I have a pretty diverse group of subscribers here. Many are more traditional business owners, and the rest are usually SEO consultants, web designers, agencies, etc. I also have a decent list of subscribers who do multiple things, are bloggers, and use various strategies for inbound marketing.
About once a month, maybe more often than that, people ask what autoresponder service I recommend. Generally in the internet marketing industry, GetResponse and AWeber are the top choices and I used AWeber for the majority of the time I’ve had this blog.
So, if you’re a blogger, do inbound marketing, want to use separate platforms for inbound vs. cold emails for lead generation, then this is the post for you.
What Made Me Finally Switch Away From AWeber
This relationship didn’t end badly. AWeber was a useful service for me but it had a lot of flaws. These flaws on their own weren’t deal breakers and I really enjoyed using the service. Their support is generally pretty good and helped me solve quite a few stupid problems I created.
Unfortunately, the more I used AWeber, the more I realized that they didn’t have what I needed.
I’m a big fan of email marketing, both for opt in and for cold emails, as you all know. I wanted to create more advanced automation rules than they provided, but that by itself wasn’t why I switched, in fact, not one single thing made me pull the trigger on switching, just a cumulative effect.
I figured, since everyone else is using AWeber, I should too. I tried out Getresponse but the open rates with them were about 15% lower than aweber. A lot of integrations use them, seemed like the ideal choice for me, being someone that doesn’t want to mess too much with the technical aspects and just get up and running.
Starting out, I had a pretty small list, and every little bit mattered, so I chose AWeber over getresponse due to the open rates.
After a while, I realized that each subscriber I had, counted multiple times. For example, if someone subscribed via my about me page, then someone subscribed via the top 64 niche lead magnet at the bottom of my posts, and that person bought my Ultimate Agency Blueprint, and then later the Ice Cold Email Gold guide, I ended up with one subscriber counting as 4.
I also didn’t like the lack of integrations available for Gumroad. I had to use Zapier to do what I wanted, and it all fit under the free plan so it wasn’t that big of a deal.
The 1 user counting as multiple subscribers pushed me into another tier for pricing, which by itself wasn’t a big deal but made me ask why on earth would they have the system set up this way?
To get me going even more, I realized that even unsubscribed users count as subscribers! I’m still a bit salty about that. You actually have to delete the unsubscribes in order to remove them from your subscriber count.
At this point, the unsubscribed counting as subscribers, the 1 subscriber counting as 4, was pretty annoying. I started researching other platforms and came across Convertkit which is exactly what I wanted and needed. I signed up without hesitation.
I didn’t start using it yet though, and continued to stay with aweber for about 7 months.
People started to complain more often about emails not coming through, so people were signing up through a lead magnet but not getting the PDF file. This created more work than I wanted, but the thought of having to migrate everything over gave me a headache.
More time went on, the problems or inconveniences were adding up. When sending to gmail, often times my emails were going to spam, which means less visitors, lower conversions from subscribers to buyers. At the same time, I realized I needed to update my autoresponder sequence.
Seemed like a good time to go through the pains of migrating to ConvertKit after paying a monthly fee for close to a year.
Why I Decided to Use ConvertKit
While I was searching for alternatives, I looked at the possibility of using power houses like ActiveCampaign (which I trialed) and InfusionSoft. ActiveCampaign was a bit complicated to get it to do what I wanted and the first test send I made wasn’t impressive. Open rates were way below AWeber.
InfusionSoft has been used by some of the top marketers to create complex automation rules that I wanted to implement. The cost was a turn off but the bigger turn off was how difficult it is to implement, migrate, and set up in general.
I saw a few people bring up ConvertKit in the past but it hasn’t had the attention some other platforms have received. I liked that it seemed like a ton of bloggers were using it almost exclusively. Not so many internet marketers pimpin’ out products every day, but bloggers that cared about their subscriber list and the quality of content they sent out.
Before even looking much at the features offered, that told me that this should be (theoretically) one of the better platforms for deliverability. Very few people would hit the spam button, and open rates should be some of the best.
After attending a couple of their new user workshops, I was able to clearly see that this is the platform I wanted to use.
I delayed migration for a bit, because it seemed like it would be a hassle but it actually wasn’t that bad at all.
I could have used their wordpress plugin for the forms, but instead just copied the code to put in my magic action box plugin so I wouldn’t have to make any tedious changes. Also, delivering the lead magnet was simple, just adding it through the platform and when someone subscribes they immediately receive it.
I really like the way they integrate automation rules. It’s just as easy as using IFTTT, in fact, it’s the same process, if someone buys my Ultimate Agency Blueprint, it automatically adds a tag that they bought it. I can also automatically add them to a sequence, and if someone clicks on certain links or completes certain actions I can add them to an additional sequence.
1 subscriber, counts as 1 subscriber, which is what it should be like, no matter how many tags I have created or how many lead magnets they subscribe to.
What made me decide this is clearly the way to go, is how easy it is to use in comparison to other platforms. There’s plenty of other positives, but that’s the main thing.
Comparing AWeber and ConvertKit
I really don’t want to bad mouth AWeber, as they have been kind to me with support issues, and have served a purpose for a long time on this blog.
Comparing Open Rates – AWeber started off great, very good open rates which is a sign of great deliverability. Over a period of time, it got worse, still good, but worse, and continued the downward trend. Now, some can say that could be from a variance of subject lines, which is a fair point but over a longer period of time when you consider the average open rates, you can get a pretty good idea of who is the winner. My first email, and emails afterwards have received a minimum of 25% increases in open rates.
I haven’t had any issues with gmail either, always landing in the inbox and haven’t found myself in spam.
Comparing List Size – As mentioned, an issue I had with AWeber is that if a subscriber opts in on 4 different lists/lead magnets/purchases then they count as 4 separate subscribers instead of just counting as 1, with multiple tags. Another issue was the unsubscribed users still counting as subscribers.
This by itself isn’t a huge deal, but it’s an annoyance. It’s also a bigger deal for those trying to keep their blog / sites profitable. Going up into the next pricing tier even though your true subscriber base isn’t growing, eats into your profitability.
With ConvertKit, 1 subscriber is 1 subscriber… if they unsubscribe, they aren’t counted as a subscriber, and that’s how it should be.
Comparing Automation Rules – AWeber started adding better automation rules and tagging when I was about to leave. I actually considered staying, but asked support continuously about certain things to do with automation and was never able to get a clear answer so I gave up.
I needed to use Zapier for some automations with AWeber that I feel should have been integrated in the first place. For example, I use gumroad for my courses, and needed to use zapier to trigger an event when someone bought a product and to add them to a list. Not a big deal, I was able to get by with using the free version of Zapier to get it done, but with convertkit they use a super easy system that I was able to setup in less than a minute.
They offered the same integration (and plenty others) without the need for Zapier. I just had to click a few buttons, and new customers would be tagged according to which product they buy, and then I can also setup an automation rule to subscriber or add them to a certain sequence based on what they bought.
I also like the link triggers they use. The same is done in AWeber but not as extensive or powerful, and definitely not as easy to use. If I ever send an email about coaching services, whenever someone clicks a link I can have them tagged as interested in coaching. Once someone is tagged, I can also add them to a sequence that pitches the coaching service. While I don’t do that just yet, I like the ability to have that option and implement it easily.
Comparing Interface and Ease of Use – AWeber is a dinosaur. It’s clunky, heavy, difficult to make adjustments and hard to get around. For those that have been using AWeber for years and years, you’re used to them looking like something from the early 2000s.
It has bugs in the WYSIWYG editor, for example when you’re writing an email and hit enter too fast or too many times the entire email disappears. They have an auto save feature which is nice for when that happens, but still a major inconvenience and sometimes what was saved is only a portion of the email you had.
ConvertKit is super clean and simple. It feels lightweight but extremely powerful at the same time. Setting up sequences, automations, tags, it’s all pretty simple and takes a lot less time when compared to AWeber.
Comparing the Overall Potential – AWeber has been around forever. Unfortunately, they’re falling behind the curve in the industry. It’s always touted by internet marketers and aspiring marketers, mostly because it’s the only platform they have ever used.
Usually when the crowd suggests one thing, you should be skeptical and choose something else. After all, think about the type of people you’ll be sharing the server with. Marketers pushing crap products on a daily basis, pimping affiliate products once or twice a day, etc. This isn’t AWeber’s fault, it’s just a byproduct of being the internet marketer’s top choice, along with GetResponse. It inevitably leads to lower open rates, but I digress… that’s not the point of this comparison.
AWeber is difficult to use to the extent it is capable of. They’re slow to make common sense changes and upgrades to the platform and for that reason, I see their future market share decreasing. When that happens, I sense that it will be even harder for them to keep up with the times.
ConvertKit on the other hand is extremely powerful and it’s incredibly easy to implement powerful features that take a lot of time to implement on other platforms. In fact, other platforms have “certified experts” you can hire to help you implement what you want, since it’s so difficult for the average user.
The amount of strength behind convertkit, is something I haven’t even tested yet. There’s a lot of powerful features I can use, but just haven’t had a chance to yet. For example, they have a landing page builder as part of the platform, that can allow you to quickly and easily build landing pages for lead magnets. With AWeber, you either have to create it yourself on your own site, or use something like LeadPages to do it.
The migration headache wasn’t bad, I should have moved to convertkit a long time before I actually did. That’s my biggest regret about this process.
If email marketing plays an integral role in the strategy you have in place for opt ins and inbound marketing, then there’s not a better option available considering the price and ease of use along with powerful features available to you as you grow and require a more complex system in place.
Disclaimer: I’m an affiliate for both AWeber and ConvertKit. I will no longer promote AWeber as an affiliate since I believe it is clearly the inferior platform. If you click on my links to purchase, I do receive a commission, and you receive a hive 5 through the interwebs. Want to get started with convertkit? Click away!