Are you using email marketing?
If you cringe at the idea of using email marketing, thinking it feels salesy and pushy, or that you like the idea but you don’t know what to say, then I want you to read on.
As you build your business and author platform, email marketing will become your number one marketing tool. It gets results and it’s very affordable to get started.
And, as an author you are particularly well-positioned because you have a ready-made audience, and you are creating content — two essentials of your email marketing strategy to make email marketing work for you.
All you need to do to get started is to add a sign-up box to your site, with a tempting reason for someone to join your list.
And, if you’ve written a book, you have all that great content you can use for this — whether you offer a section of your book, a worksheet from your book, or even your whole book. The key to making this work is to find something that is a fit for your ideal reader or customer.
The easiest way to implement an email marketing strategy for your author-business, is just to do it. Decide on a service, create a form for your website — even it’s it’s just ‘updates’, and start collecting email addresses. Today.
And, if you’re not convinced about the power of email marketing, then let’s have a look at why you need to be doing it. 14 reasons why, in fact.
1. Email marketing is an inexpensive and cost-effective marketing tool
Placing an advert in a newspaper or a magazine, or even online is very hit and miss. Most of the people who see your ad won’t be part of your target audience which means that your cost per ‘customer’ is likely to be very high. You need a lot of people to see your ad before you find the one special person who is interested in buying something from you.
Email marketing is different. It is far more targeted and far less expensive.
It’s targeted because you only email people who subscribe to your list; meaning they have given their approval for you to contact them. This is known as ‘permission-based marketing’. Your email subscribers will only join your list if they are interested in what you have to say.
And it’s affordable.
When you choose an email service provider, you usually pay according to the number of subscribers you have.
So if you have under 2,000 subscribers, for example, you’ll pay a lot less than someone with 100,000 subscribers. Which means it’s easier to get started, and it’s also a fairer way to pay when you have a small list.
When you get to the stage of having 100,000 people on your list, chances are you’ll be making a lot more money from that list and the additional cost of your email marketing service will be a negligible expense. The two are linked because, as you grow your list, you’ll grow your revenue.
Email marketing should be an integral part of your business because your email subscribers are more likely to respond to any call-to-action in your emails than anyone else who sees your offer.
They are the people who have have taken the trouble to subscribe.
And, if they found you through a link in one of your books, even better because…
2. A book is your best business card
In the old days, business cards were the best way to get your name, number, and (latterly) your email address out there. They were a way to make contacts and stay in touch with people.
The more cards you got, the more people you could stay in touch with and send information about your business (usually by snail mail).
The trouble, though, was that many of the people whose business cards we all carefully collected were not at all interested in our business or what we had to offer.
If you have written a book that is available on Amazon or one of the other retailers, however, you have a unique opportunity that most business owners don’t have.
Your book is like a vibrant, glowing business card, calling to Amazon’s vast database of customers.
And, while Amazon doesn’t give us the contact details of the readers who buy our books, we can still reach out and make contact with them.
You want to simply add a few lines at the front and/or at the back of your books, inviting the reader to join your email list. You then have their contact details and you can stay in touch. And stay in touch with people who are interested in what you do.
A reader who has bought one of your books is much more likely than anyone else to buy another, or to buy your other products and services — become a coaching client, or join an online course.
When you have something to offer, the first thing you will do is email your list – these people are your closest connections. Let them know about your 99c book launch, or the new group coaching programme you are offering.
You can let them know if your book is free (if you distribute your digital books via Smashwords you can use free discount coupons.) Again, these are the people who are most likely to download it, and most likely to share it and review it.
If you have a lot of books you can put your marketing strategy on repeat, and your email list come to expect regular offers, making them even more likely to read and respond to your emails.
3. Readers want to connect with you
In our information age society, we are used to being able to find and connect with people and businesses online. That includes authors. Readers like to feel that they know and trust their favourite authors, read about them, follow them, and that they, the reader, matter to them.
You can get involved in this conversation with your readers, and it’s helped by having an ongoing email ‘conversation’.
It gives you a chance to build a relationship by sending updates, and news that keep your readers informed about your writing process, inspirations, latest projects, etc.
I really enjoy receiving author emails and, because I like and follow them, when they mention that they have a new book coming out, I will generally buy it. Your readers could be doing exactly that for you.
You can also survey them via email, asking them about ideas for future books, things they like to read, what other support they are looking for, etc.
And you can build engagement and get your message shared even further. Your email subscribers are likely to be your biggest advocates and if you launch, say a contest; they will be the ones who share it with their social media friends and contacts.
Contests, especially, get attention. You could run a contest for a reader to have the chance of their name being in your next book. You can also give them exclusive information and ‘firsts’, which they will love.
4. Platforms come and go but email remains
People have used email since the dawn of the Internet.
They also use other platforms online. They used to use MySpace, now they use Facebook. Something will probably replace Facebook eventually.
The point is, that platforms come and go but people keep using email because it is such an important part of their lives. Job applications, government forms, even some health departments all require us to enter our email addresses. You may hear people saying they are going on a Facebook fast or that they are giving up social media because it is too much of a time-suck – but they will continue to check their emails.
If you were to build up your platform solely via Facebook or one of the other social media platforms, there is a danger that people could migrate away, the whole business could disappear, or your account could be suspended. Suddenly all your Facebook fans have gone, and you can no longer reach them.
This is not the case with your email list. You own it; it’s not going anywhere.
5. You are in control
Take Facebook as an example. A few short years ago, it was easy to get attention, and cheap to advertise. Marketers were rushing to create Facebook pages and adverts and people made a lot of money teaching others how to make money on Facebook.
Then Facebook went public and things changed.
Bring shareholders into the picture and the priorities of a business will change. Pages were no longer seen by everyone who ‘liked’ them — unless the page owner paid to boost posts. Those who had built their platform on Facebook were stuck — if you can’t reach your fans, you can’t move them over to your own site.
Even if you think publishers are measuring your success by the size of your social media following, build your email list first.
When you build your email list, it doesn’t matter which social media or other platforms you are also on, you can control how you reach your fans and followers: you own your own list.
Even if the company that owns your email marketing account goes out of business unlikely but it could happen), you still have your list (assuming you backed it up from time to time!) in a spreadsheet or csv format on your computer’s hard drive.
Simply go to another provider, show that you have the permission to email these subscribers, or ask them again, and start over with a new email marketing service.
It’s possible you’ll lose a few people if you change providers, but not to worry because this will hone down your list to those who are your biggest fans.
And, since you probably pay according to the size of your list, keeping it just to the most active members of your target audience makes good sense.
6. It is easy to track
Your email marketing strategy should be to build a relationship, and you do that by monitoring what works, and getting as many subscribers as possible to open, click and take action, even if it’s just going over to read a blog post.
And to do this you need to use the analytics inside your email marketing dashboard.
You can usually get data on how many people opened your email, how many clicked on links, which links they clicked if you have more than one, and so on.
This is valuable information as you can see which of your emails are popular, or which links get attention. And then you simply do more of what works.
You can also experiment with different titles, calls-to-action, and content.
You could, for example, send one email and use two different subject lines. The email with subject line A would go to half your list and the email with subject line B would go to the other half. You’d then be able to review your analytics and see which title got more opens or more clicks. This helps you refine titles and refine what kind of information you provide to your readers.
If you have Google Analytics on your website, you can track where your visitors are coming from and, chances are you’ll find those coming from email are more engaged, spend longer on your site, and browse more than one page. All of this helps Google know that you have a popular site, and one that is worth ranking higher in their search engine.
7. It’s always mobile friendly
With more and more people using mobile devices, email has a unique advantage of being viewable on almost any device – unlike some websites.
People tend to pick up their emails even when they’re on holiday, or when they don’t have enough bandwidth to check their image-heavy social media accounts. Anything important is likely to come via email and your regular newsletter could just get a look-in as well!
You never know when someone is ready to buy more from you. So that email about your next healthy eating retreat, could be just the thing they want to book up while they’re at the airport on a business trip.
8. It lasts longer than social posts
Twitter posts last just minutes, Facebook posts a couple of hours, but email can still be effective weeks or months after you send it.
An email has to be deleted by the recipient; it isn’t automatically expiring (like that fast moving social media stream!). So, even if your readers don’t open your emails immediately, they may well open them later. If they missed out on a deal that’s actually good, because they will know to open your emails quickly next time!
They may also choose to save your informative emails and act on those later – clicking links, downloading files, etc.
Don’t think about it just in the moment — your email marketing can pay off in terms of trust, relationship-building, and revenue, long after you send it. And it becomes cumulative; you are building a stronger relationship with each email you send.
9. It can be segmented
If you haven’t use email marketing before, you probably won’t have realized the value of segmentation.
It sounds complicated but it really isn’t. It’s just about separating your big list of subscribers into groups, lists, or tags. Different services do it differently but most have the facility to create different groups according to behaviour, or how someone signed up.
For example, you could have one group, or list, where people sign up from a link in one of your books. And another group, or list, where they sign up from another book, or a form on your homepage, or blog sidebar.
This is ideal if you want to test different placements, or different kinds of opt-in incentives. Or if you want to track buying behaviour by subscribers who come from different sources.
And it’s especially useful if you write in different genres or with different pen names! Keeping everything ‘under one roof’ in a single email service is much easier than trying to manage different lists for different books and pen names. You can send some emails to your whole list and others just to people who have bought in one genre. You can do a bit of gentle cross-selling too. If readers like your writing they may well be interested to know that you write on other topics.
Combined with those analytics we just talked about, you have a very powerful email marketing strategy at your disposal here.
10. Build trust and long-term relationships
Every time you email your list you are making a connection with them. Presumably, you’re giving helpful, engaging information in your emails? This will result in your subscribers growing to know, like and trust you. And people who trust you are more likely to buy.
Marketing specialists say that it takes more than one point of contact before someone is willing to buy from you.
In reality, you’ll find there’s no single rule, and sometimes it’s just about timing for the buyer.
Some of your subscribers will already be customers because they bought your book. So your job becomes a lot easier — you just have to maintain a relationship with someone who already wants to hear from you, and then build trust so that they can work with you in different ways, or simply buy more of your books.
11. Offer other people’s stuff to your readers
Having an email list means that you can and should be in regular contact with your readers and followers.
Which means that you need find content to put in your emails.
Most of your emails will be informative, chatty, newsy, offering value — usually in the form of free information that your readers will find useful.
And then you intersperse those value emails with ones that are more sales-focused – perhaps when you have an online course ready to go, or a new book about to launch.
From time to time, it’s good to send an email with information about a product or service that you recommend. Something that is complementary to what you offer, that provides value, and that is also something that your subscriber will be looking for, or can use in their life or business.
And sometimes it’s tough to find new things to talk about, so the chance to offer something from a trusted colleague or connection is a welcome relief from the constant round of content creation.
It’s also highly unlikely that you can provide a complete range or support, and nor should you try to — people like to buy from different providers — just think about your behaviour, even with books you’ll have books from different authors covering the same topic, right?
When you email about a product or service for someone else, you can make what’s called an affiliate commission. If one of your subscribers buys as a result of your email, you will be paid a commission.
It needs to be something you actually do recommend so the best approach is to look at products or services that you already use, do an online search to see if any of your favourites have an affiliate programme, or contact people you know and admire to see if they offer this.
If they do, sign up and send an email, or host a call, about that service or product and how you use it. You can even write your own review and send that — reviews work very well because your subscribers already trust you, and a recommendation from a trusted source is more influential than a plain sales email.
If you don’t have connections already, you can go to places such as ClickBank or JVZoo and see what’s available that your audience may be interested in. If you are considering being an affiliate you can often get a preview or sample copy of the product so you can assess its suitability.
Then you will need to sign up with them and get a special code that they will associate with your account. You will get a commission from any sales bought through that code.
It’s easier than it sounds, honestly!
12. Get content and future book ideas
A powerful method of getting ideas for future books is to poll or survey your list. That can be via a simple question in an email or through a service such as Survey Monkey or Wufoo. Or you can bring your email subscribers over to your social media, your Facebook page for example, and start a lively discussion there.
For non-fiction authors, ask your audience what what topics they would be interested in getting more information on, find out what their struggles are, or what else they are reading and studying.
For fiction writing, ask which name your subscribers prefer for your main character, see which settings are the most popular, again, ask you else they are reading (great intelligence for future marketing).
This is amazing information for an author – and not just for future books. You could write blog articles, guest posts for other blogs, create videos, and content for future emails.
13. It’s private
Unlike social media, where anyone can see how many followers and fans you have, an email list is completely private.
You don’t feel like you’re competing with anyone else, it’s just between you and your subscribers, whether that relationship is with 200 people, or 200,000. That’s very freeing and also very important because it isn’t about size when it comes to your email list, it’s about quality.
Email marketing a great tool for authors or business owners who are just starting out, who don’t already have an audience. It’s also brilliant for introverted authors, who aren’t drawn to public speaking, video marketing, or appearing as a guest on webinars and podcasts!
There’s no catching up to do with email marketing. You start right where you are – whether that’s with one book or ten. No-one needs to know how long you’ve been doing it or how big (or small) your list is.
14. You are building a business
The royalties you make from sales or borrows of your book are likely to be far, far smaller than revenue you make from other parts of your business.
Perhaps you run training, you speak, you have online courses, or a coaching or consulting business? This is where the money is, and your book is a means of getting attention for what you do.
And, as you build your email list, you are actually building an ongoing business. You are building a list of people who know you and want to stay in touch — and a list of people to whom you make regular offers, month in month out.
Whether that’s an offer to engage on social media, or whether it’s an offer to apply for your $10,000 coaching programme, sending promotions to your list is how you build your business.
Your subscribers are your target audience – those who have already bought or sampled your books or your content – which means your emails have a high chance of being opened and acted upon.
It also means that your readers won’t forget you between books, or between an annual event. You remain in contact with them and keep the relationship going.
And don’t worry about always having to create content. Invite guest writers, or send links to great posts around the web (not just yours), book reviews, frequently asked questions, really anything that will keep you in front of your list on a regular basis.
And those promotions you send out on behalf of others, can also be a great way to get your stuff in front of other people’s list in return.
It’s effective — but are you doing it?
Email marketing is the most effective, and inexpensive way to market your books and build your business. It’s easy to set up (we show you how in this course), doesn’t take long to set it up, and you can write the emails in advance and schedule them to go out at set intervals.
If you don’t already have a list, you could get started right now completely for a free account with MailChimp, or Aweber. Take a moment to choose go with a service that you think you will stay with long-term, as your list grows and your business expands.
But, above all, do take action. It’s the biggest regret that I hear from business owners and authors —
If only I’d started to build an email list sooner.
Don’t let that happen to you!
This post was written by Michelle Campbell-Scott. Michelle is the co-creator of Email Marketing for Authors. If you want to get started and you like the look of the course, then you can sign up here (for a limited time) for only $19.
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