Hi, I'm Ray Evans. I'm a certified copyeditor and proofreader.
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Email marketing is exactly what it sounds like: sending a reader an email about a product. There are two ways for you as an author to use email marketing:
1. By making your own list of subscribers
2. By paying to see the lists of other people. When you run a promotion with services like ours, you do this (Freebooksy, Bargain Booksy, Red Feather Romance, New in Books, and Audio Thicket).
In both cases, your books go straight to the readers' email boxes. Email marketing has always been a great way to reach readers, and now that most social media platforms are getting less popular, it's more important than ever.
A Usually Bad Idea
Email gets a bad name because it's often used to send spam.
The word "spam" came about because email marketing was used too much and in a bad way. Email marketing isn't spam if you send emails responsibly and give your readers useful information. You'd want to know if your favorite author put out a new book, right?
In fact, it might be annoying not to get an email about new releases that people are looking forward to. If you do email marketing right, people will want to get your emails. In this article, we'll talk about the best ways to use email to reach your readers in a valid and effective way.
Vocabulary Before we get started, let's define a few terms we'll use to talk about email marketing:
Subscriber: As an author, a subscriber is a reader who has signed up for your mailing list.
Campaign: An email sent to a list of subscribers is called a "campaign."
Subject Line: The first thing a subscriber will see when your email arrives in their inbox is the subject line.
Body: This is what your email says. What people see when they open their email.
Open Rate: This is the number of people who sign up for your emails and then open them.
Click Rate: This is the number of people who open your emails and click on the links in them.
Click Through Rate, or CTR, is another name for this.
Where do I start if I want to make my own list?
To build an email list, you'll need two things:
1. An email service provider (ESP)
2.A web page
An email service provider (ESP) will help you get subscribers and keep track of them. It will also let you create, send, and track your campaigns.
Even if you don't think you need the reporting and design features of an ESP (and trust us, you do), mass emails sent from a single email address are likely to be marked as spam, so you shouldn't just collect email addresses and add them to your Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, etc. address book.
I recommend MailChimp as your first ESP. Their accounts are free for the first 2,000 people on your list, and creating campaigns and getting stats and reports is very easy.
Pro tip: When you log in to your ESP, make sure that the email address you are sending from is linked to your website domain and not a free gmail or yahoo account. For example, make sure your email marketing comes from email@example.com and not firstname.lastname@example.org. You need this to follow DMARC, which is a complicated but important rule. You don't have to get it, but you do have to follow it.
Once you have an ESP, you need to start collecting email addresses. Putting a sign-up form on your website is the best way to do this. Most authors use Squarespace or WordPress. MailChimp integration is already built into Squarespace. If you're using self-hosted WordPress, we like the plugin MailChimp for WordPress. It's not officially endorsed by MailChimp, but it does a great job and make it easy to add a mailing list form to your WordPress site.
What do I want my subscribers to tell me?
You can add signup forms to your site using an ESP plugin or by adding the code directly to your site. Before you can embed the form and start collecting emails, you need to decide what information you want from your future subscribers. The more information you get from your subscribers at the start, the better you will be able to send them campaigns that they find useful. We suggest that you ask your readers for the following information:
1. Email address
2. Give your name (for personalization of email subject lines and bodies)
3. Zip code (if you are interested in doing local events, book tours, etc.)
You don't want to ask for too much information because that will make the sign-up forms too long and scary for potential subscribers. However, you do want to get enough information so that you can send relevant information to your subscribers. If you know a little more about your email subscribers, you can make your emails more personal, which shows that you care about them.
How do I get people to follow me?
There are a few things you can do to make sure your email body works well on mobile devices:
People don't read anymore, they scan.
Most people will quickly scan an email to decide if it's worth reading, and only then will they actually read it. Use subheadings, bullet points, and bold text to make your emails easier to read. Once you're done with the email, read just the headlines one after the other to see if the reader can understand what the email is about.
If not, you need subheadings that are more clear. Don't fool yourself by checking your email on a desktop. Most people will read it on their phones, so make sure it looks good on a phone.
Put links to where to buy and important information at the top.
Make sure that all the information you want your reader to see and any buttons you want them to click are no more than one scroll down in your email.
Don't use too many pictures.
We know that professionally made graphics are pretty, but if the image files are too big, they will take too long to load, and readers will give up before they even get to see them. You will need to include your book covers often, which is fine. Just make sure to save them as a medium-sized jpeg and you will be fine.
Give away a story or chapter for free in exchange for an email address.
To do this, put a link to a free download of one of your books in the welcome email that people get when they sign up for your list. This way, the link to the free content will be sent to the subscriber as soon as they confirm their email address.
Add a link to your books' back matter.
It's best to always put a link to your mailing list signup form at the end of your eBooks.
Make sure to include an email signup link at the end of the story so that any new readers you get through promotions can also become new subscribers.
Sample text: Thanks for reading (Book Title)! If you liked it, please sign up for my mailing list so you can find out about my other books.
Give things away.
You can give away eBooks or physical copies of your books.
The most common way to enter is by giving an email address. This is easy to do with Rafflecopter because it works with Mailchimp. People who enter your giveaway are automatically added to your list.
Tip: When you run a giveaway, make sure the prize is something that will attract the kind of reader you want on your list. For example, you might get a lot more entries if you give away an iPad, but the quality of those entries will be lower than if you give away a Kindle.
This is because almost everyone wants an iPad, but only people who read want a Kindle. You should pick a prize that will attract readers, preferably in the same genre as your books. This is why giving away a copy of one of your books will always get you the best subscribers.
Send a request to the people who follow you on social media.
Let your social media followers know that they can be even more "in the know" by joining your mailing list. This will always get more people to sign up for your list.
You should do this as soon as you set up your ESP, but as long as you're getting new fans, it makes sense to share links to sign up for your email list with your social media followers every month or so. You can also put a link to sign up for your email list at the top of your Facebook and Twitter pages to remind new fans all the time.
Add a "popup" to your website.
You'll need a page for your signup form, but you can get more readers if you use a pop-up that asks people to sign up after they've been on your site for a certain amount of time (we recommend 10-15 seconds).
Popups, like email, sometimes get a bad name for being "spammy," but as long as you don't use too many exclamation points and are clear and honest in your popup, you'll be fine.
Spend money on advertising.
You can get more people to sign up for your mailing list by running ads on Facebook and Twitter. We suggest putting aside 50 cents to $3.00 per subscriber in your budget.
It's important to remember that this is all about marketing, which means that you're selling your books and your author brand.
As you post on social media and make pop-ups and sign-up pages, think about what kind of special content you want to send to your readers via email, and tell them right away why they should sign up.
There has to be a hook.
Will you give sneak peeks, give away free books, have contests, or have special sales?
Think about your plan and tell them!
There are some ways to grow a list that I absolutely do not recommend.
Do not buy lists. ⚠️
If a list is for sale, you can be sure that it is not good. People who signed up for your emails on their own will be the most interested and active ones. Spend your time and money on getting readers who are interested.
⚠️ Send nothing to anyone who hasn't given you permission to do so. ⚠️
If you send emails to people who haven't signed up for your list, they will be marked as spam and you will get complaints.
Most ESPs have built-in systems that track how many complaints they get about your emails. If the number of complaints is too high, they will shut down your account. It might be tempting to look through your rolodex or address book (do people still use those?) and add everyone to your mailing list without their permission.
Don't do it.
That's all for today. Stay tuned for part 2 tomorrow.