There has never been a better time to be an author. The low barriers to publishing means that practically anyone can sit down, spit out a few thousand words, save it as a pdf, upload it on Amazon and say they are an author. Which also means that by the same token, there has never been a worse time to be an author.
The low barriers to publishing and the sheer volume of what is being published makes it hard to rise above the clamour, and to be seen and heard by your target readers. But all is not lost. There is a way to rise above the noise, to be seen and be heard, so you can build your author platform. Even better, it’s relatively easy to do.
The answer? Email marketing.
What is email marketing?
For authors, email marketing is a way of turning your readers into subscribers and eventually, customers. That’s because it’s easier to sell to people who are already on your mailing list. They want to hear from you; that’s why they signed up to your list (just make sure they double opt-in, i.e., actively signal that they want to hear from you. Research indicates that people who double opt-in to your mailing list are more likely to buy from you).
Why authors should care about email marketing
Email marketing is one of the best and most cost-effective ways of building your readership, and eventually, author platform and business. And it need not be complicated. You can start by simply sending regular newsletters to your readers.
The best email marketing software for authors
One of the best ways to do this is by using an email newsletter service. However, with so many of them out there, it can be difficult to know which one to choose, so before we get started, it’s important to determine your needs in the first place.
What are you going to be using the email newsletter service for?
It seems like an obvious question, after all, it’s an email newsletter service (the tip is in the words ‘email newsletter’); what else are you going to be using for?
Take it from me, there is a lot more to email newsletters than just, you know, emails – Abidemi Sanusi
In the first instance, if all you’re going to be doing is sending newsletters as a way of keeping in touch with your fans, then a simple email newsletter service will do.
However, if you’re looking to turn your books into a viable business, then you need to think beyond ‘regular’ updates for your readers. You have to think about how to turn your readers into subscribers, and ultimately customers of your business, which is why email marketing is so useful.
Remember, there is writing and there is the business of writing.
Email deliverability rate is important
Beyond the usual factors like pricing, you also need to think about deliverability, because the last thing you want to do is use an email newsletter service with low deliverability rates. After all, you don’t want to write an email that ends up in the Promotions tab, or even worse, the spam folder of your subscribers.
And if you have subscribers in Europe, add in the behemoth that is General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and your email marketing career has ended before it’s even started.
For the vast majority of people reading this post (budding authors), chances are that your initial need is for a simple email newsletter software that just helps you send out newsletters. As you grow in knowledge and confidence, you’ll probably want to scale and upgrade to an email marketing service that is more in line with your needs.
For this reason, I’m going to keep things really simple by focusing on just three email newsletter providers on account of their pocket-friendly pricing and relatively easy set-up.
1. Best free email marketing service – Mailchimp
MailChimp prides itself as the leading email marketing tool.
It’s Forever Free plan is ideal for people who want to collect subscribers while learning about email marketing. It lets you keep up to 2,000 subscribers across all lists in your account, and send up to 12,000 emails per month.
Setting up MailChimp is relatively straightforward and their email newsletter templates are pretty nice, too.
You can also create emails from your blog posts (by far the easiest and fastest way to build your mailing list and keep in touch with your readers).
The Forever Free plan also gives standard stats on who opened your emails, so you can track how well your email campaigns are performing.
If you’re new to email newsletters, I would recommend that you start with MailChimp.
Aweber is probably MailChimp’s number one competitor. It is also one of the longest-serving email newsletter providers in the industry, with legendary customer service.
Aweber prides itself on its deliverability rates. It is reasonably affordable (you can start with a free 30-day trial and then it’s $19/m for up to 500 subscribers).
Like MailChimp, it’s relatively easy to set-up, and if you’re struggling, you can reach out to their awesome support team for help.
Aweber’s features include free blog-to-email (if you blog, this feature sends your blog posts directly to your subscribers’ inbox), tagging, auto-responders and more.
Previously known in the industry as somewhat of a traditionalist, Aweber is making great strides in shrugging off its stuffy, no-frills image, by adding some features such as automation and tagging to its product offering, no doubt spurred on by the rapid rise of
upstarts, challengers in the industry.
It’s fair to say that most people who use email newsletter services start with MailChimp and Aweber, so if you’re new to email newsletters, you’re in good company!
3. Best email marketing service for authors – Active Campaign
I used MailChimp and Aweber for years, before moving on to Active Campaign. It’s my email marketing software of choice, allowing me to run abidemi.tv on full automation.
Put simply: Active Campaign allows me to grow my list, engage my contacts, and drive more sales. It’s an asset to my business, because it actually helps me make money.
There are so many things you can do with Active Campaign:
- You can set it up to send emails to people who’ve visited a certain page on your website. So if they’ve visited a page about your book, you know they’re interested in it, so you could send them an email offering a discount to buy the book in your online store (and yes, this is all automated)
- It has tags and automations that you can use to sequence your subscribers, depending on the action they take
- You can set up campaigns, create auto-responders, split-test your campaigns so you can see which is more effective, and so much more
- And the pricing starts from $9/m for 500 subscribers, so it’s affordable.
If you’re new to email marketing, I would advise that you start with either MailChimp or Aweber. As you look to scale your online business as an author, I would recommend Active Campaign.
Over to you; what your email newsletter service of choice and why do you use it?
Also published on Medium.