Marketing for authors: ten reasons to build your fan base with Mailchimp.
Marketing for authors is a constant process, and many efforts, like ads, have debatable impact–but not capturing the ongoing commitment of your true fans. In my minibook on author platformbuilding I recommend gathering an email list of “Book Lovers.” These are hard-core fans of your work, people who are chomping at the bit for your next ass-kicking mystery (or whatever).
But how? I knew it was a good idea to develop a way to communicate directly with those folks, so a year before my first book came out, I began copying emails from the comments left on my blog (I didn’t know this wasn’t kosher at the time) work contacts, my kids’ friends parents, etc- but I didn’t know what to do next.
One day I got an email from another author friend and she had done such a beautiful branded email announcement that I searched all over and found the company she used right at the bottom of the page. (Duh! But that’s often how I roll with techie things)
Mailchimp is the bomb diggity! It’s the best thing since Twitter for authors, even technophobes like myself. Oh, how I love this program, and here’s why:
- It’s FREE! (unless you go above 2,000 subscribers, then it’s cheap. Who has 2,000 subscribers, anyway? I can only dream)
- Using your chosen cover art and color scheme matching by creating a template, you can achieve a super-professional, good looking, “branded” email that fans will recognize at a glance. (full disclosure—my webgal did this for me. She matched my website, Twitter, and Mailchimp template. Pay for this. It’s worth it, and it’s a one-time expense!)
- Mailchimp has a widget that can be embedded into your blog so that people subscribe to email updates and get automatically added to a chosen list. (Again, my webgal did this, but she gave me the name of the widget, which is GravityForms. It’s on their website, so you DIY peeps can DIY)
- It’s got a cute little monkey dude who semi-mocks you as you muddle through doing what you have to do. This helps me not take it too seriously.
- It’s truly user-friendly. I keep saying how non-techie I am, and I was able to import my entire list of Gmail contacts and Hotmail contacts I’d been hoarding into Mailchimp, and develop different email lists without a professional Lamaze-coaching me.
- Mailchimp breaks down what happens after every email campaign—how many people opened the email, how many forwarded it, how many unsubscribed from your “awesome newsflash” spam, how many tweeted it out (links embedded already) FB liked it (also already embedded) and so much more.
- It compares your results with industry standards! I found it discouraging about half my subscribers didn’t open the email, until I found out that most campaigns only have a 20% open rate.
- It helps you analyze what might have helped one campaign over another by creating a “Master Campaign List” in which you can look at your wording, who opened what, etc.
- Mailchimp respects spam laws—almost to a fault. It requires you to click ‘Yes’ twice that you have subscriber consent when manually inputting any new email address. If anyone dislikes the email and complains (which they can do with a click of a button) it sends you a castigating email and threatens to cut you off from future use. (I did get one of these, because I had put the same person in twice at different email addresses. Oops! I’m scared straight!)
- You can configure different lists within Mailchimp (I have a sublist of Book Reviewers within my Book Lovers list) and it can autosend newsletters to different sublists on a preset schedule.
People say email is dead. I find that just as erroneous as saying print books are dead! Many people still rely primarily on email to communicate, and Mailchimp is the easiest, most attractive, cost-effective program I’ve found to develop your fan list.
(Oh, and I am NOT receiving any sort of compensation from Mailchimp by writing this blog post. I know how your skeptical little writer-minds work.)
If you aren’t developing an email fan list, why not?