17 Email Marketing Lessons Learned from 1 Year with ConvertKit

This post contains affiliate links for programs that I use and love! 

This month marks my one year anniversary of using ConvertKit in my business. Now maybe that seems over-dramatic to mark the anniversary of a software system in my business.  

But honestly it’s one of the major reasons that I’ve found success in the online world.  

I opened Lady Boss League in August of 2015, and like most of us, I got started on the free MailChimp plan.  I mean what’s not to love about free, right?  Well, there turned out to be a lot not to love.  

I knew going in that a big strategy of mine was going to be to build my email email by using multiple “freebies” or “content upgrades,” as well as creating an automated free email sequence mini-course.  I soon found out that even with the MailChimp automation feature (which was going to cost me $15 a month), the whole process was clunky, time consuming, and built on a bunch of “work arounds,” which wasn’t really how I wanted to run my business.

I’d been floating around the idea of investing in ConvertKit for a while, and when I came across an incredible offer for a year of ConvertKit for about what I was paying for MailChimp already, I was ALL IN!

Over this past year, I’ve put my ConvertKit account to good use …

  • writing almost weekly emails to my list
  • building my subscribers to over 3,000 people
  • creating multiple freebie offers and opt-in upgrades
  • Designing sales funnels that sell my offers on auto-pilot
  • Putting together a free email course that has brought in over 1,500 subscribers alone
  • Building webinar sequences that convert    

I can say that I’ve learned A LOT in the past year about email marketing, through trial and error.  So I wanted to share with you 17 lessons that I’ve learned from a year of email marketing with ConvertKit.

And now on to the 17 Lessons I learned from a year with ConvertKit ….

1. Subject lines matter a lot. 

The ONLY goal of an email subject line is to get the person to open the email (without being deceiving or too “click-bait”).  It doesn’t matter how amazing your email is if you can’t get people to open it up.  I use the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer for almost every email I write (it’s also good for blog posts).  So effective!

2. Don’t be afraid of unsubscribers.  

When I first started out I would stress out if I got more than 10 unsubscribes on an email.  Now my “norm” is more towards 25-35 unsubscribers per email.  I’ve got entrepreneur friends who get 100+ unsubscribes per email! It’s all relative based on list-size. Keep an eye on your unsubscribes to see what types of email get more unsubscribers compared to others, but it’s not something to worry about or take personally!

3. Images can hurt.

 I used to be someone who wanted my email perfectly formatted with logos, images, different fonts, etc.  Now I keep it fairly simple, rarely include images unless it’s a screenshot, and keep all fonts pretty consistent.  Any type of image can greatly increase your chances of your email landing in someone’s “promotions” or spam folder.  To me, it’s just not worth the risk.

4. Test your emails.  

ConvertKit has this nifty little feature where you can send a test email to yourself before scheduling it to be sent out.  I ALWAYS do this, and I make sure to view the email on both my computer, and my phone.  You don’t know how many times I’ve caught broken links, mis-spelled words, and paragraphs that look like their formatting is a bit wonky, by doing this.  You’d be surprised by how different an email can look on mobile vs. desktop, so be sure to give it a look on each before scheduling it to send.

5. Mix up your lengths.  

Personally I really enjoy writing, so sometimes my emails can get a bit long.  Some people love reading lengthy emails (as long as they are informative/entertaining), but others hit delete as soon as they get past the first 150 words.  So I try to mix it up.  

In one email I might tell an in-depth personal story, in another I might only give a little preview and include a link to a full blog post, and in another I might try adding screenshots or images.  Not everyone likes the same thing, so keep changing it up.

6. Avoid the promotions folder.  

If you have gmail, you know there is a promotions tab where more “spammy” messages end up.  You want to avoid having your emails go there.  I’ve found that if I include the word “free” in the subject line or in a link within the email, then I can pretty much be guaranteed it’s going to promotions.  Think carefully before using words like “free,” “winner,” “money,” etc. in  subject lines or links.

7. Keep top of mind. 

You need to remember what the purpose of having an email list is in the first place!  Are you promoting your business, gaining sales, and keeping in your client/customer’s minds by regularly showing up in their mailbox?  If not, then you might as well not have an email list. If you don’t use it, you lose it!

If by the time you send your first email, it’s been months since they first subscribed, that person will have forgotten who you are.  And you better believe they are unsubscribing fast if they don’t remember signing up for your list!

8. Don’t send a “newsletter.”  

If you’re sending out emails with the subject line “newsletter,” promise me you’ll stop right away!  No one reads newsletters.  People want information that is going to help them … not “fluff” because you felt you were required to send something.

9. Create an email “mini-course” for your business.  

This one here is a GAME-CHANGER.  I created a 5 day Pinterest mini-course that I could promote across my whole website, and throughout my blog posts, that introduces people to my knowledge on Pinterest. My first version of it was simply a set of automated emails that were sent out once a day for 5 days.  

The value of this type of “freebie” is HUGE, and is much more likely to be shared by others.  Take the time to create this once, and you’ve got an asset that will continue to grow your email list for months into the future. My Pinterest mini-course has on it’s own brought in close to 1.5K subscribers to my list.

10. You don’t need a fancy landing page software.  

Now, full disclosure, I am now using ClickFunnels for my opt-in pages and loving it, but I didn’t start out with anything.  All I did was take a ConvertKit form, insert it into a blank page on my SquareSquare site, and add an image mock-up of the freebie that I was offering.  Worked like a charm! Don’t feel like you have to invest extra money in landing page programs, if you’re not ready yet in your business.

11. Treat your free stuff like it is paid.  

Just because you’ve created a mini-course that you’re giving away for free to build your email, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put the same effort into giving it a “sales” page to show people what you’re offering.  Don’t expect people to give you their email address for nothing!  Their email list is a form of “payment,” and you’ve got to show that it’s worth it for them to give it to you.

12. Include image mock-up of digital products.  

Since you’re likely offering a digital freebie, it’s important to make it tangible to your audience.  Consider taking a screenshot of your page, and then using a program like Canva or Pages to showcase it within a computer screen or iPad, or make it look like a physical book. This portrays a higher value item to your audience.

13. Don’t be afraid to use the re-send to unopens feature. 

 If I’ve got something that I really want to be sure as many people on my list know about as possible, I often resend it 3-4 days later to anyone who doesn’t open the initial email (this is a ConvertKit feature).  I’ll change the subject line and change up the email text a bit to see if I can encourage a new set of people to open it.  You’ll get more opens, and of course more unsubscribers too.  Repeat after me …. That’s A-Okay! :)

14. Remember during promotions, people like to procrastinate.

 If you’re promoting something that has a deadline for purchasing  (like during a launch), don’t be afraid to send 2 or more emails during the last 24 hours that it is open. People LOVE to be last-minute.  Even if you feel like you’ve sent out WAY too many emails already, be sure you at least send out a “final call” email a few hours before the close of the promotion.  You’re almost guaranteed to get some more sales because of it!

15. Don’t send everyone, everything.  

One of the top features of ConvertKit is the ability to segment your list.  The simplest way to do this is through tags. You can tag everyone who is interested in a specific topic, or tag people that clicked on a link to your sales page, or tag people that purchase your product.  

The options are endless for ways to segment your subscribers through tags.  Then you can send specific emails only to people who are interested in specific topics.  It’s all about personalization, so what easier way to create emails that speak directly to a certain group’s struggles!

16. Get support.  

If you ever feel like you’re not making the most of your email system, or you’re confused about how to make it work for your specific business, I’d highly suggest setting up a call with them to talk more.  Yep! You heard that right.  You can schedule a call with ConvertKit support, and talk with a real live person about any struggles you’re running into while getting set up with their system. Love their personal touch!

17. Use a system that you can grow with. 

 I made the switch from Mailchimp to ConvertKit when I had about 300 people on my list.  That meant I didn’t have any complicated systems set up yet with tagging, or sales funnels, or sequences.  This made the process VERY easy to convert my list to ConvertKit.  If you’re feeling like your current email system isn’t going to grow with your business, and you know you’ll need to make a switch at some point, I’d highly suggest during it sooner rather than later!

And there it is!  I’m guessing you can now tell why I love ConvertKit so much, and how it’s been a HUGE part of my success during my first year in business. I’m SO glad I made the switch early on to an email program that I know I can continue to grow with from here on out!

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Summer Tannhauser

I'm Summer! I help LadyBOSS entrepreneurs build their dream businesses through rock solid action + advice, with more happiness, less overwhelm, and full of freedom.