If you aren’t using email marketing, you may want to rethink your marketing strategy.
We know that social media is all the rage—and rightly so—but email marketing, according to Kissmetrics “crushes” social media.
Email Marketing Has Advantages Over Social Media
Here are their findings:
1 - There are nearly three times as many user accounts for email as there are for Facebook and Twitter combined.
2 - Email is more personal. You can reach people right in their email inboxes and craft messages just for your readers.
3 - Email gets more attention and the messages are more targeted.
4 - You can use your email marketing messages to sell books, services, and other products.
If you’re considering going the traditional publishing route, your publisher will ask you about your email list numbers. If you’re an indie author, you need an email marketing program to keep in touch with your readers, announce new books, and solicit advance reviews, so you can sell more books.
There are several email marketing programs available but the two most popular ones are MailChimp and AWeber. The pricing plans are similar, but with MailChimp you can get started for free.
Early in my career, I selected MailChimp so that’s the program I’m going to show you how to use.
How to Get Going with MailChimp
The user interface on MailChimp is clear and easy to use. Start by signing up at MailChimp.com. Decide if you want a paid account, which comes with email-based support, or if you want to figure things out on your own and save some money for now.
Your first step will be to create and name a list so that you can send letters to your readers. Start with one list. The name for the list will only be available to you so you can call it Newsletter for My Awesome Readers or simply Newsletter List #1. You decide.
Before you work on the sign-up process, you should create a giveaway. It could be the first two chapters of your newest book or the first book in a series you’ve written. If you write nonfiction, it can be an eBook or a tips sheet. Again, you get to decide what you think would most entice your readers to turn over their email addresses.
Next, you’re ready to tackle the signup forms on MailChimp.
How to Set Up Your MailChimp Signup Forms
To work on the signup forms, go to your list and on the far right, click the arrow, and click on Signup Forms in the drop-down menu.
You’ll arrive at a page with various options. For this purpose, select General Forms and navigate to the page where you can edit the sign-up process for your list. These are some of the forms that we’ll focus on:
To customize the signup form, click Edit. Below you can see my sign-up form.
Next, you’ll want to customize a sign-up thank you email. See the language that I include in mine. Notice my message to readers who use Gmail.
Next, you need to send an opt-in confirmation email. I also choose to customize this email with my logo.
Next, I send a subscription confirmation email with the link to my freebie eBook in PDF format, Twitter Just for Writers.
As a follow-up to the above email, I also send a confirmation email notice.
Now you’ll want to take the URL for signing up to your newsletter and give it to your webmaster so that she or he can create a widget on your website enticing your readers to sign up there.
This is what my widget looks like:
Notice that instead of the word subscribe I use I Want In!! Also, I only ask for the email address. The less information you request, the more likely a reader will sign up for your list.
Send Your First Email Letter
Now that you have your list and your email sign-up sequence set up, it’s time to send your first email marketing letter.
Go to campaigns and select Create Campaign. You’ll need to name your campaign and select your campaign type. Normally, you’ll select Regular as your campaign type.
You will automatically navigate to a page where you’ll select your list. The campaign name is for internal use only. The email subject line, which you’ll select next, is what your readers will see when they go to their inboxes.
You’ll have the option to auto-tweet the campaign or auto-post to Facebook. I discourage you from doing this. Auto-tweeting and auto-posting on Facebook will make those posts appear like spam and it’s unlikely that your readers will engage with them.
Make sure the subject line entices your readers to open your email. Be sure to reach this post by HubSpot for tips on how to write catchy email subject lines.
Once you decide on the email subject line, your next step will be to select a template. I use a simple text template because I want the newsletter to be readable in all formats. You can select a fancier template if you’d like.
The first time you create an email marketing letter, you will arrive at your template and it will have instructions from MailChimp. Erase the instructions and start your own letter. Click on the headline or the email text so that you can click the pencil icon that will allow you to make edits and write your own letter.
Below you can see some similarities between MailChimp and your WordPress blog.
The Best Time to Send Your Email Marketing
When you are ready to schedule or send the email, click confirm in the lower right, send a test email to yourself for editing, and then schedule the email for the date and time you prefer. Generally, it’s best to send them at 6 AM Eastern Time so that when people turn on their computers in the morning, your message will be there. Tuesdays through Thursdays are known as the best days to send your newsletter.
If you’ve followed all of these steps, you’ve just successfully created and sent your very first email marketing letter. Congratulations!
If you haven't seen the new version of BookWorks, please check us out for more great content like this and join our community of indie authors, editors, coaches, designers, marketers, bloggers and other self-publishing pros.