Grow Your Marketing Part 7: Email Marketing
You’re a writer, and you probably just want to write — but if you want to make a viable amount of money from your writing, you need a complete marketing campaign which actually works.
What we’ve covered so far includes the following:
1. Setting up and interacting with your own special audience (as described in Crack Your Marketing). If done right, this will get you some sales and boost your confidence markedly.
2. Submitting well-crafted and powerful short stories or other probably unpaid but brilliantly written items of your work to appropriate publications which are read by more of your selected audience (we’re calling these Activation Offers because they ‘activate’ readers, prompting them to watch out for your name).
3. Making a Portal Product — your flagship introductory work — available at a reasonable price through your website in exchange for buyers’ email addresses.
You need those email addresses because of the key maxim we mentioned last time:
A strategic email marketing plan that brings leads and buyers back to offers and content again and again is the most effective way to double purchase frequency.
You need lots of addresses; you need lots of emails going out to those addresses.
But you don’t want these emails to be just random ‘spam’.
Every email you send out needs to accomplish at least one of these five key functions:
1. It needs to effectively communicate who you are and what exactly you do.
2. It needs to engage the reader, stimulating them to buy.
3. It needs to upsell the reader, or provide an opportunity for the reader to buy more.
4. It needs to find out more about what the reader wants from you.
5. It needs to resurrect cold readers.
You probably didn’t realise that these functions are what competent marketers are using your email address for.
Sequence of Emails
If you have an email address list, chances are that you either haven’t used it much or, if you have, you have sent out fairly random emails containing perhaps your latest news or vague attempts to sell your books. Furthermore, it’s even more likely that you have had zero response to your email marketing and decided that ‘It doesn’t work’.
Don’t worry — that’s exactly how 99% of the people who have accumulated email addresses use them. And they all fail to get results too.
But sharp marketers, who understand what they’re doing, use email marketing to great effect, and this is how.
There’s a sequence to emailing people which will probably make perfect sense to you after you’ve read the next sentence:
People don’t buy until they’re engaged, and they don’t engage until they know you and what you stand for.
As you can see, this isn’t something magical or mystical: it makes logical sense. If you don’t believe it, look at yourself as an example: the chances of you engaging in any meaningful way with a total stranger are a little limited until you know something about them and what they do — and the chances of you buying anything from them are even more remote until you have so engaged.
Your prospect won’t be interested in what you have to offer until they are introduced to you and your work. And they won’t part with any money and become a paying customer until they are at least a little bit interested.
The sequence goes Introduction — Engagement — Sell.
Obvious really. But so many people try to ‘jump the gun’ and go straight to Sell.
The way to maximise your income as a writer through email marketing is to send out emails with purpose, moving your prospects from one stage to the next.
Step One: Introduce Yourself — But to the Right People
Teach your new prospect about you and your writing — but make sure that they are a ‘warm prospect’ first.
To get their email address you have probably already sold them your Portal Product. They may or may not have read it, but the fact that they even bought it indicates that they are ‘warm’ to what else you might have to say. If they have read your book, they have some inkling of the answers to the following, but probably need to be reminded; if they haven’t read it, you can prompt them to do so by giving them short answers to these key questions:
Who are you? (What’s your personal story as a writer?)
What do you stand for? (What themes and genres does your work touch upon?)
Why are you different? (What makes your fiction stand out from the rest?)
What should they expect from you? (Have you written just the one book? Or are there more stories around?)
How often? (Are you working on other books? Is there a series ongoing?)
What should they do next? (Tell them what you think they need to do, and provide a link.)
Your new prospect will only receive this initial email once.
It’s very important to remember that this email is going to someone who is already a ‘warm prospect’. You would not send this email to anyone from a ‘cold’ list — i.e. a list of random names. These emails only get sent to people who have ready bought something from you.
Because otherwise why on earth should a complete stranger pay attention to you?
What happens if you send these questions out to random names?
Years ago, when I tried selling my books on the internet, I would set up a ‘stall’ (my website or page) and then watch as people filed by, occasionally clicking and liking, but never, ever buying. I theorised that I wasn’t getting enough sales because I wasn’t reaching enough people — I bet you have reached a similar conclusion, haven’t you? — so I joined as many groups as I could which didn’t object to ‘spam’ and started advertising my book regularly, cycling through these groups in a patterned ‘campaign’, and expecting results.
What were those results?
Zero sales. Over months, even a year.
I even spent money on the much-vaunted Facebook ads, enticed by the promise of reaching an algorithm-driven ‘correct public’.
Albert Einstein is supposed to have said ‘Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.’ (There’s some doubt over whether he actually said that or not, as you can read here if you wish to be distracted.) Whoever said it, the point was clear to me back then: something wasn’t working.
So I started to research attention — what it was, and how to attract it.
Hence this series on marketing — and the firm knowledge that sending these emails to strangers is a complete waste of time.
Here’s an example, though, of an email you might send to a ‘warm prospect’ to introduce (or reintroduce) yourself…
I hope you enjoyed my book Slam Bam Wham, the story of an alien invasion gone badly wrong (from the point of view of the aliens). I’m Alan Wusgrove, the writer who managed to convince you to buy my book, and who has been celebrating ever since.
I’ve been told my brand of humorous science fiction stands out from other books because it manages to make you laugh and cry at the same time — was this true for you?
Anyway, this email is just to remind you that I have written more than just the one book. Slam Bam Wham was the first of my Aliens Go Wild series which you can read more about here (insert link).
If you’re not quite ready to get other books from me, you can sign up for news about what’s coming up in the future here (another link).
That’s the end of the first email.
If your recipient reader read your book, chances are he or she will follow up and at least connect up by using your links; if they didn’t, you’ve probably prompted them to take another look. Either way, they have now been introduced to you again. In fact, if you take the above email apart, it has covered most of the key functions mentioned above: it’s effectively communicated who you are and what exactly you do; it engages the reader, stimulating them to buy; it upsells the reader, or provides an opportunity for the reader to buy more; and, if the reader has gone ‘cold’, it may have gone some way towards ‘resurrecting’ them.
Every sentence in the above email was designed to teach the reader what ‘Alan Wusgrove’ is about.
You might find that a single indoctrination email is sufficient — but it’s more likely it will be more effective as part of a series.
Here’s the second email from Alan…
I noticed you purchased my book Slam Bam Wham, the story of an alien invasion gone badly wrong (from the point of view of the aliens).
If you have a second, I’d love to know why you bought the book: what attracted you to it? And what did you think of it?
Thanks for being part of the Wusgrove readership. I’m glad you’re on board!
p.s. If you’d like to answer a bonus question: What other books would you like me to write? Thanks!
Notice how he asks the reader to engage with his email by replying back.
Engagement is important and part of Step Two.