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How to Automatically Format Subscriber Names in ConvertKit

If you’re using ConvertKit as your email service provider, you’ve probably created a form or landing page that collected both a First Name and Email from the subscriber. Over time, you’ll notice that not everyone enters their name perfectly.

  • Some people type their full name: “John Smith”
  • Some people type all lowercase: “john”
  • Some people type all uppercase “JOHN”
  • Some people type their full name all uppercase “JOHN SMITH”

That matters because when you personalize your emails with something like Hey {{subscriber.first_name}}!, it will insert whatever they typed into the form.

You can imagine how awkward it would be for someone named John to see every email start with Hey JOHN SMITH! instead of Hey John!

Wouldn’t it be great if you could automatically format every subscriber’s name the same way, regardless of what they typed into the original form?

That’s what I’ll show you how to do today. It was a bit tricky to figure out, which prompted me to write this detailed guide. Are you ready? Here’s a summary of what we’re going to do:

👉  Format Names for Future Subscribers

  1. Create a new custom field called formatted_first_name
  2. Create a rule that adds a Flag – New Subscriber tag to all new subscribers
  3. Create a visual automation called “Format Subscriber Names” that triggers when the Flag – New Subscriber tag is added
  4. Use some liquid filters to format the subscriber.first_name and save it to the formatted_first_name custom field

👉  Format Names for Existing Subscribers

  1. Add a second tag called Temp – Format Names
  2. Add another tag trigger to the “Format Subscriber Names” automation that uses the Temp – Format Names tag
  3. Select all the subscribers in your account and add them to the Temp – Format Names tag to start the automation
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Step 1: Create a New Custom Field

Unfortunately, ConvertKit doesn’t let you modify the actual subscriber first name, so we’ll need to create a new custom field called formatted_first_name. Just click into any subscribers detail page to add the new custom field. This will add the new custom field to all subscribers. Leave the value field empty.

Step 2: Create a Rule to Automatically Tag New Subscribers

Next, navigate to your Subscribers page and add a new tag called Flag – New Subscriber. You can name this anything you want, but that’s my recommendation. I use Brennan Dunn’s ACTION – THING – META format for all my tags.

Once you’ve created the tag, navigate to Automations > Rules. From here you’ll want to simply add the Flag – New Subscriber tag whenever a new subscriber is added to your account. You can do this all in one giant rule, or you can simply add a new tag to your existing rules (if you have them).

Step 3: Create a New Visual Automation

Next, create a new Visual Automation called “Format Subscriber Names”. To start the automation, add an event trigger that fires when the Flag – New Subscriber tag is added.

Then, add an action that sets a custom field value. Set the formatted_first_name custom field to exactly the following:

{{ subscriber.first_name | split: " " | first | downcase | capitalize }}

Here’s what that Liquid template code does in a nutshell:

  1. subscriber.first_name – Take the name the subscriber originally entered
  2. split: ” ” – look for any spaces
  3. first – return only the first word (presumably the first name)
  4. downcase – make that word lowercase
  5. capitalize – capitalize the first letter
  6. Save this newly formatted value to the formatted_first_name custom field

That set of filters, in that order, will ensure we get a properly formatted first name regardless of what the user originally entered into your form.

At this point, be sure to save your visual automation, but don’t turn it on yet. This only affects future subscribers. If you already have subscribers in your account, you’ll want to continue to these bonus steps.

Step 4: Add a Second Automation Trigger

To format the names of subscribers you already have in your account, add a second automation trigger at the beginning of your “Format Subscriber Names” automation.

You won’t have a tag created yet, so just create one as you create the new trigger. Name the tag Temp – Format Names. Don’t worry, you’ll delete this tag soon.

Step 5: Add All Subscribers to the New Temporary Tag

Next, head back to your Subscribers page. Bulk select all the subscribers in your account and add them to the Temp – Format Names tag. This will add them all to the visual automation, process their names, and fill out each subscriber’s formatted_first_name custom field value.

This may take a few minutes so be patient while ConvertKit processes everyone and updates the numbers in your Visual Automation.

Step 6: Remove the Temporary Tag and Automation Trigger

Once your automation is complete, click into a few subscribers who entered first names and double-check that the formatted_first_name field now contains the properly formatted name.

After that, you can safely delete the Temp – Format Names tag from your Subscribers page and delete the Temp – Format Names automation trigger in your Visual Automation. Your “Format Subscriber Names” Visual Automation should now look like this:

Step 7: Using the Newly Formatted Name

Now that you have properly formatted names for all your subscribers, you can use them in your email templates, sequences, and broadcasts!

Instead of using {{subscriber.first_name}} (which ConvertKit doesn’t let us modify) simply use {{subscriber.formatted_first_name}} instead. It’s that simple.

That’s it! You now have properly formatted first names for every subscriber and an automated system for formatting them for each new subscriber you get in the future.

Not using ConvertKit yet?

If you’re not already using ConvertKit, I’d highly recommend switching to them. Their platform is extremely user-friendly, highly-flexible, and they have fantastic customer support.

Sign up for ConvertKit Cloud-based email marketing and automation to grow your blog and business
About Matt Olpinski
Matt runs his own web design and development company Matthew’s Design Co. and teachers thousands of freelancers how to succeed through his personal blog and newsletter.
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