A Quick-Start Guide to ConvertKit
I made the switch from MailChimp to ConvertKit about two months ago and I'm really enjoying the seemingly endless features of the platform. I've had a lot of bloggers come to me asking similar questions since I announced my switch back in March.
"I'm ready to make the switch but have no idea where to start! Can you help?"
"Ok, I signed up with ConvertKit but what are tags, and rules, and OMG where did my segments go??"
First, take a deep breath. ConvertKit is very different from any other email platform you've likely ever used, but it's different in a very good way. Whether you've made the switch or you're just considering it, I hope to provide enough basic information for you today to help you get started on the right foot.
ConvertKit isn't for everyone, let's just be clear. I don't want you to feel like you have to be on ConvertKit because other bloggers are on ConvertKit. It's a hefty platform with a lot of bells & whistles, and it costs more than a few other platforms. There is no free option. Check out THIS post to see my MailChimp v. ConvertKit comparison.
However, if you are interested in learning more about ConvertKit to see if it's right for you, you're in luck! Let's start with a tour of the dashboard and a get you acquainted with the terminology.
INTRODUCTION TO CONVERTKIT
ConvertKit is a subscriber-centric platform, meaning every single subscriber gets added to one master list. You don't have the capability of creating more than one list in ConvertKit because you don't need but one!
Your dashboard shows your analytics at a glance in a bar graph, with all of your forms beneath the graph. You can create as many forms & landing pages as you want.
See all those shades of blue? When you hover over each section of the bar graph, you'll see exactly where subscribers are coming from. Pretty cool.
Alright, let's move on to forms.
FORMS & LANDING PAGES
You can create both forms and landing pages in ConvertKit. Why might you need more than one sign-up form?
- If you own more than one blog or website, you can still have one list in ConvertKit with separate forms for each blog.
- Blog post-specific content upgrades - a from for each content upgrade
- Webinars or any event that requires registration via email
...to name a few.
Because ConvertKit allows you to create basic landing pages, you don't have to pay for an additional service like LeadPages. Forms and landing pages can be customized to include your brand's color palette, images, and wording. We'll get more into the actual set-up of forms & landing pages later.
Sequences are what MailChimp users would know as automation workflows, or email series.
When you create a new sequence, ConvertKit guides you through the process with a few draft emails and suggested intervals for the send times. You create your own content, change the intervals as you wish, and rearrange the emails in the sequence.
Automations are rules that you set up that consist of a trigger and an action. For example, you can set up a rule that tells ConvertKit to add subscribers to a particular form when a specified link is clicked within the body of an email.
You can also have one trigger attached to multiple actions. For example, you can see one of my automation rules above. The trigger: A reader opts into the Blog Income & Expense Tracker content upgrade. The actions: Add tag + subscribe to a sequence + subscribe to a form.
Tags are magical. Tags are attached to subscribers based on any criteria with which you wish to separate your subscribers.
You can have tags for different interest groups, content upgrades, webinars, purchases, etc. Literally, anything. We'll talk more about tags in a minute.
If you're familiar with MailChimp, you're familiar with segments. ConvertKit segments can contain subscribers matching any variety of criteria - any combination of tags, forms, sequences...or even exclude subscribers based on specific criteria.
You might create a segment based on people who bought any of your products or services, another segment based on people who registered for all of your webinars, and so on.
TRANSFERRING SUBSCRIBERS TO CONVERTKIT
Unfortunately, you can't just flip a switch and magically have everything moved from your current platform to ConvertKit. You could simply import all of your subscribers, but if you have segments or groups, or want to segment your subscribers, it's best to do a little set-up before importing your subscribers.
#1 - Write down your existing segments, groups, or lists
If you currently have more than one list, write down the names of each list. If you have multiple segments or groups, write down the names of those as well. Each of your current lists, segments, and groups will be set up in ConvertKit before importing subscribers.
#2 - Create tags
Each of your existing lists, segments & groups should be individual tags in ConvertKit to help you import in an orderly manner.
Navigate to "Subscribers":
Scroll down to the "Tags" section on the right side of your subscriber list and click "Create a Tag".
A window pops up allowing you to name your new tag, then save.
#3 - Create your main form(s)
If you want to create more than one "list" in ConvertKit, you'll need one form for each of them. For example, if you are using ConvertKit for 2 blogs, create one form for each blog "list". Remember, all subscribers ultimately get dropped into one master list, but you'll be able to create a segment based on individual forms.
From your ConvertKit dashboard, click "Create Form" under the bar graph.
You will then be able to create either a landing page or a form. For this, go with the form.
Ok, now you get to choose which type of form you want to create. The middle option allows you to add an image and collect both first name and email address, instead of just an email address.
Design your form, adding an image and your wording. You can change the color scheme by clicking the magic wand in the top right corner.
After styling your form, go to "Settings". The "Main Settings" tab is where you'll name your form. You also have the ability to redirect subscribers to a specific pages and/or trigger a sequence of emails.
The "Incentive Email" tab allows you to choose whether or not to send a confirmation email to new subscribers, and deliver your opt-in offer.
Finally, the "Embed" tab is the HTML code for your form. If you are using Wordpress, you can download the ConvertKit plugin from this tab and add it to your Wordpress site. You will then simply copy the ConvertKit shortcode for each form you create, rather than the full embedded form code.
After you have finished setting up your form, save all changes.
#4 - Export subscribers in an orderly manner
Now it's time to export your subscribers from your existing platform so you can import them into ConvertKit. Keep your organization in mind when you do this and take it slow. Export one segment, group, or list at a time and label them on your computer accordingly. This will make your life SO much easier when you import them into ConvertKit in the next step.
#5 - Import subscribers into correct forms & tags
You are so close to having this bad boy knocked out! Now that you have all of these little exports, you're going to import them into ConvertKit. When you do this, ConvertKit will allow you to choose which forms, sequences, and/or tags you want to import them into, which is why it's best to be strategic from the beginning.
Navigate to "Subscribers".
Click the button on the right to "Import Subscribers".
A window will pop up like this:
You can then select the form and any tags you created to strategically import your subscribers.
Repeat the import process until all of your lists, groups, and segments have been imported.
CREATING SEGMENTS IN CONVERTKIT
Segments in ConvertKit can include and/or exclude any of your forms, tags, sequences or other segments. They're quite versatile in that regard, but can also feel a little confusing, so let's try to make it all make sense.
Navigate to "Subscribers" and click "Create a Segment" in the right sidebar. A window will pop up like this:
Under "Select Your Subscribers", you'll see "Matching any of the following". This is important.
You have the option to choose between "any", "all", or "none". Let's talk about what that means, exactly.
- Any: If you are selecting more than one criteria and want to know which subscribers are in either criteria #1, or criteria #2, choose "any".
- All: If you are selecting more than one criteria and want to know which subscribers are in both criteria #1 and criteria #2, choose "all".
- None: This is how you exclude people from a segment. Perhaps you wish to know which subscribers are in your master list but not in one or more other criteria. This would be your selection.
You can mix & match these to build custom segments with unlimited filters.
When selecting your filter, you can choose from several options: All subscribers, Cold subscribers, Subscribed to, Within segment, or Date.
When you choose "Subscribed to", you then have even more options:
Choose what subscribers are subscribed to: Forms, Sequences, or Tags. Simply add as many filters as you want to build your own custom segment.
Let's say, for example, that I want to create a segment to market my ebook, "The Short & Sweet Guide to Content Upgrades", but only to subscribers who didn't attend my free webinar or already purchase the ebook. My filters would look like this:
I've chosen to pull all of the subscribers to my main form and exclude people who subscribed to my webinar or purchased my ebook.
So there you have it - a quick-start guide to ConvertKit. You should be able to set up your account, create your list, and import subscribers in an organized manner. Now all that's left is to send your first broadcast!
What ConvertKit questions can I answer for you? Let me know in the comments below.