When thinking of marketing your books in this new pandemic era don't overlook the power of email marketing. However, there are some dos and don'ts.
Email marketing is not the same as spam. You aren't sending out emails to random strangers. You are sending emails to fans of your books who have signed up for your updates.
So, the first "do" is to gather email addresses. How? We all have an author website (if not, we will discuss the importance of one in another tip newsletter). On your homepage why not put a sign up "form" for your newsletters? Many website building programs have the ability for viewers to do this. You need only their name and email address. Be sure to make it clear they are signing up for your email newsletter.
Next, you will want to find an email marketing service where you can produce and email your newsletter. I have found six free* platforms. (*some of them have limits to their free services and you can pay for more options)
The Six Free Email Marketing Services are:
1. MailChimp (www.mailchimp.com) - This is the service that we use for our newsletters and such. Their free plan lets you have up to 2000 subscribers and up to 12000 emails a month before you need to subscribe. It offers both email templates and the ability to create your own. You can also create a subscribe link for your website to collect email addresses.
2. TinyLetter (www.tinyletter.com) - This service is brought to you by the same people behind MailChimp. It is completely free. It offers a simple email format. Also, the tools to collect subscriber email addresses and confirm they want to sign up for your newsletter.
3. sendinblue (www.sendinblue.com) - This one lets you send up to 9000 emails per month, access to their email template designer, and unlimited subscribers/contacts. It also offers triggered campaigns, retargeting functions, send time optimization (which sends your email at the best time of the day), and more. However, you do not have access to custom branding with the free service.
4. Constant Contact (www.constantcontact.com) - While this service offers professional-looking templates, opt-in forms, an extensive online library of marketing tips & strategies, this service is only free during the 60 day trial period. If you continue with them, the lowest monthly fee is $20 giving you unlimited emails, branding and customizable templates, and more.
5. ConvertKit (www.app.convertkit.com) - With their free service, you get to have up to 1000 subscribers, unlimited email broadcasts, WordPress plugin for forms (including pop-ups), and more. Once you exceed 1000 subscribers their next plan starts at $49 per month.
6. MailerLite (www.mailerlite.com) - this service is free up to 1000 subscribers and up to 12,000 emails per month. It has a drag-and-drop editor, forms, list segmentation, and automation. The downside is under the free plan you do not have access to their newsletter templates and the MailerLite logo is included in the footer of every email. The upside is their paid plan giving you access to templates and removal of the MailerLite logo starts at $10 per month and gives you unlimited emails.
Of course you may still opt to skip all of these and just use your current email system. That's where you run into issues and some don'ts.
The first issue is in the To address line. Do NOT list everyone's email address. Use the bcc line if sending to more than one recipient. If you do not, you may be opening yourself up to legal issues regarding privacy on the part of the recipient. Not everyone wants their email address broadcast to the world.
Another issue is when sending to more than one recipient, some email systems are designed to read it as "spam" and therefore the person you intend to view your newsletter may never see it.
These are two reasons I would recommend one of the above email marketing services. The last thing we want to do is turn a fan into a foe.