November 3, 2016

Self Publishing? What’s Your Newsletter Plan? — Part Four

Stick figure at a chalkboard with text: What's Your Newsletter Plan?

It’s time once again for my monthly guest post over at Janice Hardy’s Fiction University. We’ve been exploring the choices for what path we want to follow in our indie publishing career, and today, we’re continuing to dig deeper into how to implement our chosen path.

My series about Indie Publishing Paths at Fiction University has highlighted some of the choices we have to make and given us a few guidelines.

We first discussed how we need to know our goals because that will help us make the best decisions for us and adapt as the industry changes. Depending on our priorities, we might make different choices for distribution, release schedules, or pricing, which I focused on in the first segment of the series, calling them the where, when, and how much of our decision process.

The second segment of my series focused on how to keep our readers after they finish our book:

We’re currently exploring the specifics of one of the options mentioned in Part One of the Reader Retention Plan above, which is to communicate with our readers via a newsletter. So far, we’ve covered:

Janice Hardy's Fiction University banner

As we mentioned last time, we could have all the subscribers in the world and still struggle with an ineffective newsletter because what matters is the number of newsletters that are opened and read. And of course the most effective newsletter is one that gets subscribers to take action. *smile*

Obviously, if our subscribers delete our emails unread or just let them sit in a “junk” email inbox, our message isn’t being heard, Less obviously, but still importantly, we want our subscribers engaging with our newsletters.

We want them clicking our buy links, sharing our work with others, helping us promote our work, reviewing our books, etc. But if the content we send is boring and unengaging, they’ll get used to skimming and deleting (assuming they read it at all).

Instead, we want our content to get them used to the opposite. We want them used to keeping an eye open for interesting things to click and do.

Last time here, we talked about open rate, the percentage of subscribers who open our email. This concept of engagement refers to click rate, the percentage of subscribers who click on something in our email.

Just like with open rate, no one can agree on what click rates “should” be, but obviously, higher is better. Last time, we gave the example of needing 100 people to take action for a promotion to work, and that’s where engaged subscribers come into play.

If we have super-engaged subscribers, we might need only several hundred of them for 100 to take action. If we don’t have engaged subscribers, we might needs tens of thousands of them to reach that point of 100 clicks.

As we’ve said before, our different goals and philosophies on gathering subscribers can affect our rate, but chances are that we’d like to improve our click rate no matter what. For that, we can try a couple of different subscriber engagement strategies.

In this month’s post at Fiction University, I’m exploring our options—including one that might seem counter-intuitive—for how to encourage our subscribers to take action on our emails.

I’ll be honest and admit that I’m not great at this aspect of newsletters. But at least we can all learn together how we can improve. *smile*

I hope you’ll join me at Fiction University for this month’s post!

If you have a newsletter, do you check your open or click rates? Have you seen any strategies that work or don’t work for your subscribers? What strategies have you used to encourage subscribers to click links in your messages? Do you have insights into other strategies or options?

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Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Beara

I spend far more time glancing at and deleting newsletters than I would like. But I have been informed that if newsletters are deleted unread, the mail servers can think they are spam and block the sender. I don’t want that to happen to anyone.
Everyone please stop sending me ads every week! One mail a month might just get read. A useful – to me – newsletter such as Jami’s is far more likely to be read than something asking me to like your facebook or Amazon page. I had 225 mails today. Who has time?

Laurie Evans

Email is my nemesis, too…so I’m having a very hard time with my author newsletter. I send it twice a month, and I cringe every time I send one. I have some very engaged readers, and few unsubscribes…but to me, newsletters are the worst part of marketing.

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