How ConvertKit is using AI to protect the creator economy from spam


The stakes are always high when it comes to spam prevention. But especially for a platform like ConvertKit, which offers contact forms, email marketing automation, and e-commerce tools for over 428,000 creators – the stakes were higher.

Their billing model, the email reputation of its customers, and ConvertKit’s own reputation were on the line. They implemented Akismet, an advanced AI that intelligently filters out spam, to automate spam prevention.

Long story, short – the plan paid off. In this case study, we sit down with Jon Lunsford and Romane Dagain from the ConvertKit team, who oversaw the implementation of Akismet.

428k +

Served by ConvertKit

20h saved

Per customer, by using Akismet

We deep dive into what it takes to protect your company and your customers from spam at scale, and how you can follow a similar playbook to find the same peace of mind that ConvertKit now enjoys.

You can expect to learn:

  1. We deep dive into what it takes to protect your company and your customers from spam at scale, and how you can follow a similar playbook to find the same peace of mind that ConvertKit now enjoys.
  2. The process ConvertKit went through to implement Akismet as a solution to its spam problem.
  3. The benefits of using Akismet for ConvertKit, include time savings through automation, improved reputation, and zero-friction contact forms for the end-user.
  4. The results of using Akismet, include increased customer satisfaction, increased conversion rates by removing friction, and the ability to focus on delivering better features for customers.

Full Case Study

ConvertKit is the go-to marketing hub for the creator economy. Authors, musicians, podcasters, coaches, and many other creators choose ConvertKit to:

  • Grow an audience of email subscribers.
  • Automate email marketing and turn that audience into fans.
  • Sell digital products to those engaged fans.

And so far it’s going pretty well, I’d say. Over 428,000 creators are using ConvertKit to connect with over 565 million fans online. It’s widely known as the go-to platform for creators to build an audience, connect with them, and ultimately make a living online.

The Problem

“It’s me, hi, I’m the problem, it’s me.” – Spam
Spam ruins everything, doesn’t it?

Spammers want attention, and the ability to reach a large audience of people quickly and easily. This is why platforms like ConvertKit are a target for spammers. Think about it – contact forms, email automation, e-commerce – there are opportunities for spam everywhere.

In ConvertKit’s case, the “cost of doing nothing” was far too high. The effects of spam, especially if not properly addressed, would trickle down to nearly every part of their business.

If we allow form submissions just wide open, what will happen is eventually a bunch of fake subscribers or email addresses will end up in customers accounts. And that has pretty significant downstream effects.”

John Lunsford, Senior Engineer at ConvertKit
Billing“It affects our customers – our billing model is based on the size of the account. And we don’t want to bill them for garbage. We only want to bill them for real subscribers, so it’s a significant factor.”
Creator’s Email Reputation“Another downstream effect is they’re sending to these email lists. And if the list isn’t great (includes fake/spam subscribers) then their send reputation goes down. And the deliverability reputation is huge. It has huge ramifications for the business”
ConvertKit’s Reputation“If our customer’s send reputation goes down (because of spam), ConverKit’s reputation goes down as well. So there are some pretty significant effects that would happen if we didn’t do anything.”
Little Fires Everywhere“We were sort of putting out fires. All of a sudden some IP addresses of ours were not delivering well and customers noticed. They see their emails landing in spam, which is horrible for them. That’s when we’d catch it – after the damage had been done. And there was a period of time when that was happening more than we liked. So that’s when we started implementing Akismet.”

Curious about pricing?

Whether you need spam protection for large networks, multisite installations, or something more custom, our team of experts is happy to help. We’ll learn more about your needs and come up with a no-pressure recommendation.

The Solution

*Spoiler – it’s Akismet
Akismet has been blocking spam since spam was in diapers. That was 2005, to be clear. In that time, Akismet has blocked over 500 billion pieces of spam at a staggering 99.99% accuracy rate. How? Akismet gets smarter with each site that’s protected, and its advanced AI has learned from over 100 million sites.

It was also built by Automattic, the team behind WordPress, WooCommerce, Tumblr, and many other tools that make the web a better place.

But accuracy and reliability weren’t the only factors for ConvertKit when looking for a solution. Considering the audience they serve, preserving conversion rates on forms was of utmost importance as well.

Nobody Likes A Captcha
Adding Captchas to their customers’ forms would mean adding friction, and thus lower conversion rates. And that’s not what ConvertKit stands for. They want their creators to have access to forms with the highest conversion rates, while also being free from spam. Compromising one for the other just wasn’t an option.

“To click or not to click?”

Romane Dagain, Senior Product Manager, explains, “What we’re trying to do is really to have this solution that takes care of all of that. So when you think about it, the creators value conversion here.”

ConvertKit needed a solution that blocked spam without blocking conversions for their customers. Something that intelligently worked behind the scenes and wouldn’t add friction or make for a frustrating user experience.

”Um…using a Captcha is not ideal. And I think everyone here agrees with that.”

Romane Dagain, Senior Product Manager

One Solution For All
Because ConvertKit’s audience is very diverse, they needed a solution that worked for everyone – not just their highest-paying customers. Romane explains, “We’ve got a very wide, wide range of people. We’ve got people who will be very tech-savvy. You’ve got people who are just starting. You’ve got people who have a very small email list, and you have really big stars. So we need to have something that is easy to use for all of them and is safe to do so. And I think for us, adaptability and reputation are very much like a competitive asset.”

The Results

“We don’t worry about spam anymore.”
ConvertKit went from “putting out fires” left by frequent spam attacks to the peace of mind of a solution that keeps them one step ahead of the spammers. And it was all possible using Akismet’s advanced AI to intelligently find and filter out spam.

”With Akismet, we don’t really have to think about spam prevention, which allows us to work on other things. It allows us to work on delivering better features for our customers that they care about – and that are visible to them. And we’re able to do that because of what Akismet is doing behind the scenes.”

John Lunsford, Senior Engineer at ConvertKit

The average Akismet customer saves 20 hours per month in time they used to spend manually sifting through user-submitted text. Set it and forget it, as they say.

Jon says, “We moved from a place of putting out fires to now things are automated. We’re tracking stuff, we’re alerting on stuff. So now we know across our whole surface area if we have bot attacks. “

The ConvertKit Package
By far the biggest benefit Akismet has brought to ConvertKit is embedded into their product offering. They want to provide a platform where anyone can easily make a living online, and adding Akismet has allowed them to provide just that.

Romane explains, “We’ve gotten to a place now where we’re really proud of where we stand and we’re trying to maintain that. So I think Akismet is now part of essentially just ‘The Convert Kit package’, it just comes with the idea that it’s safe to use. Our customers know we look after you, we take care of this stuff. You don’t even have to think about it. All you have to think about is write your content, send your emails, we’ll get it delivered and we’ll make sure it gets delivered to the right people.”

“We Just Do This For You”
If only every company looked after its customer base the way that ConvertKit does, there’d be a lot more happy customers. They needed to protect their customers from spam, but in a way that didn’t disrupt what their customers are trying to build for themselves. And by adding Akismet, ConvertKit now has a product offering that allows creators to build, engage, and make a living online – without ever seeing any downstream effects from spam. ConvertKit is protected by Akismet, and so are their customers.

Jon puts it best, “From ConvertKit’s perspective, we’re able to confidently tell our customers by default, like, ‘we just do this for you’. There’s no additional cost. There’s nothing that you need to do. Just by default, there’s spam prevention going on in your forms.”

Curious about pricing?

Whether you need spam protection for large networks, multisite installations, or something more custom, our team of experts is happy to help. We’ll learn more about your needs and come up with a no-pressure recommendation.