Ultimate Email Marketing Guide for Authors [Step-by-Step + Examples]
Here's what you will learn in this guide:
Chapter 1 - Why Authors should learn and use Email Marketing?
Chapter 2 - The Building Blocks of Your Email Empire
Chapter 3 – Strategies to Build Your Email List. Fast!
Chapter 4. How to Get Super High Open Rates?
Chapter 5. Marketing Automation 101
BONUS CHAPTER: Some More Email Marketing Strategies
Chapter 1. Why Authors should learn and use Email Marketing?
At the outset, email marketing is exactly what it sounds like: marketing through email. But there’s more to it than that. A good email marketing is also about creating and nurturing relationships.
Some of the bad example of email marketing is something we have all seen. Not sure what I'm talking about then just open your spam email folder.
But there are good example of email marketing too. Anyone who continues to master email marketing can be assured of reaping bigger and better rewards by doing it right.
You know what's awesome - the first marketing email sent in 1978 that resulted in a mind-boggling $13 million in sales.
And you know what else is awesome – email marketing is still the world's best marketing tool for selling things literally even after so many years. With a user base of over 4 billion people, email is the king of marketing channels.
But you know what really kicks ass, especially if you are an author, is even though it isn't as shiny as some newer channels like social and messaging, it's still an effective way to build an own audience that can make you a career in scribbling words.
I know what you're thinking. No, I really do.
You want to say it first?
No. Not interested. (Sad and confused emoji)
You are thinking Chase, so what is Email Marketing anyway or why I should have a newsletter?
You are nodding your head… ohh, so you were not thinking this.
Since I know this, I'm going to tell you anyway. You know, just for our friendship's sake.
So, email marketing isn't just sending emails to your subscribers. Surprised?
[Note: To avoid confusion, I will be using email marketing instead of the newsletter as it is a part of the overall email marketing strategy.]
I was too, but then I realized that email marketing is about communicating with your subscribers by sending them optimized messages through email that will be of interest to them. The process also includes developing promotional emails, testing, and maintaining them as well.
An effective email marketing strategy convert prospects into customers and turn first time buyers into recurring customers. AND…. you can automate the entire process.
Email today is akin to direct marketing, and in the past, it was used to mass-target your audience but not anymore. Current regulations have placed stricter regulations on how email marketing can be used as a communication channel.
Is email marketing dead?
Email isn't dead, and if you are wondering if the email is still a worthwhile marketing strategy. Then you should definitely read the next lines.
HubSpot, a leading CRM solution and inbound marketing company, says that email generates $38 for every $1 spent - an astounding 3,800% ROI, thus making it one of the most effective options available today. Meaning it deserves a place in every author's toolbox
Still hesitant, keep reading.
1. 3.9 billion daily email users. Expected to climb to 4.3 billion by 2023. (Statista, 2020)
2. Email marketing is 40 times more effective for getting new customers than Facebook or Twitter.
3. More than 5.6 billion active email accounts in 2019. (Statista, 2019)
4. Segmented campaigns can lead to as much as a 760% increase in revenue. (Campaign Monitor, 2019)
5. 35% of marketers send their customers 3-5 emails per week. (Not Another State of Marketing, 2020)
6. 46 percent of all emails are opened on mobile (Litmus.com, 2018)
7. iPhone is the most popular mobile client for reading emails, with 29 percent of all opens occurring on this platform. Gmail is a close runner-up at 27 percent (Campaign Monitor, 2018)
Also, here is a high-level overview of overall email marketing statistics:
Average open rate: 18.0%
Average click-through rate: 2.6%
Average click-to-open rate: 14.1%
Average unsubscribe rate: 0.1%
BUT this is not the best thing about Email Marketing. The best thing about email marketing is that YOU OWN YOUR LIST.
Any social media platform can suspend or delete your account (along with all your fans and posts) at any time, for any reason, without notice. But, you own your email list. No one can take those reader email-ids - the ones you have secured using lead magnets or free content - away from you.
When a new subscriber signs up to your list, you have a direct line to that person's inbox.
While Facebook organic engagement has plunged to less than 1% (RivalQ), the average email open rate is 20.81%… 20x higher than Facebook post engagement (MailChimp).
These stats are nice and all. But you're probably wondering:
"As an author, I'm interested in writing books, and this all looks pretty complicated to me."
Actually, it's not, and in the next chapters, I will explain these steps in detail, so let's go.
1.1 Email marketing vocabulary for authors
As you implement your own email marketing, you’ll likely come across the following vocabulary. Here are some quick definitions to get you up to speed:
Subscribers – people who’ve chosen to receive marketing emails from you
List – your list of email subscribers
Subject line – the part of the email you read before opening the full email
Preview text – the few lines below the subject line that you can read before opening the full email
Spam – marketing email sent to someone who hasn’t elected to receive it
Open rate – percentage of people who opened your email
Click-through rate – percentage of people who clicked a link in your email
Bounce rate – percentage of emails that never made it to an inbox
Conversion rate – percentage of people who followed a CTA in your email, such as, “Buy my book”
Double opt-in – asking subscribers to confirm they want to receive email from you by clicking a confirmation link in the very first email
Email campaign – a single email or series of emails designed to achieve a certain goal, such as encouraging people to pre-order your book
Landing page – a single web page that a link in an email (or another form of marketing) leads to, usually designed to facilitate a purchase
Refer back to these terms as needed while you read the rest of this guide.
1.2: Ten-Minute Tech
If you already have the technology setup, then move past this lesson.
To start with you need two things:
An Email Service Provider: An email service provider (or ESP) is a platform that stores the email addresses you collect, and allows you to communicate with your subscribers. You must have heard about Mailchimp, Mailerlite ConvertKit etc.
When you look for an email service provider also check if it has the autoresponder capability. Don't latch onto tech nobody knows about just to get it for free. You'll need to pay for the autoresponder ability, but this is non-negotiable.
My top choices are Flodesk, MailerLite, SendFox, ConvertKit, Aweber, GetResponse. They're all good and provides what's needed.
Once you've signed up for an ESP, then create a form in it to collect emails.
Second thing you need is an Email Capture App like HelloBar or Sumo.
While the ESP stores and allows you to send emails, email capture app will help you collect them on your website through popups, email forms and top bars.
And BAM. You're good to go.
Additional notes – My Favorite 6 Email Service Providers
Flodesk is the newest email marking platform on the block built by two ladies Martha and Rebecca who bring their unique perspective into email marketing.
Flodesk brings both practically and versatility to the job of email marketing. The templates look amazing on both mobile and desktop. The platform has all the same bells and whistles but without the clutter. Not only that, but it feels cleaner, less distracting and a lot less scary.
Pricing starts from $38 per month for unlimited everything (Although you can join it for $19 per month using this link for limited time.) There is also a trial period that allows you to check the features.
MailerLite is a simple, effective, free email newsletter software that does the job. They have an excellent free plan and even on paid plans, it is cheaper than competitors like Mailchimp. Automation isn't as elaborate as for instance ActiveCampaign, but very effective.
Pricing is free up to 1,000 subscribers (with all features).
ConvertKit is described as one of the best email marketing solutions out there for bloggers, creators and authors. So, if you fall in this category, you can't go wrong with ConvertKit.
They also offer a 1000 free subscriber plan. Like most ESPs, pricing is based on subscriber numbers. Plans start at $29 for less than 1,000 subscribers.
SendFox is an email marketing tool designed specifically for content creators that lets you compose and send unlimited customized emails.
With SendFox, you can create, schedule, and automate unlimited customized emails, without breaking the bank.
Specifically for content creators, SendFox is taking a different approach to product features. But SendFox is not AWeber, Mailchimp. and will not have 100% feature parity.
GetResponse is versatile, easy to use, and can cover most small businesses marketing needs in one affordable and fairly feature-rich interface. Plans also come with email marketing tools that actually help you build your list (like landing page software and popups).
GetResponse is a reliable email marketing solution that's well-suited for small to midsize businesses (SMBs) who might just be getting started with digital marketing.
One of the strengths of AWeber that is very apparent is minimalistic easy-to-use interact, numerous features and effective support. That is surely undeniable.
AWeber constantly focuses on updating their integration capacity over time. They are offering more than 850 integrations in different sections.
If you want simple and reliable software for sending newsletters and autoresponder emails, you can't beat AWeber.
Chapter 2. The Building Blocks of Your Email Empire
Create an Email Marketing Strategy
I'll keep it very simple.
To avoid getting overwhelmed with the massive potentials of email marketing, let me break down the key levels you need to establish before you jump into this knowledge pond.
Consider this a ladder to get you to the height from where you can see the rest of the world and connect the dots.
Create an Email Marketing Strategy
Each one of us, on average, receives 121 emails every day. That means our readers are too receiving a similar number of emails.
To break through this clutter, we need a plan that can be broken down into a few key steps.
If you think this is nuts and you don't need one, then think what will happen if you don't have a plan, your emails will get lost in crowded inboxes, or worse, be sent to the spam folder.
I don't want to do that, and I think neither do you.
So, I'll break this down for you in just five steps.
Think of the following steps as an outline for your email strategy. We'll dive deeper into some of these in a moment.
1. Define Your Audience
An effective email is the one that is relevant. Like everything else in marketing, start your email strategy by defining your reader persona (semi-fictional representations of your ideal readers based on data and research). Reader personas help you focus your time on those readers who are most likely to engage with you and your content. More specifically, having a deep understanding of your reader persona(s) is critical to driving content creation, story development, advertising, and turning your readers into super fans. Once you understand what they want, you can tailor your email campaign to your reader's needs.
By the way here are two emails that you should send to your readers without fail.
2. Establish Your Goals
Before you come up with your email goals, research the average email stats for your genre, and use them as benchmarks for your own email goals.
3. Create a Way for People to Sign Up
You need readers to send your email, right? That means your next step should be to start creating an email list.
An email list is a group of users who have given you permission to send them relevant content (I'll cover how to build your email list in the next section)
To start building this list, you need to devise ways for your prospects to give their consent to receive your emails.
Every email list starts with that first subscriber, so don't be discouraged if you only have a few people on your list to start. It can take some time to build, and that depends on your offer to your email subscribers.
Here are 9 awesome ways to find your first 1000 readers FAST!
Treat every single subscriber like gold, and as you start to see your email list grow organically, you can use this list to grow your sales and getting more eyeballs on your content.
BONUS TOOLS to FIND Readers
A. StoryOrigin is a one-stop-shop for authors to find reviews, build their mailing lists, and increase sales by working together.
StoryOrigin provides the underlying infrastructure to help you manage your review team (for ebooks or audiobooks!), build your mailing list, and send readers to your purchasing page. However, the greatest value is in the group promos and newsletter swaps you can find on StoryOrigin that can multiply your reach to thousands of readers.
B. BookFunnel is an essential tool for your author business. It helps you deliver your reader magnet, sending out advanced copies of your book, handing out ebooks at a conference, or fulfilling your digital sales to readers.
C. Prolific Works was created with a mission to accelerate great stories and big ideas. It is the book world’s leading platform for exclusive access to sneak peeks, advance previews, and special giveaways.
4. Time to choose an Email Campaign
Email campaigns differ based on their usage, and trying to decide between them can be overwhelming.
It's not uncommon that you might be dabbling with questions like;
Should I send out new book announcements?
Do I send a weekly newsletter?
Which of my blog posts are worth sharing?
These questions plague every author who has a newsletter.
The answer is subjective.
You can start by learning about the different types of email campaigns that exist, then decide which one is best for you and your audience.
You should also set up different lists for different types of emails, so readers can sign up for only the emails that are relevant to them.
Example of this could be
If you are selling a fiction book, it will have different readers hence a different list.
If you are selling a nonfiction book, it will again have a different reader base hence a different list.
If you are selling a course, then you will need a different list.
You can not club the above three kinds of readers in just one list. That will be a massive blunder as you'll lose people from all three lists, and you won't even know why.
5. Decide upon a Schedule
It is better if you decide beforehand how often you plan to contact your list, inform your readers upfront, so they know what to expect, and stick to a consistent schedule to build trust and so they don't forget about you.
6. Measure Your Results
This should come as no surprise. As authorpreneurs, we should measure everything. Being meticulous about every key metric will help you make small changes to your emails that will yield large results. We're going to touch on the exact KPIs to monitor in a bit.
Now that you understand the steps to creating an email marketing strategy, we'll look at what's involved in building your email list.
Chapter 3 – Strategies to Build Your Email List. Fast!
Once you have created your reader persona, this is the first step of any email marketing campaign - building your email list.
Let me show you exactly how you can do this, using the strategies that you can implement in just 30 minutes and start seeing results quickly.
So, let's do this!
Strategy #1 - Optimize Your About Page for Conversions
The most visited page of your website - believe it or not - is your About page.
When someone lands on your website, if they interested in your content and then they check out your about page.
Which means they're CLUED-UP to subscribe.
So, you need to put at least one email sign up form on your about page.
For example, James Clear (he has over 500k subscribers, and he is also the best selling author of Atomic Habits) includes a form at the bottom of his about page.
Mark Dawson's about page also has a sign-up box.
I use it too.
Strategy #2 - Create Squeeze Pages
If you're serious about building your email list you NEED a squeeze page.
What is a Squeeze Page AKA Landing Page?
A squeeze page is a landing page designed to capture opt-in email addresses from potential subscribers. The goal of a squeeze page is to convince, cajole, or otherwise" squeeze" a visitor into providing one of their most sought-after and coveted pieces of personal data: the email address.
In other words: a page designed to convert visitors into email subscribers.
Here's an example from my site:
As you can see, this page doesn't give you many options. It's completely focused on the offer (signing up for my newsletter).
Which is why it converts at 14%.
Take it to the next level by creating different squeeze pages for different reader personas.
Here is your COMPLETE GUIDE ON HOW TO USE SQEEZE PAGES OR LANDING PAGES TO GET MORE SALES AND ENTICE MORE READERS
Think about it - HubSpot has more than 450 different squeeze pages. Each one offers a different lead magnet.
Strategy #3 - Create Compelling Lead Magnets
Lead magnets are the backbone of any email list building campaign.
If you are thinking why then consider how hard it would be to get someone to sign up for a "newsletter" or "21-day email marketing course".
Instead, people want something they can use right away.
I'm talking about:
Understand this - the more valuable your lead magnet, the more signups you'll get.
There are 7 things that your lead magnet should do to be absolutely irresistible:
Solves a real problem – if your lead magnet doesn't solve a real problem that your reader persona has, or if it doesn't give them something they really want, then its really a meh magnet.
Promises one quick win – your lead magnet should help your subscribers to easily achieve something. In other words, one quick win.
Super specific –The more specific your lead magnet is, the better it will convert leads.
Quick to digest - Don't make your prospects feel overwhelmed by giving them a lot of content in your lead magnet. If it's a book, keep it short.
High value – It should have both high perceived value and high actual value.
Instantly accessible – your lead magnet will work best if it is something that can be delivered right away. Instant gratification.
Demonstrates your expertise – when someone consumes your lead magnet, it should demonstrate your expertise on that skill.
Strategy #4 - Optimize Your Blog Homepage for Email Signups
If you have a blog then you will agree that most of them look something like this:
A list of latest blog posts. Now I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with a blog post feed.
But if you want people to subscribe to your email list, you need to put your offer front and centre.
In other words:
Design your blog's homepage to convert your blog readers into subscribers.
For example, my old homepage was your typical blog feed.
And it converted HORRIBLY.
That's when I realized that majority of the big sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter don't feature any content on their homepages.
Instead, their homepages are optimized for signups.
Look at Pinterest
Look at this this Solopreneur's website blog page.
When I decided to use the same tactic, the result was instant.
This is my new blog page.
My old blog page converted at 2.4%.
The new one?
233% better than my old blog page.
Strategy #5 - Exit-Intent Popups
I'll be the first to admit it:
I HATE popups.
But not all popups are created equal.
There is a massive difference between a popup that attacks you the second you land on the page…and one that offers something of value while you are leaving the website.
I ONLY use exit-intent popups if ever I use any.
And I ONLY offer super valuable stuff depending on the stuff on my website that is relevant to the you.
That way, I'm not annoying people with crap nobody wants, like this:
So, what is an exit popup?
It is a popup that appears when the visitor attempts to leave the page. On desktop devices, it triggers when the visitor's cursor moves outside the webpage window. On mobile devices, it triggers when the visitor scrolls up.
Here's an example of how Dean Yeong uses an exit popup to get visitors to give their email IDs.
The vast majority of your site visitors leave without taking action. An exit popup is your last-ditch effort to convert them.
Unlike other popups, an exit popup is less intrusive because it doesn't interrupt visitors while they are browsing your page.
Now you may say that popups are annoying anyways. But when people are trying to leave — and when they see an exit popup it is your last-ditch effort to give the something which is worth their time.
A good exit popup can:
Grow your email list.
Promote special offers.
Strategy #6 - Use Content Upgrades
You know what Content Upgrades are?
They are one of my all-time favorite list building strategies.
See what I did there.
A content upgrade is an additional piece of content that a reader accesses in exchange for an email address or money.
The content upgrade usually builds on the topic you cover in your main content and because these freebies complement the original piece of content by making it easier to use or more valuable, they're usually highly desired.
Here is an example where if you don't have time to read the article then download the PDF version for future reference. Simple!
That's why content upgrades can help you easily double your email list.
There are all types of content upgrades:
Templates… the list is endless
Chapter 4. How to Get Super High Open Rates?
Now it's time for me to show you how to get SUPER high open rates.
But first, let me show you how you can calculating your open rate.
And it's super easy, barely an inconvenience.
Open rate = number of emails opened / number of emails sent (exclude bounced emails).
Most email providers crunch these numbers for you, but it's nice to know the math behind how it works.
Let's get right into the strategies.
A. Get Whitelisted
BAD NEWS: Gmail has a Promotions tab, which automatically moves marketing messages for users to a separate tab outside their primary inbox.
With automatic filters like this, emails from "unknown senders" (that's you) may be automatically banished to the promotions tab, never to be seen by your new subscriber.
And that's not even the worst part.
There's no way for you to know this ever happened. Your subscribers may never check their promotions tab or spam folder, and have no idea they are missing your emails.
You need to ask your new subscribers to whitelist your email address.
Most subscribers won't know what you're even talking about, so you'll need to take the lead and direct them before this situation happens.
You can accomplish this task in two ways:
1. By adding instructions to your Thank You page. After your visitor opts-in, direct them to a page with directions for how to whitelist your email address and ensure they receive all your fresh content.
2. By using the success pop-up feature on your Click Trigger or on your List Builder pop-up. In both cases, readers see your whitelist request instantly, like this:
Once you're whitelisted, you've earned VIP access to your new subscriber's inbox.
Optimize Your Send Time
Its common sense that you want to send emails…
When people are wide-awake
When their inboxes aren't full
That's why I DON'T recommend sending emails the first thing in the morning.
Otherwise, your message gets buried in someone's crowded inbox.
That said: There's no "best time to send an email" that works for everyone.
You need to test different send times to see which times get the highest open rates for you.
For example, my testing shows me that 11am Eastern works best for my subscribers but again, it's different for everyone.
Mobile Optimized Emails
Over half of emails are opened on a mobile screen. Optimizing is a must, especially to improve your open rates: