Earlier this week I offered suggestions on how to collect email addresses and grow your list. Presuming you have begun to collect emails, the next natural step in the process is to figure out a way to use them without being a spammer.
For those of you that don’t know, a spammer is evil, lower than the belly of an ant. Spamming email is defined by Wiki as:
Electronic spamming is the use of electronic messaging systems to send unsolicited messages (spam), especially advertising, as well as sending messages repeatedly on the same site.
Basically, spamming is not something you want to do, right? Great. So here are a few quick thoughts to keep in mind:
- Each marketing email needs to include a disclaimer that tells the receiver how you received their email. You might include a blanket statement such as: “You are receiving this email because you have met, worked with, requested information or made a purchase from the sender.”
- Immediately following, there needs to be a visible and easy-to-execute way to unsubscribe. “If you are receiving this email in error or you no longer wish to receive these emails, simply…” Most of the email marketing platforms (Constant Contact, Aweber, Mail Chimp, etc.) have both of these items as part of the standard template.
- Offer value. I cannot stress this enough. If the only email you send is a marketing message about your books, your email will quickly become something that is pitched before being read. It is like the boy who cried wolf. If you are constantly sending sales messages, when you finally do have a message of value, no one is going to listen. You have to give the reader a reason to want to open the email. Coupon, sales and specials are not a reason.
- That being said; do include a call-to-action. At the end of your newsletter or email, include a reason for the reader to contact you – your email, phone number, website address or social media sites.
Now that we have the rules out of the way, let’s get on to the good stuff – what do you do with these emails?
Send a regular newsletter. This is the classic and most effective use of an email address. Establish a schedule for regularly sending out information to your mailing list. Ideally, you should send out something once a month. You want to keep your name in front of prospects on a fairly regular basis without being annoying. If you want to be more frequent – once a week or twice a month is also fine. However, remember that you will want to be consistent because if your newsletter truly offers value and you develop a fan base, they will begin to look for your emails.
What do you put in the newsletter? Good question. Choose a single topic that you can write about to inform the reader. Offer your take on:
- Physical book reading versus electronic book readers
- The importance of reading to children
- Summer reading programs with suggested reading lists for various age groups
- Back story on a book you are currently working on
- The best ways to read a book: in a tree, on a blanket at the beach, under the covers with a flashlight…
Keep your newsletter light, fun, interesting, informative and short. If you send lengthy newsletters, people will stop reading. Keep them brief, include pictures, use bullet pointed lists, short sentences and small words.
Repurpose content to send to email addresses. Remember that your email will come TO them rather than the reader stumbling upon your information via social media or on your blog. So it is okay to repurpose previously posted information.
You might consider putting the opening paragraph to your last three blog articles. Select articles at random or create a theme for your newsletter by lumping together a couple of articles that go together.
Copy and paste the opening paragraph into your newsletter followed by a link that will take them to your blog to read the entire article. To read the rest, click here.
If you do not have a blog but have written and published articles on your LinkedIn account or another website like Quora or E-zine Articles, you can do the same thing but link to where the reader will find the rest of the article.
Make an announcement to your email community. Although you will want to make sure your emails are not regular sales pitches, you can periodically send out updated information about your writing, self-published books or speaking events.
Include the details from a recent press release about your book, an award you won or a presentation you delivered.
The more frequently you are in contact with your community in a value-oriented way, the more likely they will be to want to cheer you on when you have big news to deliver.
If you give a presentation, include pictures of you with the crowd, the host, your book, etc. If you have won an award, by all means, you should be shouting it from the roof tops including sending out an email to your community to let them know.
Bonus tip: Make it personal. Be real – authentic with your writing and your readers will begin to understand more about who you are and what is important to you. Readers that connect with you will become readers who buy your latest book.
It is time for a story. Once upon a time…no seriously, this really happened. I was talking to another woman business owner who had been sending out weekly email newsletters to her community for three or four years. She owns a cleaning business and so each newsletter included a brief article offering tips on being organized, reducing stress and green cleaning.
But back in December she decided to add a little personal note to each of her weekly emails. She immediately began receiving responses from her community. They said things like:
I have always enjoyed your articles but it was nice having you add your personal touch.
I enjoy hearing about your take on the tip of the week especially the fact that you also struggle to stay organized.
Keep up the personal messages on your newsletter, it really adds something.
Now whether they were already customers or not, I don’t know, but the point is that she was making a real connection with those who received her email and if I could give you one piece of advice, that would be it. Strive to make a connection, not a sale.
Bottom line: it is important to keep your name in front of potential readers on a regular basis and email marketing is one of those tools that is an effective way to market yourself and your books.
p.s. You might be interested in reading these articles about how to help your emails break through the spam filters: