How to remove and then re-add subscribers to a Visual Automation, in ConvertKit.

Why would you want to do this?

Good question, so let’s dive in and find out.

💡Explainer to help you understand the process

Before we get into the weeds, let me explain the difference between a ‘sequence’ and an ‘automation’ in ConvertKit:

A ‘sequence‘ is a series of emails that are drip-fed at predefined intervals, e.g. email #1 on day 1, email #2 on day 2 etc.

An ‘automation‘ is several connected steps in a flow that subscribers are processed through, with the route varying depending on certain criteria, one step which is often a ‘sequence’.

An ‘automation’ can (and normally does) contain at least one email sequence.

A ‘sequence’ does NOT ever contain an automation.

So, when I refer to either term, you can hopefully get your head around the specifics of what I’m talking about.

Let’s imagine that inside one of your automations, you’re drip-feeding your ‘evergreen’ newsletter sequence to your subscribers; an example of one of mine is “Convert With ConvertKit(we’ll call this one the ‘primary‘ sequence) – a weekly drip-fed email that gives tips and tutorials on all things ConvertKit.

This sequence contains multiple emails, all sent out to subscribers, at a rate of one per week, in a sequential order (the clue’s in the name!) starting when they subscribe to the newsletter.

So, if you joined my email list 6 weeks ago, you’d be on email #6, and someone who joins this week will get email #1.

In my emails, I include many links that will take the reader to other resources – it can be anything from a useful website I found, a TV show I watched, a book I read, or an offer to learn more information about a topic I cover.

If a subscriber clicks on one of my links, let’s say it’s a link about “Email Marketing Automations“, then I can configure ConvertKit to move the subscriber into a different automation where they are served another sequence of emails (the ‘secondary’ sequence) that gives more in-depth content on that topic, and perhaps a pitch to buy my digital course about it, for example.

In this scenario, I don’t want them to continue receiving emails from the primary sequence (i.e. the ‘evergreen’ one) at the same time as I’m sending them emails about the ‘thing’ they clicked on, so I want to temporarily remove them from the primary sequence, and move them into the secondary one.

Once the secondary sequence has been completed, I then want to move them back into the primary one, picking up from where they left off (see an example image below where the subscriber clicks on a link in email #4 to trigger the move);

How to create the ‘tag’ that triggers the move

The ‘tag’ that triggers the move of the subscriber from the primary to the secondary automation needs to be set up as a ‘Link Trigger’ – it’s simple to set up, see below for instructions;

Navigate to the menu option ‘Automate‘ > ‘Rules‘;

On the next screen, click the red button entitled “+ New rule” to bring up the screen below;

Think of this page as a “If this happens, then do this thing...”.

On the left-hand side, these are the ‘trigger events‘, and the right-hand side shows the ‘action‘ (or actions) to take whenever the trigger occurs.

For the example we’re using, want to select the ‘Clicks a link‘ trigger, and then the ‘Add tag‘ action.

Inside an email, we can apply the ‘link trigger’ to a snippet of text to make it a clickable link, like this…

To create the linked text, click the ‘link’ icon at the top of the ConvertKit desktop, and select the relevant link trigger from the drop-down; (see below)

Once you hit the ‘Apply‘ button, you’re good to use it in your email. Anyone clicking on that link will have the associated tag added to their profile.

How to remove the subscriber from the ‘primary’ automation

In my example, the ‘moving’ between automations (and therefore, sequences) is controlled by the ‘secondary’ automation.

Here are the steps that happen:

  1. Subscriber clicks on the link.
  2. ConvertKit adds the relevant ‘tag’ to their profile.
  3. This ‘tag’ is a trigger for the secondary automation to start.
  4. The first step in the secondary automation is to remove the subscriber from the ‘primary’ automation.
  5. The subscriber then gets served the secondary email sequence.
  6. When the secondary sequence completes, the subscriber is then moved back to the primary automation where they rejoin the sequence at the point they left it (there’s a crucial setting you need for this, making the primary sequence not repeatable – that step is detailed below)
  7. The secondary automation is completed.

Building your automation

Inside your automation, click the ‘+’ icon to add a new step, and select ‘Action‘ > ‘Move Subscriber‘ from the pop-up;

You’ll now be given 3 options to choose from – select ‘Remove from another automation‘;

You’ll then be asked which automation you want to remove the subscriber from – select the one containing the ‘primary sequence’;

Click the ‘Add Action‘ button and the step will appear in your automation, like the image below;

The next step in your automation will be the ‘secondary’ email sequence that talks about the ‘thing’ the subscriber clicked on, e.g. “Email Marketing Automations“.

How to re-add the subscriber to the ‘primary’ automation

Once your secondary email sequence has been completed, you now want to return the subscriber to where they left the primary sequence, so you need to add a step AFTER the email sequence, to perform the ‘move’; the image below shows the 3 main steps required;

  1. Move the subscriber from the primary to the secondary automation.
  2. Serve the secondary email sequence.
  3. Return the subscriber to the primary automation.

Crucial setting for the ‘primary’ email sequence

Inside every email sequence, you have the option of configuring it to be ‘repeatable’ or not. A ‘repeatable’ sequence, as the name suggests, can be served multiple times to the same subscriber.

If you have your sequence set to be repeatable, then the subscriber will NOT rejoin at the point they left to go into the secondary sequence – instead, they’ll start from email #1 in the sequence, which is not what we want to happen.

So, inside ‘Settings’ of the sequence, make sure it looks like this one below;

The good news is that unless you specifically make it repeatable by clicking the ‘Yes’ option, then it’ll be good to go as ‘No’ is the default setting.


Okay, so that might have felt like a bit of a slog, but remember, once set up, it runs forever, so all your effort can be reused as many times as you like.

Here is the summary of steps in the process;

  1. A subscriber clicks a link in an email from the primary automation.
  2. This ‘click’ initiates the ‘link trigger’ and adds the tag to the subscriber.
  3. The subscriber is added to the secondary automation (because they have the tag that triggers it).
  4. The secondary automation removes the subscriber from the primary automation.
  5. The subscriber is drip-fed the complete secondary email sequence.
  6. The secondary automation then moves the subscriber back to the primary automation.
  7. The primary email sequence begins to be drip-fed to the subscriber, starting at the point at which they left the automation.

Have a go at creating your flow and let me know if you have any questions.

P.S. Just like in any software system, there are normally multiple ways in which you can achieve the same outcome, so view this one as just one of many possibilities.

If you haven’t yet joined ConvertKit, here’s the link to get your free account, including a 14-day free trial of all premium features:

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.


Share your love
John Bellingham
John Bellingham

Starting out as a software engineer over 30 years ago, I began working for large corporates before realising solopreneurship was my 'thing'. I've had many businesses over the years, which have taught me many lessons.

I now spend my time helping other solopreneurs to implement the strategies and tactics that worked for me, whilst avoiding all my expensive mistakes.

If you're a solopreneur who's either starting or running a business, then connect with me and let's have a chat.

I love Formula 1® so that's always a good conversation starter if you need one! 🏁 🏎

Articles: 176