by: Jennifer Lovett
So, there’s this narrative going around that marketers are telling authors to do email marketing and do it in a way that makes you besties with your list. Let me disavow you of that notion right now. Do NOT make besties with your email list. That list is for your reader to get to know you, not the other way around.
I feel email marketing is the new “buy my book” on Twitter thing that was going around a few years ago. Someone somewhere said, “All authors should be on Twitter,” but that “someone” didn’t teach authors how to do Twitter and thus, authors became obnoxious tweeting their buy links out every five seconds. Email has become the latest thing. And obnoxious is obnoxious no matter the platform.
Email marketing is a chance for you to develop a brand for yourself over time. It’s a long-term strategy, not a hard sell strategy. I do recommend it for authors, but I recommend it at a level you are comfortable at. Email once a month and make it fun for you and the reader. If you can’t do this, then just collect emails until you are ready. If you are chatty and have fun things to say, email once a week. Do not email more than that. Open rates plummet.
The more you can make the email sound like one from a friend, the better your open rates will be. Because I want you to use email successfully, I created a checklist for you:
Why do authors need an email list?
- Email usage is up. Nielsen and Pew Research both report an increase in email usage. 71% of email users admit to looking at them first thing in the morning
- Email is seen more often by the recipient than any social media post. Social media is saturated scrolling and your followers may or may not ever see your post. If you run a business profile, those followers definitely won’t see it without paying for ads.
- Open rates. Organic reach on a Facebook Page is 3-5% (it can get as high as 10-12 with good engagement). Twitter is about the same. Instagram is slightly higher. Open rates on email are in the 25-30% range.
- You own the list. Forever. Your social media followers don’t give you their address and the platform owns the list. If they go under or out of style, remember Google+ or MySpace, you lose that list. Forever.
How do you build the list?
- Pick an email service provider. Free ones up to a certain number of subscribers include MailerLite, Mailchimp, SendinBlue, or Drip.
- Create a freebie or magnet. This should be something the reader wants: free book or novella, scenes, maps, case studies, recipes from a series. Get creative.
- Build your landing page. This is where readers will sign up for your list. Not too cluttered and to the point. Make it fun.
- Use the double Opt-in. This keeps you out of ANTI-SPAM law trouble.
- Create an automated email trail. This is a series of introductory emails for the reader – to you, the stories, the setting, the character, releases, appearances, events. ONE email with a place to buy your books is good. No more.
- Segment your list. This will tell you who actually opens your emails. This will matter when you start having to pay for subscribers.
- Split test. Test subject lines, photos, contents, anything to increase open rates. Test only one component at time or you’ll receive skewed results.
- Avoid spammy words. FREE, BUY, OPEN NOW, PROMISE, OBLIGATION. Google for more. These will get your emails kicked to spam.
What should I email?
Anything beneficial to the reader. Email is for the reader not you. Keep that in mind always. Don’t try to become their best friend. If they want a relationship with you, they’ll let you know. Otherwise, email should provide them with insight into your books. It also helps them get to know you, because readers enjoy buying books from people they know or think they do.
- Progress reports on the current work in progress.
- Book launch announcements.
- Events and appearances.
- New blog posts.
- Photos of your last trip and what you learned (keep the size small so you don’t clog up their email box).
- Positive reviews your book received.
- Interviews with research subjects or other authors.
- List of your favorites (books, authors, movies, plays, music).
- Promotions and/or giveaways.
- Deleted scenes (also good for a freebie).
- Milestone news (anniversaries, birthdays).
- Backstory (you know, all that stuff you wanted to put in your book but your agent made you take it all out).
- Quotes and questions.
- Photo – one SMALL photo. You don’t want to make the email size too big.
- Call to action (buy the book, attend the event, respond to a question, meet the author). Use Calls to Action sparingly so the reader doesn’t feel spammed.
- Use a P.S. because they are the highest read section. You can let them know what to expect in the next edition or something fun about your character. The best ones are a Call to Action that get them to click on your website or social media.
I get questions about subject lines quite often. There are several schools of thought. Marketing Guru Neil Patel recommends one-word subject lines or anything that resembles a note from a friend.
Think about how you use subject lines and apply them. Don’t use spammy words because they’ll likely end up in spam. Try using emojis (increases open rates 45%) and the word “video” – those are getting high open rates.
Alchemy Worx analyzed 25 billion emails and found the subject lines with the best open rates included jokes, congratulations, the words: you, revision, forecast, snapshot, token, voluntary, deduction and free. Here are some other ideas:
Don’t open this email!
Check out my new ….
Pairs nicely with
As you wish
Day at the beach?
Avoid these people
| Where do I get ….|
Stop wasting …
How to survive ….
Hey I forgot …
Good news! ….
Are you coming?
Vanilla or Chocolate?
Jennifer Lovett is the founder of Writer Nation, a podcast and Facebook group dedicated to helping writers market their work. With 17 years communications experience, she regularly writes on social media, internet marketing and face-to-face publicity.
She currently lives in South Korea and travels around Asia for fun.
You can find her on her Website, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest: @jennylovett