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Meghan Ward

I'm a freelance writer and book editor represented by Andy Ross of the Andy Ross Literary Agency. You can read an excerpt of my memoir, Paris On Less Than $10,000 A Day, and visit my website for more info about me.

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Email Marketing For Cool People

Today my good friend Alta Peterson over at Alta Peterson Communications has written a wonderful guest post about e-mail marketing. If you think e-mail marketing isn’t for you, think again. Every writer I know uses e-mail marketing once her book comes out to blast an ad with the book cover on the front to all of her contacts. (Don’t have a contact last? Better start building one.) And smart writers use it to more often—quarterly or even monthly—to send a newsletter to their followers. That newsletter could be a blog post or a round-up of best blog posts—whatever you think will interest your readers. But enough from me. Let’s hear what our marketing expert has to say.

Alta Peterson is a marketing and design specialist and web designer and consultant. She has over thirteen years’ experience and helps businesses of all sizes create highly effective communications. She has a degree from the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Minnesota (Go Gophers!), where she studied advertising and marketing. She opened Alta Peterson Communications in 2004. She lives and works in Los Angeles.

One of the best aspects of email marking besides saving trees is measurability. You can see how many people open your messages, and what links caught their interest. This is extremely valuable information you can use to continuously improve your marketing efforts.

I recently attended an email marketing workshop put on by Constant Contact.
Here are some of the rules, guidelines and pointers I  picked up.

1. Most importantly: Don’t be a spammer
People hate spammers, so being perceived as one is clearly bad for business. Plus, some forms of it are illegal. In 2003, Congress passed the THE CAN-SPAM Act, banning some of the most annoyingly egregious forms. Here are some additional guidelines.
There are two types of people you can email:
a. Those who already know who you are.
b. Those who have specifically signed up to receive your messages.
It is considered best practice to send only to people who have expressly opted in. Most businesses send to people who know them already, even if they haven’t opted in. The very best practice is to use a double opt-in.
• Publish “unsubscribe” links that are easy to find on every message.
• Opt-out requests must be honored within 10 days.
• Use accurate and non-misleading subject lines.
Read more about The CAN-SPAM Act.

2. Develop and send quality content, and not too often.
Even if the law doesn’t consider you to be a spammer, your readers will unless you provide them with something useful and interesting.
• Sending messages too frequently will cause people to unsubscribe.
• Take the time to develop quality content for your newsletter and messages.
• A good rule of thumb for content is 80% educational and 20% promotional.
• Reading on the screen is 25% slower than in print. Keep things concise.
• You’ll get more readers by sending your messages between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

3. Grow Your Mailing List
Great content is great, but it doesn’t matter if you’re lacking an up-to-date list of interested contacts.
This advice is similar to all other forms of marketing:
• Include a sign-up form on all pages of your site.
• Tell people about your mailing list on the phone.
• Put a sign-up link in your email signature.
• Use social media to promote mailing-list sign up.

4. Subject Line pointers:
• Don’t use generic, spammy sounding phrases such as “special offer for you.”
• Don’t use dollars signs or other symbols.
• Don’t use CAPS!
• Use 5-8 words and never more than 49 characters.

5. Software
There are several options and levels of pricing, and some even have free versions.
• Mail Chimp has a very nice a clean look and is good if you are doing mainly newsletter type mailings.
• Event Brite has the most sophisticated functionality for organizing events.
• Constant Contact does both but is a bit more complex to manage.

What about you? Have you tried e-mail marketing? Do you receive any e-mail newsletters? Do you have a preference of one company over another? What do you like or dislike about the newsletters you’ve received in the past?

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22 comments to Email Marketing For Cool People

  • Great gopher girl advice is great. In a concise and coherent way, the rules of email marketing for authors are set forth here. Thanks for your research and the clarity of your results. You have saved us all from enduring those terminally dull webinars!

  • Thanks for sharing these tips! I've been thinking about setting up a newsletter, and now I now where to start.

  • Kristan

    I'll be honest, I ignore 99% of promotionals/newsletters that get emailed to me… However, I know that I am NOT the norm, so I've bookmarked this for future reference! I think these are GREAT tips, and definitely things that I wouldn't know.

    I'd love to see some examples of good newsletters/emails, and learn more about the measurability.

    • meghancward

      Here's my thought on this – I get one newsletter WEEKLY – it's basically the person's blog post mailed to me every week – and I rarely read them. But every now and then one of the titles catches my attention and I read it with interest and tweet it out. So my feeling is that even if people ignore most of your newsletters, if they notice one now and then, it's worth it. Also, just the fact that I get that letter from her keeps her on my mind, which is probably her goal. That said, I hope every writer doesn't start sending out newsletters! And if they do, I hope it's not more than quarterly. Newsletters are great to announce a book coming out or to advertise a service (editing, classes, book production, etc.), but no one wants their inboxes clogged with everyone's blog posts.

  • I'm like Kristan above. I don't like email newsletters and always delete them. I subscribe out of guilt, I guess–then hate the overflow in my inbox. But I have to realize I'm unusual. If they work, people must be reading them.

    It's really helpful to have the rules spelled out so clearly. Thanks!

    • meghancward

      Anne – this is valuable feedback coming from you and Kristan – it's good to know what works and what doesn't, who likes what, etc. (I commented more on this above!)

      • meghancward

        P.S. I do think that people should work on building a database of e-mail addresses, so when they have a book come out, they can send an announcement to everyone that includes the cover of their book. I received one through Mail Chimp that way and thought it looked way nicer than sending an e-mail.

  • Yeah, thanks for sharing all this. Hope to put it to use some day.

  • aditi raychoudhury

    good pointers!

  • […] Some people abhor newsletters, but they are a great way to connect with potential readers. And e-mail marketing can be cool, […]

  • Can I just say, I love you guys??? lame kissing emoticon for all of you!

  • Finally, to John Morris who asks about Bob Finnegans rating system, it was a simple four tier system of Exception, Above Average, Average and Below Average (the names are from memory since I would have to dig out his newsletter to be surebut I do not recall that he ever used the 100-point system, even at the end of his publishing careerand certainly not uin the 1970s when he started publishing).

  • Ive been meaning to read this and just never obtained a chance. Its an issue that Im incredibly interested in, I just started reading and Im glad I did. Youre a excellent blogger, 1 of the best that Ive seen. This weblog definitely has some data on topic that I just wasnt aware of. Thanks for bringing this things to light.

  • Hi there! I just would like to give an enormous thumbs up for the great data you’ve got here on this post. I will be coming again to your blog for more soon.

  • Email marketing is very effective for businesess it increases there leads and also it increase chances of sales.

  • Thanks for these tips, Meghan! It can also be a great tool to use to gather market research for planning purposes. Most importantly, keep your content relevant to what you do and to what your target audience is interested in. If you do these things, chances are your email marketing campaign will be a big hit.

  • Hi there! I just got here on this post for the great data you want to give a huge thumbs up. On your blog for more soon will come again.

  • In present scenario email marketing has become the need of an online business. It's the best way to communicate with existing customer and also to connect new customers. Actually, it gives you the most affordable and effective means of business promotion. And I think it is still effective compared to other methods.

  • We have many search engine optimzation tips. In this filed we have on-page optimization and off-page optimization. In off-page optimization we know all link building services and white hat seo and more. These are all useful to my search engine development.

  • Good day! This is kind of off topic but I need some

    advice from an established blog. Is it tough to set up your own blog?

    I’m not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty quick.

    I’m thinking about creating my own but I’m not sure where to begin. Do you have

    any points or suggestions? Appreciate it

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