Email Newsletters by Tracy Krauss
Last time we discussed the importance of email to one’s platform and also a bit about the process of setting it up. The bigger question, however, is usually this: “What in the world am I supposed to write?”
There are some obvious answers. You’ll want to share about your books, new releases, launches, events, and other author-related information, such as what you are currently working on. You can ask for reviews or invite people to join you on social media. Unfortunately, if that’s all you talk about, you run the risk of sounding self-absorbed, pushy, or salesy. As well, your communication might be rather irregular. Yes, these are important things to share, but establishing a relationship should be your priority so that when you do ask for something, people will respond positively since they already like you and are cheering you on.
Emails are like any other form of writing. It needs to start strong with a hook, something that will interest the reader enough to make them keep reading. Use something short and pithy, if possible, in your subject title to encourage curiosity, and then continue with a story or anecdote, preferably a personal one. People like to know what you’re doing and get a glimpse into your life. It’s why reality shows, talk shows, and celebrity news are so popular. People like to know what’s going on with their favourites, even if they haven’t reached celebrity status yet. A struggle, inspiration, fan encounters, plus funny and/or embarrassing moments are just a few ideas. People are interested – to a degree. There is a balance between droning on about mundane things and turning an everyday experience into an engaging story that transitions into your actual objective.
That is the next point. What is the actual objective of the email? Is it to tell people about a new release? Solicit reviews? Get them to join you on social media? There are so many things that could be considered “objectives.” And not all of them need to be “Buy my book” or “Check me out!” Offer something of value to your readers. Giveaways are the obvious choice, but what about directing them to a blog post, video, or other resource? (Yours or someone else’s.) Tell them about what you are reading and make recommendations. Or perhaps you are simply trying to create excitement for an upcoming event or offer background information about a new release. Whatever it is, know your objective so that you aren’t just rambling. Also, be aware that it is best not to share too much all at once. Share one or, at the most, two links or items of content and save the rest for the next newsletter. People get easily overwhelmed and most don’t spend the time reading all the way through. So, keep it short and relevant.
Keep in mind that your goal is to establish a relationship. Allow readers an opportunity to respond. Ask a question at the end of the email such as, “What do you think about this topic?”, “What good books are your reading?” or “Has this ever happened to you?” If you have a FB group, direct them there and let them respond in the comments section. Whatever works for you, establishing a two-way relationship is key to keeping people engaged and feeling connected.
- Start with a story
- State your objective
- Solicit a response
This simple template works across the board, even with automated sequences. Auto-what, you say? Most, if not all, email providers have the capacity to send out automated emails based on certain targets. Use this feature!
For instance, an automated email should go out to each person who signs up for your list, thanking them for joining, explaining a bit more about you, and delivering whatever gift you used to entice them in the first place. (We talked about that last time.) After this welcome email, you can have a whole sequence of emails geared to new subscribers. This could include:
- Check in to make sure they got the freebie; encourage them to read it.
- Invitation to connect on social media, blog etc.
- Solicit reviews.
- Join launch team, street team, beta readers, prayer group etc.
- Pitch other books.
These should be spaced out at reasonable intervals and can even be sent to a segment of your subscribers’ list, depending on their responses or “clicks.” (I can’t go into that here, but there is just SO much that can be done once you have an email list in place!)
Book launches are another opportunity to use autoresponders. You can create a whole sequence based on your launch: one week before, one day before, on the day, one hour left, thank you for participating, etc. It’s a good idea to “prime the pump” before launching or trying to sell anything. Hard sells are seldom successful. Let folks know in advance that a book launch is coming so there may be more emails than normal. If you are running a promotion, you could say, “Usually my book sells for such and such, but in two weeks it will be on sale for such and such. I’ll be sending a reminder, just so you know.” This is a respectful and friendly way of alerting your audience in keeping with the relationship you have been trying to establish.
Finally, don’t be discouraged if people sign up for the free gift and then unsubscribe. In fact, it’s okay to curate your list by eliminating those who aren’t engaged. This takes some time and effort to look through the stats that are available, but you can use another automated sequence to reach out to unengaged people. If they don’t respond after a reasonable amount of time, eliminate them and move on. It’s about engagement, not numbers.
There is so much more that could be said on the topic of emails, but I hope this has enticed you to get started or make some adjustments. I know I’m still doing that myself!
Tracy Krauss, current ICWF President, has more than 20 books and plays in print and has successfully launched several titles onto Amazon’s best seller lists for sustainable periods of time. She has taught seminars using this model and hopes that what little insight she has gained can be used by others. Website:tracykrauss.com