PUBLISHED FEBRUARY 2016
by Fauzia Burke, Founder & President, FSB Associates
Connecting with people is a privilege. Don’t waste it.
Social media can be very successful, but the real power of your online marketing lies in your email mailing list. People who sign up to be on your email list are your super fans. You don’t have to woo them, because they chose to hear from you. They’ve already been wooed and won over.
Your job is to keep their interest. This isn’t a challenge you should take lightly. Connecting with people is a privilege. Don’t waste it.
To keep things running smoothly, I suggest that you sign up for an email program to make the process easy and efficient. At our company, we use Constant Contact and MailChimp and find them both to be effective, easy to use, and reasonably priced. Both offer a free trial, and MailChimp is free if you have fewer than 2,000 subscribers.
(Note: IBPA members receive a 20-25% discount with Constant Contact. More information here.)
Once you have the program in place, here are some tips to make your email marketing more effective:
1. Make sure people opt in
Don’t add people to your email list without their permission. Even if you know someone is interested, send that person an opt-in link. Make sure people sign up of their own accord. This one act alone will keep your list clean, help you avoid complaints, and begin to create a community truly interested in you and the information you have to share. If several people complain that they never signed up to your mailing list, MailChimp and Constant Contact may shut down your account. It’s better to grow your list slowly but authentically.
2.Don’t bombard people with information
You already know not to send out too many emails. But make sure you aren’t dumping the kitchen sink into the emails you do send. Carefully crafted content of value is what you are going for, and more is definitely not better. Choose quality over quantity. There isn’t a magic article count or word count. Find the right balance for your readers by asking yourself a few questions: Would I like to receive this email? Does it provide value without being overwhelming? Does it have a clear or simple design? Are you listening to what your audience is asking for? Make sure your email has a clear call to action such as: join me on social media, call me with any questions, buy my book at a local bookseller, or attend my event.
3. Write a compelling subject line
Write headlines to create curiosity and spark interest. Be clear, concise, and compelling. Headlines that use numbers work well. Think like a magazine publisher and use odd numbers to attract interest. Using words like “why” and “how” grab the attention of your readers too. For example, I may want to use: “How to Use Social Media to Increase Your Book Sales” or “Why the Real Power of Your Online Marketing Is in Your Mailing List” or “Busy Authors Take Heart: Online Marketing Made Easy.”
4. Align your content with the compelling headline
I see lots of compelling headlines that make me want to read the entire post, blog, or article. Oftentimes, the content I am curious to read doesn’t match the headline that got me there. Either I didn’t learn anything new, or the content is completely unrelated to the title. Make sure the value you promise is the value you deliver. Don’t bait and switch.
5. Don’t trick people
Don’t send people into an endless buying loop. Here’s what I mean: Don’t send an email designed to have people sign up for your webinar, and then waste the webinar on a veiled pitch hoping they will buy your book. You want each component of your communication to offer value on its own. The email should offer value. Your webinar should offer value. If people receive value from you for free, then they will be more willing to buy from you because you’ve established trust. You want people to think: “Wow, if I get this kind of value for free, what will I get if I pay for something?” Always give value when your readers are giving you their valuable time.
6. Think like your reader
Once your email is crafted, read it like you are an outsider. Do you like it? Does it provide value by solving a problem or getting your reader closer to a goal? Are there takeaways? Is there a way it can be improved?
7. Compose the email with one person in mind
I work daily with authors, and the number one way to write something people want to read is to know your audience. Make sure you can describe one person who represents the traits, values, and qualities of your ideal audience. And when you compose any email, write with that one person in mind in a conversational tone.
8. Stay on brand
Make sure your emails look and sound like you. Be authentic. If you are an expert on how to be a successful entrepreneur, don’t send an email about how to have a more successful marriage. It’s off-brand and not why people signed up to receive your emails. Stay in your lane to keep your readers interested and engaged.
9. Send a test email first
Mistakes, broken links, or strange formatting won’t represent you well. Send a test email to yourself first to make sure your email is mistake-free. Send more than one test if you need to—just make sure there aren’t any errors and everything lines up as you intend it to.
10. Sell well
Of course, our goal for doing online marketing is to sell our books. My philosophy is that you should not sell, rather you should make buying easier. Make sure there is information about your book in your email with links to booksellers. List your book in your bio, email signature, and in your e-newsletters.
Successful emails come from people who genuinely care about the reader and want to connect with them in a real way. Your email subscribers are valuable because they are often the first in line to buy your books, show up at your events, and recommend you to others. Your most important marketing task is to keep your super fans (your mailing list) happy and engaged.
Fauzia Burke is founder and president of FSB Associates, an online publicity and marketing firm specializing in creating awareness for books and authors. She’s the author of Online Marketing for Busy Authors (Berrett-Koehler, Spring 2016). A nationally recognized speaker and online branding expert, Burke writes for the Huffington Post, MariaShriver.com and MindBodyGreen.com. For online publicity, book publishing, and social media advice, follow Burke on Twitter (@FauziaBurke) and Facebook (Fauzia S. Burke).