In Email Marketing for Authors Part 1, I covered the reasons why you should maintain an email newsletter for your readers. Following are the steps to get your email marketing campaigns set up and ensure your strategy is effective.
Get the right tool. If you use your regular email account and try to send an email out to 25 or more subscribers, your message probably won’t make it through. Email servers have spam filters and sending out mass emails will trigger a halt on your message either from your outgoing mail server or from the recipients’ mail servers. Because of this, you need a professional email tool. I use and recommend Constant Contact. It’s easy to use, affordable, and offers all kinds of great features like contact management, sign-up box code that you can place on your website, and a Facebook app so you can add a sign-up tab to your Facebook account.
Invite your friends and family. Once you choose a tool, invite your family and friends to sign up. You’ve got to start somewhere!
Offer a bonus for new subscribers. It’s harder than ever to get people to give up their email address so you have to make it worthwhile. Offer a bonus in exchange for signing up for your list, such as a sample chapter from your book or a bonus report.
Make it interesting. Your most important job is to make your e-newsletter interesting to recipients. Start with a brief personal greeting, which helps subscribers get to know you and feel a personal connection with you. Next, include an article of interest to your readers OR share the title and first paragraph of several recent blog posts and then include a link to continue reading each on your website. This is a great way to drive traffic back to your site while keeping readers engaged. You can also share resources, interesting facts and figures, upcoming appearances, links to media interviews, or event announcements. Don’t forget to feature your book and mention another product or service if you have one.
Respect your list. It can be tempting to send a lot of email to your subscribers, but resist this inclination. If you inundate them, they may unsubscribe. Instead, limit your newsletter to once each month at the most (you may even want to go longer between issues). If something comes up in the meantime, you can always send out a quick special announcement.
Pay attention to stats. Your email marketing tool should provide you with data on open rates, the number of people who clicked a link in your message, and the number of unsubscribes. This is valuable information. Pay close attention to the data if you want to learn about the habits of your readers and what they like and don’t like.
Build your list. In addition to having a sign-up box on your website, always look for ways to grow your mailing list. One of the best ways to do this is by collecting sign-ups when you speak at an event or host a book signing. Invite people to join—and don’t forget to offer incentive. I often raffle off a book at the end of a presentation by collecting business cards from the audience. You can also promote your mailing list via your social media networks.
Act promptly. When you collect email addresses at an event, don’t wait to acknowledge them. Get new subscribers added to your email system within a week and send out a welcome message that thanks them for attending your event.
Don’t wait to get started. In 2005 I sent out my first newsletter to a grand total of eight subscribers. Today it goes out to thousands of people. You have to start somewhere and find your groove. Your newsletter will likely evolve and change over time, and it should. Pay attention to what your subscribers like and don’t like and give them more of what works. You may even go months or years without having anything to sell them and that is okay. When you’re ready with your next book, you will have loyal subscribers who will be eager to support you.