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How ConvertKit Grows Through Concierge Migrations

Stealing competitors' clients by offering them free switches.

Hey — It’s Nico.

Welcome to another episode of Behind Tactics 🧠, the newsletter in which I analyze all the different marketing strategies startups use to succeed in their markets.

This issue is brought to you by TLDR, the free daily newsletter covering tech, science, and coding news.

Today, I want to talk about the often exasperating task of migrating data from one platform to another.

More precisely, I aim to explore how this process could cost you valuable clients and how innovative startups like ConvertKit tackle this challenge head-on with dedicated Concierge Migration Services.

Let's dive in.

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The Strategy

Migration Experts

We all know how annoying it can be to migrate your data from one tool to another. 

Exporting from one database, importing it into another, checking if everything fits, sorting out any issues – it's a headache.

Unsurprisingly, when Nathan Barry launched the marketing platform for content creators, ConvertKit, many of his potential clients said that they loved the product but didn't want to bother transferring their data to a new platform.

Nathan faced a challenge: the hurdle of switching platforms. No matter how great his new product was, people would stick with what they knew rather than face the hassle of moving data and learning something new.

To overcome this, Nathan created a dedicated migration concierge team that provides personalized assistance to all new clients.

Currently, if you are a ConvertKit Creator subscriber, this team will transfer all your data from your previous tool. They handle everything from migrating subscriber lists and tags to email templates and even automations and integrations with other tools.

The process is personalized: you're paired with a concierge who understands your needs and crafts a migration plan. Once the plan is set, the migration begins. It typically takes up to 10 business days. Once it's complete, your concierge guides you through your new ConvertKit account. 

This strategy significantly reduces the friction of switching platforms, making attracting clients from your competitors much easier. 

In just six months after implementing its concierge service, ConvertKit saw a remarkable revenue surge from $1300 per month to $5000 per month.

When This Works

Are you wondering if your startup could benefit from a strategy like ConvertKit's concierge service? Here's a key indicator: if the hassle of migration is a deal-breaker for many customers, it's time to consider it.

If you're receiving positive feedback about your product but hearing hesitations due to migration concerns, that's a clear signal that investing in a concierge team could greatly benefit your business.

However, you should also consider two other things: migration costs and client lifetime value (LTV).

The expected client LTV should always be much higher than the migration costs. If your industry has a low client LTV or a high churn rate, offering free migrations might not be financially viable.

On the other hand, if migration costs are too high, it becomes challenging to recoup the investment. Before implementing a migration service, assess the difficulty and duration of migrating your average customer. Longer migrations increase costs and make profitability harder to achieve.

Should I?

Why This Works

  • It removes a client’s objection: When comparing two services or products, customers typically consider the pros and cons of each. However, for businesses like ConvertKit, the scale often tips towards sticking with the current platform due to the hassle of migrations. By eliminating this obstacle, we can level the playing field and empower users to choose the superior product based solely on its merits.

  • It builds loyalty and reduces churn rate: Receiving assistance from a personal expert when transitioning to a new platform fosters a stronger bond between the user and the platform. The human interaction and customized support make users feel valued and cared for by the company. This sense of loyalty begins from day one and is evident in the results. In ConvertKit, the churn rate for accounts that undergo migration is approximately 1.5%, significantly lower than the usual 5.5%.

  • It increases the pool of potential clients: Without it, companies like ConvertKit would be limited to acquiring new clients who have never used a similar tool or competitor's product. However, by offering a migration service, the company can also attract clients from competitors, thereby broadening its customer base.

How to Apply It

The first thing you should do is try to understand the needs of your potential customers:

  • Identify the types of data they need to migrate. Is it sales leads, client information, emails, or project data?

  • Determine where this data is typically stored. Are there major competitors housing most of your potential clients' data? If so, assess how easily data can be exported from these competitors.

  • Understand your customers' primary pain points. When discussing the migration process, what aspects do they find most challenging? For instance, while some ConvertKit users may not mind migrating email lists, they might express concerns about transferring integrations with other tools.

Once you have an idea of the user’s needs, you can develop a migration plan for your average user. While this plan may vary significantly among users, having a template is crucial for assessing the process's main stages and its complexity level.

With a clear understanding of what needs to be migrated, where it's coming from, and how it will be done, it's time to determine your approach to handling migrations. There are three main methods:

  • Build guides or automations: This is the most cost-effective option, especially for startups. You create guides or automate processes to assist users through the migration. For instance, ConvertKit developed guides to help clients migrate contacts from competitors like MailChimp. They also introduced tools like the Mailchimp Contacts Importer to streamline the process. While this strategy is affordable and straightforward, it lacks the personalized touch of a concierge team. Users still have to do the work themselves, which may deter some, and it doesn't foster the same level of loyalty as having a human expert guide you.

  • Do the migrations yourself: This approach is only suitable for small businesses and startups. In ConvertKit's early days, the founder personally handled migrations. While this method is cost-effective and offers personalized attention like a concierge team, it is very time-intensive and lacks scalability. For this reason, once ConvertKit started having more customers, they had to build a dedicated team to handle migrations. 

  • Build a dedicated concierge team: Ultimately, ConvertKit adopted this approach. It is by far the most expensive option, but it provides numerous advantages. It enhances the user experience, creates loyal customers, and persuades those reluctant to handle migrations independently.

Yes, But

  • It is expensive: Having a dedicated team just to handle migrations is really expensive. This is why it is vital to consider the LTV of the average client to determine if this investment is worthwhile. For smaller startups, creating guides can be a more cost-effective way of solving the problem.

  • It can be hard to scale: Providing personalized services is manageable with a few new customers each month, but scaling to handle thousands of new clients becomes challenging. Personalized migrations for a large volume of clients require a significant workforce, leading to increased costs and operational complexity.

  • Some customers might take too much work: In ConvertKit, a user with many automations or integrations might take so much work and time that migrating becomes a waste of money. However, you can’t say no to these customers since this is a service you offer.

Keep Learning

Others Playing It

  • The open-source blogging platform Ghost.org provides a concierge migration service to help users migrate all their articles, newsletters, members, and payments from other platforms. You also get access to their support team and specialist consulting to develop your business on Ghost.

  • Gatsby, the JS framework, offers various concierge teams to assist developers throughout their journey. These teams include the Performance Concierge, which audits web performance; the Builds Concierge, focused on optimizing build times; and the Onboarding Concierge, dedicated to teaching Gatsby's best practices.

  • SocialBee, the social media management tool, offers a Concierge Migration Service akin to ConvertKit's. However, SocialBee charges $199 for this service. While this pricing model reduces costs for the company, it may deter many potential customers due to its additional expense.

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