An email list you can send an author newsletter to is one of the most powerful marketing tools an author can have. But I get asked all the time about how to grow it, how often to email and what emails to send.
In this post I'm going to tackle that first question, how to grow your email list.
Tip 1 Create an incentive
Give people a reason to sign up for your author newsletter. The days of people signing up for updates or to be notified of new books or offers or exclusive giveaways are gone. People are drowning in email. We're getting email from retail stores, from restaurants, from influencers that we follow. So even the valuable content feels like too much.
So when you're enticing someone to join your email list, you need an incentive, something that is going to motivate them to sign up to get that free thing. But you also need a good promise of what they're going to get from your emails. What is it you're going to send them every week or every month that they will look forward to opening? They don't want more junk in their email, more content to wade through, even if it's good content. They are going to be weighing up, do I want this content? Do I want to hear from this person? So think about what it is you're going to offer your readers and tell them what that is.
When it comes to an incentive that you're giving away to encourage people to sign up for your author newsletter, you may have heard this called a reader magnet. It's also an opt-in incentive or a lead magnet and I'm going to be talking about this more next week. I'm going to give you some great tips for reader magnets, what you can actually give away to encourage people to sign up for your list. So if you're stuck on what to give away or you don't want to give away a whole book, which is often recommended, then look out for next week's post.
Tip 2 Put your incentive under your ideal readers' noses
This is the step I see so many people miss. They create an awesome reader magnet. They're giving away something fantastic. It might even be a whole book, the first book in a series, and yet nobody's signing up for their list. Then they come to me saying, why doesn't anyone want my free gift? It's because no one knows it exists. You have to put it under people's noses. You have to drive traffic to your sign up forms. If you've got it on your website but your website isn't getting any traffic, then no one's going to sign up for your author newsletter.
So one of the things you can do is share about it on social media. If you already have a following on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, then post on the social networks you're using. If you don't already have lots of your own followers, then make use of hashtags. Hashtags allow you to reach people that aren't following you but are following the hashtag.
Another thing you can do is post on Facebook about your offer and encourage friends and family to share that post. So the more people that share it, the more widely it will be distributed and more people that don't already know you will come across it. You can share about it on Instagram in your feed, and also jump on Stories and talk about it there. Definitely post a link to it in your Instagram bio as well. If you use other social sites, then you can post there too. If you use LinkedIn or Twitter, you can post about it there. And post about it more than once, especially with Twitter where the lifetime of the tweet is incredibly short.
And finally, you can send personal invites to your contacts. You can send personal emails or direct messages to friends and family and other contacts that you have. Tell them about your reader magnet and ask them to share about it with their networks. So even if it's not of interest to them, they may know someone that will be interested in it and they can help spread the word.
Tip 3 Use prominent opt-in forms
Do not put an opt-in form buried down the bottom of your website. You want it on the homepage, ideally above the fold. That means at the top so people don't have to scroll down to find it. It should be on most if not all pages of your website. So you might have it in a sidebar.
You can also try using popups. For example, exit intent popups appear when somebody is about to leave your website. These can remind visitors to download your freebie and join your author newsletter before they leave.
Tip 4 Do outreach
This is one of my favorite ways to get in front of new audiences. When you're posting on social media or reaching out to personal contacts, you are limiting yourself to your existing circle. The idea is for people to spread the word and for you to reach more and more people. But, if you leverage someone else's existing audience, you are going to be reaching a lot of new people all at once.
Download my free guide 7 Steps To Grow Your Author Platform to get started with outreach.
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Tip 5 Share on Pinterest
Pinterest is not a social network, it is a search engine. People are going there all the time to find new things and you can create pins that lead to your opt-in landing pages. You can even create more than one pin that leads to the same page. You can create pins that lead to blog posts, which may have a call to action to download your freebie.
So Pinterest can be an effective way of getting in front of new people and driving traffic to your author newsletter sign up forms. The lifetime of a pin is also much, much longer than on some of the other social channels. A pin can be driving traffic to your website for a year or more. So it's well worth creating some pins to drive traffic to your reader magnet.
Tip 6 Use promo tools
List-building tools, such as BookSweeps and Prolific Works are not my preferred way of growing an email list. These tools can attract cold freebie hunters, so I prefer to use other methods such as outreach. Yet, authors do tell me that this can be a great way to add a lot of new subscribers to their list. As long as you manage those new subscribers well, you can warm them up. And if they enjoy the free book that they downloaded, they can become loyal subscribers.
My top tips for using these promo tools is to use them alongside the other methods I've talked about. Warm up your new subscribers with an email nurture sequence when someone joins your list. This will let them know about you and your other books that are available. Also watch whether people are engaging with your emails and clean your list often. Remove tire kickers. They're only there for the free stuff. Get rid of those people and concentrate on the ones that show a genuine interest. This will ensure that you grow a warm and engaged list.
So a word of warning with those list building tools. They are worth experimenting with, they can be beneficial, but use them with caution.
More than numbers
So those are my top tips for growing an email list fast. But I want to make a final point that growing your email list should be about more than adding numbers. Remember, every single subscriber is a real person. There's somebody behind each email address saying they want to hear from you. But you need to respect them and their inbox. Respect your subscribers' time and attention by sending author newsletters of value.
So avoid simply adding numbers. Think about how you will look after your new subscribers once you get them. In my next few posts, I'll be talking about how often to email your list and what to send in your author newsletter, to help you develop a loyal fan base that will support your author marketing long term.