You’ve probably heard the term “email marketing” a lot because it’s a powerful tool for book marketing and promotion.
Consider this: in 2019, 3.9 billion people used email, and by 2023 this figure will grow to 4.3 billion (Oberlo 2020).
And while we all complain about getting too much email, according to Statista, 49% of consumers said they would like to receive promotional emails from their favorite brands on a weekly basis.
In fact, according to a study the Data and Marketing Association did in 2019, for every $1 you invest in email marketing, you can expect an average return of $42.
Convinced it’s time to ramp up your email game for book marketing and promotion?
Done correctly, email marketing can really help to enhance your exposure and also grow the relationship you have with your readers. Yes, lots of authors use it, but very few use it correctly.
So let’s dig into how to power up your email list for successful book marketing and promotion. Don’t have an email list or newsletter? Then hopefully this post will inspire you to consider tackling both.
First let’s put to rest an obvious push-back that I hear a lot from authors: I have nothing to talk about. Or, I’m not interesting; no one wants to hear from me.
The truth is, if someone has signed up for your email list, they absolutely do want to hear from you. And also, what you learned in Kindergarten remains true: everyone is interesting in some way. It’s up to you to find that interesting nugget to share in your book marketing and promotion.
Setting Up Your Newsletter
Deciding to have a newsletter list is the first step. Next, you’ll need to find a provider to help you create and distribute it.
We use Sendinblue, but there are lots of other options; Constant Contact is another we’ve used. We moved from MailChimp because their tiered pricing was too high for our purposes, but it might be a provider that works for you.
You want to use a newsletter service because it will manage unsubscribes, bounces, and new sign ups. Years ago, when I first started our newsletter, I did so without a service, and believe me when I tell you that it was a hassle managing the sign ups, unsubscribes, bounces, etc. It’s worth the few dollars to have a service manage all of that activity for you.
Determining What to Write About
Start out by choosing three to five topics that you can speak to in your book marketing and promotion newsletter. Be consistent in what you share because ideally, you’ll have sections in your newsletter, and the more uniform you can be with this, the more likely your reader will open your book marketing and promotion emails.
The point is, make sure you can speak about these main topics all the time. One should be an update from your writing world: what you’re up to, what challenges you’ve faced, etc.
Keep the content short. In fact, Constant Contact did some research and found that 20 lines of text or 200 words is a perfect length for great audience engagement.
But you should also consider your audience and what’s “average” for your market. Sign up for a few newsletters from authors you admire and get a sense of how long their newsletters are and what they’re sharing in their book marketing and promotion.
One thing I like to do is A/B testing, meaning testing various newsletter lengths and maybe even testing different subject lines. To do this, send one, longer newsletter to half of your subscribers and a shorter one to the other half. You can do the same thing with subject lines to see what sparks an open. It’s pretty quick and easy, actually!
How Often to Send a Newsletter
The most important part of the timing of your newsletter – in terms of how often you send it – is consistency. Whatever you do, do it on a regular basis.
Most consumers who sign up for newsletters want stuff regularly; in fact, 49% of consumers want regular communication, but whether that “regular” is monthly, bimonthly, or weekly is entirely up to you.
One final note on how many times to email your list: there are several studies that show that brands that send a newsletter two times a month double their open rates and increase sales.
Maybe twice monthly seems daunting right now, and that’s fine. You can work up to that. But whatever you do, do it consistently.
In terms of when to send your newsletter? The best days are Tuesday or Thursday, followed by Wednesday.
The best times? According to Coschedule, 10am is the best time, followed by 8pm (lots of people reading email in bed). Another popular time is 2pm (people looking for a break from work) or 6am for those early-risers checking email first thing.
But the final decision will depend on the readership of your book marketing and promotion newsletter; every target audience is different. Play with sending your newsletter on different dates and times and then look at the open rate. The backend stats these newsletter services give you will tell you a lot about your readership!
Getting People to Read to the End
Here’s a pretty cool way to get folks to read your entire newsletter: put in a giveaway at the end. Give a $5 Amazon gift card to one reader, or to three of them – whatever you can afford.
To do this, pick random names from your existing list and pop them into a giveaway section at the end of your book marketing and promotion newsletter. That way, at the very least, readers have to scroll through your newsletter to see if they won.
Then, make winning easy. Ask the winners to reply to the newsletter email. I suggest putting a time limit on responses – let’s say you give them four to seven days to claim their prize, otherwise it goes back into the prize pot for the next newsletter.
This is a fun and pretty inexpensive way to encourage readers to read all the way through to the end!
You don’t have to give a prize, per se, but it’s never a bad idea to put something at the end of a book marketing and promotion email that will keep readers engaged. Save your most interesting item for last.
Most newsletter providers will give you stats on open rates and various clicks newsletter subscribers make. At some point, you’ll get a good idea about what folks like and what gets no clicks at all.
Your Email Subject Line
If you’ve gotten any newsletters recently (and haven’t we all?), you probably know from experience that the catchiest subject lines get your attention. In fact, 35% of email recipients open emails based solely on the subject line – while 69% report email as spam based on subject lines (Convince and Convert).
Coming up with fun, funny, interesting, useful subject lines is one of the keys to getting readers to open up your book marketing and promotion newsletter.
Let’s look at some ideas:
- Personalization is a great way to get more opens; for example: “Penny you’re not going to believe this!” If you don’t have the names of everyone on your list (some folks don’t always fill this out on your intake form), you can replace the blank names with “friends” or “reader.”
- Creating a sense of urgency works; for example, a special deal that expires the next day or in a few hours. According to MailChimp, time-sensitive words in the subject line have the highest impact on open rates: urgent, breaking, important, and alert all work well.
- Using other creative words (again this according to MailChimp) like amazing, mind-blowing, jaw-dropping, and blissful all work well. All of these have lots of possibilities for fiction and non-fiction authors. For example, “Check out this jaw-dropping cover!” If you need more creative words, there’s a cool link in the resource section to help you get started!
- Emojis, when warranted, are great enhancements to a subject line and can be fun and funny. I wouldn’t use them all the time, but they could be fun to incorporate now and then in a book marketing and promotion email!
Determining Your Reader Magnet
People are protective of their email addresses, so what will you give new readers to get theirs? When you sign up for newsletters these days, there’s usually some sort of “magnet” or “ethical bribe” to get folks to give up their email address.
Sometimes it’s a discount towards a future purchase, while other times it’s something free – like a first book in your series, a novella, a tip sheet, or a white paper. The list goes on.
You could even do a monthly “sign up to enter” giveaway. What you give is up to you: you could offer a small Amazon gift card or let the winner pick one of your books. The point is, if you’re going to build your mailing list, it’s helpful to have some kind of an incentive to get folks to sign up for book marketing and promotion emails.
Get Creative and Build Your Response Rate
We all want readers to respond to our book marketing and promotions newsletters, right? Otherwise, why bother!?
So here’s an interesting fact you may not have known. Each interaction you have with a newsletter tells whatever email system you’re on that this sender is “ok,” and in the future the system will show you pretty much anything from that sender.
What does this mean for you? It means that if you’re eager to grow your reader engagement and your newsletter list, you should create content for your newsletter that requires just a simple response.
For example: the first five readers to respond to this newsletter get a prize. Make it easy. Just a simple reply. But for every reply you get, you need to respond because that’s the trigger that the email systems look for.
And even if this isn’t related to a prize, anytime someone responds to your book marketing and promotion newsletter, make sure to write back. Every. Single. Time.
In terms of “actions” you want your readers to take, one or two is sufficient. And whatever you invite them to do, make it simple. Even better: invite them to respond to you directly.
Start with a Foundation and Then Build
Newsletter building takes time, so you want to get a head start for successful book marketing and promotion.
You may not have a book out yet, and you may be thinking: this isn’t something I need to do right now. I would challenge that by encouraging you to start as early as you can. You can take a few steps now that will pay off later: add a sign up form to your website and include a reader magnet.
When you’re ready to begin your email book marketing and promotion, you may want to send one newsletter a month to kick things off. Remember the tips I’ve offered and use the Resources and Free Downloads below to guide you on your way to awesome results.