Is email marketing worth it in 2021!? (spoiler: YES!) More specifically, is ConvertKit worth it?! Email platforms aren’t cheap, and they also tend to cost more as your list grows. In this post, I’m answering these questions and sharing my 2021 ConvertKit review. ConvertKit is where I first started to build my email list into tens of thousands … and I learned A LOT.
Bring it in:
No matter how fabulous your email campaigns are, if they’re not actually getting to your subscribers then your hard work is going unnoticed—and your email ROI is shot before the horse is even out of the gate.
I have to preach this to myself: I spend time & money (hey-o, paid traffic) growing an email list, and then we turn around just recently scrubbed more than 20,000 (ouch!) people from my email list—bots, dummy accounts, cold addresses, unengaged subscribers. Buh-bye.
But it still hurt my pride. 🤣 I had to adjust my ‘tude. My team had to whack me on the side of the head & remind me vanity metrics don’t pay the bills.
A clean email list is the most valuable marketing asset in my business. Those are my people. My email list is ~way~ more important to me than any social media audience that I may have. And, more than anything, I care that those people are actually getting my emails delivered to them.
Hers the hot news: nothing’s changed.
The ROI on email is still incredibly high. Litmus is reporting an increased ROI of 42:1, up from an ROI of 38:1 in years past. I read a few studies that are positing around $44:1. And I don’t know about you but if I can put $1 into the machine and get anywhere between $38 and $42 back, I’m putting mah dollars into that machine.
This is gonna be a long one, so here’s a quick index:
- Glossary of email marketing terms, skip this if you’re ninja-level
- 4 things affecting your email deliverability
- 3 features to look for in an email marketing platform
- Why I moved from MailChimp to ConvertKit to grow from 100 subscribers to 40,000 on the platform
- How to create a template in ConvertKit
- How to create an automation sequence in ConvertKit
- How to send a broadcast in ConvertKit
- How to A/B test a subject line in ConvertKit
- 3 ways to track your email deliverability & metrics, no matter the platform you use
Let’s jump in!
Email Marketing Terms 101
Broadcast – think “email blast.” This goes to lots of people at a set time. Opposite of an automated sequence.
Blocklist – A list of known spammer servers or “spam friendly” servers. If your IP address is on the list, it won’t let your email through.
CAN-Spam – The law of the land you need to tip your hat to as you send emails. In a nutshell, if you’re sending marketing emails, you MUST give subscribers the right to unsubscribe (among other things the Act [Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act] outlines.
Deliverability – Where does the email land: is it filtering to the main inbox, junk, spam, promotions, or another folder?
Domain – Think ashlynwrites.com. Or your website’s URL. It’s the location of your server or devices, or the unique set of characters that identifies a specific website.
Domain Name System (DNS) – The internet’s phonebook. It takes your address (your domain) and gives it a unique phone number or few (your IP addresses).
Double opt-in – You know how you sign up to get emails or a coupon code or whatever, and Email #1 in your inbox says “click here if this is really you/you’re a real person/etc.”? That’s a double opt-in. It builds a healthier list, but obviously naturally slows the speed of building your list. Experts tend to have an opinion one way or another.
Email service provider (ESP)- ConvertKit. Mailchimp. Infusionsoft. ActiveCampaign. Whatever platform you’re paying to host your email list/let you send emails.
Hard bounce – A no from me, dog. 🙂
A hard bounce means that the email address is invalid and should not be sent to again. The email might belong to an unknown user, the content of your email might have triggered their spam filter, or the server might have seen too many other contacts marking your email as spam. When a contact’s email returns a hard bounce, they will be marked as ineligible the next time you include them in a send.
Internet Service Providers (ISP)– ISPs provide mailboxes to end users as part of their paid services. These are generally your cable or Internet providers, such as Comcast and Verizon.
IP Address– A number that uniquely identifies any device connected to the Internet. “IP” stands for “Internet Protocol.” Similar to how a street address helps people find buildings, an IP Address helps computers find each other on the Internet.
Open rate– The percentage of recipients who opened your email message. When someone clicks on an email, an image pixel in the email loads and is counted as an open.
Sender Policy Framework (SPF)- SPF was specifically created to protect against sender address forgery – spammers pretending to send emails as you. An SPF record in your DNS Settings gives email providers something to check, to make sure the emails are really coming from you. Read more about SPF here.
Sender score/reputation– This is basically your rating as an email sender. Return Path’s sender score tool is a free reputation rating tool that rates your outgoing mail server IP on a scale of 0-100. It’s used by mail servers, allowing them to quickly sort email IPs and decide what to do with your email. A sender score that is + 90 is considered a good sender score.
Single opt-in– If an email marketer uses a single opt-in, this usually involves taking a user’s form entry and immediately adding that person to a live email list.
Soft Bounce – A soft bounce means that the email temporarily failed to reach its intended recipient. The email will be resent for up to 72 hours or until it’s either successfully delivered or it fails more permanently. Recipients that return soft bounces will still be eligible for future email sends.
Spam complaints (Marked as Spam)- This is the number of contacts that actively marked your email as spam. Contacts that mark your email as spam are automatically unsubscribed from all of your email. Please be aware that Marked as Spam is not the same as an email going into a spam or bulk email folder.
Spam trap/Honeypot– A planted email address designed to catch spammers. For a time, email that hits a dead email address will return a hard bounce. When the mail server sees continued traffic going to the dead address, it can turn the email into a spam trap, accept the email, and report the sender as a spammer.
Allowlist– The opposite of a blocklist, this means your server is considered spam-free or is an “approved sender.” It’s often used by email applications to allow users to mark whether or not they trust emails from specific senders, this overrides some of the filtering that may exist from the ISP. You can also apply for allowlist programs that a few ISPs offer. While not a guarantee to end up in the inbox, a sender may receive preferred delivery as long as they stay within the proper thresholds of the program.
The four most important things that affect your email deliverability:
- Your subscriber engagement >>> do people open your emails? do they click? do they hit “reply” … ever?
- Limiting negative metrics >>> historically, have your emails been flagged as spam?
- Authentication >>>
- Content…actually, what’s in that body copy of the email
We HAVE to be on a platform that is trustworthy and can do this job. My go-to recommendation for years has been ConvertKit. But no matter if you use ConverKit or another platform, let’s get into those THREE things to look for in your email marketing provider.
ConvertKit Review No. 1| Design and Templates
I remember back in 2016, I was transitioning out of corporate marketing into the space I’m in now, I was helping craft emails and draft copy for businesses like Delta Airlines and I remember there was a lot of talk about making marketing campaign emails look as native as possible in subscribers’ inboxes. There was a lot of focus on stripping some design elements out and playing around with the deliverability that happened when you send a predominantly text-based email.
I still believe in those, but my prediction for this year, I think people DO appreciate more of a design-driven email—people like pretty emails. BUT, we have to couple that with the fact that platforms like Google Gmail are smarter now, they have more data to go off of. They are more quickly able to realize and recognize and flag for you when something looks like it may not be from your mom or friend or family member. So those are going into your promos tab.
TIP: Don’t be afraid to send design-driven emails. I would season them in and also send more text-based emails. You can start to play around and see what happens. I would guarantee you that the ones that are more text-based will naturally have better deliverability. But like I said, if those stats are playing well and working in your favor, then I think you can afford to send out more of a design-focused email or an email with more imagery from your branding.
Let me take you behind the scenes and show you how to build out a template in ConvertKit. ⬇️⬇️
I’m curious, comment below, what kinds of emails do you like?? I feel split down the middle…I like a good text-based email, I also enjoy a pretty email that’s full of images and just fun to look at.
If you’re gonna do this and send a mix of both, or if you are sending more design-based email, go with an email marketing platform that is able to carry that. That’s why like ConvertKit.
I moved from Mailchimp to ConvertKit when I had almost 100 subscribers—I’m sure a lot of that was my family 😉 but you have to start somewhere—I stayed on there until I got to about 20,000. (Full disclosure: I actually use Infusionsoft now because I work more with a team that helps me manage my list and it’s not just me. BUT I have plenty of clients with massive lists on ConvertKit and it works well for them.)
All this to say, I want you to at least test both kinds. I don’t know if you knew this, but ConvertKit has a deliverability hub. It’s helpful for anybody that sends emails, they give status updates on what’s going on as far as deliverability for email marketing overall. I found that *incredibly* helpful to keep as a reference and read from time to time.
ConvertKit Review No. 2| Automation and Sequence
One of the best client text messages I ever got was from a client who said:
“Oh my gosh, I just looked, and we have made more than $30,000 this month on a funnel that you wrote that they had uploaded into ConvertKit on an email automated sequence.”
These are just firing out, not like your broadcast, I’m gonna talk about those in a minute where you’re sending those out live and you’re actually need to hit the send button. These automated sequences are just firing on their own accord.
TIP: Start with the end in mind. We have some sequences in the shop, but like I said last week—don’t let this hold you up from sending broadcasts. You could analysis paralysis yourself all day and never have all the sequences and your long-term nurture funnel all built out. So you need to just at least start sending broadcasts. I’ll get to that next, but I’m going to do this first because I want you to start with the end in mind and have the IDEA of automation you’re going to roll with.
Let me show you what it’s like to build out automation or a sequence inside ConvertKit. ⬇️⬇️
>>Related: FOUR Types of Email Sequences You Need
ConvertKit Review No. 3| Sending out Broadcast
A little bit of tough love, I have to tell myself this too, as great as automations are in sequences, no one’s waiting with bated breath for your next email. 🙂
Sequences have a place, but I also want you to make sure in your strategy that you’re sending out broadcasts, be timely with broadcasts!
In last week’s video on my YouTube channel, I walked through almost an entire year’s worth of ideas that you can send out as an email broadcast. You can watch that here.
Okay, let’s talk about getting that broadcast email out. Let me show you now how to install a broadcast in ConvertKit. ⬇️⬇️
Bonus tip: Split Test Everything
Keep an eye on your data and split test EVERYTHING—that deliverability is SO important. You’ve got to make sure that you have your ear to the ground and trying to understand and pull an aggregate data of what your audience what your email audience likes, and doesn’t like. This is ~sooooo~ important.
One thing I have loved about ConvertKit and Infusionsoft is the relative ease that there is in split testing subject lines.
Let me show you how to run a split test on different subject lines inside ConvertKit, so you can see what gets more clicks in your business!⬇️⬇️
By the way, in a recent video on my YouTube channel, I talk through the importance of your subject line to actually affect the click-through rate of the email, not in just the open rate of email. You can watch that here.
Now you know why I believe in paying good money for an email marketing platform that not just works, and makes pretty emails that actually gets them in the hands of your subscribers. But what about the best subject lines and the content to send out to increase fans and buyers? Watch this video next where I’m taking you through 45 different content ideas that you can send out to your email list.
If you get this message and you’re like, okay, we’re gonna go for this, I’m going all in on my email marketing this year—I’m right there with you.
Don’t forget to click here or down below to watch a workshop that I did with my friend Angel at ConvertKit, it’s on-demand so you can watch it whenever you want. The content is so valuable and I think you’ll find it useful.
Let’s work from a place of more rest, less hustle.🥂
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