Let Subscribers Choose What Mails They Receive With Convertkit

 Giving Subscribers What They Want

This post details how you can let your subscribers since choose what emails they get from you if you use Convertkit. Convertkit doesn’t have, or I haven’t found, a nice online page where people can choose their settings, but it had does have features which when combined allow you to achieve exactly that.

There are a number of stages needed to achieve this.  It may look complex but if you take it step by step it really isn’t.



Step One – Set Up A Landing Page

We’re going to use the Link Trigger feature in convert kit which allows an action to be fired when the link is clicked. That means we need a link to click on, and a landing page at the end of it. Ideally it should just be a page on your website with us with a suitable thank you for changing your settings message. Here is mine…


As you’ll see, the page does nothing itself, it is just a basic page to give us something to link to.


Step Two – Define Subscriber Level Tags

I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that we need to use tags to record what option user subscriber has taken, after all that’s how convert kit handles pretty much everything.

The tags can be named anything you like, but I would suggest having a common prefix that makes it clear what therefore and groups in together. You can have as many levels as you want, I’ve settled for four…

Only the last group of people will receive my monthly updates, along with anyone who hasn’t made a specific choice.


Step Three – Create The Link Triggers

Link triggers may look a little complex at first, they really aren’t too bad. They also incredibly powerful, once you see how they work I’m sure you have other ideas for things you can use them.

Breaking down into English we’re going to create something which will go in the newsletter meaning convert kit will know which subscriber clicks on a link. When that link is clicked will take some actions, in this case allocating and the allocating tags, and as a byproduct usable be taken to our landing page from step one.

You probably expected me to say we would be assigning tags, but removing them may have been a surprise. The reason we need to do that is that if someone wants to move from one option to another we have to make sure we remove the tag from the original option. This only applies with subscribers choosing between a number of exclusive options, more on that the end of this post.


To set up a link trigger go to Automations in the main Convertkit menu bar, then click on the big “+Add Rule” button.  Now from the Trigger (left hand) column choose “Clicks a Link”.  Enter whatever link text you would like, ideally something which explains which option is being chosen, then set the destination url to be the landing page we created above.

From the Action menu choose Add Tag then choose the tag this option should set.  Then, using the plus symbol below, you can choose Remove Tag and set one of those to be removed.  Repeat until you have a remove for every tag except the one being set above.

You should end up with something that looks like this…


Step Four – Creating The Email Content

Most of this part is quite easy, it’s just creating a broadcast email (we can add this to autoresponders later) explaining that you’re offering a choice over how often someone receives your emails and explaining what the different choices are. Then, at bottom, or actually anywhere you want, you need to add a link to your landing page you need to add a link to your landing page and set it to be a link trigger.  To do that follows these steps…

  1. Enter the text you want to be a link.  For example “Click here to get all updates”
  2. Highlight that text and choose to insert a link.
  3. Don’t enter anything in the URL field!  Click on Link Triggers, to the right, and choose the trigger you want from the dropdown.  Over time that list may become quite long which is another reason naming similar options with the same prefix is a good idea.
  4. Now the URL field should have a grey section on the left with a lightning symbol and the link trigger name, and the target url to the right.
  5. Click on insert to add the link trigger.

Here’s a screenshot of how mine looks when it’s being setup…

If you click on the link in the designer you should now see that the link URL has the lightning symbol at the left.  If not something is wrong and you haven’t setup the Link Trigger correctly.

Now do the same for each of your other options, adding link text and double checking you’ve got the right trigger for the text.  Once done you have your optin choice ready to go.

Stop! Don’t send it out to your subscribers yet!  You still need to test, and that’s not as easy as it would be for a normal broadcast mail.


Step Five – Testing Your Options

You can test your broadcast email as usual, in the browser or by sending a test mail, and that will let you check things look right and that the links go to the landing page, BUT it won’t let you test the Link Trigger functionality.  Link Triggers are not active until you do a live broadcast (that’s something which had me scratching my head for a couple of hours!)  Fortunately testing is not too difficult.

The first step is to make sure you, or your email address, are on your own convertkit list.  If you don’t already have a profile then I’d strongly suggest you add one even without needing to do this test, that what you see exactly what goes out in the main broadcast.

Create a new tag and call it test, test emails, zz_test, pink fluffy unicorns, or anything else you’d like as long as you remember that you should be the only person who ever gets added to that tag.

Return to the broadcast you set up to test the options, set the audience to only be that test tag, check that only one person will receive the mail(!) then do a live send.

The email will arrive in your inbox, and you now have all of the links available to test.  Testing is easy… Click one of the links, go into Convertkit, check or refresh your profile… and find that the tags haven’t been applied!  What?  This was another gotcha for me.  The updates can take some time to process, in the region of an hour or so I believe.  That means testing will be a little slow but stick with it.

With each test you’re checking not only that the correct tag has been added, but that any existing tags were removed.  The delay in updating does mean it drags out over a few hours, but you really don’t want to mess this up.  If you do the subscriber is unlikely to know the configuration is wrong, they will just be receiving emails they didn’t want and may well unsubscribe rather than letting you know.


Step Six – Unleashing the choice upon your subscribers

Once you’re happy with the testing it’s (finally) time to give your subscribers the choice of how often to hear from you.  The easiest way to do this will be to clone the previous broadcast, that was sent just to you, and change the recipients to be everyone that needs to receive it.  Then just send out the broadcast, and go make yourself a cup of tea – you deserve it.

Don’t forget to come back though, we aren’t done yet.


Step Seven – The Most Important Bit – Sending Your Emails Correctly

Don’t forget that so far all you’ve done is add some tags to subscribers who made a choice.  Now you have to ensure the right people get the right emails.

  1. To do this go to Subscribers, and on the right hand side choose to create a segment.  We need to define who should NOT receive the emails.  If you also have some include criteria then add this section as an AND.
  2. In the section change the option to be “Matching None of the following”
  3. Choose Subscribed To (should be the default).
  4. In the second field choose Tags
  5. In the third field enter those tags who should NOT receive the email.  In my example below that is any of the three tags that are not Broadcast Options – All.  You can keep adding tags until you are done.
  6. Click Add Filter.
  7. Check everything looks OK, then hit Save.  You now have a segment which will only include those people it should.  Here’s one of mine…

This does mean you are assuming that anyone who hasn’t made a choice wants to get all the mails, but I think that’s a reasonable assumption.  If not they can always choose to lower their level (more on that below).  Once again, repeat this for each of the options you have made available.

Now whenever you send a broadcast just choose the appropriate segment as the audience.  THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT!  If you’ve given people the choice to avoid certain mails and you still send them you will annoy them far more than if you hadn’t ever offered the choice, so make sure you double check the audience before sending anything out.


Step Eight – Dealing With Problems

As I said in the testing section, it’s far better to find problems before anyone sees them rather than waiting for people to encounter problems and, most probably, drop straight off your list.  If you do have issues, especially during setup, and you allowed enough time for the updates feed through, then the folks at Convertkit seem to be very helpful. When I raised my queries they answered quickly, and while the suggestions didn’t directly help because the problem was just me being impatient they did cover some issues that I could easily imagine having stumbled over.


Update Your Autoresponders

So you’ve given all your existing subscribers a choice, but what about anyone joining your list going forwards?  Simple – add a new autoresponder mail, or change an existing one, giving new subscribers exactly the same choices.


Keep Giving Your Subscribers The Choice

People change their minds.  Some will decide they want fewer mails, others may miss your daily updates on the growth of your eyebrows and want to get them again.  Either way, you should include a section at the bottom of every broadcast giving the choice to change preferences again.  I’ve also started adding a one liner (in italics) at the top of the broadcast sending people to the bottom if they’d like to change what mails they get.


Taking it further

So that is how to let people choose which level of mails they get from you, but I think link triggers can be used for a lot more than that.  One in particular I have in mind is allowing people tell me which books they have, and so letting me avoid spamming them the deals on things they already own. This will need some careful thought.  Every click of an option link takes you to a landing page, even if it’s just in a new window. If am going to ask someone to make choices I can’t expect them to click on more than two or three before they get bored and give up. I have some ideas on how to tackle that, once I have it set up I’ll post another blog post on the subject.

I’d love to hear if you found this useful, especially if you come up with other interesting ways to use link triggers. You can leave a comment below, use this contact form to drop me an email or get in touch on facebook or twitter.


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