Previously, I’ve written about ebook marketing tips and the effectiveness of promotional giveaways, but there’s one incredibly useful marketing tool I haven’t yet discussed: email newsletters. For authors, having an email newsletter is one of the most effective ways to keep readers and other industry professionals informed about your new releases, events, promotions, and more. Plus, it can be a great tool for connecting with your readers through bonus content. Newsletters not only keep people informed about what you’re doing but also serve as a periodic reminder, so that people think about you and your books more frequently. And unlike social media posts, email doesn’t disappear into readers’ feeds; it lands directly in their inbox.
But email newsletters are only as effective as you make them. In order for your newsletter to be a successful promotional tool, readers have to both subscribe to it and stay subscribed. Having a newsletter doesn’t do any good if it isn’t reaching your readers. So, how can you make your newsletter successful? Here are my tips for getting started:
- Choose a service
There are a number of great newsletter services that will provide you with all the tools you need to get started. I recommend MailChimp, which offers a free starter option, and Aweber, which I’ve had great experience with. But there are other popular services as well, including Campaign Monitor and Constant Contact, which offer fairly similar features and pricing. There’s also TinyLetter, which is a free, simplified version of MailChimp that is useful for beginners. All of these sites will automate the subscriptions, store subscriber email addresses, and create an archive. They also provide simple sign-up forms that you can link to or embed on your blog/website.
- Have a schedule
Decide how frequently you’ll send out newsletters and stick to that schedule. Be as consistent as you can. Keep in mind that too many newsletters might be overwhelming for readers, but too few will also lead to unsubscribes, as people will forget why they signed up. Try to find a balance that’s best for your content (and that you can reasonably commit to).
- Keep it short
If your newsletters are long, chances are the readers skimming their inboxes will skip it. But no one will complain if your newsletters are too short. And the more frequently you send them, the shorter they should probably be. Try to make your content easy to scan at a glance, with visual cues like headings and lists to help readers find what interests them.
- Get permission
This is one of the biggest rules of managing your email newsletter: never add anyone to the list without their permission. Having someone’s email address does not give you permission to subscribe them to your list. And when asking for subscriptions, be honest and specific about exactly what people are signing up for. Tell them how frequently you’ll contact them and what they’ll get if they subscribe.
You can customize not only the newsletter itself but also the automated subscribe/unsubscribe forms, as well as the confirmation messages. Tie the newsletter in with your website, blog, or social media pages by including similar design elements. Even adding a simple header will make your newsletter look more unique and more professional.
6. Keep it interesting
Email newsletters don’t just have to be advertisements. Think more broadly about what you’d like to include. What can you share with others? What do you have expertise on? What do you readers like and want to see more of? What do people ask you about frequently? What insights can share? What can you do to make your newsletter interactive and engaging? What will hook readers to want the next issue? The only limit to your content is your own creativity.
7. Be personal
Your readers won’t subscribe to an email list in order to get impersonal marketing blasts. They want to hear from you, the author, personally. Even though the newsletter is a marketing tool, it doesn’t have to feel like one. Include fun content that relates to you and your book and connect with your readers on a more personal level. You could include a note about what you’re currently reading, or what TV show you’re loving this month, or that great recipe you just perfected, or that amusing anecdote about what happened at the coffee shop this morning… As long as you keep it fun and personal, it will help your readers feel more connected to you as a person, not a promotional tool.
Do have an author newsletter? Do you subscribe to any? What kind of content do you like to see from authors? Have any additional tips? Let me know in the comments!
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