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Email Lists Made Easy by Kristen Oliphant

Book Review | Email Lists Made Easy by Kristen Oliphant

Email Lists Made Easy by Kristen Oliphant is a short and easy to read yet comprehensive introduction to the importance of email lists for authors. In the book, Oliphant takes readers through:

  • Why we should have an email list (because it’s OURS).
  • Choosing an email service. She recommends ConvertKit, but I think MailChimp or MailerLite are sufficient for most authors.
  • Optimizing your signup (give people an incentive to share their email address).
  • Using autoresponders for onboarding.
  • Creating content that will give people a reason to open and read your emails, and getting the timing right (i.e. how often you send emails).
  • Increasing engagement, including learning what not to do.
  • Growing your list by getting traffic to your content.
  • Creating freebies and content upgrades that relate to your other content.
  • Keeping your list clean.
  • Planning autoresponders.

As I write this, I’ve just signed up for a new email list because I was interested in the freebie. They sent me six emails in the first fifteen minutes … including three sales emails. People, that is the wrong way to do onboarding and creating content.

One lightbulb moment for me was this quote from ConvertKit:

All email marketing providers determine opens based on whether or not a 1px transparent image was loaded in the email.

I don’t know about you, but my iPhone doesn’t automatically open images. That means anything I read on the iPhone isn’t tracked as an open unless I also click to download the images. If you’re concerned about your online privacy, then reading on a mobile device might be a good idea.

As a list owner, it does mean that your mailing list provider might be understating your open rate … unless you can persuade readers to click a link or download the images, so their open is tracked.

Kristen Oliphant on social media:

To sum up a social media strategy: Consider what platforms you want to utilize and then rock those platforms. Post new content. Post links to your older content. Share your work. Period. Note: Sharing links to Amazon over and over is not a social media strategy.

Top Tips

  • Make sure the email comes from you (e.g. iola@ iolagoulton.com).
  • Ask questions (and respond).
  • Use a plugin like What Would Seth Godin Do or Bottom of Every Post to add a subscription signup request (I use Bloom from Elegant Themes).
  • Download the CSV file of your email list every month (to provide a backup).
  • Try something new every few months.

Finally, she points out that people unsubscribing isn’t the worst thing. The worst thing is deleting without reading (or adding your email address to a service like Unroll.me).

The one possible complaint is that this book was published in 2016 (and hasn’t been updated as far as I can tell). That means it doesn’t discuss GDPR, and autoresponders are now free with MailChimp, as are landing pages and signup forms.

If you already have a mailing list, then it’s possible you already know most of what Oliphant covers in this book.

But if the whole ideas of mailing lists is new to you, then Email Lists Made Easy is a great introduction.

About Email Lists Made Easy

Email is the most powerful tool authors and bloggers can use. Period. This is THE book that authors and bloggers need to make the most of email marketing.
Email Lists Made Easy for Writers and Bloggers is the missing piece to get your list on lock. Far from a boring read on “email marketing,” it will speak in terms that writers and bloggers understand.

Personal Connection – Email is far more personal that any other social connection you can have with your followers. Learn to harness that power.
Permanent Connection – You can literally download your subscribers’ emails and hold them in your hand. Try doing that with Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

Powerful Connection – The ROI of email beats the pants off anything else you’ll try. A 2016 study from Campaign Monitor found that for every $1 you spend, you’ll get $44 back.

Get specific training on how to create and grow an effective list, from that very first signup form to more advanced tools like autoresponders series. With a free workbook you can download upon purchase, this book will be more than just ideas. It will be a practical guide that will help you learn to love (and get the most from) your email list.

Plus, you’ll also get a glossary of terms you need to know and a section with the most frequently asked questions about email lists. The accompanying workbook also includes a checklist for setting up your list so that you won’t miss an important piece.

No one ever says they are glad they waited to start their list. Let your email list work for you. Starting … NOW.

Find Email Lists Made Easy online at:

Amazon US | Amazon AU | Goodreads

You can read the opening to Email Lists Made Easy below:

Email Marketing

Email Marketing: 5 Lessons Learned from Signing up to 20+ Author Newsletters

I recently undertook a marketing research exercise—I signed up to the mailing lists of around twenty Christian authors through a multi-author online giveaway to find out what makes a good email. The emails I received from the participating authors ranged in quality and effectiveness from great to illegal.

Here are the five key lessons I learned reading emails from over twenty authors:

1. Use a Mailing List Provider

Email marketing in the USA is controlled by the CAN-SPAM Act (that’s the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act. Isn’t it great that marketing is placed on the same level as porn?). Yes, the CAN-SPAM Act is American and I’m not. It still applies to anyone with Americans on their email list.

The Act has several requirements, including:

  • You must have your full name and physical address in the email
  • You must provide a clear method to unsubscribe
  • You can only email people who have consented to receiving your emails
  • You must not share personal data such as email addresses with other people without permission

One author emailed me and 218 other people using CC. I now have their personal email addresses … and they have mine. This clearly contravenes the CAN-SPAM Act (the giveaway promoter assures me the offending author will be getting an email to “discuss” this).

Using a reputable mailing list provider will help ensure you don’t break the law by requiring you to include necessary information such as a name and address, and an unsubscribe option. It will also help your mail delivery rates, as mail from a personal Gmail or Yahoo account is more likely to end up in the recipient’s spam folder).

Note that even if you use a mailing list provider you still can’t add people to your mailing list without their permission (as has also happened to me this week, and as I have seen recommended by a self-proclaimed marketing “expert”). Most recommend a double opt-in, which both complies with the law, and helps ensure your mailing list isn’t filled with spam bots.

2. Introduce Yourself

The best emails started with an introduction to the author by name, and a reminder of how I subscribed to their email list (through the giveaway, in case I’d forgotten). This is good email list practice, as it helps cut down on spam complaints. It’s also good business practice, because you want subscribers to learn to recognise your name over time and get into the habit of opening your emails.

I got a couple of emails where I couldn’t work out who sent them. The sender was an email list provider, they didn’t introduce themselves, and the signoff at the bottom of the email was from a nickname (e.g. Kath), not from the author name. How can you convert subscribers into buyers if they don’t know who you are?

3. Keep the Presentation Professional

Some of the emails I received were plain text. These were plain and functional, but there was nothing wrong with them. Most used customised templates with branded headers and other images. I like pretty things and I’m interested in visual branding, so I liked these branded newsletters both for the content and for professional delivery.

But some emails were a horrible mix of plain text and colours straight out of the 1980’s. Why use plain black text when there is red and green and blue? In consecutive paragraphs? It looked like the newsletter equivalent of the recent job advertisement for a Graphic Designer for the City of Los Angeles.

Advertisement for Graphic Designer

4. Give Permission to Unsubscribe

You have to offer the option to unsubscribe, but don’t hide it at the bottom of the email. Offer the option in the middle of the email—or even at the top, right under the introduction. Not everyone who signed up for your email list actually wants to be on it. They may have signed up to all the lists because they thought it increased their chances of winning (it doesn’t). They may not have intended to sign up to all the lists. Or they may be conducting marketing research into email list best practice …

While most mailing list providers are free to begin with, you will have to start paying at some point. You don’t want to be paying for people who actually don’t want to be on your mailing list, so it’s better to say goodbye gracefully.

5. Offer a Subscriber Incentive

The better authors offered some kind of free downloadable gift in their introductory email. In fact, after getting a dozen or so emails with a free offer, the few that didn’t offer anything stood out in the wrong way.

Why offer a gift that appeals to your target readers?

  • It helps readers decide whether they like you as an author
  • It leverages the principle of reciprocity
  • It’s not asking for a sale

Some authors offer a free download of the opening chapters of their books. This sounds nice, but it’s not really an incentive—I can get that from Amazon or other online retailer. I’m also not a fan of gifts that don’t relate to your books. A pretty booklet with Bible verse memes is more appropriate for a devotional or inspirational non-fiction author than a fiction author.

Further Information

If you’re looking for further information on email lists, I recommend you read Email Lists Made Easy for Writers and Bloggers by Kristen Oliphant. It’s excellent, because it’s realistic, not the get-rich-quick-quick-quick some experts seem to sell. She also has a free downloadable workbook to help you work through some of the major decisions.

Note that since Email Lists Made Easy was published, MailChimp has added autoresponders to their free plan (MailChimp is free for up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails a month). Also, she doesn’t mention MailerLite an email provider. I know several authors who use and recommend MailerLite for the cheaper prices, ease of use, and excellent customer service.

Those are my five lessons learned from reading several dozen emails from over twenty authors. What tips do you have to add?

Best of the Blogs

Christian Editing Services | Best of the Blogs | 4 November 2017

The best of the blogs: must-read posts on writing, editing, publishing, and marketing your books, featuring Anne Greenwood Brown, Parul MacDonald, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Lisa Hall-Wilson, and Kristen Oliphant

Writing

Point of View

Anne Greenwood Brown visits Writers Digest with an excellent post on point of view, author intrusion, and the importance of showing the story through your character’s eyes.

Subtext

Lisa Hall-Wilson visits Jami Gold’s blog to share about The Hidden Messages in Deep Point of View and Subtext. This is important: as a reader, subtext is what differentiates a so-so novel from a great novel.

Publishing

Choosing a Publishers

Writer Unboxed have a fascinating post from editor Parul MacDonald on the relative advantages and disadvantages of working with small publisher vs a big publisher. What interests me most is how much of a book’s success rests on the marketing, and how even the “experts” can get things wrong when making decisions outside their area of expertise.

Copyright

One day they’ll invent calorie-free chocolate, ice cream, and fried food. On that day, Kristine Kathryn Rusch will be able to stop blogging, because we’ll be living in some kind of fantasy utopia where nothing ever goes wrong. Until then, KKR will be writing and publishing blog posts on the myriad ways agents, publishers, and others find to rip authors off.

This week, it’s unethical companies or studios offering an option on your book then registering the copyright. This creates confusion over who owns the copyright … and who can therefore benefit from sales of the book (or movie or TV series).

Long story short: don’t sign an option agreement until you’ve read ALL KKR’s blog posts on copyright, and until a competent entertainment lawyer has read the contract.

Marketing

MailChimp

If you use MailChimp as your email provider, you need to check out this post from Kristen Oliphant, then get on over to MailChimp to change your settings back to double opt in. There should be a notification from MailChimp when you log in.

Social Media

Litsy

Social media is about connecting with readers, not selling to them. One new(ish) app for booklovers is Litsy—think of it as Instagram meets Goodreads. I’ve been on Litsy for a while, but haven’t really worked it out. Fortunately, Raimey Gallant has a great post this week with 33 Pro Litsy Tips from Fellow Bookworms.

If you sign up, you can find me at @iolagoulton. Yes, I follow back! Do you have to be on Litsy? Of course not. But you might want to sign up using your Twitter/Instagram name just so you have the same user name on all three platforms.

That’s all for this week! What’s the best or most interesting post you’ve read this week?