Every author needs to build an email list. When someone gives you their email address, they are giving you permission to market to them. This can be incredibly powerful when you’re launching a new book, promoting events or aiming to sell new products and services.
And while email marketing is as powerful as it ever was because it can convert subscribers into buyers, it’s also more challenging than it used to be. We don’t want to give up our email addresses because we’ve been burned before. This means that you’ve got to give people incentive to sign up for your list—and then deliver great value in order to keep them as subscribers.
Following are the top ways to build your list, plus our favorite way to build a mailing list quickly.
- Put a sign-up box on your site with incentive. Sign up with Constant Contact or MailChimp or another commercial email service and then put the sign-up box on your site along with some incentive for users. You might give away the first chapter or your book or offer up a bonus report, audio recording or a video series that appeals to your target audience.
- Collect cards when you speak. Anytime you deliver a speaking engagement, be sure to collect email addresses. One great way to do this is to stop mid-way through your presentation—once you have attendees captivated with your content—and pass around a simple paper gift bag to collect cards for a drawing at the end of your presentation where you will give away a couple of copies of your book.
- Ask social media users to join. Periodically post invitations across your social networks to download your mailing list incentive, such as a free chapter or printable workbook.
- Add a footer at the bottom of your blog posts. Have your webmaster create a standard message that appears at the bottom of all of your blog posts, asking readers to click to join your mailing list. Sometimes all you have to do is ask!
- Cross-promote with a fellow author or peer. When you build relationships with others who reach your target audience, you can support each other with cross-promotions. For example, you could ask your author friend to let his audience know that you’ve got a free report available, and you could do the same for him with your audience.
- Utilize pop-ups. This isn’t my favorite strategy; pop-ups tend to turn me off. However, many people swear by them. A pop-up can appear on your website during the course of a visitor exploring your pages. I’d suggest delaying the pop-up to appear after a visitor has been on the site for a period of time—like a full minute—and had a chance to develop appreciation for what you offer.
- Keep track of sales. When selling books or other products from your website, be sure to add each new customer to your mailing list.
- Hold a contest. You could give away a few copies of your book, consulting time with you or raise the stakes and offer something of great value, like a new Kindle or iPad. Make the terms of entry depend on registering with an email address and promote the contest across your social media networks over several days or weeks. Also notify bloggers, peers and friends and ask them to help spread the word about your contest.
- Give away free content. This is by far my favorite strategy, and it’s something we do at the Nonfiction Authors Association. The idea here is to create content that your target audience wants—that could be a report, a database of information, a downloadable workbook, templates, checklists or spreadsheets, an audio series or video series—something with a high perceived value. Then create a registration page (with a tool like Leadpages or Thrive for WordPress) and promote the registration link across your social media networks. We produce content like this on a monthly basis and enjoy tracking to see which content generates the best results.
- Promote with Facebook – the FASTEST option to building a big list. Using the concept of giving away free content, once you’ve created a report or download that you know your audience will love, invest some money in promoting the registration link on Facebook. For as little as $20, you can reach all kinds of audiences based on demographics. Or, choose to promote your posts to fans of your competitors’ pages. If you can afford some budget, consider investing hundreds of even thousands of dollars in Facebook ads. These ads can help you build a substantial list in record time!
If you like this blog post, you’ll love our Author Toolkit with checklists, worksheets and templates for book marketing. Check it out!
Thanks for this great, helpful blog post, Stephanie! Thanks also for setting up the Nonfiction Authors Association. It is a wonderful resource!