In 2018, the ‘Office for National Statistics’ reported that 82% of adults say their most frequent use of the web is for email services, a 3% growth from 2016. It is also estimated over one-hundred billion emails are sent daily.
 
As a book marketer, the key to a successful email campaign is relevance within your targeted readership. Creating quality content consistently within your emails, appropriate to your mailing list, is a sure-fire way to increase open rates.
 

Increasing Open and Click-Through Rates

So, what is an open rate?
 
Simply put, the percentage of people who open your email.
 
A click-through rate?
 
The percentage of people that click links within your emails.
 
The most successful way of increasing open and click-through rates on your emails is by adding value and relevant information, not just selling.
 
I believe all writers should create some sort of monthly newsletter. These should be tailored for your readership but including news about your books, user-generated content from fans, as well as valuable information offering advice and help is a good place to start. Furthermore, if a user consistently sees an email from you, they are likely to open it eventually. This is why newsletters can help build authority within your readership and boost open rates.
 
Click-through rates can be increased by keeping things simple. Try to include only one link within your email, making it clear to your audience where they are to click and avoiding a ‘spam’ like email. Consider using a ‘call-to-action’ button to also increase click-through rates.
 
Email management systems such as MailChimp (https://mailchimp.com/), allow you to determine the most effective strategic options for your campaign. For example, you could compare different types of ‘subject lines’ and gauge, which had the better open and click-through rates.
 

Subject Lines

Enticing subject lines are a great way to boost open rates.
 
Subject Lines
 
The 2018 Email Marketing Industry Census (https://uplandsoftware.com/adestra/resources/report/2018-email-marketing-industry-census/), tracked over 900 million emails and came to the following conclusion about subject lines:
 
  • Subject lines fewer than 10 characters had an open rate of 58%.
  • Subject lines fewer than 49 characters tested well.
  • Subject lines more than 70 characters tested most beneficial to engage readers into opening the email.
 
Just think back to Barack Obama’s 2007/2008 political campaign. Anyone on the former president’s mailing list would have received emails with the subject lines, ‘Hey’ ‘Wow’ & ‘Join me for dinner?’. These engaging subject lines helped raise $690 million for Obama’s fundraiser.
 
In order to improve your open rate, subject lines must:
 
  • Spark curiosity.
  • Create a sense of urgency.
  • Include personalization.
  • Include recent trends and relevant information.
 
A reader’s inbox may be full of emails; make sure yours is different from the rest.
 
By visiting Subjectline (https://www.subjectline.com/), you are able to check your subject line copy and receive improvements and suggestions.

This article provides a list of tools you can use to optimize your title: https://blog.hubspot.com/sales/subject-line-tester
 

Avoid Spamming

Ideally, you want to avoid users ending up on your mailing list mistakenly. Ensure it is clear on your website or wherever your email capture form may be, what users are signing up for.
 
Trust is a significant part of book marketing. Coming across ‘spammy’ can seriously harm your reputation as an author. Spamming a reader’s inbox with sales emails is a quick way to lose a reader’s trust.
 
Always include a subject line and check emails for corrupted links; these are two major culprits for raising the spam alarm. As well as this, you should check your email for keywords. Some keywords will suggest the email is spam, and the email provider won’t allow the email to be opened. Visit Barracuda Reputation Block List (https://www.barracudacentral.org/) to find out more.
 
By creating a schedule, you will avoid repeatably sending similar emails day after day. This isn’t especially important when it comes to sales emails. Sales emails should be scarce, giving them more value when they do turn up in the reader’s email inbox.
 
There are services out there to help you schedule and plan email campaigns. Active Campaign (https://www.activecampaign.com/) can not only help you plan emails, enhancing the reader’s experience, but can also automate your whole email campaign.  
 
Spam Email
 

Personalization

I mentioned before the power of personalization in subject lines; this is also apparent when it comes to the rest of the email.
 
The best email campaigns from a book marketer are likely to be those that have been able to collect data over a period of time — allowing the sender to personalize the emails with names and content relevant to the receiver.
 
Here are some types of personalization within email campaigns:
 
  • Format Optimization: Text or HTML, which is personalized for the receiver.
  • Personal Salutation: ‘Dear Bob’.
  • Segmented Content: Content sent to receiver dependent on their behavior and preferences.
  • One-to-One: Unique, dynamic email between writer and receiver.
 
Engagement between sender and receiver drives the success of email campaigns. Members of your mailing list want to feel special, part of a V.I.P club. Personalization is one way of doing this, another giving away exclusive gifts. Create a free short story and send it to your mailing list. Use personal salutation on the email with the PDF attached, and the receiver will quickly warm to yourself and your writing.
 
Your mailing list will have an array of readers at different paths of their journey to purchase. Some will have already read your book, others debating buying it, some who are past readers LINK. It is said that a satisfied customer can quickly become dissatisfied email subscribers. 

Studies show a 40% open rate with post-purchase emails and 0.4% unsubscribe rate from users. Offer unique content that differentiates; this way you will stay relevant and won’t lose your readers’ interest.
 

Final Thoughts

Email marketing for authors is all about finding the perfect balance between informing and selling to your readership. There are many services and products out there to make your life as a book marketer easier.
 
As you become more experienced, you should consider segmenting your mailing list into categories. Analyze your list and create a database in which you can group readers depending on different factors. One factor may be if they’ve purchased your book. Another idea would be segmenting depending on users click and open rates. This way, you would be able to send emails with different subject lines and content to different targeted audiences.