What is ConvertKit’s ‘Recommendations’?

It’s a feature that allows you to grow your email list by receiving recommendations from other ConvertKit users. If they view your profile and think what you produce would be of value to their audience, then they’ll recommend you.

Likewise, you can help others grow their lists by recommending others to your subscribers – it’s a give-and-get system that can work well in bringing more value to everyone, especially the subscribers who get tailored suggestions.

I won’t go into detail about how to set up your ‘Creator Profile(which is what people check out when vetting your content), or the ‘Recommendations‘ network as I do that in another article – so check that one out (below) if you want to get yours up and running.

Check out this article if you want to set up your Creator Profile (it’s free) and see how to access ConvertKit’s ‘Recommendations’ network.

The upside to ‘Recommendations’

As obvious as it may seem, the best thing about ‘Recommendations’ is that you get to grow your email list more quickly than if doing it alone.

It can give you more visibility across different communities and the cross-pollination effect can be powerful, especially when people who have been recommended on your list, begin to recommend you to their list.

The ‘potential’ downside to ‘Recommendations’

As you grow your email list naturally, you’ll gain subscribers who are familiar with you and your content. Chances are, they’ve seen you on their social feed or your website – they’ll know who you are and what you do.

When gaining subscribers via the ‘Recommendations’ channel, the people who are being recommended to you have probably never heard of you or are aware of what it is you do.

This can lead to those subscribers being less engaged than your ‘regular’ subscribers*. After all, they haven’t requested your ‘lead magnet’ – all they know is this other person has suggested they join your email list.

Unengaged subscribers are never a good thing, so we want them off our list – if left to fester, they can begin to negatively affect your email deliverability rates as the big boys like Google, Apple, and Yahoo will start to mark you down for poor engagement rates on your email campaigns (i.e. they don’t open your emails).

*As a footnote, I should state that having been receiving recommendations for a while now, the majority of subscribers I gain via ‘Recommendations’ do become engaged.

How I welcome subscribers from ‘Recommendations’

As these subscribers aren’t arriving on my email list via the more traditional route of my content marketing, I have a different start for our relationship.

For context, anyone who subscribes to my email list will probably have done so as a result of requesting one of my lead magnets; for example, it could be to download a free copy of my guide, “The Freelancer’s Guide to Email Marketing“, and when they subscribe they are drip-fed a series of emails that helps them with their initial request – i.e. to learn more about email marketing.

Once I’ve helped them overcome that problem or challenge, I then drip-feed them a series of ‘Welcome’ (or orientation) emails where I share more about me, what I do, and for whom. I also set their expectations about the types of emails they can expect, and how they can set their preferences to only receive content that interests them.

For those subscribers arriving via the ‘Recommendations’ route, I change the first email that they receive, to thank them for joining via the other person’s recommendation and to give a little more context about me and my business (remember, they probably know nothing about me at this point).

Once they’ve gone through that, they then move through my regular sequences, just as any other subscriber does.

How I deal with unengaged subscribers from ‘Recommendations’

Rather than finding 6 months down the line that you’ve been taking on subscribers who never engage, put in a mechanism that prevents it from happening in the first place.

Inside your ‘Visual Automation‘ in ConvertKit, you need to put a check in place to deal with these subscribers; this is how I have mine configured;

Above, is a snapshot of a part of my automation; the first step visible is a ‘delay’ that I have placed in the process, for 21 days.

Why delay for 21 days?

Good question, allow me to explain.

By the time they reach this step in the automation, they’ve received my welcome emails, and have begun to receive the first few emails from their selected preferences – e.g. “ConvertKit“, “Email Marketing“, “Content Marketing“.

So, I wait for 21 days and check to see if they’ve been engaging with my emails; if they have, perfect – I do nothing, just exit this automation.

However, if I check and they HAVEN’T engaged (i.e. opened) any email, then it’s time to offload them from my list because they’ve sent a clear signal – i.e. “Your emails are not of interest to me.”

This is what the check looks like inside the automation;

I’m checking to see if any of the emails they’ve been sent have been opened in the previous 21 days, which by then will probably have been at least 6 or 7 emails.

In the conditional step shown below, I’m asking ConvertKit if they’ve opened any of my emails, and it gives me a “Yes” or “No” reply for each subscriber in the automation.

If the answer is “Yes“, I do nothing (exit the automation).

If the answer is “No“, I unsubscribe them from my list to keep it clean and void of unengaged subscribers.

And that’s it – pretty simple, but effective. It also gives me peace of mind to know that there isn’t a backlog of unwanted subscribers growing in the background.


‘Recommendations’ in ConvertKit is a useful way to grow your email list, but just make sure you protect your list with some logic to deal with those who never engage.

Are you using the ‘Recommendations’ feature in ConvertKit, and if so, how are you finding the subscribers that you are receiving from it?

John Bellingham
Email marketing strategist for aspirational freelancers.

If we haven’t already done so, let’s connect on LinkedIn.

The Freelancer’s Guide to Email Marketing gives you everything you need to know to design, launch, and run an effective email marketing system in your business.