The Silver Bullet in ConvertKit’s Rapid Growth

People are resistant to change. It’s a pain, takes time, and can result in a temporary loss of income and customers. Even if you know the change will benefit you long-term, the initial pain can delay change for months or years.

Nathan recognized this early on with ConvertKit. Even though he had a great product built specifically to help bloggers sell more products and deliver more content, he was having trouble getting people to switch.

Ideal customer: “Nathan, sounds great, but I have everything set up finally in Chimpwebersoft.”

Nathan: -_-

Nathan: !O.O!

Nathan: “What if I did all of that for you?”

Ideal customer: !O.O!

Thus, full-service migrations became a pivotal part of ConvertKit’s growth, and essential for attracting customers with larger subscriber lists.

Overcoming the final challenge for a customer

What we’ve done with migrations is remove the final challenge of switching. We voluntarily take on the pain of the process and re-create the entire subscriber journey inside of ConvertKit.

The process takes about five business days (depending on a number of factors), and we migrate forms, landing pages, follow-up sequences, and the actual subscriber lists.

Then one magic day we switch the forms out, and the customer is on ConvertKit. They have felt zero pain and spent very little time on the entire migration. Because of this, the possibility of them migrating to another service plummets because they’d have to handle the migration personally.

Why don’t more companies do this?

I’ve yet to see migrations implemented as a growth strategy for many apps, despite the long-term benefit to the company. I know part of the reason from the software provider perspective is that it’s a time-intensive process.

Migrations are what I spend the majority of my time on at ConvertKit. We have enormous sunk costs of time and subsequent revenue invested in migration projects, but why do them when people might switch anyway? If the product is superior and the messaging is on-point, does it pay to be proactive? I could be doing other things at ConvertKit…

One reason is we don’t mess around with “might switch”. We want people “to switch”.

Another reason is the raw numbers show the benefit of migrations. Since March of 2015, we have processed 175 migrations from a variety of customers. The results?

  • 20,000 average starting subscriber count
  • $36k MRR just from migrations
  • Equals roughly 10% of total MRR from 2% of customer base
  • A 0.45% churn rate, compared to 6% for other customers

These numbers are staggering for us. It means are highest value customers are switching over and not leaving. When I joined ConvertKit in October 2015, we were around $36k MRR total. Now that is matched by under 200 customers.

What we do with migrations

Full-service means what it says. We take all of your forms, follow-up sequences, products, integrations, and subscriber lists and bring them over to ConvertKit for you.

Before the migration begins, we usually have an initial onboarding call with the customer. This is helpful to clarify any questions and set a realistic timeline for completion. Contrary to my initial belief, there isn’t much correlation between number of subscribers and length of the migration.

I’ve brought over 80,000 subscribers who only needed one follow-up email copied and two forms switched. I’ve also migrated 3,000 subscribers who had 30 lists and 300 follow up emails (I drew the line there).

You get the idea, it’s not about the number of subscribers, it’s the total content and forms to be moved. This is why the initial call is so important. The 80k account could be moved over in an afternoon, the 3k account may take two to three weeks.

Migrations overall are not complicated, but can be time-consuming. There’s no great way to export/import actual email content besides copy-paste-format. Styling forms is the most technical part we handle, but many customers are using lead gen tools (LeadPages, SumoMe, Optin Monster) we integrate with anyway.

We’ve become very good at attention to the details and even improving a funnel in the move to ConvertKit. I always ask “What frustrated you with Chimpwebersoft?”. Solving that problem and showing how it works in ConvertKit is a great moment for everyone.

Internal Communication & Documentation

The process starts with an intake form that gives us the details necessary to complete the migration. I map everything in Asana with five primary tasks.

  1. Communications
  2. Forms
  3. Sequences
  4. Subscribers
  5. Automations & Integrations

Each form, sequence, or list is listed as a subtask in the primary task. In the description for each primary task, I paste in the details from the intake form. The communication task is where we record and check each conversation, along with the next steps for the account. This allows anyone to pop in to the account project and see what’s been done and what the next steps are to keep it going.

For several months, migrations faced a huge bottleneck at any given time. I wasn’t documenting my process or training anyone to step in if I had to step away or took time off. This changed in June before I took a week off. We dialed in the migration processes, how to handle each aspect of the process, and how we document each migration individually.

Now, in addition to regular updates to the open migrations in Asana, I also post daily updates to Slack so anyone in the company can get a big picture idea of how each migration is processing. This is especially helpful for the growth team, who have handled the customer acquisition and want to see how the customer is coming along.

Follow-up & growth

For us, the migration isn’t an assembly line of new customers that we can quickly flip. It’s the first interaction for a long-term relationship.

I follow up in the first month to make sure there are no questions or missed opportunities to optimize the account. After the initial check-in, we do it again every six months to make sure they are being heard and cared for.

These check-ins are the first step towards account management for top-tier customers. For now, our standard 60 minute support response time provides any on-demand service needed.

We’ll probably stay on this system for a long time because one of the downsides of dedicated account managers is the risk of having a bottleneck in support. We can remove that issue with “all hands on deck” support and great note-taking in the account profiles.

Any company or service can benefit from a migration service. Asking the question “what’s the biggest challenge or obstacle to people switching to us?” and proactively solving it may just be the final assist they need.


Want to talk more migrations, or even have me take care of yours? I’m matt [at] convertkit.com or find me on Twitter at Matt Ragland.