How to collect your first email subscribers with ConvertKit

In this article, I’m going to show you how easy it is to create the assets you need to gain your first subscribers, using ConvertKit as your email marketing platform.

What is ConvertKit?

ConvertKit is what’s commonly referred to as an “email marketing platform” (EMP) or an “email service provider” (ESP) – both terms are interchangeably used in the email marketing world.

It operates on a ‘freemium’ pricing model, meaning you can start off with a free plan to give things a go, and then move onto one of their premium plans as and when your business needs and can support it.

The plans that ConvertKit currently offers are shown below;

If you don’t yet have an account with ConvertKit, I recommend you begin with a free account and take advantage of their 14-day free trial of the premium features.

After your free trial period, you can either remain on the ‘Free‘ plan or choose the ‘Creator‘ plan. When just starting out, you probably won’t need the ‘Creator Pro‘ plan.

I’ve used dozens of email marketing platforms over the years and for the last few years I’ve loved the ease of use, yet powerful features of ConvertKit.

Currently, there are more than 400 such platforms on the market to choose from, and it can be confusing when deciding on which one to use.

What can ConvertKit do for us?

With email marketing at its core, ConvertKit has evolved over the last few years to provide a much wider scope of features and functions, including;

  • Products: We can create and sell our products and services directly from ConvertKit’s ‘Commerce’ platform. Connected via Stripe, Commerce allows us to sell via email or landing pages. (If you want more details about this feature, click here).
  • WordPress Website Blog Posts: Using ConvertKit’s WordPress plugin, we can craft emails inside ConvertKit and have them automatically published as blog posts on our website. (If you want more details about this feature, click here).
  • Member-Only Content: We can protect certain web pages on our WordPress website using the member-only feature. It caters for both single web pages and digital courses which is formed by creating multiple web pages that have parent-child relationships. (If you want more details about this feature, click here).
  • Subscriber Tracking: We can track the website activity of our subscribers by tagging them whenever they perform certain functions during a website visit; e.g. “Visited web page for Digital Course”.
  • Conditional Content: We can display personalised content on our website for our subscribers by showing more relevant content, based on their preferences. (If you want more details about this feature, click here).
  • Personalised Email Content: We can use ‘Liquid’ templating language in conjunction with zero-party data (personal data collected directly from subscribers) to present conditional and more relevant content inside our emails.

If you’d like to know how I use the ConvertKit WordPress plugin with my website, I wrote this article that takes you through each element;

What do we need to start collecting subscribers?

The first thing we need to attract subscribers to our email subscriber list is…[wait for it… drum-roll….] – something that attracts them!

Doh… I hear you say! Pretty obvious, I know… but hear me out.

When I say “something that attracts them“, what I actually mean is something that overcomes one of their main problems or challenges.

In marketing circles, this ‘thing‘ you create is referred to as a ‘lead magnet’. Not a term I love, but one that’s universally recognised.

You need a great lead magnet. 🧲

What makes a great lead magnet?

In short, a great lead magnet COMPLETELY solves a problem or challenge – none of the ‘fixes 50%, pay for the rest’ type solution – you MUST have one that wholly overcomes your target client’s problem.

One of the often overlooked attributes of a great lead magnet is that it should unveil the subscribers’s next problem or challenge, even if they have no idea it exists. Here’s an example of what I mean…

Lead magnet example

Let’s say you’re a web developer and your target clients are freelancers who need a website built (makes sense, right?).

One of their main problems could be that they have no idea where to start when it comes to launching a website – so, you create a lead magnet (e.g. a downloadable PDF) that explains, step-by-step, how to design the perfect website, ensuring every key aspect is included.

It could be called “The Freelancer’s Website Guide: How to ensure you get the perfect website that will land you clients.

As a freelancer, and with this guide, I’ll feel much better informed and prepared to find someone to build my website for me.

Not only that, but because you became my go-to website expert (by virtue of crafting your lead magnet), I’m much more likely to hire you than someone I’ve never engaged with.

Showcase their next challenge

A great lead magnet cannot possibly overcome every problem or challenge a subscriber has; instead it should naturally unveil the anticipated next problem.

Continuing with our example, the subscriber now knows what’s needed for the perfect website, they hopefully choose you to build it, and afterwards they’ll soon discover that they need fresh content that’s optimised for search engines (i.e SEO).

One of your additional services could be an SEO article-writing service – e.g. 4 x blogs per month, fully optimised and published to their website.

This is an example of (one of) their next problem or challenges being catered for, and you having the ability to provide to for them.

Make it easily consumable

Figure out what’s the preferred medium for your lead magnet, i.e. what your subscribers will find useful and easy (or more likely) to consume.

Pro tip: Nobody wants a 75-page ebook or a 5-hour video – in today’s saturated info-filled feeds, we all want solutions that are quick and easy to process, so keep it consumable.

Make it recommendable to others

Whatever you design and create for your target subscribers, make it easy for them to appreciate the value you create and for them to recommend it to others.

If every person who requests your lead magnet recommends it to one other person, who then in turn, recommends it to one other person, etc. – you get the gist, your subscriber list will grow.

With your lead magnet created, you’ll need a landing page from which to showcase it.

What’s a landing page?

A landing page is a digital meeting place where subscribers can visit to give you their name and email address and, in return, you share your lead magnet.

In ConvertKit, you can create landing pages that will be hosted by ConvertKit – so, even if you don’t have a website, you can still have landing pages to collect subscribers.

Below is an example of what a landing page looks like;

Once you publish your landing page (i.e. make it ‘live’), ConvertKit will provide a unique URL (i.e. your landing page link) that you can share with your audience, meaning they can simply click the link to subscribe to your email list.

If you’d like to take a deeper dive into creating landing pages in ConvertKit, check out this article I created for you;

Share your landing page with your online audiences

Armed with your newly created URL, it’s now time to share it with your audiences. To maximise your subscriber reach, you need to get creative about sharing it.

Below are some examples of where you can share your landing page’s URL:

  • Your social channels (e.g. in your bio/profiles)
  • Your website (e.g. links, menu option, exit-intent form)
  • Publishing platforms (if you’re active on any, e.g. Substack, Medium etc.)
  • At the footer of all your daily emails (i.e. non-email marketing emails)
  • On your client invoices or proposal documents

You can even use it as a QR code on Zoom calls, meaning other participants can scan it with their mobiles.

The secret is to always be sharing – it’s the cumulative effort that wins the day!

Supplement your solution with more support

Once subscribers have joined your email list, you have just ONE job – to help them through the problem they showed up with.

Your lead magnet will do that for them, but you need to go one step further to demonstrate your desire to help and your expertise in your niche.

Once they join your list, you need to create and drip-feed a series of follow-up emails that supplement the value your lead magnet contains, and go even deeper – this series of emails is referred to as your ‘Lead magnet email sequence‘.

How to structure your lead magnet sequence

Break your lead magnet into a few sub-topics, perhaps 4 or 5. With each sub-topic, craft an email that dives deeper into that particular point and further helps the subscriber in their quest to overcome their challenge.

This approach also has the effect of holding people accountable and making it much more likely that they’ll complete your lead magnet solution (which is the objective).

Summary

Here’s a list of the steps that you need to complete to start collecting your first subscribers, using ConvertKit;

  1. Decide on, and create, your perfect lead magnet.
  2. In ConvertKit (create a free account), create a landing page.
  3. Craft a series of emails to send your subscribers after they receive your lead magnet (i.e. your lead magnet email sequence).
  4. Share the URL for your landing page with the world!
  5. Start collecting your new leads via your landing page!

John Bellingham​ ​Email marketing strategist for aspirational freelancers.

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

The Thursday Email Club is a free group where freelancers level up their email marketing game with weekly ‘live’ webinars, workshops, and Q&As.

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