At Winning Edits, our Integrated Solutions team guides authors, creators, and brands in making the most of their online systems. We can help you connect the tools you rely on—for example, your email service provider, online course platform, and your website—to one another, so that you can reach the greatest number of people as efficiently as possible.
In this post, we’re going to show you how to use one of our favorite email service providers, ConvertKit, to set up automations that can greatly simplify your email marketing efforts.
We love ConvertKit because it hits the sweet spot: it has powerful automation options while still being easy to use. ConvertKit was designed specifically to meet the needs of online business owners, which can make it an excellent choice for authors and brands with an online-first audience.
What is an automation?
Simply put, an automation is a communications plan you set up in advance. Think of it as a roadmap for a trip; you have your starting destination, several points of interest to visit along the way, and a final destination. In ConvertKit, the Automations section is where we can connect all the other parts of ConvertKit—intake forms, email sequences, subscribers, and tags—into a communications plan.
We’re going to focus on using ConvertKit to automate the communications plan for a common scenario—a book launch.
Let’s say you have a book launching on January 1, and you want to encourage your audience to pre-order your book. Our communications plan needs to include a way to:
- Announce the book to our existing audience using a series of pre-written emails (ConvertKit calls this a sequence).
- Collect emails from interested visitors to our website by adding them to the automation (using a ConvertKit form).
- Entice subscribers to pre-order the book with the promise of digital extras (perhaps a video interview series, access to an online course, or a companion workbook).
- Deliver pre-orders to and solicit reviews from the subscribers who pre-ordered.
- Market the book after the launch to subscribers who did not pre-order the book.
We’ve created a video that walks you through the whole process, so feel free to follow along with the video, read through this blog post, or both.
Let’s get started!
Setting Up a Visual Automation
To set up our automation, we’ll use ConvertKit’s Visual Automations feature. First, I’ll show you what the whole automation looks like, and then we’ll build it step by step.
Here’s the full automation. It contains the following:
- Two ways to get subscribers into the automation (the red blocks at the top)
- Two separate subscriber tags (not visible; see the details below)
- One form (the box on the upper right)
- Three email sequences (the green blocks)
- One date-based event (the purple block)
Now let’s build it! To get started, open up ConvertKit and go to Automations. Click on New Automation and give it a name.
Click on Create Automation to get started.
Establishing Your Automation Entry Points
We’ll create two different ways into the automation, because we are working with two different groups of subscribers: existing audience members and new audience members.
Let’s start with our existing audience members—these are current subscribers to our email list. We will add them to our automation using a tag. We’ve created a tag called Book Pre-Launch Marketing, and when it’s time to start the book launch campaign, we will apply this tag to our subscribers. It’s important that the automation is fully set up and turned on before applying this tag.
Start the automation when Tag is added to subscriber. Select the tag Book Pre-Launch Marketing. Click Add Event.
Any existing subscribers who are tagged with Book Pre-Launch Marketing after the automation has been published will be sent through this workflow. Here’s what it looks like.
We also want to create a way for new people to join this automation. You can do this using a sign-up form that you embed on your website. We’ve created a ConvertKit Form called Book Interest Form that will collect the name and email of anyone interested in news about our book launch.
Because adding new users with a form happens in parallel with the tagging event, we’ll click the plus (+) sign on the right side of the tagging event. This tells ConvertKit to use both as ways to get in to the automation. I’ll choose Subscriber joins a form, select Book Interest Form, and click Add Event.
Now we have two different ways for people to get into the automation.
Creating a Pre-Launch Email Sequence
Next, we want to tell our subscribers about the pre-launch bonuses we’re offering. To do this, we’ve built an email sequence called Pre-Launch “Buy My Book” Promotion.
To add this to the automation, click the plus sign below the starting events, and choose Action. Add the subscriber to Email Sequence and select “Pre-Launch “Buy My Book” Promotion. Click Add Action.
Once you’ve added your email sequence to the automation, you have the ability to edit your email sequence on this screen. It’s a really handy feature of ConvertKit’s Visual Automations; you don’t have leave the automation to make adjustments to your components. First, click on the green Action box to open up the the sequence within the automation. Edit your sequence, click Save All, and click on the left bar to return to building the automation.
At this point in the automation, your audience members will begin working their way through the Pre-Launch Promotion sequence. New members who join through the form will start going through the sequence on the day they sign up. You can use this email sequence to inform subscribers about the pre-order bonuses you have to offer, and encourage them to buy your book before it’s officially launched!
Closing Pre-Orders on Launch Day
Now let’s talk about what happens on the day your book is released. Your pre-order bonus offer should close the day your book is officially available for sale. This means that the Pre-Launch Promotion sequence needs to end, no matter where subscribers are within that sequence. To do this, we’ll use an event based on a date. Our pre-order offer closes on January 1 at 12:00 a.m. When this date occurs, we want everyone in the automation to move forward to the next action.
To do this, click on the plus sign below Pre-Launch “Buy My Book” Promotion. Click on Date Occurs and choose the date January 1 at 12:00 a.m.
On January 1 at 12:00 a.m., we’re asking ConvertKit to check for a condition: does the subscriber have our pre-order tag, Book Pre-Order List, or not? (In our next how-to post, I’ll teach you how to automatically apply this tag; for now let’s take for granted that throughout the pre-launch, we’ve been tagging people who pre-ordered the book.)
We are asking ConvertKit to check for the following Condition: does our subscriber have the tag Book Pre-Order List? This is a yes-or-no scenario; either they have the tag or they don’t. Here’s what this looks like in the automation.
When we apply a Condition, ConvertKit will give us two separate paths; one for users with the tag and one for users without the tag.
Now that your book has launched, you want to refine your messaging. It doesn’t make sense to keep asking the wonderful people who have already bought your book to buy it, nor does it make sense to treat everyone on your list as though they have bought your book. You want to say different things to these two groups of subscribers; this condition allows us to create two separate paths.
Let’s start with the users who do have the tag—those fantastic subscribers who pre-ordered your book!
You’ll want to create another email sequence for this; I’ve built one called Pre-Order Thank You. Click the plus sign and add this email sequence to the Yes group.
We’ll use this new sequence to do a few things: in the first email, we’ll deliver all the digital pre-orders that we promised in the pre-launch marketing. A day or so later, we’ll offer the reader some advice on how to use the lessons in our book, and perhaps a week after the book launches, we’ll ask the reader–subscribers to leave a review for the book.
You can use this email sequence to provide extra value, and to teach your reader–subscribers how to become ambassadors for the book!
Continuing to Market Your Book
Now let’s shift our focus to the people who did not buy the book—that No group. To continue the post-launch marketing efforts, I’ve created a sequence called Post-Launch “Buy My Book”. In this sequence, we can continue to market the book. You may wish to focus on highlighting positive reviews of the book, as well as the ways in which a reader might benefit from the book’s message.
Turning On the Automation
To complete your automation, you’ll need to turn it on! There’s a switch in the upper-right corner; click it to turn the automation on. After your automation is on, anyone who joins the Book Interest Form or any subscribers who are tagged with Book Pre-Launch Marketing will get added to this automation.
Our Next How To: Collecting Pre-Orders
There you have it—a simple way to follow your subscribers through all the stages of your book launch marketing! In our next how-to post, we’ll cover how to use Typeform to set up a system for managing pre-order bonuses, and how to use Zapier to automatically get that information into ConvertKit.
Until then, good luck with your automations! And if you need help getting started with ConvertKit, Winning Edits can help! Get in touch.
ConvertKit help documentation for: