By now, you know that email marketing is important to your online business, right? It’s like the highest of the high priorities in your marketing tools. It can also be the most expensive tool when you’re first starting out. Today, I’m sharing the behind-the-scenes process I took to choose an email service, then change it, then change it again, so you can save time and money with your big decision to upgrade or not.
In 2014, my business started growing at a pace that caused my systems to start ‘breaking’ or so I thought. I was growing my email subscribers by 200 – 300 new leads each month, enrolling people in my courses and starting to test evergreen marketing funnels. I had been using Aweber as my email marketing software for about 4 years at that point and thought I was ready to upgrade myself to something bigger and better. Or reading between the lines – a service that the top of the top of online business owners were using. Before I jump into that transition, here’s a look at Aweber.
Aweber Deal Makers + Breakers
- One of the cheapest options to get started with $0 commitment – you can’t beat their free trial. I mean – it’s free. Oh yah!
- Easy to use system that doesn’t have a large learning curve – it doesn’t take a lot of work to get up to speed on how to create a list, send broadcast emails or create a follow sequence. I did struggle with their segmenting and found it more difficult to use than other services.
- One or two click integrations with almost every other tool you’re using – when you’re building your email list, you need to make sure you can capture all of your potential subscribers. Aweber integrates with many third-party providers like LeadPages, GoToWebinar, Teachable, etc making it easy for you to connect services and keep growing your list.
- Counts your subscriber more than once if she signs up for different opt-ins or programs – yikes! That means if your Aunt Sue joins your newsletter and then turns around and downloads your free cheat sheet, Aweber is counting her as two different subscribers in their system. This can artificially inflate your number of subscribers and cost you more money.
- Unsubscribed users count towards your number of subscribers – unless you manually delete unsubscribers from your list, you’re going to end up paying for them with Aweber. For me, I hate seeing unsubscribe notifications and before I started outsourcing this I had to go through and delete the people that unsubscribed every month. I hated this. Talk about a total bummer!
- Can’t exclude specific subscribers from receiving message (i.e. skip sending marketing messages to someone who’s already a customer) – as my marketing got a little more technical, my subscribers started to get messages twice and even worse current customers were getting duplicate sales emails.
As you can see the biggest cons with Aweber is the way that they count your number of subscribers and can push you into the next payment threshold if you don’t watch it carefully. If you’re just starting out it’s a great option for an email marketing service. If you’re thinking about Aweber, sign up for a 30-day free trial. (Lady, this is an affiliate link because I love how Aweber worked for me in the early stages of my business and want to share it with you. I might get a little kick back for doing so. Sweet!)
I knew it was time for a change.
However, at that point in my business, I needed more. Even though I knew it would stretch my budget last year, I decided to give my self a business upgrade and signed up for Infusionsoft in February 2015. I was never so nervous for anything for my life than signing away a contract for the $2,000 setup fee and monthly service contract.
But, I felt special.
I felt like my business was going somewhere and for once I ignored the numbers. Yes, I skipped thinking about what I had budgeted for my business and went with my ego. My emails would have the Infusionsoft logo at the bottom of them and that’s all that mattered. I’ll admit it. I had big goals in 2015, and I knew by the end of the year, the budget wouldn’t be an issue.
Aside from budget, I didn’t analyze the most important factor in email marketing = open rate. Let’s talk about that more in a minute. But first, I wanted to share this simple checklist I created for you to avoid the mistakes I did when switching email providers.
Infusionsoft Deal Makers + Breakers
- Credibility – definitely the known email provider and means you’ve made it in online business or want to be thought of as an online success
- Included membership software as bonus – they included their membership service as a bonus to my email marketing software which saved me money for my membership site
- Payment gateway included – I was able to customize the look and feel of my cart which added another branded touch with my customers instead of sending them straight to PayPal.
- Consulting time with a specialist – Part of the on-boarding process meant working with a email marketing specialist to get my campaigns set up and my subscribers transferred over to Infusionsoft
- Ability to segment lists and get really nerdy – there are crazy things you can get set up with Infusionsoft and can become complex like when a subscriber clicks a link it can create a chain reaction and indicate interest for your products and services
- Increased business expenses by 400% – yes, you read that right. I was now spending 400% more on my email marketing software without an increase in revenue. This did come with an increase in the max number of subscribers, but still was my largest monthly expense.
- Open rate decreased substantially – business growth through email lives and dies by the open rate. I went from having a consistent 18 – 22% open rate with Aweber to a 5 – 7% open rate with Infusionsoft because of deliverability issues. Eventually I was able to bump this up to a 10 – 13% open rate after working with on of their specialist but this was still much lower than I was getting with Aweber and starting to affect my sales.
- Setting up campaigns was complete – even though I was able to work with a specialist for several sessions to gain an understanding of how Infusionsoft operated, once I was on my own it took much more time to create campaigns and email sequences.
Don’t get me wrong, Infusionsoft is awesome – for some businesses. If I had partnered with marketing automation specialist that focuses on Infusionsoft like Brittany from Foundation & Flow then perhaps this could have been the situation for me. However, with the amount I was already spending on the service, I had less of a budget for working with partners and outsourcing some of my to-do list. I also think this couldn’t have been a different situation if I would have waited another year or two before switching to Infusionsoft.
So where did I end up?
I started researching new email marketing software options around December 2015 and finally pulled the trigger in February of 2016. I knew I didn’t want to step back to Aweber and I didn’t want something as complex as Infusionsoft. In the end I landed on ConvertKit which is newer to the email marketplace, but had a few key items that interested me.
Reasons Why I Chose ConvertKit
- Designed for bloggers and online marketers – ConvertKit was built by a developer who came from a background of earning money online from ebook and course sales. eBook and course sales are the top money makers for my business, so I knew that the developers would understand my needs.
- Automation without the learning curve – there is the opportunity to create Automation Rules with just a few clicks and see how they are going to work in plain sight. In the world of the cloud, sometimes it can be hard to just imagine what’s going on behind the scenes.
- Easy to create follow up sequences – it’s super simple to create a follow up sequence in ConvertKit. Add or remove emails from a sequence or edit the order they are delivered by dragging and dropping.
- Focus on education and teaching – the founders and team is a champion for continued education (which I love!) through in-depth blog posts and tutorials right on their website about what’s working and what’s not.
- Back in budget – now I have some extra funds back in my budget for other business expenses like a VA, mentoring and other programs without feeling like I’m stretched to the limits.
- Open rate has increased again – after switching to ConvertKit my email open rate has increased back up to 20 – 22% on average. I even have a sequence with an open rate of 40% right now! Next step will be to beat that 😉
Do you want a simple checklist to help you make the decision of upgrading or switching email providers?
Overall, I’m super pumped about the transition to ConvertKit and seeing a high return on my investment. If that changes, you’ll be the first to know – but at this rate it’s going to be used in my email marketing arsenal for a long time now.