BeeHiiv versus Substack (my reasoning)

Good morning and happy Monday. 🥰 

By the time this issue goes out… I am on a cruise ship. Somewhere approaching Puerto Rico, in all likelihood.

But, this is also the first issue of The Edge being sent out via BeeHiiv. So, crossing my fingers. 🤞🫢 

Learning a new platform. Experimenting with some format changes. And as always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on how I can keep this newsletter as useful to you as possible.

On this note, I had several people ask me why I chose BeeHiiv over Substack. Plus, apparently some confusion because they thought I was suddenly sour on FluentCRM. So, in this week’s article… it is a BeeHiiv versus Substack.

So, let’s get movin’…

Popular Right Now…

We’re kinda past the deadline, but you may have seen the hoopla about Google Universal Analytics ceasing to work after July 1st. And they’ve been forcing everybody into their new version of Google Analytics. Whether you like it or not.

If you still have the old code on your site, your site is literally not tracking stats anymore. Plus, you can’t even bring your historical data into the new version. It is like Google is trying to knee-cap site owners and just figures “We’re Google, so shut up and do what we say”.

Screw Google. I switched completely over to Fathom Analytics.

You can import all your historical Analytics data into Fathom. Fathom also respects your privacy. It is fully GDPR compliant. And it is also simple enough to understand as it doesn’t take a damn PhD to understand and use it.

You can try Fathom out for 30 days. You can also read more about why I switched over here.

NOTE: If you’re a Concierge client, I can set your site up with Fathom at no additional charge to you. It is part of your Concierge plan. All you’ve gotta do is ask. 🙂 Learn more about Concierge here.

BeeHiiv versus Substack (And Why I Chose BeeHiiv)

Last week, I talked about how I was making a big shift in my strategy for my RV site as well as this very newsletter.

I was going to take newsletter growth more seriously. The RV site would focus primarily on the newsletter format, while The Edge would switch to a new platform and be managed separately.

That platform is BeeHiiv.

In fact, you can probably tell because this very issue is coming to you from BeeHiiv. It probably looks kinda different. 😁 

(I admit I’m kinda crossing my fingers this goes smoothly as this is the first issue of The Edge I’m specifically publishing on the new platform. 😔 )

I got several emails from subscribers asking why I chose BeeHiiv over Substack. So, let me share with you my reasoning.

To be clear, even besides the fact that I chose to go with BeeHiiv, that doesn’t mean I think Substack sucks. 😇 In fact, because Substack has been around longer, it is more mature and has more features.

Even though BeeHiiv is younger, there are a couple things that initially got my attention:r

BeeHiiv is specifically tailored to newsletter publishers. In fact, it is literally built by the same folks who built the technology behind Morning Brew. On the other hand, SubStack targets writers. In the real world, doesn’t matter. But, the obvious positioning of BeeHiiv toward newsletter growth called me out over the more generic positioning of being a “creator”. Growth is what I’m interested in here.

That branding and differentiation also means that BeeHiiv has some fairly large brands and large publications using it. Whereas SubStack is aimed more at solo creators. Again, it just tells me the customer avatar difference between the two companies.

Sending our my newsletter via FluentCRM didn’t exactly suck. The only reason I would ponder shaking things up is if I thought I could GROW the list faster. And BeeHiiv spoke exactly to that goal.

But, let’s dive deeper than just the positioning here.

Things That Make BeeHiiv Better Than Substack

Overall, BeeHiiv seems like it was built by people who understanding email marketing. On the other hand, SubStack seems more geared toward creators.

For instance, BeeHiiv offers custom fields on subscribers. Now, it isn’t as developed as something like FluentCRM. But, it has it. Substack doesn’t.

BeeHiiv offers Automations. In fact, it is a visual automation builder that works a lot like what we have inside of FluentCRM.

To be clear, the automation functionality is still early-phase. It is still quite limited in triggers and the only action is the ability to send an email. However, enhancements are coming. Soon enough, automations will have new triggers as well as new actions, such as modifying custom fields, sending webhooks, etc.

Substack does not have automations like this. Likely, it never will.

This is an important function because you can use it to enroll people into followup email sequences depending on where they came from. For instance, you can use it to deliver lead magnets via BeeHiiv. Substack just can’t do this because the target market of Substack just wouldn’t think to approach this like an email marketer.

When it comes to writing your newsletters, the writing interface of BeeHiiv is just more geared toward newsletters. In fact, it actually has similarities to the WordPress block builder in how it works. I find it to be more intuitive, personally.

Substack’s writing interface is nice and clean, but it would be more equivalent to the classic editor for WordPress. Toolbar at the top.

This difference is more than just form. For instance, with BeeHiiv you can insert a “Section” and then put anything you want in it. Then, you can put Visibility options on that section to show it only to paid subscribers, hide it from email, hide from subscribers, show only to subscribers, etc. Substack offers nothing like this.

BeeHiiv also does audience segments for email list segmentation. It has more thorough analytics.

And when/if the time comes that I start a premium subscription model, BeeHiiv doesn’t take any revenue. In fact, you literally connect up to your own Stripe account and it charges directly to it. With Substack, they will take 10% of your revenue. Depending on how many subscribers you get, that 10% can be quite a bit more money than the monthly cost of BeeHiiv.

Lastly, BeeHiiv has an API. This might seem nerdy, but what it means is that there are integrations with BeeHiiv. You can actually make BeeHiiv work with the outside using tools like Zapier or Make.com. This is HUGE. Substack literally has… nothing. No integrations at all.

Overall, I just felt like BeeHiiv was more built toward real email marketing. It was built by people who “get it”. Even the opt-in forms and the landing page designs seem better built for conversions. Growth is the name of the game with BeeHiiv.

Even though there are still features I would like to see BeeHiiv add, I like the direction it is going more than Substack.

Things That Make Substack Better Than BeeHiiv

As I have said, Substack positions itself toward “creators” more than email marketers and newsletter owners. For that reason, you see some things geared more toward people who just think in terms of content creation.

For instance, Substack supports podcasts. BeeHiiv does not.

Also, while BeeHiiv does support multiple publications, they are treated quite separately. Whereas Substack does have the ability to cross-post to multiple publications at the same time. This isn’t something I require, but… cool for people who might need it.

Substack also has more social functionality built-in. For instance, it has a chat function to host chats with subscribers. It also has a “Notes” function which works kind of like a social media newsfeed where you can share things from other “Stacks” you’re reading. Interesting. Overall, Substack is set up to be more like a social network which supports long-form content.

Overall, Substack is also more… minimalist. You either care for that or don’t. Personally, I don’t. However, if the goal is simplicity of interface and, frankly, features… Substack works pretty well.

But, I’ll be clear here…

When it comes to actual marketing, I don’t think there’s much doubt that BeeHiiv is better suited. I tried to find more points that make Substack better than BeeHiiv, but frankly… I have a hard time finding them. 😇 

Things I Would Like BeeHiiv To Add

One of the things you definitely need to keep in mind is that BeeHiiv is relatively young. They do seem to evolve rather quickly and make new product announcements somewhat often, but there are some basic features I really wish they had that I need to just wait for.

One is that they need to have a setting on subscription forms where I could select an automation to run right at the form level. That would be AWESOME for so many reasons. As of now, subscription forms look OK, but there’s very little settings for them to aid in segmentation.

It would be nice to have tagging at the subscriber level. This would be powerful.

I’ve already mentioned this, but the Automation builder needs some additional triggers and action types. Being able to change custom fields, change tags (when/if they add that) would be great. Being able to trigger automations on specific forms, tag changes, custom field changes, etc. Being able to send off webhooks within automations.

There are also some minor administrative interface changes that would be handy. For instance:

Ability to bulk edit/remove subscribers.

Ability to bulk edit posts (for instance, to tag a bunch of them at the same time)

Having a few basic fields as standard on subscribers (like the name)

Some more customization options for the website (such as more flexible color choices, headline control, etc.)

So, yeah… there are some shortcomings. Things I hope they do with it in the near future. BeeHiiv is pretty good, but it isn’t perfect and certainly not nearly as developed as something like FluentCRM or any other real CRM product.

And Finally… Does This Mean I’m Not Using FluentCRM Anymore?

I had one subscriber email me with disappointment… because he thought I was switching to BeeHiiv and abandoning my recommendation and usage of FluentCRM.

Not. At. All.

For one, BeeHiiv is pretty cool, but it is not even close to a full CRM. I’d be quite screwed if I didn’t have an in-house email list. 😀 

FluentCRM continues to be at the core of my tech stack of how the Blog Marketing Academy works. And I am not switching The Edge to BeeHiiv because of any specific shortcomings of FluentCRM.

In fact, I still abide by my principle of digital sovereignty. I will be putting all new EDGE subscribers from BeeHiiv into FluentCRM and tagged accordingly that way I have my own in-house data set. I simply refuse to use BeeHiiv in a way which makes me 100% dependent on them.

To be clear, the BeeHiiv API and integrations make it capable of being PART of my tech stack and not the entirety of it. I am already using webhooks from FluentCRM as well as Make.com to send leads into BeeHiiv from other sources. Once they put webhooks into automations within BeeHiiv, I will use that to send leads back into FluentCRM.

I am using BeeHiiv because it is suited well to The Edge. It is suited to help me GROW this newsletter. It has tools specifically for that purpose. I am going to use BeeHiiv as a tool to help me accomplish that. And still send leads into FluentCRM.

Everything has it’s strengths.

I’ll continue to keep you in the loop on what I learn and how things go here.

Tech Talk

As of the next release of WordPress (version 6.3), they are officially dropping support for PHP5. Which makes sense because that’s REALLY old. Most hosts are running PHP 8.x now. If you are still running such an old version of PHP, then… well… it is well beyond time to upgrade your hosting.

WP Rocket (the popular WordPress performance plugin) has officially turned 10. The training wheels are off. 😉 Of course, they’re “celebrating” with a 25% off sale. So, if it’s something you’ve been considering, you know what to do.

A patch to the Ultimate Member plugin fixes a “privilege escalation vulnerability”. You need to update to 2.6.7 to patch the problem. Because… well, hackers being able to elevate their own permissions seems less than ideal for a membership site. But, maybe it’s just me.

The WordPress core team is running a community survey for feedback on Admin Notices. They’re trying to fix the annoying issue with how admin notices are handled (like the outright abuse of the system to inject ads by plugin developers), but they want to make sure they focus on the right things. I filled it out to put in my 2 cents.

Whenever you’re ready, here’s how I can help you:

Concierge: I’ll be your “web guy”, helping to maintain your site for you do you don’t have to think about it. Also includes access to my agency plugin licenses, site analytics, and a massive discount on any potential project work on your site.

I’ll Do It For You: Via my technical services, I can dive into your site and take care of the complex stuff for you. Whether it be just some tweaks… or building out a full membership site and marketing automation funnel, I can ensure your WordPress site is working for you and not the other way around.

Book A Call Anytime. Via a private one-on-one call, I’ll make your business… my business. Easy peasy.

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