Friday, May 11, 2012

Why You Need to Produce Email Newsletters by Jennifer Hudson Taylor

If you're already actively promoting yourself through blogging and social media sites, you may be wondering why you need to provide a separate newsletter as well. One of the main reasons is because it provides one of the best avenues for direct access and target marketing.

While people on social media sites have direct access to you by commenting on your posts and sending you direct messages, they often don't take advantage of it. Your news posts roll on and off their newsfeeds so fast that they may never see some of your news and announcements. You can't send all of them a direct message or it will be considered spam, and doing this could get your account suspended.

People use social media in varying ways. Some hop on and check it several times a day, while others once a day, and some may go several days between logging on. Just because you have a number of friends and likes doesn't mean they are interested in YOU and what you have to offer, instead many are hoping you are interested in THEM and what they have to offer. Others are looking for friends, but they may not have an interest in what you do or your marketing books to them.

Providing a newsletter, whether monthly or quarterly, gives you tangible names and emails of people who have an interest in what you're providing--the types of books you write. If they weren't interested, they would not opt-in to receive your email newsletters, or if they are already readers, they wouldn't be buying your books. This is your target audience. Your newsletter is delivered directly into their inbox and they aren't likely to miss it as they would on a social media site. It feels more personal when they have something delivered to them and they don't have to go looking for it or stumble upon it.

A social media post is only limited to 140 characters on Twitter and a bit more on Facebook. You can post 1,000 - 2,000 words in an email newsletter, including photos and videos. There are few limitations. It will sit in a person's inbox until they have time to read it in detail, after the kids go to bed, early in the morning when getting their coffee and checking their email, or after they return from vacation. The sense of urgency isn't as demanding as it is with social media. I hate it when I see something on someone's feed, and I don't have time to respond or read it. Later on, I'm forced to go digging for it on their timeline and by then I may not find it.

Blogging is a better advantage in being able to post as many words and images as you want, but people either have to remember to return to your site, bookmark it, or subscribe to it on a reader feed or have it delivered to their inbox. This is more like receiving an email newsletter, but some you don't necessarily know who they are or how often they read your blog posts.

If you use an email newsletter service, you have a general idea of who is receiving it--at least their name and email address. Also, you can see how many people click to view it, which links they click on, how many subscribe and unsubscribe each month. You can view an overall report on what topics and posts appeal to people the most and target future topics accordingly.

Next week, I'll compare and discuss the advantages and disadvantages between using email newsletter services such as Constant Contact, Vertical Response, and MailChimp.

In the meantime, do you already send out an email newsletter? What is your experience? What would you advise to someone who is considering starting an email newsletter?


6 comments:

Amy Alessio said...

This is a great post, Jennifer.

I do have an email newsletter from YMLP and find it does result in more of my book sales, but mainly I do it to send out my presentation schedule and some bonus recipes and craft ideas. I have a sign up sheet at my vintage shows and have collected almost 600 names. I need to do it more often - I believe it's about quarterly right now.

Patty Wysong said...

This is about the third or fourth time this is coming on my radar and I keep trying to ignore it. A newsletter is something that sends me running scared...my parents were missionaries so I know all about the dread that goes into a newsletter and trying to get one written.

I get what you mean about the social networking and the blogging but what are things to include in a newsletter?

Are they needed for unpubbed writers?

How about teaming up with a couple other like-minded writers for a joint newsletter, which is something a few of us have tossed around?

Cecelia Dowdy said...

I have an email newsletter. However, I've found that only about 33% of the subscribers actually open it. I don't send it out often - the reason why I don't send it is that I blog so much that a regular newsletter seems unnecessary. I do make sure I send out the newsletter whenever I have a new release.

Author Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

Amy, I agree that it does help generate book sales when you have a new release and you drop it right into the mail boxes of your target audience. I think quarterly is a good frequency. Sending it too often can result in unscribes.

Author Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

Patty,

Some people wait until they are published, but I think you're better off going ahead and building subscribers as it will be something positive on your proposal to agents and editors when you do try to get published.

If you're unpubbed right now, you could try to post new releases, and related content in the niche area you're writing and gain targeted readers that way.

I think teaming up with others is a great idea.

Author Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

Celia,

A 33% open rate is about average. Try playing with the subject lines you're using. Something like Author Smith's Spring Newsletter isn't going to catch people's attention, so try diversifying it and see if it makes a difference.

I agree, you don't want to provide a newsletter that is a duplicate of what you have already blogged about. You could save a few posts for your quarterly newsletter and releases to be sure to give readers something extra that they can't get on your blog or social media pages. Sometimes you can hold a special contest just for newsletter subscribers.