How to Actually Increase Your Revenue with ConvertKit Segmentation

Dec 20, 2020   |   15 minutes  

How many topics do you discuss on your website? If you're like most people, it's probably more than one.

Are all of your readers interested in every topic you write about? Of course not! Odds are, some of your email subscribers are tuning you out because they've decided your emails are not relevant.

Here's another question - do you have different product tiers for people who are at different levels? Maybe you sell one course for beginners and another for people who are more advanced.

Or maybe you sell a done-for-you service to people who just want their problem solved and are willing to pay you to do it.

Should all of these people receive the same content? 🤨

Going Beyond "Hi %FIRST_NAME%"

What if you could personalize the content that each of your readers receives based on their interests and engagement level? That would lead to much more effective email marketing.

In this article, we'll break down exactly how you can keep your audience organized in ConvertKit and make sure they are always getting the most relevant, targeted, and optimized messages.

What Segmentation Is, and Why It Matters


Segmentation can best be described as the process of dividing your audience into smaller, more targeted categories. When it comes to marketing in general, people often describe four categories of segmentation: demographic, psychographic, behavioral, and geographic.

Here's a less fancy sounding list of audience categories that I think that content creators can leverage to get the most value from their email lists. I call these the 3 T's of segmentation:

  • Topic
  • Temperature
  • Tier

Topic

Odds are that you have people reading your site that can easily be split up by their interest in different topics.

For example, personal finance blogs will have readers interested in a range of topics:

  • Budgeting & Saving
  • Smart Investing
  • Starting a Business
  • Managing Debt
  • etc

Knowing what topics people are interested in is a huge benefit to you as a content creator. It allows you to only send people content that you know they will want to read. This is a key aspect to creating a really effective marketing campaign.

Temperature

In any given marketing or sales funnel, there will be people at different levels of interest. Often, these people are referred to as cold, warm, or hot leads, with hot being the closest to to purchasing a product or service.

In the world of content creation, you can think temperature in terms of how engaged a reader is. How often do they open your emails, click your links, and buy your products?

Your most engaged fans are the most likely to share your content with their friends and buy your next product. There are obviously exceptions, but drive-by readers are less likely to buy anything from you.

Knowing this information about your audience can be a huge advantage. You can create messaging that's appropriate for where people are in your funnel, and you can make more relevant offers.

For example, you might decide to pitch an early version of your next product to only your most engaged readers.

Or you might test the idea of reaching out to your biggest fans and asking them to do you a favor and share a link to a recent post.

Tier

As we discussed in the opening paragraphs, the people reading your site are going to break down into different levels. This could mean skill level, stage of development, knowledge level, or any other kind of progress. In other words, people are in different tiers.

Here are a couple of examples.

Someone running a business with 50 employees is in a different stage of their business than someone with 2. Someone who is in great shape and looking to build muscle is at a different skill and knowledge level than someone just starting to take exercising seriously.

Whatever subjects you write about, some people will be just starting out, and others will be much further along.

If you were going to sell something to these people, you'd either sell them totally different products, or you'd sell them each something from a different tier.

If you can find a way to learn what tier a person fits into, it dramatically increases your ability to promote relevant content and targeted products. (We'll discuss two clever ways to do this later in the article.)

A well segmented audience gives you new levers that you can pull beyond just blasting emails out to your entire list.

Segmenting your audience allows you to add personalization when you send emails. This can mean that you add dynamic content to the emails you send, or it can mean that you send your different audience segments completely different content.

Segmentation in ConvertKit


ConvertKit - which is a powerful email marketing software designed for content creators - provides two native ways to segment your email list: segments and tags.

Despite the slightly confusing terminology, both segments and tags are used to segment your audience. In ConvertKit, these two tools can be used for different things and are useful in different ways. We'll look at both in depth, but first, let's make sure we're all on the same page.

ConvertKit Forms Review

Before you can segment anything, you need to have at least one form set up.

Creating a form in ConvertKit is the first step to collecting your site visitor's contact info. It's also super easy.

To create a form:

  1. Click on the "Landing Pages & Forms" link in the top navigation.
  2. Click "Create New" on the right side of the screen.
  3. When asked to choose between a form or a landing page, select the "Form" option.
  4. Next, you'll be asked to choose a style. Choose whichever you prefer.
  5. Finally, select a template.

Once you get to this point, you'll be presented with all sorts of customization options. Customize your form how you'd like, and then use the embed code to place it on your site.

Check out this video for a full walkthrough of the process.

Tags vs. Segments


According to ConvertKit, "Segments let you group subscribers together for broadcasts" and "Tags help you organize subscribers".

That's a good start, but it doesn't tell the whole story.

First, when you're looking at your list of incoming subscribers and stats, both tags and segments can be used to filter the list. This is useful to get a sense of how many people of different types are flowing through your funnel.

As the description says, segments allow you to send "broadcasts", which are one time email blasts, to specific groups of subscribers.

This is great for notifying targeted subscribers when you release new content. This is the main use-case for creating segments.

Tags, on the other hand, have a wide variety of use cases.

We'll look at several more use cases in future articles, but to get started we'll focus on how tags go hand-in-hand with automations and sequences.

Here's a quick example (followed by more in-depth walkthroughs).

Let's suppose that you're selling a course on how to start an online business. Perhaps you only want to promote the course to someone once they've taken some action, for example downloading a specific e-book on your site.

You can assign a tag to a subscriber whenever they download your e-book, and then build an automation that kicks off a pre-made email sequence to sell the course whenever someone is assigned that tag.

Everyone wants to automate their website and email marketing tools to turn them into a sales machine. This is how you do that.

Let's work through a couple of realistic examples for both segments and tags so you can really see it in action.

Simple Segments


You can create segments in ConvertKit based on all sorts of things including the form to which a user subscribed, tags they've been given, and their distance from a particular location.

Some of these will likely never be useful to you, but it's cool to see what all you can do. (Check out the video below to see more.)

Here's how to create a segment:

  1. Navigate to the "Forms & Subscribers" page.
  2. On the right side of the screen, click "+ Create a Segment".
  3. Give the segment a name, and add a filter.
  4. Save the segment.

That's the basics, but let's talk about the actual process of selecting who goes into the segment. ConvertKit gives you quite a bit of capability in this area, and you can get really sophisticated.

Let's start with filtering.

When you click "+ Add Filter", the default option for the first field is "Subscribed to". This is probably what you'll typically stick with, but there are other options here as well like people within other segments and people within a particular country.

Sticking with "Subscribed to" for the first option, the second option allows us to choose from sequences, forms, tags, and products.

In my opinion, the most obvious thing to do here if you're just getting started with segmentation is to use forms. In an upcoming article, we'll discuss some other options here as well, but as this section's headline suggests, we're keeping things simple.

ConvertKit gives you the ability to create wildly complicated workflows, but that doesn't mean you should do it.

Remember KISS - keep it simple stupid.

Here's how this might work.

Suppose that you've got three personas of people on your site that you've labeled "investing", "budgeting", and "business".

You might start by creating three forms, one for each persona.

As people subscribe to those forms, ConvertKit will just put everyone who subscribes to any of them into one big list.

Next, to segment your list, just add three new segments that each filter down to one of the forms that you made.

This is where clear naming comes in handy. If you use obvious names for your forms based on which segment they are intended for, it makes the actual segmentation process easier.

Check out this video walkthrough if you want to see a live tutorial.
What can you do with segments?

As I said earlier, segments are primarily used for sending out "broadcasts" - or one-time email blasts.

This is a great feature, but in my opinion most content businesses can derive the most ROI from learning how to build automations and sequences which can be triggered by tags.

(Actually, forms can also trigger automations and sequences, but I prefer to use tags because it allows us to add people to sequences in different ways -- for example link clicks or through the Leadjetty integration.)

Automating Things with Tags


Conceptually, adding a tag to an email subscriber is very similar to adding them to a segment. It's just a way to separate people into different groups.

However, inside of ConvertKit (at the time of this article), tags let you do very different things than segments.

Adding a tag to an email subscriber lets you trigger automations. There are quite a few ways you can use automations creatively, and we won't cover them all here.

Again, we're working on even more in depth content on creative ways to use automations 👉 Be sure to subscribe!

Instead, we'll focus on one of the most powerful for now: launching targeted sequences.

Adding Tags with Forms

Let's suppose that you have a form that you use in all of your posts about investing called "Investing Opt-in" - similar to what we did in the above video.

You can set up an automation (see next video below) that adds a tag to all email subscribers who join that form.

Next, we can set up a separate automation that adds the user to a targeted email sequence whenever that tag is added.

🧐 Why Use a Separate Automation?

By using a tag to kick off an email sequence, we're giving ourselves the ability to add people to email sequences through multiple channels.

Suppose someone clicks a link in an email that indicates that they are interested in a particular product. We can tag them and kick off the sequence.

Or suppose you're using Leadjetty for instant segmentation. You can tag people as they answer questions and kick off sequences.

Keeping the automations separate lets us use the tag => email sequence automation for both of these situations in addition to using the regular form.

There are many ways that sequences can be useful.

One way is to develop "evergreen" content for each of your key personas that can be sent out forever. What's nice about this is that if you consistently create content and build up great sequences, when a person joins, they have a long list of targeted content ahead of them that they will automatically receive.

Earlier in the article I mentioned that we'd discuss two clever ways to discover your reader's "tier".

One way to do that is to write content that you think will only appeal to people at a certain level and embed forms that lead to multiple tags being created - one for the topic (interest) and one for the reader's tier.

This can quickly get unwieldy, and we'll look at a better way momentarily.

Check out this video tutorial to see how to set up the automations and email sequences.
Adding Tags with Links

When someone clicks a link, it's indicating that they are interested in whatever the link is talking about. This is a great place to tag people.

ConvertKit has a couple of ways to tag people clicking on links. The easiest and most obvious is in the actual email creation process. Just highlight some text, add a link, and specify which tag to add to anyone who clicks that link.

Also, you can set up the same thing in the "automation rules" section, which we'll cover more in-depth in a future article.

Inferred vs. Explicit Segmentation


One drawback of native ConvertKit segmentation is that you are inferring the subscriber's interests from their activity. Don't get me wrong, this is extremely powerful, but...

When someone joins a form, you're most likely only going to have limited knowledge of what they are interested in. For example, suppose someone reads your article on investing and subscribes. If you set things up like I described above, you know that they are probably interested in investing, but you don't really know much else.

As we discussed earlier, if you get really creative with setting up forms and matching them to topics, you might be able to extract a bit more info.

For example, if your article is "An Investing Guide for Millennials", and you have a form set up that you use to add two tags -- "investing" and "millennial" -- then you have 2 data points... but this gets very difficult to manage after just one or two layers.

We can do better with less effort.

Tools like Leadjetty allow you to ask a series of follow-up questions during every interaction with a website visitor. This allows you to gain tremendous amounts of segmentation data up front. If done properly, it also allows you to gather dramatically more information than conventional segmentation with ConvertKit alone.

We've seen follow-up sequences of up to 8 questions have 90%+ response rates on all of the follow-up questions.

This is explicit segmentation because you are getting the subscriber to directly tell you who they are and what they are interested in.

The second way to determine what tier a subscriber is at is to just ask them. You do have to be thoughtful about how you do this, but here's an example from our previous software consulting firm.

We were offering a lead magnet (e-book download) about how to turn your software product idea into reality as fast as possible. We knew that only some people who downloaded the e-book were at a point where they could hire our agency, and we wanted to filter out unqualified leads.

Once someone downloaded the e-book, we asked them a series of questions. One of the questions was:

When you build your product, do you plan to:
 a) do it yourself
b) hire a freelancer
c) hire an agency

Anyone who picked "c" was redirected to a flow where they could schedule a call with us.

You can come up with your own questions that directly discover what tier your subscribers fit into as well as topics they are interested in. We're working on features in Leadjetty right now that will help you gauge your subscriber's temperature based on how they engage with your site.

Right now, we're offering heavily discounted beta pricing, so if you'd like to take your segmentation to the next level, be sure to try it out. 

If you're interested, here's a quick video on getting started with Leadjetty.