Ah, email lists. I can remember several years ago when they first really started becoming a thing and everyone (including myself) was talking about why it’s so important to have one – regardless of whether you’re a lifestyle blogger or a creative business owner.
I’m guessing you already know that, but in case you haven’t the changes Instagram has proposed (like no longer showing us the number of likes other people get on their photos) as well as the occasional instability of social media makes it so important that you have one platform your audience can opt-in to that you know you will always be in control of.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about one of the hardest decisions to make with your email list: which platform is right for you? There are so many great options, and the easy thing to do is use the free platform or the one that your favorite brand recommends. However, it’s super important that you make sure you’re picking the right platform for your brand and your goals.
So, this week on the blog I want to break down a few things that you want to pay attention to when selecting your email marketing platform and compare the three most popular platforms for bloggers and creative business owners!
What to look for in your email marketing platform
There are three main things I think everyone should take into consideration when selecting where they want their email list to live:
- Your goals with your email list
- The cost + how you’re going to be billed
- The integrations the platform offers
Let’s take a second to break those down.
Why you’re starting your list
It’s important to consider this from the very beginning because it gives you an idea of the things you need to be able to do with your email marketing platform. Knowing your why will tell you if you need a super robust platform or if you can get away with something pretty simple. For example, several years ago, I started my list because I wanted to build a stronger community with my audience, so when I was getting started I decided on the free version of MailChimp. Now, I run my list for Coded Creative to cultivate a community for my brand but also to make sells of my products.
So here are a few examples of what your why might be to:
- Generate sales on my products or services
- Build a stronger community beyond my blog and share my content
- Validate your product ideas
The cost + how you’re billed
There’s a huge range of prices when it comes to the different platforms out there. The one thing that they all have in common is that they’re charging you for the number of subscribers you have. Some start at lower price points, some jump around based on how your list grows, and some are even free!
The first thing you have to ask yourself is “Can I afford this?” As I mentioned before, just because someone else that you look up to is using a certain platform doesn’t mean that you can afford it or that you even should be on it. If you can’t afford that certain platform, that’s okay! There are two things you can do:
- Start with a cheaper option.
- See where you can make room in your budget.
Personally I recommend starting with a cheaper option because even the free platforms for your email list have really great features!
What integrations are available?
Many people are working on automating parts of their business, creating free or paid content for their audience, or something else equally as awesome. If you’re doing something like that, that means that you need your email marketing platform to integrate with different tools that you use to run your business. Unfortunately, that means integrations are another thing that you have to keep in mind when you’re picking your platform for your email list.
For example, if you have digital products or know you want to launch a shop in the future, then you want to know that whatever tool you’ll use to sell your products (like WooCommerce or Podia) will integrate with the platform your list lives on.
So now that you know what to consider first, let’s compare some of the more popular platforms out there that you can choose from.
The pros of MailChimp make it a clear choice for those who are just getting started with their list. In fact, I started on MailChimp and stayed with them for a while before moving on to a bigger platform:
- Free option up until 2,000 subscribers
- Super easy to use – no tech training
- Easy to make your email template match your brand
- Automation feature is available to customers on the free plan
Just like with anything else, though, there are cons, and these might keep you from wanting to pick MailChimp for your platform:
- Pay per subscriber, which means you pay more if 1 person is on multiple lists
- Need another platform (like Easier Business Blogging) to help offer content upgrades easily
- Not quite so easy to organize your subscribers based on their interests
MailChimp is perfect for lifestyle bloggers or business owners who are just getting started. Anyone who doesn’t need a super complex automation or tagging system with their email list will love this platform.
There are a ton of people, even really big brands, using ConvertKit, which makes it sounds amazing. I’m not going to lie, these pros are really nice:
- Easily create simple landing pages
- Embedded opt-in forms mobile responsive with no additional coding or plugins
- Super easy to automatically organize your subscribers based on their interests
- No extra platform required to offer multiple free downloads
- Not paying double for the same subscriber being on multiple lists (i.e. having multiple interests in the different types of content you share)
However, the cons for ConvertKit may steer you away:
- No free option (however they do have a free trial)
- Pop-up forms aren’t mobile responsive
- Quite a few integrations are missing (like Squarespace)
ConvertKit is great for business owners who have more of a variety of content and need to segment their list more aggressively.
After trying out a few other platforms for both the email list for this brand and my personal website, I ultimately landed on MailerLite. With these pros, it’s no surprise:
- Free up to 1,000 subscribers + cheaper plans
- Automation feature on the free plan
- Easily create simple landing pages
- Not paying double for the same subscriber being on multiple lists
There are cons, though:
- Requires a few extra clicks to view stats on emails and automations
- The automation feature isn’t as robust as something like ConvertKit or Drip
MailerLite is a great alternative to MailChimp, and another awesome selection for lifestyle bloggers or beginner business owners. It’s also great for anyone who doesn’t need to heavily segment their list or complex automation options.
So, did you pick the right platform for you?
There are many platforms out there, as I’ve mentioned, and it’s okay to test a few out before landing on the one that you stay with for the long term. In fact, I’ve been on 4 different email marketing platforms over the course of the last several years before finally sticking with one that I can see myself staying on for the next few years (at least).
If you need more help with you email list, be sure to check out the Rock Your Email List workbook. For just $19 you can get a workbook that will guide you from starting your list from scratch or improving your list.