Top 3 reasons I switched to ConvertKit

ConvertKit is the solution I had been waiting for to finally move away from using aWeber and MailChimp.

If you are like me, you probably put up with "almost what I need" or "work arounds" to do your email marketing.

Being skeptical, I waited a bit before trying ConvertKit... Everyone promises to be the "ULTIMATE SOLUTION", so I figured I would wait it out and see if ConvertKit had legs...

Happy to report, no major regrets since switching, in fact, I was surprised at how simple the interface is to use and how easy and powerful the automation features are...

Reason 1 - Not Paying For Duplicate Emails Anymore

ConvertKit is subscriber centric, that means billing is based on the unique email subscriber count...

Other services require you to setup up different interest lists...

That means that if the same person signs up on three different lists with the same email, they get counted three times!

Duplicate emails create an inflated email subscriber count that bumps me up to higher pay tiers and costs me more money, why would I want that?

ConvertKit will not add the same email address twice, instead I can setup simple automation that says if a subscriber signs up for interest X, tag them with interest X...

Then if that same user subscribes on forms for interest Y and interest Z, that same user can be tagged with those additional interest...

That's it, I am not duplicating that email across lists...

Instead, I am building a detailed profile of my subscribers interests to better provide targeted emails...

AND I SAVE MONEY!

Reason 2 - Powerful Yet Simple To Use Automation

Email marketing automation is the next evolutionary step for most internet marketers...

Here is my criteria for automation:

  • It shall not be confusing to setup
  • It shall be easy to adjust
  • It shall be simple to understand existing rules
  • It shall be easy to remove

ConvertKit uses a cause ( Trigger ) and effect ( Action ) interface, take a look at the image below and you can see how easy it is to start building automation rules...

ConvertKit Automation Rules

So far it's been pretty easy to setup automation rules and have several sketches for new ideas to test...

Reason 3 - Simple User Interface

The user interface is simple, in a good way...

I make online services, for other people mostly...

I can't tell you how often I integrate complex designs that make the service difficult to understand and use...

ConvertKit is easy on the eyes without sacrificing functionality...

You won't see tons of buttons and charts or excessive clutter that frustrates and confuses the eyes...

What you will see are simple screens the enable you to do what you need to do quickly and efficiently...

Each screen seems to have exactly what is needed to get the job done...

So what now...

I was using both aWeber and MailChimp and canceled both, I stopped all custom API php scripts I had to write to handle adding, deleting and moving subscribers and I am saving money every month by not paying for duplicate emails...

ConvertKit has been a great tool for email marketing automation and hope that sharing this will help those who are looking for a solid alternative...

HTH
😉

How to create an Early Bird Beta Optin List with ConvertKit

Before I begin writing code for a new membership site, saas project, product or service, I create an Early Bird or Beta Invitation optin interest list.

In short, I add a form on a landing page to start collecting emails from people who show early interest in my product or service. In exchange, they get early access, give input and always get the best deal for being first in line.

ConvertKit makes it much easier for bloggers and software developers to get started.

With no complex UI or crazy forms, it was created by one of us, a fellow blogger and online developer Nathan Barry.

I was very impressed with how simple and easy ConvertKit is to use. I quickly chose to move all of my email marketing to ConvertKit moving away from MailChimp and aWeber.

For me ConvertKit is just so much easier to integrate and powerful while still being affordable!

So let's dive in and see how I used ConvertKit to setup a new landing page with an email capture form.

So why do I need a list?

If you already know why you should start building an email interest list, before you finish your product or service, skip ahead to the next section.

Let's make this short...

Imagine you have a product or service done or almost complete, you spent a lot of time and money, you are ready to launch it, but wait, who are you going to tell?

Some friends? A twitter post? Spend even more money with online ads?

You want to start marketing, start getting customers, guess what? Nobody knows anything about your product or service and now you have to get people interested.

REVERSE THAT THINKING!

Save yourself a ton of time and begin collecting emails of people who WANT and are ACTIVELY seeking for your product or service and can't wait to get it.

Just imagine if you could ask them questions and get great feedback, or have your customer list beta test in exchange for testimonials?

The point is, you can start collecting emails and communicate with your target audience right now using an email marketing service like ConvertKit instead of waiting until your project is done.

The idea is, there is no need to hard sell, people who want your product are out there, capture there interest now and let them be part of the journey.

The Big Picture

Below is flow diagram of how I am planning to have this all work...

  1. Interested visitors will go to a landing page on my site
  2. They will fill out the invitation form provided by ConvertKit
  3. ConvertKit knows which form was used and can automatically tag the subscriber for me, so I can email only these specific subscribers later
  4. Finally, redirect the visitor to a Thank You page!

Beta List Optin Flow

Not so hard right?

The Landing Page

The very first thing I like to put up when starting a new project is the landing page.

Does it need to be fancy? Absolutely not...

Think of the old coming soon pages...

But instead of having visitors leave disappointed, I extend them an "early invitation opportunity"...

See the difference? ( doing best Keanu Reeves "WHOA..." )

It will be the first page I want them to see, in this case it is the only page since it is a new project and there is nothing else!

Below is a screenshot of my project called TextAds...

Elevator Pitch: TextAds.io enables me to create text ads on my sites for my own products or services with one line of javascript!

textads.io

As you can see, nothing fancy, just a simple optin form to get an early invitation for the beta of TextAds.

When starting out, I don't get caught up on having the perfect landing page with scrolling images and testimonials, I keep it simple, in fact the only color on the screen is the call to action button and it's big and green!

TextAds Optin

What's that you say? You don't have the skills or the budget to hire a designer for a landing page?

No worries, ConvertKit provides cut and paste landing pages!

ConvertKit Landing Pages

After selecting the style of the landing page, there are options to customize colors and text, then choose from three different ways to get that landing page on a website:


ConvertKit Embed

  • Add one line of javascript to your page and control the styling via ConvertKit website
  • Cut and paste the entire raw code into your page and customize as much as you want
  • Use their WordPress plugin that enables short codes for easy integration

Tagging Subscribers with ConvertKit Automations

So now that I have a landing page and form setup, I need to tell ConvertKit to tag all users who signed up on this landing page using this specific form.

This way I am able to later send emails only to those who signed up for the beta test.

ConvertKit provides a great feature called Automations.

In the picture below you can see that I setup a special rule that says, anyone who signed up using the TextAds Beta form, go ahead and tag them with TextAds Beta List.

ConvertKit Automation

That's it!

Now, ConvertKit Automations enables me to send tagged users through a series of email sequences that become customized based on the actions they take.

Wait what? How does that work you say?

Take a look at the image below, ConvertKit uses the cause ( Trigger ) and effect ( Action ) approach.

So if any Trigger on the left is performed by a subscriber that matches the criteria, ConvertKit can handle the corresponding Action.

ConvertKit Rules

Here are few examples that might happen:

  • Maybe a tagged visitor purchases product X, I can then tag them with "Product X Customer", now I can stop marketing to them about product X, provide them only support and updates for the product X and possibly cross sell them related products
  • Maybe a tagged visitor completes a sequence of emails ( often known as drip campaigns ) and is not tagged as a purchaser of product X, I can subscribe them to a new sequence ( drip campaign ) to introduce them to different products or services
  • Maybe a tagged visitor clicks on a specific link in my email, based on that Action, I can now send them follow up coupons or bonuses until I see they have been tagged as a purchaser

You could go nuts creating a bunch of Automation rules...

Keep it simple, as you can see, Automation can become a very powerful tool!

Tracking Email Subscribers

So how do we know all of this is working?

ConvertKit provides basic metrics for conversion, in a way I like it that way.

In my opinion, the ConvertKit team should stay focused on providing great email features, there are enough metrics tracking tools available already.

My favorite is called Clicky!

The first step is to set up a Goal to track how many subscribers per day I get.

There are two URL's to track:

The Landing Page - http://textads.io

The Thank You Page - http://textads.io/beta-thanks

Clicky makes setting up Goals very simple...

As you can see in the image below, I named my new goal "Beta Signup"...

Clicky Goals

I then provided the partial URL of the Thank You page ( /beta-thanks ), then I selected an icon, there are several to choose from, so I can tell this goal apart from other goals.

Under Advanced Settings...

I enter a forward slash "/" to make sure that Clicky only tracks this Goal if the visitor first goes to the landing page then ends up immediately on the beta thank you page.

If I needed to, I can even assign revenue or cost to this goal.

Clicky is simple and powerful, combined with ConvertKit, I get two great systems that enable me to focus on my projects, instead of patching or recreating bits and pieces.

So what now?

Get to work!

Seriously, that's it for now, get started, create a landing page, slap an optin form on it and start collecting emails...

Try out ConvertKit and Clicky, post any questions you have below in the comments or email me directly.

HTH

😉

Seinfeld Strategy – The Calendar Method

Like you, I need to stay on task, with countless distraction during the day, I needed a way to both visually see my progress and physically check off goals.

Jerry Seinfeld has been credited for an easy way to both see daily progress and taking a pen to paper to cross off another day of progress...

How it works...

Here is what you need, a red pen and a year long calendar, that's it.

Pretty simple right?

The idea is to build the habit of consistency, everyday, even if it's just a little, do what you promised yourself you would do. Then, simply cross off the day, soon you will begin to build a chain of days, then it will become habit.

WHATEVER YOU DO, DON'T BREAK THE CHAIN!

Some day's will be hard, low energy, half assed, GET IT DONE! NO EXCUSES!

Are we clear?

Good, let's move on...

So, the pen I had, most of you probably have a pen, if not a crayon, sharpee or a pencil will do.

What about the calendar?

I checked on Amazon and both vertical and horizontal giant wall calendars run between $80 to $90...

OUCH!!

Some of you are in startup mode, surviving off ramen noodles or live in countries where the price might be a bit of a stretch.

So I did what anyone determined would do, I searched the googles...

Here is a link that I used to get started right away, it generates a full year calendar small enough to print out on one sheet of paper...


Calendar Generator

Online Calendar Generator

Ok, so now what?

Well, now you need to sit down and really think about what you are going to commit to and do everyday.

Could be as simple as reading a book everyday ( even if it's just one page! ), blogging daily, going for a walk, etc...

Seinfeld's goal, in simple terms, was to write a joke everyday...

Was every joke he wrote funny? Probably not...

The idea is to build the habit of consistency, over time the accumulation of work ( good and bad ) will build the habits you want.

And you know what, you probably will get better, smarter, faster or stronger at what you want to do as well...

Not a bad deal...

All you need is a pen and a calendar...

GET TO WORK!

🙂

Setup JWT for Laravel Lumen and AngularJS

So Laravel rewarded me for being an early adopter of their Micro-Framework Lumen by stripping it of Session and Cookie functionality, forcing me to rewrite code for several sites to use JWT authentication.

If you find yourself in the same spot, below is how is how I added JWT auth, of course in a very basic form as each site I am responsible for has custom integration.

JWT Front End Code

Using Satellizer - https://github.com/sahat/satellizer for AngularJS, the setup was pretty simple:

Update .htaccess

You may or may not have to do this, I did, so I am including it for you. This enables the "Bearer" JWT authentication token to pass through in each request.

Setup JWT Backend

Using composer I installed the PHP-JWT - https://github.com/firebase/php-jwt library.

Here is example code in the controller to check, parse, encode and decode JWT tokens.

Final Thoughts

If you need help or have questions please post them below, this took a bit of time to figure out, but once I did it was pretty easy simplify and replicate.

HTH

😉

UPDATE: Moving from CodeIgniter to Lumen

A while ago, I made the transition from CodeIgniter to Lumen and I wrote about it in a post about picking the right PHP framework for a SAAS membership site...

What I needed was a super lightweight and fast PHP framework to build out all of my MVP ( minimal viable product ) ideas, I chose Lumen by Laravel...

Little did I know HOW MUCH changing from CodeIgniter to Lumen would impact my server performance...

What happened next was CRAZY...

Below is an image of my server memory statistics the day that I pushed live the framework change from CodeIgniter to Lumen...

server-memory

The HUGE dip in memory usage was completely an unexpected performance boost... I figured that CodeIgniter was using a bit memory, I just didn't know the extent of the memory hogging that was going on...

Thinking perhaps this was a temporary thing, maybe the hosting company rebooted my server or somehow MySQL connections got reset...

How could Lumen really free up that much memory on my server right? Could CodeIgniter really be using that much of my total memory?

So I decided to wait a bit longer and then followed up with another screenshot that you can see below...

memory-statistics-2

About two days later, I took another screenshot of the memory statistics, the codebase now using Lumen by Laravel instead CodeIgniter showed just how much memory was NOW available...

Aside from some heavier cron jobs run in the early hours, most of the day is pretty steady now using Lumen as the PHP framework...

Just to be sure... I took another screenshot this morning of current memory usage, that's three months later and the screenshot is almost an exact duplicate of three months ago...

NOTE: I actually squeezed out slightly more memory with some code changes, so there is a bit MORE memory now available than three months ago!

memory-statistics-3

Steady and much faster with more memory available to handle sudden spikes... Very happy with Lumen from Laravel and would recommend it to anyone looking to build their next PHP project...

Before you upgrade your server...

Take a look at your framework... I know it's a pain to think of migrating to a new framework, the cost and time involved is nothing to take lightly, especially with larger projects that require code and content migration...

Year over year, you could actually benefit your business if you take the hit now and move to a framework that would enable you to use the money saved to re-invest into your business rather than handing it over to a hosting company for extra memory or servers...

Running lighter and leaner could end up providing a higher ROI when you take into account the cost of VPS or cloud hosting versus pumping that money back into your business...

It's easy to keep upgrading hosting, adding more memory or servers, even if you have deep pockets, eventually hosting fee's can get out of control...

But, when was the last time you looked at your codebase or framework? You could be leaking money and lot's of it!

Who is Cesar Serna?

Located in Southern California, I am a WordPress developer, iOS Game Developer and on rare occasion a Flamenco guitarist.