There is an overwhelming tendency in indie publishing for authors to follow trends and no better example than in the building and growing of powerful mailing lists. To many authors, it’s considered the single most important element of their book marketing strategy but it’s often hard to define meaningful numbers underpinning this viewpoint. We went out to over 1000 of the authors we have worked with to find those with author mailing lists exceeding 2000 or more contact names to ask if they really do get a return on their investment. We identified 227 authors with mailing lists with 2000 subscribers or more with a surprisingly low 43% of authors rating email marketing as a major contributor to overall book sells.
Now, we know there are a number of high profile authors who swear by their mailing lists and a few who make good money by selling the secrets of their success, but apart from testimonials, measurable success factors are hard to come by. At BookViral we believe that email marketing still has its place in an author’s marketing arsenal but far too often the hype exceeds the reality and ever increasingly many people simply divert marketing emails to their spam folders. With this in mind, we went out to BookViral readers and asked how often they deleted author marketing emails without reading them. The result was a staggering 78%! When we asked why the overwhelming response suggested there was nothing of interest in them.
When you actually stop to reflect it’s not surprising. Most authors build their list by giving something away for free. That’s the overriding incentive for subscribing to a mailing list but far too many authors fall down when it comes to converting prospects into readers and readers into enthusiastic followers eager for their latest release. With potential readers glued to their inboxes 24/7 here are the top six things you must do to ensure your marketing emails do not end up being deleted as junk.
1. Build your mailing list
Let’s cut to the quick here and say that numbers matter and all our research shows that an author needs a minimum of 2000 subscribers on their email mailing list before they realise a meaningful return on their investment. If you have yet to build an email list or are just starting out then take a look at our How To Create A Successful Mailing List post.
2. Establish your message
First and foremost ask yourself what your subscriber will get from opening your email. They will already know you are an author because they signed up to be on your mailing list and the chances are you gave them something of value in return. What are you giving them this time around? We hate to break it to you but unless you are already a celebrity or household name then progress updates on your next release, a new cover reveal or simply reminding them that you are still there doesn’t typically deliver results. Choose your message carefully and give them something they want. It may be a promotion or a thought-provoking blog post but make every email count. You can’t afford to invest your time for no measurable return on your investment.
3. Choose the right marketing partner
Choosing the right email marketing partner is a critical element of success. There is a host of powerful tools and providers offering a spectrum of services that range from sending out simple text-based emails to cleverly designed templates that demand they be opened. MailChimp remains one of the favourites because of its pedigree and longevity but others you should have on your radar include - Zoho Campaigns, Constant Contact and Infusionsoft.
4. Know your target market and above all be realistic
You need to think about your target audience and don’t take it for granted that someone subscribing to your mailing list has an overriding interest in your genre or writing. Our recent poll of 2700 readers suggests that over 86% of people subscribe to an email list on a whim. Your target audience may, therefore, be far smaller than the size of your mailing list suggests but rather than see this as a negative think about the tone in your email and focus on projecting your brand. Get this right and the percentage of readers your emails connect with will soon begin to generate word of mouth recommendations for your books.
5. Draft, draft and draft again!
Think of each email you send to subscribers as a mini-campaign and never, never, send an email on a whim or because you haven’t been in touch for a while. The best emails are the ones with clear messages that speak to your subscriber on a personal level. You need to be clear about what you want to achieve and once you have crafted it you need to take a step back. Send it to a friend and ask for their feedback, make sure the HTML works and that there are no typos or formatting problems. Each of your subscribers represents an investment of your time and possibly money, get it wrong and you may well lose a subscriber or end up on their junk list.
6. Measure your success
Measurement and feedback provide you with the opportunity to refine future campaigns and build on your successes. Click rates, unsubscribe rates and sales can and should be measured with providers like MailChimp Zoho Campaigns, Constant Contact and Infusionsoft offering a host of great analytical features which will help you get the very best from each email.
At BookViral we believe that knowledge is the foundation upon which to build success and as always we would welcome your feedback.