Monday, December 1, 2014

Email Marketing for Writers: Build Your List!

Time to ditch social media for email marketing? Here are five tips for collecting more emails, which will help you sell more books, boost your writer's platform, and waste less time online.

Why Email?

Building your email list is a better use of your time than acquiring followers, friends, fans, or connections on social media. Here's why.

Send an email and almost all your subscribers will receive it and on average 25 percent will open it. Post to your Facebook author page and you're lucky if 10 percent see the post -- never mind click on it. The response rates on Facebook pages has gotten so poor one major blogger recently killed their page.

I have 2,000 Facebook fans: Only about 1% of them Like or Share a typical post.

I have 380 email subscribers: My emails reach almost all of them and 30% open my missives. Adding more email subscribers is a better use of my time than adding Facebook fans.

Tips for Building Your Email List

1) Start with a free, relatively easy-to-use email management tool. I've been using Mailchimp so we'll use that in the examples below.

2) Review, sort, and upload existing contacts to Mailchimp. Over the years, you've been collecting emails of friends, coworkers, former coworkers, and other people. Email management programs typically let you export your contacts into a format that can be manipulated in a spreadsheet or other program. In Yahoo mail, go to your contacts page, click on Actions at the top of the page, and choose Export. In your spreadsheet, weed out all the jerks who wouldn't want to hear about your new book or an update on your writing career.

The Yahoo export page on the Contacts page.

3) Collect emails in person at parties, readings, or any place where you discuss your book or writing. The ask: "Can I add you to my email list?" If someone gives you a business card always ask: "Would it be better for me to use your personal email address?" (It's better for you to their personal email in case folks change jobs.)

4) Collect emails on your blog and Web site. On your blog, be sure there's a sign-up box embedded in each post. (See what I've done at the end of this post using Feedburner, a tool designed specifically for blogs.). Want to parse your audience into more targeted lists? Mailchimp allows you to create a variety of email lists each with their own sign-up box. This is useful if your blog or Web site, like mine, covers a range of topics.

Two sign-up boxes on my Web site.

A third sign-up box on my blog.

5) Convert social media connections to email subscribers. With Facebook, consider paying to promote a post that notifies your fans that they may not be seeing your updates due to recent changes to Facebook. Include a link to a signup box. You may even offer a freebie -- a chapter, a short story -- to people who sign up. For more on email sign-up incentives, read how author James Seeley boosted his subscriber list.

6) More Email marketing tips 

- the basics from Wiley
- a good primer on Bookbaby
- advanced tips from Copyblogger

More Marketing for Writers


- Book Marketing: E-mail Lists and Newsletters

- Self-Promotion for Writers: Dump Social Media, Embrace E-mail

- LinkedIn for Writers: A Slick Trick to Reach Readers

Art attribution for email image: Gokhan.kapici at tr.wikipedia. Later version(s) were uploaded by Emperyan at tr.wikipedia. [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

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Monday, November 10, 2014

LinkedIn for Writers: A Slick Trick to Reach Readers

As LinkedIn adds users, useless features, and contrary policies, using the service to reach readers becomes more challenging. Here's a quick trick to help writers market their work and develop their author platforms.

Email Marketing with LinkedIn

LinkedIn lets you send customized messages to subsets of your connections. Reading your writing in another city? Invite connections who live in that city to your event. Recently published a how-to article of interest to writers, send it your writer connections. Just blogged about a looming tax policy, alert your accountant connections.

Depending on their LinkedIn settings, recipients may receive your LinkedIn message in their email inboxes -- so more of them will see it. Remember: Just posting an update on LinkedIn will only reach a small subset of your connections. For example, I have 2,500 connections. My updates typically reach only 50 connections. Also, posting to LinkedIn groups is less useful than it used to be because group moderators can choose to block your posts -- and you permanently -- if your posts are too promotional.

How to Do it

1) Go to Your Connections

In the "Connections" menu at the top of your LinkedIn screen, click on "Keep in Touch" to bring up a list of all your connections. (You may need to scroll down the page to see your list.)

2) Target the Right Connections

LinkedIn offers two main features to segment your connections: "Filter by" or "Search."

"Filter by" lets you sort your connections by:
- Company
- Tag: If you were smart enough to include tags for your contacts -- I wasn't -- this could be a winner. 
- Location: This didn't work well for me, so I used the "Search" box discussed below.
- Title: Search on a title, such as "author" to reach other writers. Using the "Search" box may generate different or more connections. Be sure to try both.

- I found entering a word or phrase in "Search" more useful than the "Filter by" feature.  For example, when I entered "author" in "Filter by" and "Title" I got a list of 20 people. Searching on "author" and I got 50.

Note: you can send an email to each list in separate messages, be sure to look for dupes, people who appear on both lists, so you don't email them twice.

Example: I live in Boston, but was doing a reading in Atlanta and wanted to ask my connections in the area to help me get the word out. Here's what I did.

- I typed "Atlanta" into the "Search" box.

Use Search box instead of a "Filter by" to find connections in a specific city.
- In the list of results, I clicked the word greyed out word "Atlanta" under one of the connections. LinkedIn took me to a page that listed 18 of my connections who lived in Atlanta. (Note: My search results included some people who didn't live in Atlanta. )

- I clicked "Select All" and then the "Message" option appeared. Clicking "Message" produced a blank message populated with only those connections living in or near Atlanta.

Use "Select All" then "Message" to create a message populated with your selected contacts.

LinkIn lets you message up to 50 connections at a time.

3) Craft Your Message and Don't Be Annoying!

Here's how:
- Instead of making a bald, pushy pitch for your reading or book, ask connections to help you spread the word.
- Keep subject lines short and sweet. Here's what I used for in the Atlanta example: "I'm reading in Atlanta. Please help me spread the word!"
- Offer to reciprocate in some way.
- Make it easy for them to help you by including a sample Tweet or Facebook post they can simply copy and paste.

Your message should ask for help and offer to reciprocate. Don't use bald pitches like "buy my book!"

Include a Tweet or Facebook post you'd like people to share. Include sample text so they can just copy and paste.

4) Before You Hit Send

To avoid looking like a spammer and to preserve everyone's privacy, unclick the check box at bottom that says "Allow recipients to see each other's names and email addresses."

5) Miscellaneous Tips

- Don't over do it -- I send messages a few times a year to the same group.

- After searching or sorting, tag the connections. (In my example, I could tag everyone as "Atlanta")

- Remember you can only send a message to 50 people at a time.

-Realistic Expectations:  I've used LinkedIn messages for readings in several cities. Some people I didn't know well offered to help and shared my posts. One guy, I met for lunch. All marketing is a crap-shoot but it never hurts to get your name in front of people. Moreover, this feature doesn't take a lot of time.

More LinkedIn Advice for Writers

- LinkedIn for Writers: Tips, Changes in 2014

- Linked In Tips for Authors: Getting Started

- Social Media for Writers: Using Groups

Art attribution for top image: By LinkedIn, User:ZyMOS [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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