Over the last year, I’ve experimented with various ways to grow my mailing list subscribers. I’m careful to separate my organic subscribers from those gained via contests, group promotions, and other methods.
For the purposes of this post, I’m defining an organic mailing list subscriber as someone who discovers my books on a store, reads one, and clicks on a link within one of my ebooks to sign up for my newslet
ter. I also include people who subscribe via my website sign-up form in the organic subscriber list, because I assume that they looked up my website after reading one of my books. This isn’t an exact science, but that’s how I’m currently working my lists.
In general, I’ve found organic subscribers to be the most valuable to me in terms of their click rate on buy links for my full-priced books. However, contest subscribers are definitely worth having, but I’ll get to them in the next post.
Here are eight tips based on changes I’ve implemented that have helped me to increase my organic subscriber list from 2,000 to 8,000 in under a year. Most of them are of the “set it and forget” variety.
- Offer a free story to subscribers. Don’t be afraid to use language like “Free starter library” if you have a couple of stories to offer them. It ups the perceived value of your offering.
- Make life easy on yourself by using a digital download service to distribute your newsletter freebie. Instafreebie’s free plan is one option. I currently use Book Funnel to distribute my newsletter freebies. After someone confirms their subscription to my list, they receive a Thank You email a couple of minutes later, and this email includes a Book Funnel download link. Any tech issue a subscriber has is dealt with by Book Funnel’s technical support team. The basic plan is $20 a year. I’m on a slightly higher plan at the moment because I needed it for a group promotion I was in, but most people are going to be fine with the $20/year option starting out.
- People click everywhere! Seriously. You can’t include the link in too many places. I have both a sign-up page and a sidebar sign-up link on my website. On book pages for not-yet-published books, I include a sign-up button instead of a buy-link button so that interested readers can be informed when the book is released. Judging by my website analytics, I get clicks from all over the place.
- Resist the urge to milk potential subscribers for info. Make it both faster and more privacy-friendly by just requiring an email address to sign up. A lot of people think twice before giving their name. Don’t give them any reason to hesitate.
- Include an attractive and clickable graphic in your ebooks. Pictures draw the eye and make people pay attention to your offer. I saw a big increase in sign-ups once I started to do this. It was so marked that I did some split testing and took it out for a while. My sign-ups dropped, so I put the picture back in.
Note: A graphic can potentially increase your delivery fee on Amazon, but there are ways to make this increase minimal. I use a lower quality graphic i
n my Amazon ebooks. On average, it increases my delivery fee by $0.01 per full-length novel, but I’ve found it to be worth it in terms of the increase of mailing list subscribers when the graphic is included.
- Include the sign-up link and graphic at the front of your ebook as well as right after “The End”. I see more sign-ups from the link at the back, but there’s enough action on the front link to make it well worth keeping. An added benefit: the link is visible in the “Look Inside” sample on Amazon.
- Use a redirect link. There are a couple of sound reasons for doing this. If you change your mailing list provider, the links in your already downloaded or purchased books will still work.
- The second reason for using a redirect is the opportunity to make your sign-up link easy to remember. Not all digital readers allow for clickable links, so this trick helps increase the chances that a reader using one of those devices will seek out your mailing list sign-up form when they’re next at their computer. Mine is http://zarakeane.com/newsletter. Super easy to remember.
To create redirects, or evergreen links, you can use a free WordPress plugin like Redirection. Another option is a service like http://smarturl.it. It’s free and easy to use, and it provides neat data.
- Make your sign-up page as enticing as you can. Split test graphics and copy until you feel you’ve hit upon the perfect combination. I’m currently using one of Mailerlite’s new landing page sign-up forms and I love it. It’s based on a template and was easy to set up.
- Run an exclusive serial for your newsletter subscribers. This adds a sense of excitement and ups the value of what you’re offering potential subscribers. Mention the serial on social media, complete with a sign-up link, and create an attractive graphic to put in your ebooks’ backmatter. When I ran a serial, I put back episodes on a password-protected page on my website so that subscribers who signed up after the serial had begun could access back episodes.
I hope you find these tips useful. I’d love to know what methods you’ve found effective in growing your organic subscribers list. Please let me know in the comments. Happy list building!