ConvertKit Review (Sep 2017): Features, Pricing and Alternatives

By: Puranjay Singh   Last updated: 20 Sep 2017

ConvertKit is the world's easiest tool for automating email marketing. However, its marketing automation capabilities are limited. Nevertheless, the low price, exceptional ease of use and fantastic user-experience make this an ideal tool for bloggers, solopreneurs and young businesses. Learn more about this software in this in-depth ConvertKit review

Features

User-Experience

Pricing & Support

Overall

Best for: Bloggers, infopreneurs, very small businesses

Plans from: $29/month

ConvertKit Review: Overview

One of the first things you should know is that ConvertKit isn't really a marketing automation software.

Instead, ConvertKit is an email marketing software with simple automation capabilities.

This means that you get a very limited list of features. There is no sales automation, 1:1 customer journeys, e-commerce tools or personalization capabilities.

Instead, you get a sparse and incredibly easy to use email sequence builder. You can automate a few simple things such as audience segmentation and email delivery, but you won't get a complex automation builder.

This isn't by accident; it's be design. In fact, I'd even say that ConvertKit is one of the most focused pieces of software I've ever used. While most marketing tools try to do a little bit of everything, ConvertKit focuses almost obsessively about one thing: email marketing automation for bloggers and content-focused businesses.

This is visible in everything from the marketing to the user-experience. Even the homepage declares so:

Screenshot of ConvertKit homepage

This essentially means that while I'm including it in our list of "marketing automation" software, it is a very different breed of software than, say, Infusionsoft or HubSpot. It has a limited set of features, and an even more limited set of customers.

Essentially, it is an apples to oranges comparison. On paper, ConvertKit has missing features, but in reality, the features are perfect for its target audience.

Keep this in mind when you evaluate ConvertKit's ratings and read the rest of the review. Don't compare it against Salesforce or HubSpot. Rather, compare it against the marketing automation capabilities of MailChimp or Aweber.

About ConvertKit

ConvertKit is a startup founded by author and blogger Nathan Barry. It is an entirely bootstrapepd operation that has somehow managed to grow at an exponential rate and now has 20+ employees. Even more impressive when you consider that the employees all work remotely.

This is another factor that makes ConvertKit unsuitable for larger businesses. Despite healthy financials, ConvertKit works like a startup. You won't get the stability and guarantee of "being around for 20 years" you get with a Salesforce or a HubSpot. Nor will you get the 24x7 phone support a larger business might be able to offer.

This is precisely why I recommend ConvertKit to other bloggers and small businesses. A larger business wont' find any synergy (can't believe I used MBA-speak!) with ConvertKit, even if it likes the product itself.

Review Methodology

As always, my ConvertKit review focuses on three core things:

  • Marketing automation capabilities and features
  • User-experience, pricing and support
  • Insight from industry professionals gathered through surveys and conversations

Understand that the rating reflects how appropriate I feel the software is for its target audience, not the average user. If I give a software a 5 star rating and say that it's audience is "enterprise companies", it means that I have discounted things like pricing (which doesn't really matter to enterprise customers). Instead, I've focused more on what the target audience would want.

I also run a marketing agency where I deal with a lot of marketing automation cases. A lot of insight and opinions come from my personal experience using and testing these tools and their use cases.

ConvertKit Review: Features

ConvertKit's features are a little harder to evaluate than other tools in our marketing automation software list. Given the target audience and narrow focus, ConvertKit's feature list is quite sparse. The focus is more on offering a great user-experience than loading up on the features.

This can give the impression that ConvertKit lacks many of the features you'd take for granted if you use Infusionsoft or HubSpot. ConvertKit's target audience, on the other hand, might find the feature list perfectly appropriate.

Given this context, I've evaluated ConvertKit's features based on what the target audience (bloggers and infopreneurs) would want, as opposed to what Infusionsoft or HubSpot offer.

What I like

  • Great built-in opt-in forms
  • Fantastic and extremely user-friendly email sequence builder
  • If-then automation builder is simple, but effective
  • User-friendly "just start typing" approach to creating emails

What I don't like

  • Email builder has poor support for images/videos
  • Limited audience segmentation capabilities
  • Landing page builder is relatively basic; built-in templates are mediocre
  • No shopping cart, payment processor, and limited integrations

1. Built for Email

One of the first things you notice when you use ConvertKit is how singularly it is focused on email marketing. There are no superfluous features; every single tool is designed to help you capture, design and send emails on autopilot.

For instance, instead of giving you just an email broadcast tool, ConvertKit offers an opt-in form builder, landing pages and email builder. This takes care of the entire email capture process.

If you want simple, fast email marketing automation, you'll love this clear focus.

Screenshot of Convertkit homescreen showing subscriber count

ConvertKit places the subscriber growth front and center of the dashboard, showing the importance it places on email subscribers.

2. Top-Notch Email Opt-in Forms

Most email marketing tools treat the opt-in form as something of an afterthought. This is why marketers turn to tools like LeadPages to create better converting opt-in forms.

This isn't the case with ConvertKit. The built-in opt-in forms look good and convert great. They are also mobile responsive.

Screenshot of a ConvertKit opt-in form

Above: an example of a ConvertKit email opt-in form with the default design.

3. Blogger-Friendly Email Capture Tools

Leading on from the above point, one thing ConvertKit does very well is offering blogger friendly email capture tools.

For example, once you've installed the ConvertKit WordPress plugin, you can set custom opt-in forms for each post from a dropdown menu.

A post about social media, for instance, can have a social media marketing eBook as opt-in bribe. One about design can have a Photoshop template as the bribe.

This is a small feature but it takes a lot of work out of capturing emails for bloggers.

ConvertKit Wordpress plugin

You can decide which form to use with each post through ConvertKit's WordPress plugin.

4. Landing Page Editor Has Limited Features

Like most marketing automation tools, ConvertKit also has a built-in visual landing page editor. You can use it to quickly customize text, change design patterns, etc.

However, it has very limited customization capabilities and offers just four built-in templates. You can customize the CSS, but that's about all you can do to make the landing page "your own".

The good part is that the landing pages are available on your own domain, so you maintain branding consistency.

Some of the default landing page templates available in ConvertKit

Some of the default landing page templates available in ConvertKit

5. Best-in-Class Email Sequence Builder

The email sequence builder is where ConvertKit truly shines.

Instead of the usual "drag-and-drop" template builder, ConvertKit gives you a simple text-focused email editor. It looks and feels just like WordPress. Consequently, writing an email feels like writing a blog post.

Even better, the sequence builder clearly shows you how many emails you have in the sequence. You can drag them around to rearrange the sequence. You can also change when the emails are sent with a simple click.

For bloggers and infopreneurs who send content-heavy emails, this is a huge winner.

ConvertKit's email sequence builder screenshot

ConvertKit's email sequence builder uses a "start typing" approach. You don't need any templates to get started.

6. Segmentation Works Well with Email Broadcasts

While plugging new leads into an email sequence is great, you will also need to periodically send one-off emails (i.e. broadcast emails) to a small part of your audience.

This is where ConvertKit's Email Broadcast tool comes in handy.

It works the same way as the regular email editor, except it has segmentation capabilities built-in. You can segment audiences based on their prior actions (such as email opens, purchases, etc.). You can also save segments to target them in the future quickly.

The segmentation capabilities are nowhere close to what, say, Salesforce offers, but it works well enough for most bloggers.

ConvertKit segmentation builder

Above: Some ways to segment your list in ConvertKit. The options are quite limited.

7. Simple, Effective Marketing Automation

ConvertKit doesn't have an elaborate visual automation builder. Instead, you get a simple trigger-based if-then automation builder. You can define "events" that direct leads to specific pages or forms once they complete an action (such as purchase a product or download an eBook).

You can have as many such automations as you need.

Obviously, this isn't as powerful as the kind of visual editor Infusionsoft offers, but it is fast and effective enough for most users.

ConvertKit marketing automation builder

ConvertKit uses if-then, event based automation rules for creating automated workflows.

8. Poor Built-in Analytics

My biggest complaint with ConvertKit is its limited built-in analytics. You get very little insight on how your email/email sequences are performing besides the open and click-through rate. Whether an email subject line is engaging readers, or whether an opt-in form is doing well is hard to figure out.

You will have to rely on Google Analytics to give you a lot of this data. This adds an additional step to the analysis and evaluation process - not very user-friendly.

ConvertKit statsitics and analytics

ConvertKit gives you very limited insight into the performance of your emails beyond the usual metrics.

9. Tons of Missing Features

There is a laundry list of missing features in ConvertKit as far as marketing automation software goes. There is no drag-and-drop segmentation, shopping cart, payment processor, CRM, etc.

But then, ConvertKit isn't a full-fledged marketing automation tool either; it is an email marketing tool with some automation capabilities. Adding these features would likely inflate the price from the current $29/month. It would also make ConvertKit much harder to use - not something bloggers would actually want.

So while these missing features would be a negative in conventional marketing automation software, I see it as a plus in ConvertKit.

Contact management in ConvertKit

Above: This screenshot shows some ways to manage your subscribers in ConvertKit. Far from a built-in CRM.

ConvertKit Review: Complete Features List

While ConvertKit's features are limited, the good part is that you get all of them with every plan - even the cheapest one. From marketing automation to opt-in forms, you can start using each feature paying just $29/month.

Let's see how ConvertKit's features compare against competitors in the marketing automation space:

Availability Feature Description

Visual Automation Builder

ConvertKit's automation builder uses an if-then, event-based interface

In-Depth Segmentation

While you can segment audiences, the depth of segmentation is limited.

Mobile Optimized Templates

ConvertKit's opt-in forms, landing pages and emails are mobile-optimized.

Content Management

ConvertKit doens't have any content management built-in, though it does plug into WordPress.

A/B Testing

ConvertKit does not offer any built-in A/B testing capabilities.

Built-in CRM

ConvertKit doesn't have a built-in CRM - fitting given its focus on bloggers.

Content Predictions/Recommendations

There is no support for offering personalized recommendations based on past audience actions.

E-Commerce Capabilities

ConvertKit doens't offer shopping carts or order forms.

Membership Sites

ConvertKit does not offer any membership sites.

Text Messages and Postcards

You can't send automated postcards or text messages through ConvertKit

1:1 Customer Journeys

ConvertKit works at a segment level; you can't build custom journeys at the individual-level.

Very High

Email Deliverability

Thanks to its limited audience, ConvertKit's email deliverability remains very high.

Limited

Integrations

The number of built-in integrations is very limited.

Payment Processing

There is no built-in payment processor in ConvertKit, though it integrates with many popular processors.

Affiliate Program Management

There is no support for creating/managing a referral or affiliate program in ConvertKit

Summary

Looking at the above list, it is clear that ConvertKit has a different focus than most of its competitors.

For starters, it is not a marketing automation software. Rather, it is an email marketing software with some simple automation capabilities.

It is also not meant to be an "all-in-one" marketing tool. There is no support for inbound marketing (like HubSpot), sales automation (like Salesforce), or e-commerce (like Infusionsoft). You don't get a CRM, nor do you get in-depth segmentation.

On the surface, this looks like a negative, but the lack of these features actually makes ConvertKit more useful. A CRM, for instance, might be useful for a small business with a sales team, but is just "bloat" to a blogger.

The bottomline: ConvertKit is a niche marketing automation tool with a focus on email automation. It has some great tools for capturing and emailing leads. Both the sequence builder and the marketing automation tool are user-friendly. There are a lot of missing features, but I suspect most of ConvertKit's users won't miss them at all.

ConvertKit Review: User Experience

I place a premium on UI/UX in any software. I've experienced it first hand in my agency - if the software is too complicated, people tend to not use it. User-experience, not features, is often the factor in any successful software deployment.

When evaluating user-experience, I think from the perspective of the software's target audience. In ConvertKit's case, this would be bloggers and one-man shops who are used to doing it all by themselves. These users are not always technically proficient, but they have a DIY-ethos and a knack for "figuring things out" by themselves.

Based on this target user, here's my evaluation of ConvertKit's user-experience.

What I like

  • The email sequence builder
  • Easy-to-use automation builder
  • Limited features means everything is easy to find

What I don't like

  • Email editor is unsuitable for creating visual emails
  • Segmentation is neither in-depth, nor intuitive
  • Clunky landing page editor

1. User-Friendly Email Sequence Builder

The email sequence builder is easily my favorite ConvertKit feature. It is also the star attraction of the software and the one thing most customers buy it for.

I love the "just start typing" approach of the email editor in the sequence builder. You don't have to create a template or drag-drop text boxes. You can hop in and start typing - as you would for a blog post.

For ConvertKit's target audience, this is a very intuitive action. I give ConvertKit a 5/5 for this bit of user-friendly design alone.

ConvertKit email sequence builder

You can drag and drop individual emails to rearrange the sequence on the fly.

2. Automation Builder is Easy to Understand

Even though it lacks a visual component, the two-pane automation builder is quite easy to understand. You choose a trigger in the left pane and decide what happens post-trigger in the right pane.

It's not as intuitive as a visual automation builder, but it is highly usable and effective.

Automations available in ConvertKit

ConvertKit has a two-pane automation builder. These are some of the automation triggers you can use.

3. Easy to Learn Software

It doesn't take long to figure out how ConvertKit works. If you're familiar with even the basics of email marketing, you'll be right at home within a few minutes of looking around.

This is a very different approach from other marketing automation tools that are complex enough to require mandatory onboarding. Rather than have someone else walk you through the software, ConvertKit has a DIY-friendly approach. The navigation is easy to understand and most features can be accessed quickly.

Not very surprising given that its founder, Nathan Barry, is widely considered a leading design influencer.

ConvertKit navigation

ConvertKit's navigation is easy to understand even if you've never used marketing automation software before. This is the screen you see on the 'forms' page, for instance.

4. Audience Segmentation is Poor (But Improving)

Segmenting your audience is crucial if you want to improve your conversion rates. However, ConvertKit's audience segmentation is neither in-depth nor intuitive. At most, you can segment audiences based on a few past actions (mostly whether they've purchased a product or not).

The segmentation builder doesn't feel very intuitive either, unlike, say, in Salesforce where you can drag-drop audience rules to create complex segments.

Overall, this is a disappointing feature that I hope ConvertKit improves on in the future.

Screenshot of ConvertKit segmentation

You can chain different segments using boolean logic (AND/OR) to create more narrow segments.

5. Email Editor is Unsuitable for Visual Emails

If you want to create text-heavy emails, you'll love ConvertKit's email editor.

However, if you want to create more visual emails - like the kind an e-commerce store might send its customers - you'll struggle with the email editor.

This isn't a problem for ConvertKit's target audience, but if you do want to send the occassional visual-heavy email, you'll find yourself wishing for an alternative.

ConvertKit default email templates

Above: ConvertKit's built-in email templates. Note that they are all text-heavy.

Summary

ConvertKit's user-experience is its strongest suit. Every single feature is easy to use and intuitively designed. You'll never really struggle to understand what the software does or how it works. It is built for people who are used to figuring things out themselves, and it shows in the design choices.

The software also looks good. While it doesn't have the quirky "funness" of Slack, the UI feels modern and welcoming.

To sum it up: I like to call ConvertKit a "documentation-free" marketing tool. Meaning, you never really have to look at the documentation to figure out how the software works. It has one of the best-designed email sequence builder I have seen in any email tool. It also has a pretty useful marketing automation tool.

Overall, if you value user-experience over features, ConvertKit makes a great buy.

ConvertKit Review: Pricing, Support, and Community

Pricing is obviously an important consideration. Generally speaking, complex, all-in-one marketing software like Infusionsoft or HubSpot cost a lot. They also require a yearly commitment and sometimes, an expensive onboarding process. Simpler email-focused automation software like ConvertKit, on the other hand, is typically more affordable with much lower initial commitment.

Support is another important consideration when buying software. Usually, the more complex the software, the more support you'll need. In case of blogger/solopreneur-focused software like ConvertKit, support isn't that important since most users can figure out the software on their own.

Comunity is an important but often overlooked factor. A vibrant community means that you get access to insight, learning and networking opportunities. It also means that it's easier to find freelancers and consultants to work with the software.

Let's see how ConvertKit fares on these counts below.

ConvertKit Pricing

ConvertKit is one of the cheapest tools on our marketing automation software list. It also has the lowest initial commitment and the most transparent pricing.

Essentially, you pay based on the number of subscribers you have. Plans start at just $29/month for up to 1,000 subscribers. There is no price creep; for 10x the subscribers (10,000 subscribers), you have to pay just $119/month. There is also no "feature lock"; every plan comes with every single feature.

Plus, there is no onboarding (nor do you need one) or required training. You can sign-up yourself and get started within minutes.

All of this means ConvertKit is one of the cheapest and easiest marketing automation tools you can buy.

Let's look at different ConvertKit plans below:

Plan Pricing Billing Period No. of Contacts Onboarding Fee Min. Total

NA

$29/month

1 month

1,000

None

$29

NA

$49/month

1 month

3,000

$None

$49

NA

$79/month

1 month

5,000

None

$79

A few things to keep in mind:

  • There is an annual contract.
  • There is no onboarding.
  • Beyond 5,000 subscribers, you can get a custom plan based on the number of subscribers.
  • There is no limit on the number of emails you can send each month.
  • There is a 30-day money back policy in case you are not happy with the service.

ConvertKit is remarkably cheap for what it offers. It also requires no upfront investment barring the monthly plan fee.

What I personally like is how ConvertKit's pricing goes down as you become more successful (most software does the opposite). If you have just 1,000 subscribers, you'll pay $29/month or $0.029/subscriber. However, with 10k subscribers, you'll pay just $119/month ($0.01/subscriber). For 100k subscribers, this is even lower at $679/month ($.006/subscriber).

That you get every feature with every plan is just the icing on the cake.

Competitor Pricing Comparison

How does ConvertKit stack up against its chief competitors? Below, I've compared the cheapest plans across key competitors:

Software Cheapest Plan Min. Billing Period Onboarding Fee Min. Total

ConvertKit

$29/month

1 month

None

$29

ActiveCampaign Cheapest

$17/month

None

None

$17

Eloqua Most Expensive

$2,000/month

12 months

None

$24,000

HubSpot

$200/month

12 Months

$600

$3,000

Infusionsoft Best Value

$199/month

12 months

$999

$3,387

Marketo

$895/month

12 Months

None

$10,740

Ontraport

$79/month

1 month

None

$79

Salesforce

$400/month

12 months

None

$4,800

SharpSpring

$400/month

1 month

$1,800

$2,200

I chose InfusionSoft as the "best value" since it has the most comprehensive list of features for marketing automation at the lowest possible price tag (for the features you get).

ConvertKit, however, offers pretty competent email marketing automation for bloggers at a substantially lower price tag.

Bottomline: If you send a lot of content-heavy emails, ConvertKit represents a great buy - affordable and user-friendly with no price creep or upfront investment.

Support

ConvertKit is a small company with just 24 full-time employees. The level of support reflects this.

For instance, there is no phone support. Nor is there any live chat. You can only send a support ticket, though ConvertKit does boast a response time of just over an hour.

There are two things I want to highlight here:

  • You get a free 20-minute onboarding call to help you get up to speed with the software.
  • If you buy a higher-tier plan ($149/month and up), you get free migration to ConvertKit

These two support options go a long way towards a smooth transition to ConvertKit.

Besides email/ticket support, you can also get help from their knowledgebase. Given the DIY nature of its customer base, most users will find this perfectly appropriate.

To sum it up:

  • Knowledgebase and documentation is extensive and good-enough for majority of users
  • A free onboarding call is great for new customers
  • There is no phone support
  • Support ticket response time is very fast (1hr 14min)

Convertkit lacks some support options larger customers might take for granted (such as phone support), but for its target audience, these should be good enough.

Community

Community isn't ConvertKit's strong suit. There are no communities or forums where ConvertKit enthusiasts can meet and work with each other. There are no ConvertKit meetups or freelancer directories either.

This should be expected given the size of the company and its target market. Simply put, small startups seldom have the resources to invest in community building.

ConvertKit does have a very wide following among top marketing bloggers. In fact, in the last couple of years, I've seen some of the biggest bloggers in the world switch from MailChimp/Aweber to ConvertKit.

And of course, these bloggers write about ConvertKit and email marketing. This has given rise to hundreds of unofficial "mini-communities".

In addition to this, there is founder Nathan Barry's popular blog, books and email newsletters. This serves as a surrogate community of sorts.

However, there are signs that things are changing on the community front. ConvertKit will host its very first conference this year (the Craft + Commerce Conference). Hopefully, this becomes an annual trend.

Obviously, this is no replacement for a larger community, but it is a start.

Summary

ConvertKit's pricing makes it a very easy tool to recommend. Even if you don't like the tool at all, you won't lose anything - even the starting $29/month price is refundable within 30-days./p>

Similarly, while I would knock a couple of stars off most marketing automation software if they didn't offer phone and live chat support, this isn't a concern for ConvertKit. Most of ConvertKit's users are used to "figuring things out" and will rely on the documentation for support. And as such, the software is easy enough to use that you won't even require any outside help.

The community could have been much, much better. But the new conference is an encouraging sign. I'll give ConvertKit the benefit of doubt given its current size.

In short:

  • Pricing: Extremely affordable with very low initial investment Excellent
  • Support: Fast support response but no phone/live chat support Good
  • Community: Small, but growing community Average

Alternatives to ConvertKit

Infusionsoft

An expensive but feature-rich ConvertKit alternative that offers an all-in-one marketing solution

Rating:

ActiveCampaign

User-friendly email marketing automation with limited features. Designed for marketers.

Rating:

Ontraport

Affordable, small business-focused marketing automation with an easy to use interface and strong email capabilities.

Rating:

ConvertKit Review: Final Verdict

ConvertKit is my go-to tool for simple email marketing automation. I recommend it to anyone who needs to send email autoresponders without worrying about the design. Everything from the opt-in forms to the supremely user-friendly sequence builder help make email marketing so much easier.

But at the same time, it is very clear that ConvertKit is for a niche audience - mostly bloggers and infopreneurs. Most small businesses and startups will find its limited automation and email design capabilities a major disadvantage. The lack of CRM support is another major flaw - you can't expect to run a sales operaton without it.

A major positive for me is price. At just $29/month, ConvertKit is significantly cheaper than any competitor (barring ActiveCampaign). There is also no upfront onboarding fee or annual contract. You can start with just $29 and even get a refund if you don't like the software.

To summarize, ConvertKit is for a niche audience that wants an affordable, easy to use email marketing tool with some simple automation capabilities. If you are a blogger, author or send a lot of content-heavy emails, this is the right tool for you. Larger businesses with existing sales operations, however, will find it very limiting.

Choose ConvertKit if you:

  • Send a lot of content-heavy emails
  • Use WordPress as your blogging software/CMS
  • Have limited marketing automation requirements
  • Have a very small budget (under $100)



Not sure if ConvertKit is for you? Check out some ConvertKit Alternatives such as ActiveCampaign and Ontraport