Supercharge Your Email Marketing

Social media is great for bringing awareness to you and your books and for connecting with your audience. Sadly, social media is not a big sales driver. Often authors see little return for the time and energy they invest in social media.

Email is not dead. It is still a growing channel. There are over 6.32 billion email accounts. That figure is predicted to reach 7.71 billion by 2021, which is a growth of more than 22 percent.

Email marketing has a much higher return on investment rate than other forms of marketing and advertising. In fact, 80% of companies say that email is their top channel for acquiring new customers. If you are serious about selling books, email marketing should be part of your marketing plan.

Check out these 5 Ways to Supercharge Your Email Marketing in the infographic by Digioh, and start making your email marketing efforts more effective.

5 Ways to Supercharge your emails

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How to Get People to Read Your Emails

The world is now mobile. Studies show that 67% of email is opened on a mobile device.

This means that if you have an email newsletter that you send to subscribers—and every author should be using this marketing technique—your email needs to be mobile friendly. Email subject lines and the first few lines of text render differently on mobile devices than they do on computers. Adjusting your emails to accommodate these differences can encourage more of your email recipients to read your emails.

Remember, just because someone has subscribed to your email list does not guarantee that they will read your emails. I encourage you to follow these 8 Tips for Making Email Campaigns Mobile Friendly to increase the open and read rates for the emails that you send.

Tips for mobile-friendly email campaigns

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Are You In Compliance?

The Internet is all abuzz with news about the EU’s updated GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) that goes into effect this month (May 2018). The concern for most Indie authors and small business owners is that they know and follow the regulations so they don’t get fined.

EU’s GDPR

GDPR is a European regulation, not a regulation for the United States. However, if you do business with people in Europe such as selling books directly to Europeans or sending marketing emails to people residing in Europe, then you must abide by the GDPR in your practices.

In a nutshell, the GDPR requires that you engage in “permission marketing”. This means that in order for you to send marketing communications to individuals in Europe, they must give you permission to register them in your database. In plain English this means that people must sign up for and agree to receive your email notifications. So, if you are already receiving permission from people to send them emails, basically you are in compliance with GDPR. To learn more about how GDPR effects authors with email lists, you can listen to a great podcast on the topic at: https://selfpublishingformula.com/episode-117.

US’s CAN-SPAM Act

In the United States, the CAN-SPAM Act regulates email marketing. Currently, the regulation does not require that you get recipients’ consent before sending them commercial emails. However, the CAN-SPAM Act does require that you provide an “opt out” to the recipient in the email and that you list your physical address in each email you send.

While the CAN-SPAM Act does not require that you receive people’s express permission to be added to your mailing list, it is best practice and strongly recommended.

The Issue with Customer Data

The GDPR is all about keeping customer data safe. After multiple data breaches (think about the recent Facebook data scandal), the governments around the world appear to be taking a strong stand on helping ensure that people’s personal data remains safe and that individuals remain in control of when and how their data is used.

Another big item in the news recently had to do with Google denying Concordia Publishing House the ability to enter a religious ad in the Google Ads program. At first, the issue looks like another censorship of religious freedom. However, upon closer inspection, the matter has to do with retargeting ads and this topic of customer data and how it is used.

Here is how retargeting works. Google tracks which sites you visit and then use this information to allow companies to show ads to people who have visited their website. In other words, if I view a certain book on Amazon, Google tracks that. Amazon can then pay Google to place an ad for the book I viewed in front of me when I am browsing the Internet. The idea is that the more exposure I receive to a product I have showed interest in, the more likely I am to purchase that product.

It turns out, Google does not allow expressly religious ads to be included in their retargeting program. They know that people’s data is sensitive, so their retargeting ad policy states:

“Advertisers can’t use identity and belief categories to target ads to users or to promote advertisers’ products or services.”

For a great in-depth explanation on why Google believes that identify and belief data is sensitive, you can read the article by Levi Nunnick at: https://medium.com/@levinunnink/no-google-is-not-attacking-cph-a20350e12453.

With GDPR, ad retargeting programs will need to get customers’ permission to show them retargeting ads since this involves their personal data.

Personal data and how it is used will continue to be an evolving area for anyone involved in collecting people’s data (including email addresses) for marketing purposes. I do not believe there is any reason for angst over this issue. Using best practices will help keep you in compliance with all laws.

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Are You Grammatically Correct?

Knowing what keeps readers engaged and what turns them off is important when producing written materials.

Surprisingly, the most often cited complaint in book reviews by BookCrash reviewers (Christian Small Publishers Association’s Books for Bloggers program) is grammar and spelling errors. Reviewers will state things like:

  • “I would have given the book a higher rating if it had been edited better.”
  • “The grammar and spelling errors kept me from enjoying the book.”

Turning readers off through grammar and spelling errors is not just true for books. It is true for your marketing materials as well.

grammar

Boomerang, an email management tool, ran a study on this idea. The company used an automated grammar-checking software to spot errors in email subject lines. The company found that grammatical mistakes in email subject lines correlates with fewer responses to the email. Here are the particulars:

  • Mistake-free email subject lines received a 34% response rate, while those with errors only had a 29% response rate.
  • The more errors in the subject line, the less likely email recipients responded.
  • Response rates fell 14% when subject lines had two or more mistakes when compared with those that were mistake free.
  • The mistake most punished by non-response was not capitalizing the first letter in a subject line sentence.

In addition, a previous study by Boomerang found that email subject lines that were extremely short or long also had reduced response rates. Surprisingly, Boomerang’s study also found that emails sent on Monday were more likely to contain grammatical errors than those sent Tuesday through Friday.

So, if you use emails as part of your marketing efforts to promote your books, you can take a few lessons from this study.

  1. Don’t write your emails on Monday. If you are going to send out an email on Monday, write it the week before and save it for Monday.
  2. Don’t make your email subject lines too long or two short. The six-word rule for headlines is a good one to follow for email subject lines.
  3. Check your emails for grammatical errors before sending. You can use a free online tool like Grammark to do this quickly and efficiently.

Email is still one of the strongest marketing tools that independent authors and small publishers have at their disposal. When used correctly, email marketing can bring good results. Make sure that poor grammar does not get in the way of people responding to your messages.

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Photo courtesy of NordWood Themes

Email Marketing Still Important

In the song “Make New Friends, But Keep the Old”, the next line states “One is silver and the other gold”. Both gold and silver are valuable. However, gold is more valuable than silver. I think this idea is important to remember when it comes to marketing techniques.

With so much marketing emphasis on social media and mobile these days, it is easy to abandon older technology in favor of the new. Here is a word of caution. Older friends are gold, while newer friends are silver.

I think the same applies to marketing. Social media is silver. However, the older marketing techniques such as email blasts, mail campaigns, and good old fashioned in-person promoting and selling of books are still gold. Don’t throw them away.

BookBrowse, a website all about secular books, recently completed a survey of its 3,400 member reading audience. Here is part of what they found out:

  • 65% regularly use social networking sites, ranging from 95% penetration among 18-34 year olds, to 37% for those aged over 75.
  • Facebook dominates, followed by GoodReads. LibraryThing, and Shelfari trail.
  • Even though two-thirds use social networking, only 25% use it to keep up with websites. E-mail remains the preferred vehicle to stay in touch.

I think the last point means that readers still rely on email to stay up-to-date with the companies they like. While they may be fans of these companies on Facebook, they still prefer to receive emails alerting them to new products, specials, etc.

Email is still gold. Don’t abandon it yet. Use it to keep your customers and potential customers informed about your books, your authors’ events, and any sales or specials you are running.

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