Table of contents
For authors, staying in touch with your readers and superfans is a must, and it doesn’t have to only happen in Facebook groups or Twitter posts. You should also be collecting your readers’ email addresses so you can tell them about your new releases when they come out. Nothing launches a book better than a group of hungry readers heading over to Amazon to buy it.
But what are the best email marketing services for authors? Today, we’re going to take a look at ConvertKit, one of the most hyped marketing services out there, and find out how it measures up for authors.
In this article, you will learn:
- What ConvertKit is
- Whether it has a free account
- How you can use ConvertKit to reach readers
- More about ConvertKit’s powerful segmentation and tagging tools
- How ConvertKit’s features measure up to other email marketing services
- What ConvertKit costs
- What I don’t like about ConvertKit
- Whether ConvertKit is the right email marketing service for you.
Bear in mind that there are affiliate links in this article–that’s to keep the coffee fund topped up, of course–but those links don’t change my opinion on the product itself.
So, let’s get into it.
What is ConverKit?
ConvertKit is an email marketing service that allows businesses to connect with their customers via email. But it’s so much more than that too–it’s a powerful tool for building marketing funnels that can take a customer from signing up to actually buying a product. It’s particularly useful for businesses that have multiple product offerings in their suite.
It’s pretty simple to use once you understand what you want to achieve with the service, but is it the right service for independent authors, especially those who are just starting out? Well, that’s what we’re going to uncover in this review.
To find out more about what ConvertKit does in a more general sense, check out their super helpful knowledge base here.
Now that we know what it does, let’s find out what features it offers.
What Features Does ConvertKit Offer?
ConvertKit sounds pretty exciting from the outset, but let’s take a look at some of the features it offers, through the lens of an indie author.
1. Free Account
Though I already have a ConvertKit account of my own, I decided to set up a new one to figure out whether they have a free account authors can use when they start using the service. And I’m immediately impressed! ConvertKit is the only service of the four I’ve reviewed so far that outright asked me whether I’m transferring over from another mailing list provider.
It also asks me if I’ve got a website, so it’s pretty clear that ConvertKit has a landing page builder that authors can use. Pretty neat. But is it all free?
Well, yes. Here’s exactly what you get with your free ConvertKit account:
- Landing pages
- Broadcasts (these are basically single send emails)
- Incentive (freebie) confirmation emails
- Customizable domain
- Subscriber tagging
- Up to 1000 email contacts
You can send unlimited emails to those 1000 email contacts, which is pretty neat. And I do like that there are incentive confirmation emails you can use to send out your reader magnets to those who sign up.
Automation, however, is locked unless you upgrade to a paid account. But here’s the cool thing about that: you get a 14-day free trial to try out the features (you do have to input your credit card information). So if you don’t like them, you can always hop out of there and over to a cheaper service (more about ConvertKit’s price later).
Overall, I’m pretty impressed with ConvertKit’s free account (minus the fact that there’s no automation included). It’s much more welcoming than, say, Mad Mimi, for instance, which doesn’t have a free account at all. But it’s less generous than Mailerlite, which gives you just about everything and the kitchen sink for free.
Automation is a must-have for authors who want to onboard their readers. After all, getting people onto your list is only the first step–you need to get them to stay, whether that’s by giving them a freebie or just introducing them to your work and who you are in general. Automation helps with that.
ConvertKit’s automations are one of their primary features. That’s because they use visual automations. To create an automation, simply select ‘New Automation’ and you’ll be taken to a screen where you can visually navigate through the automation sequence.
You can either ‘Create Automation’ or ‘Browse Templates’ of pre-structured automations.
There are six automation templates to choose from:
- Evergreen newsletter
- Evergreen product pitch
- Host a webinar
- Product launch
- Follow up with customers who don’t purchase
- Personalize content based on survey results
It’s very clear that you can do a lot with ConvertKit’s automations. They’re super powerful for businesses. Let’s take a look at what it’s like to create simple automation with ConvertKit.
When creating your automation, you can select from several starting points. For our purposes, we’ll select ‘Joins a form’ because this is the action a reader is most likely to take.
From here, you can start adding extra options for actions that need to happen after they signed up for your form and received their incentive email. For instance, you can create an email sequence that welcomes them and edit it right on the automation page (which I love–no navigating around). Check it out:
You can add multiple automation starting sequence events, like two different forms that lead to the same email sequence, and then split them from there if they behave differently, say by tagging them or the purchases they make after subscribing to your form.
With automations you can do so much, it’s actually a bit overwhelming:
- Add custom events that you create
- Tag subscribers
- Move subscribers
- Add delays
- Add emails or events that are date-based
- Add events that are product-based
All of these options create a powerful automation that might be a little too complicated for most indie authors, unless they’ve got multiple pen names and products they need to manage.
Creating forms with ConvertKit is easy–even better, each tab on the dashboard has a helpful video to describe exactly how you create each element. It’s very simple and easy to use. You have two options when you hit ‘Create New’ under forms — either a landing page or a form.
Since we’ll be checking out landing pages in the feature section after this one, let’s select “form” for now and see what’s possible. I’m looking for simplicity here since that’s important for authors who want to spend more time writing their books and less time working on websites and email.
You can select four different styles for your sign up form:
- Slide in
- Sticky bar
I’ve chosen Modal for this one because it’s a pop-up form (they should’ve just called it that) and from there, I can select one of their simple templates.
With ConvertKit, you can edit your template quite simply, changing styles, colors, text, pictures, and even browsing the template library if you want to try something different. There’s an incentive email attached to the form, as well, that you can edit to include content you want to send your new subscribers when they sign up.
Even cooler, you can change how often people see the form. Say someone who has already subscribed navigates to your website and you don’t want them to see the form twice and get annoyed, you can make it so that it doesn’t pop up for them anymore. Neat!
You can also personalize your form’s page domain or you can bring your own domain over to ConvertKit. You can preview your form if you want to see it in real time too.
Embedding your form on your website is possible in the following ways:
- Sharing a hosted version of your form
- WordPress (there’s a ConvertKit WordPress plugin you can use to embed your form)
- There are also reports specifically for your form that shows your visitors, subscribers, conversion rate and top referrers.
Overall, form creation is simple and quick, and everything you need is right there on the page.
4. Landing Pages
Landing page creation is located under the same tab as form creation. One click takes us to a page where you can select from multiple landing page templates to use. I think that’s pretty neat, since some authors don’t have websites and might want to entice readers with a landing page without having to build an entire website to do so.
Check out the template options:
There’s even a tab for ‘eBook’ landing page templates. ConvertKit clearly knows that a lot of authors are using their service to reach readers.
Once I’ve selected a template for my landing page, changing its style is the same as with the sign up form I created earlier. All the same options are there, and it’s super simple to change colors, pictures, text, images, files, and more. I can even add a ‘Thank You’ page attached to the landing page for when readers sign up to collect their free book.
It’s also possible to change the SEO settings for your landing page so that it will show up in Google, and to add an analytics ID to the page so you can track how many people visit the landing page itself. Very cool.
There’s sharing, reports, and previewing, as there is with sign up form creation. I like how the two are similar because it makes creating either of the elements simpler.
5. Email Campaigns
In ConvertKit, email campaigns are called broadcasts. They make a big deal about not having a drag and drop builder, as is prevalent in other email marketing services, so let’s see how simple and easy email campaign creation is with ConvertKit.
When creating your email broadcast, there are no fancy bells and whistles, and there’s certainly no builder to speak of. You simply input your broadcast title, sending email address, and subscriber base you want to send to. After that, you’re taken to content creation, which looks like this:
You can add images and dividers and buttons, but it’s just not drag and drop. Interestingly, ConvertKit has added a new email editor that looks a lot like a drag and drop builder to me since you can add all the same elements and, well, drag and drop them. It’s possible, but it’s not something ConverKit talks about in their marketing.
When adding an image, you can integrate with your Instagram account or with Unsplash, which is fun and easy if you want to share something with your readers.
Once you’ve completed your email content, you can send it immediately or schedule it for a later time with ease. There’s also a handy preview of what your email will look like for a specific subscriber in your account.
6. Important Details/Extras
Now that we’ve checked out the ‘meat and potatoes’ of ConverKit’s features, let’s go over a few that are important for authors but haven’t yet been mentioned.
- Not list-based. ConvertKit is not a list-based email service like many of the others–Mailchimp and Mad Mimi for instance–and focused more on segmenting and tagging current subscribers.
- Awesome dashboard. I love ConvertKit’s dashboard. When using some of the other services out there, it’s easy to get frustrated with all the clicking back and forth, where ConvertKit is super simple, open and aesthetically pleasing. That’s a big positive for me. It’s fun to work with.
- Creation is easy. I find this super important to point out. When I started creating an automation, I hadn’t yet created a form, and instead of making me click away from my automation, ConvertKit simply opened another smaller window on the same screen to help me create one. I loved that. It was so easy, whereas Mailerlite made me navigate to forms first when I was doing the same thing.
- Integrations. ConvertKit has loads of integrations to make your life easier. Here are a few: Teachable, Shopify, Crowdcast, KingSumo, YesInsights, LeadQuizzes, WooCommerce, SendOwl, Wix, WordPress, Kajabi, Squarespace, WP Engine, LeadPages, Zapier, and so many more. Seriously, I’d be surprised if you found a tool ConvertKit doesn’t integrate with.
What Does it Cost?
Bearing in mind all the features you get with ConvertKit and that authors, especially those who are starting out, are usually looking for the best deal possible, let’s take a look at what ConvertKit costs.
Firstly, you can pay in two ways for ConvertKit–Monthly or Annual. When you pay annually, you get two months free, but using the service is still based on how many contacts/subscribers you have signed up for your mailing list.
The pricing for subscribers scales pretty dramatically too.
- 1,000 contacts for $29 a month
- 3,000 contacts for $49 a month
- 5,000 contacts for $79 a month
8,000 contacts for $99 a month
- 10,000 contacts for $199 a month
So, beyond the free tier, ConvertKit is not something I see indie authors affording at the start of their career, to be honest. If you’re not going to be using ConvertKit’s features to the fullest of their ability, you’d be overpaying for this service.
What I Don’t Like About ConvertKit
Now that we’ve checked out all the awesome features that apply to indie authors, let’s take a look at the things I didn’t like about ConvertKit:
- No automation with the free account. While I get that automations, segmentation and tagging go hand-in-hand with ConvertKit, and that is the service’s bread and butter, I still think a free account without automation might be tricky for an author starting out. While they do have incentive emails (basically a way to deliver your reader magnet), you can’t connect with subscribers beyond sending out a manual email after they’ve come onto your list. Why not just limit the free account with the subscriber count instead?
- The “contact us” pop-up. Maybe this is just a pet-peeve of mine, but the “contact us” pop-up in the bottom right corner of the screen, while helpful if you run into trouble, keeps flashing when you’re in another tab unless you ‘clear’ it. It’s a super minor detail and nitpick. That’s how good ConvertKit is.
- Pricey. Let’s face it, ConvertKit is a lot pricier than some of the alternatives out there, and that’s because they provide a lot of options for multiple automation and marketing funnels, segmentation and tagging. The question is whether it’s too powerful authors who are starting out.
There aren’t too many things I don’t like, but I’ve got to say that this service seems pretty advanced for the beginner or even intermediate author. Which brings me to our next point…
Is ConvertKit the Right Email Marketing Service For You?
Let me preface my opinion by saying that I use ConvertKit for my Publisher Rocket and Kindlepreneur mailing list subscribers. It’s a great service. But that doesn’t mean it’s the right service for independent authors.
ConvertKit is powerful. Super powerful. However, for the starting indie author, and even the intermediate, ConvertKit is probably a little too powerful. It’s also expensive. Just a quick look at cost comparison shows that ConvertKit is significantly more expensive that some of the alternatives I’m reviewing at the moment. For example, MailChimp covers 2,500 contacts for $29.99 a month, where ConvertKit is offering 1,000 contacts for $29 a month.
For the indie author who is looking for a cheaper yet still powerful solution to sending emails to subscribers, I would suggest you take a look at my MailerLite review. They offer a lot of the same features ConvertKit does for a much cheaper price, and they have a more open free account for you to test out.
What are your experiences with email marketing services? Is there a particular service you’d like to see reviewed? Let me know in the comments below. Hey… that rhymes.
ConvertKit vs MailerLite
Since MailerLite is so much cheaper than ConvertKit, we'd better do our due diligence and compare the two. The table below takes a look at how the services stack up and who wins in each category.
|Ease of Use|
So, basically, while ConvertKit has some pretty amazing functionality, it's probably overkill for independent authors. MailerLite offers many of the same services at a much cheaper price, and for authors who are on a budget, it's the perfect starting point for growing their email list.
If you want to give MailerLite a try, check out my free video course where I'll show you how to create your account and start using it. If you'd want to do more research on other email services for authors, check out my Best Email Services review here.