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Email List Growth – An In-Depth Look!

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One of my goals for 2016 was to grow my reader email list – by a lot. I started the year with a list of 135 reader emails, and my goal was to add 7,500 new emails, while making sure those new emails were my target reader. As you can imagine, that goal would require a lot of focus and hard work!

Sending Email

I ended the year with a total of 7,313 subscribers on my fiction reader list, which means a net increase of 7,178 emails. Not quite my goal, but close enough I was happy. Of course, those don’t include people who have unsubscribed as I’ve sent emails to the list throughout the year (because those unsubscribes weren’t my target reader, right?), nor does it double-count people who have subscribed through multiple ways. (I use Groups in Mailchimp and consolidate all my reader emails to separate groups within a single list, so no email is duplicated. Otherwise, that would be a sure way to spam someone!)

I’ve talked about the importance of doing a postmortem for a book launch, so as I set my email list growth goals for 2017, I thought it might be helpful to see what efforts produced the best (and worst) results in 2016. The open and click rates for each category below are from the campaign I just sent on 12/27/16 for my new release, so it should be a fairly equal comparison.

Here’s the list:

• Organic sign-ups: 345 emails
Open rate: 61.6%. Click rate: 22.4%.
This is people who sign-up for my mailing list through links in the back of my books, my website, or social media profiles. These people have not received anything in exchange for signing up, except an excited welcome email from me. 🙂

• Sign-ups to receive my free short story that goes after book 5 in my Mountain Dreams Series: 506 emails
Open rate: 33.3%. Click rate: 11.1%.
This offer is in the back of all my ebooks and has a special page on my website. I don’t promote it anywhere else, because it’s helpful to have read that series to appreciate the short story.

Facebook-Icon• Facebook Lead Generation ads promoting my permafree, book 1 in the Mountain Dreams Series: 4,077 emails
Open rate: 26.1%. Click rate: 8%.
I’ve run these throughout most of the year at a low budget, usually between $5-7/day. I haven’t blogged specifically about this type of FB ad, but I plan to when time permits. It’s my favorite for mailing list growth for many reasons, including the fact that it’s great at helping authors narrow down their target audience and find pertinent keywords. I have a 3-email automation sequence that goes out to new sign-ups giving them the free book in email #1. Then email #2 gives the first few pages of book #2 in that series, along with the link to buy. Then email #3 announces my newest release. So I use these ads as a tool for both list growth and book sales.

• Ongoing Instafreebie giveaway for my permafree book. 835 emails
These were harder to get exact open and click rates because of the way I was tracking subscribers from Instafreebie. From what I can tell, it looks the open and click rates were approx. 33% and 11% respectively.
I blogged about the Instafreebie giveaway here. I was a little skeptical about how high the open and click rates would be, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised.

• Instafreebie group giveaway for my permafree book: 812 emails
Open and click rates appear to be similar to Instafreebie above.
This was a group of 8 authors who write Christian fiction in a variety of genres. Potential readers chose which (if any) author they wanted to follow in exchange for receiving that author’s free book. The giveaway was done right before Christmas, which is not always a time people are focused on reading or seeking out new books. I have a suspicion it may have been even better right after Christmas. I’m pleased with the results, though!

• Fall Author Mailing List Promo organized by Ryan Zee of BookSweeps: 603 emails
Open rate: 56.8%. Click rate: 19.3%.
This was geared toward fans of Inspirational historical romance (my specific genre), and I was really pleased with the outcome. Ryan’s team gave great ideas to the authors for how to onboard the sign-ups, and I had great interaction with the new readers. It was interesting to find that some of them were already on my list or had sent me reader emails previously. That goes to show this method of recruiting email address is successfully reaching my target audience. Ryan is doing another of these in the spring, and I’m already signed up. There are other similar services out there, but Ryan’s has the best targeting for my specific genre.

In a postmortem, my next step would be to analyze what I would change and what I definitely want to repeat. I won’t bore you with those details, but here’s a chance for you to analyze whether you’d like to try anything from this list!

And I’d love to hear from you now! Did you try any other approaches to growing your reader email list this year that I haven’t mentioned here? If so, what were the results? Or maybe you’ve tried something I did. If so, I’d love to hear about it!

Troubleshooting Facebook Ads

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Facebook Ads can be finicky things.

Getting an ad to perform well (meaning actually sell books at a cost per click that doesn’t break the bank) can be a complicated formula. In theory, it should be simple:

  • One part good ad copy (that’s attractive to your target reader)
  • One part finding the right audience (again think about your target reader)
  • One part good landing page (your Amazon book page or other sales page)

So if you’ve got all those things right, your FB ad should perform well! Facebook-Icon

But what happens if it doesn’t? How do you know which part of the formula isn’t quite right?

Here are a few tips to troubleshoot:  Read the rest of this entry »

Book Launch Marketing Checklist

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Are you releasing a new book into the world? I talk with so many authors in this position, who are drowning in book marketing advice and just want a simple step-by-step list of what to do to launch the new book properly.

In response to this, I created a simple checklist for a new book launch with “required tasks” (such as adding the book to your Amazon Author Profile) marked separately from “optional tasks” (like a blog tour).

Feel free to use and share it with other authors preparing to launch their latest book baby!

Free Checklist

Finding Your Target Reader

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The more I’ve delved into marketing and ways to find new readers, the more important it’s become for me to understand who my target reader is. What kind of people tend to fall in love with my books? (Not just those who can tolerate them.) Where do I find those people?

What kind of people fall in lovewith my books- 1

The deeper I go in this topic, the more I’m intrigued by it. The more I understand the freeing power of knowing my target reader, the more it influences my story lines, the types of characters I write about, the settings in each book, my book covers, back cover blurbs, types of advertising, you name it!

In other words, almost everything I do related to books centers around my target reader – making sure they can find my book, and then making sure they love it!

So how do you find that elusive person?
Read the rest of this entry »

The (3) Essential Parts of a Book Launch Postmortem

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In the world of Project Management, a postmortem is a special meeting where the project list-clipart-dT8Rd9ATeteam reconvenes after everything is complete. We talk through what went right on the project and the parts we’ve all tried to forget. It’s a “lessons learned” session; a review so we’ll all actually learn those lessons and (hopefully) not make the same mistakes on the next project. It’s easy for these meetings to become finger-pointing sessions, but a good project manager will work to make the meeting a “safe zone.” A place where results can be assessed honestly.

A book launch is, in itself, a project. A short-term undertaking with start and finish dates. So I love the idea of holding my own private postmortem for each book launch. As I work to make each launch more successful than the last, I can focus on areas that yield strong results and ditch the efforts that were a waste. Also, this gives me a good pulse on how book marketing is evolving.

So let’s take a look at the (3) essential parts of a good postmortem, and I’ll use my recent launch as an example. Read the rest of this entry »

Facebook Ads Demystified

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Facebook-IconWe’ve discussed before how Facebook Ads have become one of my “go-to” marketing tools. I get a lot of furrowed brows when I say that, so today let’s take a moment to walk through the ad set-up – especially the crucial pieces to make sure the ad:

  1. is seen by your target market and
  2. gives you the highest possible ROI (return on your investment).

First, let me outline a few of the particular advantages of Facebook advertising: Read the rest of this entry »