This article is quite a departure from my usual writings about building and growing a small business. In this case I'm going to dive deep into the technicalities of how I use two of my core business applications to track what visitors to my website are interested in.
The idea behind tracking what people are interested is simple: if I know that you're interested in, for example, productivity, I can highlight articles and information that will help you become more productive. If you're really engaged with that content, I can eventually offer a relevant product or service.
For you, the benefit is that you get more information about what you're interested in at the moment. For me, I can pitch more relevant products to someone who is really interested and increase my chances of a sale.
I'm going to assume that you're familiar with ConvertKit and RightMessage. If not, I suggest you visit the ConvertKit and RightMessage websites - I use both and highly recommend them (and for the record I'm not affiliated with them in any way, neither do I get anything in return for publishing this article).
My website setup and the page visits I want to track
One of the key methods I use to attract and nurture subscribers is through blog articles. Each article falls into one (sometimes two) categories. These categories include productivity, business design, branding and positioning, marketing and sales and so on (you can see all categories here).
I would like to track how many articles in each category someone reads. I keep track of category visits in ConvertKit and use rules and automations to determine what you're most interested in at the moment.
Here's how I use the two applications to do this.
Part 1: RightMessage setup
Note: at the time of writing, the team over at RightMessage are working on a Wordpress plugin that will make some of this a lot easier. I will update this article when it becomes available. In the meantime (and if you're not using Wordpress), read on.
We're going to set up RightMessage to tell ConvertKit when someone visits a page, or category of pages. There are three steps involved:
- Step 1: set up a RightMessage segment group
- Step 2: Tell RightMessage which custom field in ConvertKit should be updated
- Step 3: Get RightMessage to automatically fill in the ConvertKit custom field
Here are the details:
Step 1: Set up a segment group
The first step is to set up a segment group in RightMessage:
- From the RightMessage dashboard, go to Manage -> Segmentation & questions
- Click Add and select Custom segment group.
- Give it a name and the question you want to ask them
Keep in mind that the question will not actually be displayed to website visitors (we'll get to that in a bit) - but give it a sensible name so you can remember what it does.
Quick tip: you can leave the Question Wording empty. RightMessage will assume it's not something you ever want to ask someone (so it won't show up on the available questions list when you're building CTA funnels) and the wording changes from Possible Answers to Segments.
Now add the answers to the question (or Segments if you left the Question Wording empty). In my case, I'm going to add an answer for each category of articles, plus a couple more (I will get to those in a bit). Here's what it looks like:
The answers I'm using are the current six categories for my articles, plus three sales pages and my about page (I don't quite know why I'm tracking that last one, but I thought it would be interesting to see how many people visit my about page).
Step 2: Tell RightMessage which custom field in ConvertKit should be updated
We're going to get RightMessage to update a custom field in ConvertKit every time a website visitor views a particular page. The first thing you will need to do is create the custom field in ConvertKit - I use a custom field called page_visited.
Now set up RightMessage to update that field in ConvertKit:
- Click on Sync with ESP
- Select the ConvertKit custom field that should be updated
- Give a value for each answer
Here's what this looks like:
Key understanding: These are the values that would be sent to the ConvertKit custom field if a visitor answered the question from a RightMessage widget. However, we're not going to use a widget — we want RightMessage to populate the field for us automatically without popping up a widget.
Step 3: Get RightMessage to automatically fill in the ConvertKit field
Now we want to get RightMessage to automatically populate the ConvertKit custom field. Here's how to do this:
- Click on auto-segment
- For each value you want to send to CK, set up the conditions which will populate the field with that value.
This is where the power of RightMessage becomes evident. You can set up a variety of conditions, using logical AND and OR conditions. Because of the way I set up my website (mostly historical reasons), I use the following conditions to set up each field:
What this means is:
- if someone visited the /articles-productivity page;
- and then visited a page that starts with /blog;
- then fill in the ConvertKit custom field with the value productivity
In other words, if they went to the list of articles on productivity, and the next page was an article (all of my articles start with /blog), I know they read an article about productivity. This is a little more convoluted than it really needs to be, but I'm doing it this way because of the way my website is structured.
I could perhaps make it simpler with the following conditions:
In this case, the ConvertKit custom field will be filled with productivity if they visited the productivity category page at least twice in the last 7 days.
I use two rules to see if someone is interested in Productized Services:
The first conditions are matched if they read articles on Productized Services, and the second rule if they visited the Productized Services sales page.
RightMessage has a powerful set of features that you can use to determine what visitors are interested in; you will have to experiment to see what makes sense to you.
When you've completed your setup, save your changes and publish them to your site. RightMessage will now be updating the custom field in ConvertKit automatically.
Part 2: Create an automation in ConvertKit to catch the custom field updates
At this stage the custom field in ConvertKit will be updated every time one of the conditions in RightMessage is matched. Now we want to do something with that information.
First things first:
For all of these integrations to work:
- head on over to your ConvertKit account settings (click on your account name in the top right corner of the screen);
- select Email on the left;
- scroll to the bottom of the screen and make sure Add subscriber_id parameter in email links is checked.
This is what it should look like (click for a bigger image):
OK, ready to go
We're now going to set up a ConvertKit automation to use the information in the custom field page_visited to build up some intelligence about our visitor. Here's how it works:
- Create a ConvertKit automation. I call mine Scorekeeper - pages visited
- The event (or trigger) that fires off the automation is when the custom field changes.
Here's what this looks like in ConvertKit:
Now I have a series of conditions that tests which value is in the custom field. The first condition is for when the custom field was changed to productivity. If there's a match, I update two custom fields:
- The score_productivity field tracks how how many times someone read an article on productivity.
- The score_general field tracks general engagement.
Here's what the condition for productivity looks like:
Subsequent conditions test for each possible value of the page_visited field and increments the appropriate counters. I have 6 counters, one for each of the article categories I have, plus the score_general counter (and a score for the about page - still not sure what I'm going to do with that information).
Note: you could also set up ConvertKit automations to fire when the field changes to a particular value. In this case, you would have to create a separate automation for each value; I find the above construct easier to maintain.
Part 3: Test your setup
RightMessage will keep track of all actions website visitors take regardless of whether they are known subscribers or anonymous visitors. However, RightMessage can only populate values in ConvertKit for known subscribers.
Here's how I test to make sure the systems are all talking to each other:
- Open an incognito window in your browser.
- Submit a ConvertKit form (I just sign up for one of my lead magnets).
- Don't close your browser - head on over to your email and confirm your subscription.
You're now a known subscriber visiting the website. Check to see that everything works:
- visit the pages that will satisfy the RightMessage auto-segmentation rules;
- check the RightMessage dashboard - it should show one more count in the segment you defined;
- check the ConvertKit subscriber record - the custom field should be updated;
- and any other actions in the automation should be reflected.
In ConvertKit, I've created subscriber segments to quickly see who's interested in what. Create a new segment, and add a single filter on the score (or counter) field you're interested in where the field has any value. The example below shows the segment setup for anyone who scored on my Business Design category.
The setup I described above is not the only way I gather information about my website visitors; I also use RightMessage widgets (pop-up questions) that I find relatively unobtrusive and give me really valuable information about the kinds of visitors to my site. And of course I can track which article links my subscribers click on in an email, I send out occasional surveys and so on.
The setup above will only update my ConvertKit subscriber records when a visitor is a known subscriber - however I find that information valuable enough to leave this running for a few months and see what kind of data I can collect.
In future I may change the auto-segmentation rules to see if I can gather more reliable information (for example, someone visiting the productivity category three times in 7 days is a strong indication of their interest). Time and experimentation will tell me what works.
For now, this is a tricky problem solved - everything works as advertised. Let me know if you have any questions.