Set up an automated email newsletter with ConvertKit and every time you publish a new blog post, your subscribers will automatically get an email with an extract from your new post. Alternatively, you can opt to send automated weekly newsletters, featuring extracts from your most recent posts, on a day and time of your choosing.
Having a highly engaged list of the right subscribers will help you grow your blog AND make more money. (The reckoning is you should be making a dollar a month for every person on your email list – exciting, huh?)
Now, in an ideal world you would send out a carefully crafted, bespoke newsletter to your subscribers. But I know there are only so many hours in the day!
If sending an email to your subscribers every week is that ONE THING that falls off your to do list every week, then why not send an automated email newsletter instead?
Whilst a bespoke newsletter is undoubtedly the BEST option if you really want to connect with your subscribers, sending them an automated email is FAR better than sending them NOTHING at all!
With ConvertKit*, you have the option to send out an automated email every time you post a blog post OR a digest email, featuring extracts from your most recent posts.
In this tutorial I show you how to set up both kinds of automated email newsletters with ConvertKit.
Prefer to use MailChimp? Check out how to set up an automated email newsletter with Mailchimp
Want to know why I prefer ConvertKit? Find out in my article on ConvertKit vs MailChimp
Step 1: Set up your ConvertKit account
First up, start by signing up for an account over at convertkit.com* – one of the best things about ConvertKit is that you can get a free trial when you are first starting out, so you can see if ConvertKit is for you.
For a full tutorial on how to set up your ConvertKit account, plus how to use all the great features such as forms, broadcasts, visual automations and sequences, check out my beginner’s guide to ConvertKit.
Step 2: Set up your list
Next, you will need to set up your list of subscribers – these are the people who will receive your ConvertKit automated email newsletter.
If you already have a list of subscribers, you can import them straight into ConvertKit.
If you don’t have any subscribers yet, it’s super easy to set up a form to start collecting subscribers from your blog and social media channels.
For details on how to do this, check out my post on how to set up ConvertKit.
Step 3: Create an RSS campaign in ConvertKit
Now you are ready to start creating your automated email newsletter in ConvertKit. ConvertKit call this kind of campaign an RSS campaign, because it takes your RSS feed and turns it into an email.
The first thing you need to do is go to AUTOMATIONS, in the top left menu bar, and then select RSS in the top right menu bar.
You will land on a screen which looks like this…
Click on ADD FEED…
Now type in your RSS feed. For most blogs this is www.nameofblog.com/feed So for example the RSS feed for productiveblogging.com is www.productiveblogging.com/feed.
Next click CHECK FEED. You will get a screen which looks a little bit like this….
On the left, you have a preview of what your automated email newsletter would look like if you sent it right now. On the right you have some options…
Single or Digest?
The first option you can choose from is whether you want to send a single email, which just shows your last post, or whether you’d prefer to send a digest email which you can send out on a day and time of your choosing.
If you opt for ‘single’ your email subscribers will be sent an email around 30 minutes after you publish a new blog post. By default, this will be the full text of your blog post.
However, if you prefer to only send an extract – with a clickable link to the full blog post, you can easily change this in your WordPress settings. Go to SETTINGS => READING and scroll down to where it says, ‘For each article in a feed, show’. Select SUMMARY and then SAVE CHANGES.
If you opt for ‘digest’, your email subscribers will be sent a roundup email of your most recent posts. This can be sent out once a week (or more often if you prefer) on a day and time of your choosing. By default, this roundup email will feature extracts of your 3 most recent blog posts, with a clickable link back to the full blog post.
Select your subscribers
The next option allows you to select WHO will receive your automated email newsletter. By default, your newsletter will be sent to ALL SUBSCRIBERS, however you can use filters to select only particular kinds of subscribers. For example, subscribers who have completed your welcome series, subscribers who you’ve tagged with a particular tag, or subscribers who have/haven’t bought a particular product.
The next option allows you to select an email template for your automated ConvertKit newsletter. Simply click on the options to instantly see what each template will look like in the preview on the left. Personally I prefer the default ‘text only’ option – simple, text-based emails generally lead to lead to better deliverability and engagement*!
One of my favourite features of the ConvertKit automated emails is this checkbox! This checkbox gives you the option to send automatically… or NOT! The default is NOT. If you check this box, your email will be sent automatically.
If you leave it unchecked, when it’s ready it will become a draft broadcast, which lets you go in and double check the formatting BEFORE you send it out.
I love this option because it means you can tweak your automated email before it gets sent out to your subscribers. You can, for example, change the subject line (often the blog post title is not so great as an email subject line), take advantage of A/B subject line testing, or add some extra information and/or photos to your email.
This option to have a semi-automated email is a nice halfway house if you want the convenience of an automated email, but also the ability to add some personality to it!
Step 4: Save and send your ConvertKit automated email newsletter
Once you are happy with the settings on your automated email newsletter, you can click SAVE in the bottom right-hand corner. You will be taken to a page which looks like this.
You can click on the feed URL at any time to amend your settings.
If you have selected SINGLE, your automated email will be sent 30 minutes after the next blog post you publish.
If you have selected DIGEST, your automated email will be sent next time you get to the day/time you selected.
If you have checked the SEND AUTOMATICALLY box, this will happen automatically. If you did not check this box, you have one more step to complete…
Step 5: Review and send your draft automated email newsletter
If you DID NOT check the SEND AUTOMATICALLY check box, you will need to review and send your automated email before it gets sent to your subscribers. When a draft email has been created, you will be sent an email from ConvertKit prompting you to review and send your latest automated email and giving you a clickable link to the draft email.
You will find the draft email in the BROADCASTS section of ConvertKit (find BROADCASTS in the main menu in the top left). Simply go into the draft email as you would any other broadcast and edit as much as you require, before sending. For more information on broadcasts, see my beginner’s guide to ConvertKit.
Step 6: Test your ConvertKit automated email newsletter
If you are anything like me, you will want to test your automated ConvertKit newsletter to make sure it works properly! The best way to do this is to set it up how you want using the tutorial above, but set it to send to only your email address the first time it goes out!
To do this, go back to AUTOMATIONS => RSS and scroll down to SELECT YOUR SUBSCRIBERS. Click the cross in the top right of the box which says ALL SUBSCRIBERS. Next click ADD FILTER and select EMAIL ADDRESS. Choose IS EXACTLY and type in your own email address.
Now when you click SAVE, the next automatic email to be sent out will only go to your email address. You can check the process works OK before sending to all your subscribers.
If you are happy with how the automated email looks, you can then go back into the RSS email settings and change it back to ALL SUBSCRIBERS. Your next automated email newsletter will then go out to all your subscribers.
While sending an automated email newsletter certainly the least time-consuming way to send your blog updates / newsletters, it’s definitely not the best.
I suggest, if you are new to email, you get started with an automated/RSS email newsletter, but once you are ready to take your email newsletters to the next level, send something a bit more bespoke.
Take a look at this post for inspiration on different types of emails you can send to your subscribers => What to put in your email newsletter
- How to get started with email marketing and get your first subscribers
- How to create an automated welcome sequence for your email list
- How to grow your email list with an opt-in offer
- How to set up an automated email newsletter with Mailchimp
- 31 Email Marketing Mistakes to avoid in 2020 (and how to fix them!)
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*This blog post contains affiliate links, this means if you click on a link and go on to buy the product I recommend, I will get a small commission, but you will not be charged a penny more – thanks in advance!