Seriously. In the last year, BookBub has gone from an experimental tool, to the preferred choice of Indie authors, to a hitmaker, and now the advertisement of choice of the Big 5. Yes, my friends, Dan Brown has a BookBub promo today.
But what is it that allows BookBub to charge 10-50x what other book advertisement services charge? And, even more important, why does it work as well as it does?
The answer to both questions is simple: they have the biggest email list. BookBub has millions of people on its email list. Mysteries alone has over 2.7 Million subscribers to Mysteries alone. That’s a lot of people. And they all get an email, pretty much every day, with book deals.
Now, granted, BookBub’s click to purchase rate is low — less than one percent – but even at their advertised average, 0.011 percent of 2.7 Million is 3,000 books sold. Even if you get half of that, it’s still 1,500 sales. For any author, that is a lot of sales in a single day.
All through email. Not magic. Not voodoo. Just a simple email with a book cover and a reduced price.
The sad part about BookBub is that it’s pretty expensive, and it gets more and more difficult for authors to get one every day.
The great part is that you can collect emails, too. Right now. From your own website.
Now, you probably won’t get 2.7 million subscribers before your next book publishes. But, you might get 1,000. And, unlike BookBub, that 1,000 will all be interested in your next book. Corporate emails may only have a click rate of a percent or less, but individual newsletters tend to do much better — like 10 to 20 times better.
Chances are, having a few hundred people buy your next book on launch day will make a big difference in your sales rankings. Keep it up, and the next book will do even better.
So, how do you go about building that email list?
Here are 5 tips that can help turn visitors into subscribers.
1. Offer Something of Value.
If you want someone to do something, you need to give them a reason to. And, sadly, just getting to know you is not enough of a reason. If you’re a huge author with thousands of fans, that might be enough, but probably not even for them. You need to offer the reader something of value. Something they want, that will motivate them to sign up for your email list.
You’ll see internet marketers everywhere offer free information that solves a problem — an ebook, a worksheet template, a marketing checklist. Something their audience would want enough to stop their day for a minute to fill out a form.
And the same technique works just as well for fiction writers.
With that in mind, what are YOU offering right now? Chances are, you’re offering nothing. You have a form on your site somewhere that says “join my newsletter”. But, what if you offered up a free book? Or a free novella? Something only available, exclusively, via your newsletter? Not something you’ve already got on permafree on Amazon.
Something unique. Something valuable. Something they can ONLY GET FROM YOU.
This is the approach favored by Nick Stephenson, Tim Grahl, David Gaughran, and others. Whether you call it a reader magnet, a buy in, or an incentive — it’s all the same thing. You provide something they want (a book), and they give you something you want (a real email).
2. Be Visible.
Your email request has to be visible. And, not just the request — the value as well. Don’t simply say “give me your email and I’ll give you the book”. You have to show them the offer.
For example, you might use a slide out to ask for a newsletter signup. You can just ask for the email (option A) or you can show the offer (option B), as in these two examples:
Which do you think is more appealing? Which are YOU more likely to act on?
My money is on Option B.
3. Play it Cool.
Remember, you are asking someone to do something. Just like in real life, if you want someone to do something, you need to ask nicely. When you meet a person for the first time, you don’t just go “Blah! Give me your email!” Because, you know, behavior like that would freak them out.
When you ask for something from your reader, don’t have a digital ambush on every page of your site. You have to be nice.
Think more along the lines of a gentle caress than a smack in the face.
This means you need to take it easy with the pop ups. Don’t be full screen and don’t hit them right away. Give them a second to get to know you.
Most slide out and pop up plugins provide settings where you can decide when the message shows, for how long, and what size. Use those settings to make something noticeable, but not aggressive.
When a user first arrives at a site and is immediately hit with a large email form, what do you think their immediate response will be? What would yours be?
I know mine is to click “close.”
It’s not that I don’t care about your or your email list, it’s just that I came to your site to read something, not give up my email. Your pop-up got in the way of me doing what I came to your site to do — so, I closed it.
However, what if your pop-up came well into my time on your site — maybe 50% or 75% of the article length? And, instead of getting in my way, it was over to the side and just showed it’s presence and hung out a bit? That way, I can finish what I came to do, and read over your fine offer.
I got to know you, AND, I got to read your offer without getting annoyed and clicking “close” right away.
If you want someone to do something online, you need to ping them three times in the course of the page/post. That means you need three instances of action: the first introduces the idea, the second reinforces it, and the third is for action.
A great way to do this is the have a button near the top of the page, a slideout/pop-up in the middle, and then a button at the bottom of the post.
They see the first button right off the bat, but probably don’t do anything. They came to read the article, after all.
Then, just past the middle of the post, the slideout happens, with that nice graphic showing the offer again in more detail.
Then, at the end of the post, there is a final Call To Action with an action button or email form. And, when any button is pushed, it takes the reader to a page that, again, shows the offer (so they know they’re in the right place).
5. Confirm and Share.
Once the reader signs up, you need them to help spread the word.
To do that, you thank them for taking the time to join you, assure them their prize is coming, and then ask them to share this great find with their friends.
Many email signup systems provide for share buttons after confirmation, and the good ones also allow you to customize the tweet/post/email. Take the time to do that.
A sample tweet like “I just got a free copy of Superbook by @thisguy #freebook #greatreads”, works perfectly. Hopefully, they will tweet that to their friends, and a few of those friends will see it, come over to your site, get their free book, and share it with their friends.
These tips are based on the actual collection strategy of emails — but a lot relies not just on your methods, but your site’s theme and layout as well. Make sure your theme has a clean layout, that allows you to clearly show prompts to your newsletter. Also, to help direct readers to your site, make sure you have links to your website at the front and back of all of the books you sell.