Infusionsoft vs ConvertKit: Why We Switched
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In November we took the fairly major decision to change our email marketing service provider from Infusionsoft to a new platform called ConvertKit.
If you’ve been on the Chat Marketing email list for more than a couple of months, you may have noticed a change in recent weeks in the way our emails look. The reason for this is because we are now sending the emails via ConvertKit.
Before I tell you the story about why we decided to change providers after more than three years as a satisfied Infusionsoft customer, I just wanted to let you know that we are now a ConvertKit affiliate partner, which means that if ConvertKit was a good fit for your business and you were to become a ConvertKit customer yourself after clicking through to their site from a link in this article, we would earn a small commission from the transaction, at no additional cost to you. If you don’t want to use our affiliate links though, no worries at all, all you need to do is search for ConvertKit in Google and you’ll find it.
Anyway, researching the many email service marketing providers is a time-consuming job so I decided to write an article about what I like and don’t like about each software system in case you were in the same boat that I was.
If you want advice and tips on the best tools for setting up your email marketing funnel, download a copy of our ‘Ninja Email Marketing Tools’ Resource Guide here.
Why The Move?
Before I dive into my review of each software system I want to briefly explain the reason for the switch, because it prompted me to review all our outgoings as a business, something that we should all be doing on a regular basis. So in a word what happened was ‘BREXIT’! On June 23rd 2016, the United Kingdom (well, certain parts of it anyway – sorry couldn’t resist that) voted to leave the European Union. At the time of writing, it has not officially happened yet (the UK government still need to trigger Article 50 to start the formal leaving process), but the short-term repercussions were felt immediately in our business. The reason for this is because the majority of the software licences that we buy into are paid for on a monthly subscription basis in U.S. dollars.
The BREXIT vote caused the pound to lose significant value against the dollar, which meant that our expenses went up massively almost over night. Although foreign currency fluctuations rise and fall all the time, and the pound has recovered slightly since, I realised that I needed to look carefully at all our outgoings and ask myself “does this provide value to the customer?” and if not, either get rid of it or find a cheaper alternative. When I carried out an audit of our expenses I discovered that there were several licences that we had been paying for, that on their own didn’t add up to much, but that we were not using regularly enough to justify the expense like our HootSuite Pro account and LinkedIn Premium (I may reverse this decision based on the latest changes on LinkedIn, but at the time 99.9% of what I teach to clients does not require a Premium account). They were not adding value to the business or to our customers, so I stopped them right away.
Next, there were other software licences that we were paying for (like Infusionsoft), that were absolutely essential to the running of the business (we get 75% of our business through email marketing), but there were cheaper alternatives available. Infusionsoft was the most expensive of these licences that we were paying for, and I was aware that we were only using a small percentage of it’s capabilities (more on that later), so it made sense to start looking for a cheaper alternative that would do the majority of what we were looking for as a business, without compromising the quality of what we were sending out to our subscribers. Enter ConvertKit!
I had been aware of ConvertKit for several months, having read and listened to prominent bloggers and podcasters who I respected, like Pat Flynn, who were raving about it! Before I give you more details about my experiences with our new email marketing service provider, I’ll tell you a bit about Infusionsoft. What I liked about it and what I didn’t!
As I mentioned above we’ve been an Infusionsoft customer for over three years and I still believe that they have the most technically advanced platform (with the possible exception of HubSpot) for email marketing, but it’s not just an email marketing platform. It is also a CRM system, e-commerce and business automation tool. And that’s part of the reason behind moving to another system (more on that in just a bit).
There were a lot of things that first attracted me to Infusionsoft. They had an in-built affiliate platform, which meant that we could use it to build our own Chat Marketing affiliate programme without the need to invest in any additional software. Infusionsoft also owns CustomerHub, which is a tool that can be used to create and operate sophisticated membership sites. Building a monthly membership-based community had been part of my Master Plan from early on, so I had also invested in Customer Hub because it seamlessly integrates with Infusionsoft, which would allow me to automate the whole process from marketing to customer on-boarding and payment processing.
Although I did create a Beta version of a membership site in the early days of paying for Customer Hub, it was never launched and the membership community was not created. That’s not to say that I won’t revisit this in the future, but for now it’s not part of my immediate plans. Our affiliate programme is another project that’s never got further than the business plan, so we were not using that functionality either.
The problem with us investing in a system like Infusionsoft was that, although I had big plans, I was trying to run before I could walk. Infusionsoft was a much bigger platform than I needed at the time. It’s also fairly expensive, and I was paying out around £250 a month to have access to all the features on the platform and Customer Hub.
If you think that’s expensive, wait until you hear this! If you are not already an Infusionsoft customer, before you can even use their system it is essential that you also purchase their kick-starter training package, which comes in at around £1,000. This involves working remotely with an Infusionsoft certified partner for a month. Although the training was excellent, it certainly says a lot about any software that requires additional training before you are able to use it properly. Infusionsoft is sometimes unkindly referred to as “Confusionsoft”, because of the sheer level of complexity!
Here’s a snap-shot of the Campaign Builder within Infusionsoft to give you an idea of the complexity of the platform.
What I liked about Infusionsoft was the ability to create sequences for all the routine emails that I would send out, like workshop confirmation emails. Once this was set up, I could just add someone’s email to the system and they would automatically get a pre-written confirmation email immediately and all the reminder emails at the right time, on the lead up to the event. This is a great time saver, which is fortunately still possible within ConvertKit. I also liked the ability to tag people, which made segmentation possible. For example if I was planning to host a workshop on the topic of Facebook marketing, I could run a query that would show me everyone that had expressed an interest in Facebook related topics, and then email them separately from my main email list. This enabled me to do some pretty sophisticated campaigns, like sending a sequence of emails that would be triggered when people read a particular blog post in one of our newsletters or downloaded an E-book.
It might sound like a small thing but I also like the huge range of different merge field possibilities that Infusionsoft has to offer. All email marketing service providers have the ability to add a name field to your emails, but with Infusionsoft this was taken to the extreme. One of my favourite merge fields was to add a ‘day of the week’ merge field into my emails.
“Enjoy the rest of your ~Date.DayOfWeek~”
“I hope you are having a great ~Date.DayOfWeek~”
Infusionsoft even lets you add a merge field into the ‘Subject’ line of an email, so you could personalise this using the person’s name. I’ve not come across any other email marketing system (including ConvertKit) that allows you to add a merge field into the subject line. If you know of any others that do that, feel free to let me know in the comments below.
So in short, Infusionsoft is a great platform but it did far more than we needed it to do, and we were probably only using about 40% of it’s functionality. We didn’t need to manage a sales team or keep an eye on a sales pipeline in an automated way. On top of that, over the last couple of years I became aware of different systems that could do most of the bells and whistles stuff, either more cheaply or better than Infusionsoft’s all-in-one platform. For example the task management feature on Infusionsoft is not great as a productivity tool and there are far better systems out there.
Even free tools like Wunderlist are better for keeping on top of your ‘To-Do’ lists. For the CRM side of things we are currently using Contactually, which also has a much more intuitive sales pipeline system that is more in sync with our business needs. There are also much cheaper membership platforms that are available now, so there is not the same need to invest in Customer Hub.
If Infusionsoft is said to be complicated, then ConvertKit is the exact polar opposite! It is super-easy to use and very intuitive. Even if you have not done any email marketing before, ConvertKit’s user interface is easy to navigate and understand. It’s been built from the ground up with the blogger in mind, and it does the most important things that you need it to do as an email marketing platform.
One important distinction to make you aware of though with ConvertKit, is that it does not send HTML based emails (these are the emails that can almost look like a web page). It sends text-based emails only. You can still include images etc, but the emails will look like other personalised emails you might get from an individual, rather than a glossy newsletter.
To some of you reading this, that might put you off using ConvertKit right away, but I actually see this as an advantage! Not only do your emails look more like individual emails, rather than looking like they are part of an automated communication that goes out to everyone, and so are more likely to be opened but I’ve also been reading recently that a lot of email spam filters are starting to block the HTML type emails, or put them into a spam folder, so having a text based email is a good thing in my book.
That’s certainly been my experience as a ConvertKit user, that delivery has gone up as a result of the move. Fewer emails are ‘bouncing’, which means that more people are receiving our emails. Since moving over to ConvertKit, I’ve had subscribers email me back to say that they are now getting my emails again. Deliverability is a huge issue with email marketing, and if you check the various online reviews of ConvertKit, one of the key pluses is that deliverability seems to be much better using their system.
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Although ConvertKit is very simple, it also has some pretty powerful functionality. You can apply tags as per Infusionsoft and you can create sequences of pre-written emails. It even has a great suggested outline of emails to send out to warm-up new subscribers. Creating opt-in forms is easy too and I love that you can upload your Lead Magnet directly to ConvertKit and make the download button your double opt-in consent. That cuts down the number of emails you are sending to people when they first opt in to your email list.
ConvertKit also allows you to create basic opt-in pages, which are a bit like LeadPages (affiliate link), from their supplied templates. Although these look stylish and are definitely better than nothing, we still use LeadPages to create our opt-in pages and forms on our website to give us more flexibility, which then integrate with ConvertKit. So when someone subscribes to our email list through a LeadPage or LeadBox, they are automatically added to the Chat Marketing mailing list on ConvertKit.
The analytics on ConvertKit are also really good, allowing you to see at a glance how your emails are performing. There are also little features that you will come across that I’ve not seen anywhere else, like the ability to re-send an email to people who have not opened a particular email that you sent them, with one click of a button.
The last benefit of Convertkit that I wanted to highlight is the price. It was my pricing audit that first caused me to seek out an alternative to Infusionsoft, so I was delighted to find out that ConvertKit was only $29 per month for up to 1,000 email subscribers, $49 per month for up to 3,000 email addresses and $79 for up to 5,000 email addresses. If you have more than 5,000 email subscribers you need to reach out to ConvertKit for an individual quotation. Even at the entry level package though, you get full access to all the features of the platform, unlike with Infusionsoft where you need to pay more for additional functionality.
If you are looking for a back-to-basics, easy, inexpensive yet powerful email marketing service provider, then ConvertKit might just be what you are looking for. If you want to check out ConvertKit my affiliate link is here.
It’s not going to be for everyone though, so if for example you wanted a system with CRM functionality, then ConvertKit is definitely not suitable for this purpose, but I would encourage you to ask yourself whether you actually need CRM and email marketing in one system or would something like Contactually or even HubSpot’s free CRM tool do the trick, and allow you to invest in something that’s bloody good at the one thing it was designed to do, and that’s send emails that get delivered.