It’s one of the things I push to all authors I work with: amass an email list. Facebook “likes” and “fans” only go so far. There’s nothing like a ready-made list of email addresses with people you can notify when you have a book signing, upcoming radio interview, or new book available on Amazon.
That said, collecting email addresses is the easy part. The hard part is creating emails that are effective. Despite what you may think, putting together a successful email campaign takes a whole lot of thought, planning, and testing.
Here’s what you need to know…
1. Pick your time wisely. When do you schedule your emails to go out? Chances are, you’re not thinking nearly enough about it. Did you know that click-thru rates from emails spike between 8 am and 10 am? And then again between 3 and 4 pm? Make sure to schedule your emails to arrive in people’s boxes at or near the beginning of those time periods. Keep time zone differences in mind, as well. Personally, I would lean towards the afternoon times instead of the morning: people are less likely to be bogged down with emails towards the end of the day.
2. Be late and you’re dead. Did you know that five hours after they’re sent, an email is essentially dead. In other words, if your email isn’t opened in the first five hours after it’s sent, it’s likely never to be read again. So avoid sending middle-of-the-night emails, weekend emails, or emails when people are commonly on vacation (like when school is out, for example.)
3. Choose your subject line with care. Authors commonly spend a lot of time perfecting every word in an email. And the subject line? That’s usually just an afterthought. But that’s a big mistake. For example, an author might tell me to use a subject line like “Newsletter — January, 2013.” Okay … but would you open that? Does that pique your interest? New York Times best-selling author Chris Brogan recently shared a killer list of email subject lines. They included, “2 Minutes to Read …” “Need Your Decision: …” and “Yes or No: …” Now those encourage people to read and take action.
4. Keep it short. Sure, we might call it a newsletter. But don’t make the mistake of putting tons of text in it. People just don’t read that much in an email. Keep your points brief, and include links and calls to action where people can learn more, by the book, etc… Here’s a rule of thumb. If it takes up more than one screen, it’s too long.
5. Include forward/share links. If you write a good newsletter, people are going to want to share it with their friends. And that’s the best thing that can happen to you. So make it easy for them to do so. Embed “share” links whenever possible. Include a blurb at the bottom that encourages people to forward the email to their friends, or encourage them to sign up themselves. Remember … there’s nothing more powerful than word of mouth!