subscribers)
Obviously, this is the solution that we use. We like the simplicity of it (easy to use and not too complicated) paired with the powerful automation and reasonable monthly price.
On the surface this may cost a little more than some of the other providers, but in comparison to traditional forms of marketing, most money spent on e-mail marketing is much cheaper, so the different in price of tools is almost not even something to worry about unless you have a very large list and are looking for advanced features.
AWeber (30 Day Free Trial, Then $29/month for 1,000 Subscribers)
We used AWeber prior to switching to ConvertKit. At one point AWeber was one of the most popular email marketing services for small businesses, but many small businesses have moved away to other options with the increase in quality tools and options. This seems to have put some pressure on AWeber and forced them to begin upgrading their software, so it may be worth checking out a free trial.
MailChimp (Free Limited Version, $15/month for 1,000 Subscribers)
MailChimp is another popular option for people just getting started, especially because it is free for up to 2,000 subscribers and offers the ability to send 12,000 emails a month. This option is great, but the caveat is that you can only send broadcast type emails (sent once at a specific time) and you can’t drip/sequence emails to go out over time when people opt in. For that, you need to upgrade to the paid subscription.
Constant Contact (60 Day Free Trial, then $40/month for 1,000 subscribers)
Constant Contact has been around for many years and is a popular choice for small businesses getting started with email marketing. It provides many email templates as well as some basic training on email marketing and social media.
Although it is great for getting started at a low cost, many of the automation features that really drive benefit in email marketing are not available with their low-cost plan. This tends to make some of the other email marketing tools look better, especially at their respective price points.
GetResponse (30 Day Free Trial, then $15/month for 1,000 subscribers)
GetResponse is another popular option, especially for people just getting started. The low price to start, plus the fact that some automation is included in the lower priced tiers of the service make it a good combination for many businesses.
ActiveCampaign (30 Day Free Trial, then $17/month for 1,000 subscribers)
ActiveCampaign has grown in popularity over the past few years and we actually were between ConvertKit and this when we were evaluating new tools.
What’s really nice about Active Campaign is that the lighter versions have e-mail automation capabilities, but the more costly options actually include a full CRM (Customer Relationship Solution). Many other items on this list are purely email marketing solutions, while this one can also grow into a full CRM solution.
Drip (Free for 100 subscribers, then $49/month for 1,000 subscribers)
Drip was acquired by LeadPages recently. We have not used it, but from a quick look at the website and some intro videos, it looks pretty sweet. It has a lot of the automation that we were seeking when we selected ConvertKit, including some additional features such as visual workflows. Given that it is free for the first 100 subscribers, including automation, this is likely a great option for small businesses.