As a blogger, I’ve chosen ConvertKit for building my email list because of a few reasons. The first being, it is easier to use for someone like me. The second reason is it focuses on customizing email campaigns based on a subscriber’s actions.
If you haven’t signed up for ConvertKit yet, now is the best time to do so. If you are a ConvertKit subscriber, you might want to know the latest feature that the app team has added.
The feature is called Visual Automation and it is the ultimate tool to create email campaigns that bring the right content to the right subscriber. Most email marketing services offer this function, but not quite the way ConvertKit lets you do it.
Things To Do Before Creating Email Automations
It’s best to create Automations when you have the “ingredients” ready. This means you need to have a clear plan for how you want the automation to run. Write a diagram of your automation flow so you have a guide when creating it in ConvertKit.
The Automation tool will depend on two main components that need to be present within ConvertKit. These components are Forms and Sequences. There are other components that can be added, but these two are the bare minimum.
If you haven’t created Forms or Sequences in ConvertKit, you need to do that first.
- Forms are the email opt-in interface that shows on your website. This is how you collect email subscribers, either with a landing page or an opt-in form shown in any part of your website. Forms can also come with a lead magnet, like a free e-book in exchange for subscribing to your email list.
- Sequences are a series of email content that a subscriber receives once he signs up for your email list. You can create separate sequences for different Forms. This is done to ensure that your email subscribers are getting content that is appropriate for them based on what they signed up for.
Both Forms and Sequences will be essential to an automations structure. You cannot create an effective automation without these basic requirements.
If you don’t want the hassle of creating actual forms and sequences, you can always create blank ones and name them as Test Form or Test Sequence. In this way, you can start creating your first automation and worry about the content of forms and sequences later. Before that, you can check out Convertkit Website here and here are two resources published by Harsh:
Building your first Automation in ConvertKit
To create an automation, log in to your ConverKit dashboard and click on Automation on the top menu panel. Click New Automation (top-right corner).
The next page will show a blank space where you can build your automation in a visual, mind-mapping style.
On the top-left corner, you can give your automation a name. Click Create Automation to begin.
You will get two workflow options. A subscriber will be entered into this automation if:
1) he signs up on a form or,
2) a tag is added to him.
Whichever option you choose, you’re going to get a drop-down list of forms (or tags). You can create a new form or add a new tag from the link below the drop-down list.
Once you’ve selected a form or tag, click Add Event.
In the example below, I’ve selected to start the automation when a user subscribes to the Writer Productivity form. If you look closely, there’s another plus sign on the right side of this box, which means I can add another trigger for starting the automation, whether it’s another form or a tag.
When you’ve added your first event, you will see a plus sign below. Click on it to select the next component to your automation flow. You now have three options:
Event: The subscriber is pulled forward when a tag is added, removed, or when a specified date is reached.
Action: Add a subscriber to an email sequence, add a tag, or delay the next step to a specific length of time.
Condition: Checks whether a subscriber has a tag or custom field (extra info filled in the opt-in form). When you set this, the workflow will then branch out in two separate fields labeled “Yes” and “No” in reference to whether the conditions were met or not.
With these basic concepts in place, you can build simple or complex automations to achieve your conversion goals.
When you’re done with all the elements, don’t forget to turn the automation on. By default, it’s set to Pause. Go to the top-right corner and click the toggle to set the automation to Live.
Here’s an example of what I did as a test automation. As you can see, I did not stop at adding a subscriber to one email sequence. Based on tags, I added them to different sequences. In the end, when all subscribers under the automation have finished all sequences, I then get them into a final email sequence that contains a pitch for a paid writing course.
The Visual Automation interface
I’ve used a few email marketing services before, but none of them comes close to ConvertKit’s automation interface. Unlike MailChimp or Aweber where you fill out forms from one page to the next, building automations this way feels advanced yet is easy to do.
Anyone can guess that the plus sign under a box (also called a workflow) means you add something to it. In case you make a mistake and want to delete what you added, just move the cursor over the name of the step, click Edit Step, go down and hit the Delete button.
I mentioned earlier that you should have Forms and Sequences ready before you create an automation. However, if a step requires a new form or sequence (that you haven’t created yet), you can make one as you’re building the automation.
When you click the link to create a new form or sequence, the entire automation graph gets pushed to the left of the screen. The bigger part of the screen will let you create your new form or sequence from start to finish.
If you don’t know what a certain element is for, simply hover your mouse over it to see a short explanation.
While this method of creating an email campaign may be new to most content creators, it’s actually easier to use once you fully understand each of the workflow elements.
Making sense of your email automation flow
The most important thing in creating an automated email marketing campaign is to deliver content that your subscribers want. ConvertKit uses different ways to help you do just that.
Most of the time, we don’t really know what people want. This is why tags are important because you can use them to track subscriber behavior.
If a subscriber signs up to get a free e-book on fishing, you can tag him as a fishing enthusiast. The tag will then be relevant later on when you create more content related to fishing.
Delays or Time-dependent events
Have you ever signed up for an email list and received 10 emails from the same person in a day? It’s not fun.
With delays and scheduling in automation, you give your subscribers a “break” from your content so they’re eager to hear back from you. It also gives them time to finish a sequence that they might still be in, and they won’t get two separate emails from you in a day.
This feature is also great if you’re launching a product or a book and you want to time it perfectly so your subscribers are the first to know.
Your email content will determine whether or not your subscribers will turn into customers. It’s important that you take your time in writing this content.
When you put sequences together in an automation, you have to check their consistency. Your subscribers shouldn’t feel like your emails are jumping from one topic to another. That is why it is imperative that you create separate sequences for every topic that you want to talk about.
Do watch this beginners video guide for Convertkit users:
Email marketing has always been a great strategy to turn followers into customers. Despite this, inexperienced bloggers may fall into the trap of thinking that everyone wants the same thing. If this is you, you may end up pushing a product or service that a subscriber doesn’t really want or need.
This is why ConvertKit’s new automation tool really changes the email marketing game. Instead of blasting email campaigns to everyone on your list, it lets you send tailor-made content that speaks to the right people. It allows you to ask your subscribers what they want and give it to them in the best way that you can.
Other email marketing services also let you do all these, but not in such a flexible, agile way. You have to experience it first-hand to understand the difference and appreciate the convenience.
Do you want a highly engaged email following? Try ConvertKit’s visual automation today and write back to us about your experience.
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