“As soon as you create a blog, you need a mailing list.” Hands up if you’ve heard of that phrase more times than you care to think of… 🙋
As much as I hate to fuel the cliche, it’s true. You need to start building your list as soon as you start a blog. In fact, many bloggers list not doing this as their biggest blogging mistake – myself included.
Here’s why you need an email list:
- It’s the only audience list that you own. Unlike social media where algorithms mean you can’t contact your readers directly, your email list is yours forever
- They have some of the highest conversion rates, which is awesome if you’re looking to sell products!
- Email is personal, and the best way to get in touch with people who’ve opted-in to hear from you
But, finding the best email marketing provider for your blog can be tricky, and you may be having struggle finding a platform that does everything you want.
My experience with MailChimp
When I started this blog, I opted to use MailChimp to grow my email list. It’s free for bloggers with less than 2,000 subscribers, which meant that it was perfect for me to start experimenting with email marketing and engaging my list.
It quickly got to the point where I felt I’d ‘outgrown’ MailChimp. It didn’t offer the features that I needed to engage and implement the best email techniques – with the most notable being content upgrades.
Similar to the phrase I opened this blog post with, you’ve probably heard that the key to growing an engaged email list is to offer content upgrades.
MailChimp just didn’t allow me to do that in a simple way. I knew that it was possible but as a non-techie, I didn’t fancy hiring or outsourcing my email list management when I was on a platform I wasn’t confident with. Enter: ConvertKit!
Switching from MailChimp to ConvertKit
I’d always had my eye on using ConvertKit but at the time of starting my list, I didn’t want to pay for a service for my blog – something that wasn’t making me money yet.
ConvertKit only costs $29/month if you have less than 1,000 subscribers, and it was actually one of the first things that I invested in when I took my website from blog to business!
Here’s why I switched from MailChimp to ConvertKit (and why I’m now obsessed with list-building):
1. Content upgrades are easier to create
I mentioned earlier that content upgrades are the fastest (and most successful) way to grow an engaged email list.
That’s because you need to give people an incentive to sign-up to your list. After all, inboxes are precious and sacred spaces, so offering something in return for their details makes them much more likely to subscribe.
ConvertKit makes it super easy to make content upgrades, even if you’re a non-techie, like me.
I create my content upgrades in Canva, then save as a PDF. (Always do this if your content upgrade includes links!)
Once you’ve finished making your content upgrade, all you need to do is create a Form in ConvertKit. Head to the settings tab, and upload your PDF file to the ‘Incentive Email’ page:
2. Tags and segments allow you to separate subscribers
If you’re blogging about different things, you might end up with an email list where all subscribers are interested in different topics.
If you’re using your blog to support your freelance business, you might end up with an email list that combines clients and blog readers in one.
That’s not the best way to organise your list, and it won’t give you the chance to communicate with them effectively!
ConvertKit allows you to segment your lists and add tags that act as labels. This allows you to split your lists based on interests, demographics and even where subscribers are in their buying cycle.
For example, I use tags to segment blog readers who are interested in blogging or freelancing. I send specific blog-related info to those on the blogging segment, and vice versa with the freelancing bunch.Thinking of switching from MailChimp to ConvertKit? Here are some important things to consider! Click To Tweet
3. Automation rules the world
You know the feeling of sitting down and wasting a full day doing boring, tedious and tiring admin work? You don’t have to do that with ConvertKit – and you can segment your list on autopilot!
Automations can be set-up to tag a subscriber or add them to a segment, depending on their activity.
The best part? It’s all visual, and requires barely any thinking. Woohoo! 🎉
Then, when I want to send something to people who’ve signed-up from a freelance-related incentive, I know that I’m sending them something they’ll be interested in.
You know what that’ll do? Reduce the number of unsubscribers and make sure that your list are happy with the content you’re sending 👊🏼
4. Welcome sequences are easy!
Getting people to subscribe to your email list is often the easiest part. What on earth do you do with them, once they’re there?
Enter: Welcome sequences.
Simply put, welcome sequences do as the name suggest: welcome people to your list. They’re usually sent as soon as someone signs up, and it should:
- Explain what they should be expecting to receive by being a subscriber
- Offer a bit of information about yourself, and why you’re qualified to help
- Direct them back to your site (best-done through sharing your most popular blog posts for further reading)
ConvertKit lets you create welcome sequences that again, send on autopilot. You can make these as long (or as short!) as you wish, but help to get subscribers engaged and happy about being part of your exclusive club.
Here’s the sequence that I’ve set-up for subscribers of my free resource library:
5. Subscribers count as one
I switched from MailChimp to ConvertKit because I didn’t want subscribers to be duplicated. If a person subscribes to your list through two different content upgrades, MailChimp would class them as two different subscribers. ConvertKit doesn’t.
The problem with having these duplicated subscribers is that it affects the way you see your list.
If you’re being told that you’ve got 2,500 subscribers on your list, you might get disappointed when you only get two sales from your marketing emails. But, 1,000 of those people could be listed twice – and that’s not a bad conversion rate!Did you know that you could have duplicated subscribers on your email list? Here's how to avoid it: Click To Tweet
6. Landing pages and forms made simple
Let’s get real: MailChimp forms aren’t pretty. It’s difficult to get rid of the MC branding and often, it’s better to redirect someone to a landing page, as opposed to an unattractive form.
For that reason, you might have to invest in another landing page template or software, like LeadPages, when using MailChimp.
However, you don’t need to be paying for things like this when you use ConvertKit! Directly in the interface, you can make attractive landing pages and forms that fit with your branding.
You can even create forms that go directly into your blog post, like this one in my guide to guest blogging:
7. Reports are easy to understand
In order to know what’s working well for your list, you’ll need to analyse your stats. This is another huge reason behind my switch from MailChimp to ConvertKit.
ConvertKit allows you to see a brief overview of your stats when you head to the Broadcasts screen. This is super useful for looking across the board at your campaigns:
When you click the title of your campaign and navigate to the sidebar, you can also see the subscribers who:
- Received the email
- Opened the email
- Clicked on a link
- Unsubscribed from your list through that specific email
So far, I’m loving being a ConvertKit user. Along with these awesome features, they have an incredible support team that somehow managed to survive my 10+ emails when making the switch!
(Plus, they also send you a free t-shirt when you sign-up, which is super cool.)
I know that a few of you guys are considering making the switch from MailChimp to ConvertKit. Got a question? Need help? Shoot me a tweet and I’ll try my best to help!
Please note that this post may contain affiliate links. View my full disclosure here.
Every Friday, you'll get 5+ of the best freelance writing jobs that I've found throughout the week. (Hint: They pay great - you just need to click-through and apply!)