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Email marketing is a critical component of my online activities and should be for every business owner and marketer. Email marketing is an effective way to communicate, increase traffic, reach prospects and customers directly, and close deals. I tweak and update my email marketing strategy at least once a month with the goal of increasing my open rates, clicks, and conversions.
Email marketing providers and tools are everywhere, but that hasn’t stopped ConvertKit from generating annual revenues in the millions. It launched in 2013, and it’s done well in a highly competitive industry. ConvertKit offers “email marketing made by creators, for creators.” It provides email marketing services for creators such as bloggers, authors, YouTubers, makers, and podcasters. Many paid and unpaid creators endorse ConvertKit. However, I haven’t considered switching to it because I’m happy with my provider, MailerLite.
In some ways, ConvertKit and MailerLite are similar. They both launched in the 2010s. They’re disrupting the email marketing landscape and taking on well-established companies like ActiveCampaign, AWeber, and MailChimp. Their teams are young, and they embrace remote working. One noticeable difference is ConvertKit is based in the United States and MailerLite is in Europe.
In this post, I’ll compare the most affordable plans offered by ConvertKit and MailerLite. Both companies make comparisons against each other on their sites, so my goal is to provide an objective assessment. I signed up to ConvertKit’s for its free 14-day trial to assess its service.
ConvertKit was founded in 2013 and operates in Idaho, USA. It has 20,000+ paying customers who send 500 million emails per month.
MailerLite was founded in 2010 and operates in Vilnius, Lithuania. More than 500,000 customers use their free and paid email marketing services.
|Features||ConvertKit $29/month||MailerLite $0/month|
|Subscribers||0 – 1,000||0 – 1,000|
|Emails per month||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Rich text editor||X||X|
|Mobile friendly emails||X||X|
|A/B split testing||X||X|
|Unsubscribe page builder||X|
|Send time optimization||X||X|
|Abandoned cart emails|
|Tracking and campaign reports||X||X|
It’s easy to understand what MailerLite offers compared to ConvertKit. MailerLite mentions 20+ features on its page, and you can click on each function for more details. ConvertKit mentions six core features and five more ways it can help you. You can click to learn about automation, and that’s it. Surprisingly, ConvertKit lists more features in its comparison articles than its features page.
ConvertKit doesn’t outshine its competitors while MailerLite does. The goal of comparing your company to another is to demonstrate why customers should choose you over the alternative. After reviewing ConvertKit’s comparisons, it doesn’t appear that much better than other providers. Secondly, ConvertKit avoids making price comparisons, and it changes what criteria it compares from one provider to the next. MailerLite is consistent in its comparisons and compares pricing for greater transparency.
Both companies provide rich text and HTML email editors. However, MailerLite offers a drag-and-drop, visual editor while ConvertKit does not. That’s surprising because visual editors and content blocks are where the market is going. For example, WordPress has overhauled its editor to make it more visual. I use drag-and-drop blocks because it simplifies the email campaign creation process.
ConvertKit uses “tags” and “segments” while MailerLite uses “segments” and “groups.” ConvertKit is correct in that MailerLite doesn’t offer manual tagging, but both platforms enable you to slice and dice your list. ConvertKit aims to be “subscriber-centric” as opposed to list-centric, which is why its approach to subscriber management differs. Both companies count subscribers once, so double counting isn’t an issue regarding plans and fees.
- “Tags allow you to organize and group your subscribers based on actions, interest or more.”
- “Segments are a second tier of subscriber organization. If tags organize people, segments organize tags.”
- “A segment is a list of subscribers that is dictated by a rule or condition.”
- “A group is not dictated by a rule, so you can add and remove subscribers based on your wishes.”
ConvertKit integrates with more apps, but more isn’t necessarily better. ConvertKit and MailerLite have partnered with many top companies in their orbit, for example, Shopify, Thrive Themes, and Elegant Themes. While it’s critical to offer options, what matters is that you can connect your apps.
ConvertKit doesn’t offer email templates. According to Nathan Barry, ConvertKit’s founder, “I believe that these email templates are not only a waste of time, but also harmful to your business. That’s why ConvertKit, my email marketing startup, purposefully does not include fancy email templates.” I disagree with Barry. Templates can be a time-saver and useful for design ideas. MailerLite offers templates that you can modify.
ConvertKit is much more expensive than MailerLite. ConvertKit doesn’t discuss pricing in its comparisons probably because it tends to be more costly than other email marketing companies. Secondly, while it claims to “know the grind of starting out, of having the spark of an idea and doing everything you can to bring it to life,” it doesn’t have a free plan. MailerLite offers a free plan alongside many other providers. Finally, ConvertKit charges two to almost four times as much as MailerLite depending on how many subscribers you have. Suppose you have 5,000 subscribers, MailerLite charges $20 a month while ConvertKit costs $79 ($64 if you pay annually).
I’m stunned at how many users, unpaid and paid, recommend ConvertKit because it isn’t above and beyond other companies. If anything, it’s slightly worse because its pricing is unusually high. If you think I’m alone in my assessment, the folks at EmailToolTester agree. The independent review site gives ConvertKit a disappointing score of 3.5/5 with an article title that reads, ConvertKit Review 2019: Do their Features Justify its High Price?
ConvertKit doesn’t benefit creators anymore than MailerLite, MailChimp, and others do. ConvertKit’s biggest weaknesses are not offering a drag-and-drop editor and email templates. On the other hand, it deserves credit for its subscriber-centric approach and integration list.
As a self-employed creator, keeping my expenses low is a critical priority. While I’m happy to invest in services and products to grow my business, value propositions must justify costs. I can’t justify ConvertKit’s fees, and it’s baffling that it doesn’t offer a free plan. Free plans are excellent for new marketers and beginners with low subscriber counts.
I’m going to remain with MailerLite. The price is right, and it offers a robust platform. However, for e-commerce email activities, I would pass on both MailerLite and ConvertKit. Benchmark and MailChimp have better e-commerce capabilities for online retailers and sellers. Separately, if you use AWeber, CampaignMonitor, GetResponse, Mad Mimi, or Constant Contact, you’ll save up to 60 percent with MailerLite.