We all know that building a newsletter email list is an essential part of an author's marketing toolbox. Your list provides one thing your social media doesn't. A direct line to your readers. See, Facebook and Twitter, they purposefully don't show your posts to all of your page or feed subscribers. So unless your readers are stalking you - they're going to miss sales, new releases, and other vital information.
This is where the newsletter list comes in. It makes sure that those interested in your books are getting timely information about said books directly in their email.
As an author with four pen names, I keep four different lists and in the past six months, I've been measuring the quality of these lists. I've used numerous methods to boost my subscriber numbers. I've given away freebies. I've offered exclusive content. I've done giveaways and contests. All of these things have done their job to grow my lists.
However, the effectiveness of a newsletter can't be measured in the number of subscribers. It has to be measured in engagement. You can have thousands of subscribers, but if you're sending out two thousand emails, only getting four hundred opens and one hundred clicks, the quality of your list, and the quality of your newsletter overall, comes into question. A big list where few people engage is a lot worse for an author than a small list that is very engaged. Don't worry - I'm not going to insist you start dumping the non-engagers from your list. You can, potentially, turn non-engaged subscribers into engaged subscribers by regularly evaluating your content.
Since engagement is so important, there are two steps you can take to increase engagement. The first step to building the engagement of your existing list is to find out just how engaged your readers currently are. Start by keeping track of your click through rates (minus unsubscribes because, in many newsletter apps or services, those will show up as click-throughs) with each newsletter. By doing this, you're going to find out which newsletters got the most attention, good or bad. Study the newsletter and figure out what you did right or wrong. Start taking notes. Note that just because you have unsubscribes doesn't mean a newsletter was bad. It likely just means you probably got a few freebie hunters who decided to move on. Unsubscribes happen - even to good newsletters.
Of course, it doesn't hurt to subscribe to the successful newsletters of other authors and see what they're doing, making notes of things you find particularly effective.
Next, take it even further and note which subscribers (individually) are the most engaged. Some newsletter services or applications make this easy to do. Some may even do it for you.
I have four main lists my subscribers can subscribe to, but on the administrative end, I keep track of email addresses attached to click-throughs in separate, private lists that can only be seen by me. If someone is engaged and clicks through, I check the box next to the appropriate click-through list. I can then choose to send special newsletters to these people exclusively, instead of the entire list if I want to get feedback, reward loyal readers/fans, or give them exclusive content/information. I am still experimenting with this, but so far, it's been quite effective. I've even had fans drop me an email asking if they could be put on the same "special secret" list their other fan friends are on. (Hey, it works for me, I write darker, mysterious stuff, and my readers like the idea of special super-secret lists.)
Keeping track of this information for six months (or longer), is going to help you strengthen your newsletter content and identify key readers who want what you're writing. While it can be a bit time-consuming, it's totally worth the time you take to do it.
Ideas for newsletter content to keep your readers engaged:
- List only giveaways.
- List surveys.
- Exclusive offers and deals.
- Contests (naming characters etc...)
How do you engage your readers?
Colorado native Stephanie Connolly-Reisner grew up with a love for reading and writing. She started penning her first stories in grade-school and never stopped. Now much older, she’s a prolific writer who lives along the front range of the beautiful Rocky Mountains with her husband and a couple of very pampered house cats. You can find her and her four author personas at www.the-quadrant.com. She can also be found at Facebook. Stephanie writes under four pseudonyms: S.J. Reisner, Audrey Brice, Anne O'Connell, and S. Connolly.