In this article I’m going to share a few things we can learn from ConvertKit’s recent roll out of their free plan.
It was a couple weeks ago now, but the lessons are worth documenting because they’ve helped us avoid a couple similar mistakes in our efforts to improve our offerings.
If you’re not familiar with ConvertKit, they are an email marketing service focused on the creator niche.
Essentially they have simplified the process of creating and automating emails and made it easy to set up landing pages for growing your email list.
We used their service for a few months, however, we didn’t see any additional value in ConvertKit over Mailchimp which we’ve used for several years, resulting in our switching back to Mailchimp.
The roll out…
To some this might seem a little backwards, offering a free plan after becoming a sustainable company with millions in recurring revenue.
Usually we think of freemium as a way to get consumer buy-in and start growing your subscribership.
We built the free plan for beginner creators to have a place to start vs. overwhelming them with more complex features like sequences and visual automations.Email from ConvertKit
This strategy is not unique to ConvertKit.
Mailchimp did the same thing. They first became a profitable company before offering their free plan.
I’d suspect that there are thousands of creators interested in ConvertKit, but shy on convention because of the price tag, which starts at $29/month.
And based on the initial numbers shared in an email form ConvertKit, 7,000 subscribers to the free plan within a couple weeks of the launch day, I’d say they were on the right track with offering a free plan.
Where it all fell apart
I want to drop in a reminder here, ConvertKit is an Email Marketing platform.
Where this offering feel apart was in the available plan features.
The only thing the free plan provided was the landing page builder.
That’s right. No ability to send emails.
I personally subscribed to the free plan, because I like to check these things out before we write about them or recommend them to our customers.
I was very much turned off by the free plans lack of features. Kind of pointless to have an email marketing service that doesn’t allow you to send emails.
Which by the way, they didn’t disclose in the press release or plan details.
What’s the point then?
Ultimately I don’t know what ConvertKit’s plan or strategy was, I can only speculate based on the information I have.
The plan allowed you to setup landing pages and the purpose of these landing pages it to start building your subscriber list.
So I suspect they were targeting the brand new email marketing user.
There was a way to “unlock” the email function of your account.
You had to invite people to join. For every referral you brought on you’d get so many subscriber credits.
For example, and these are not the really numbers, for every person you refer (and signs up for ConvertKit) you can now have 10 subscribers.
So ultimately, the more people you refer the more subscribers you can have and now you can use ConvertKit’s email feature.
Huge problem, how many of those initial 7000 accounts where the same user referring themselves at a different email address?
The end result
Apparently, ConvertKit got a lot of “feedback”, from new free plan subscribers.
My inbox was flooded with responses, most were positive and several offered constructive feedback.Email from ConvertKit
They ended up adjusting the free plan to include 100 subscribers and unlocking broadcast sending immediately.
Which really is a perfect start for a beginner.
A decent size list and the ability to send emails to that list.
I’m willing to bet they get a much higher conversion rate from this plan then they would have from the original plan.