3 Ways Publishers Can Use Email Marketing to Drive Traffic
Publishers spend a lot of time and effort promoting their authors, plugging future bestsellers and courting new literary talent. But many struggle to dedicate that same level of attention to their own brand. One tried and true solution for publishers: Email.
Sure, you've probably done some email marketing before, but a strategic email marketing program is one of the most effective, low-cost ways to grow your audience, share premium content, and drive traffic. And according to the Direct Marketing Association, the ROI of email marketing is an astounding 4,300%. But your results are only as good as the quality and size of your email list.
Since the average email list loses about 30% of its subscribers every year, a publisher's marketing strategy should include a whole slew of ongoing activities to keep that list lively and growing. Here are three ways to grow your email list and give your publishing business a boost.
1. Share your signup link, and share it often. Publishers and marketers share a common thread: We're all storytellers.
In marketing, you should have at least three to five key messages that tell your brand story ready to plug into various channels that help drive traffic.
The first step to growing your email list, adapt one of your key messages to show the value of your content and create a clear call to action to join your email list. Then, use this new messaging to promote your email signup link on social media. Your social audience has already shown interest in your organization, so share your signup link regularly and invite your followers to take the next step in brand engagement.
And don't forget to encourage your employees to do the same! They can be your best ambassadors, so ask them to post a link to your signup form on their personal social channels or at least add it to their email signatures to get more exposure with new audiences. You can even provide a little incentive for some of your super fans to share the link with their networks. Third-party validation is powerful, so leverage the fan base you already have to keep it growing.
2. Pull back the curtain. There's no better way to show the value of being on your email list than to share snippets of emails on your social networks every so often. It gives followers a glimpse at all the great stuff they're missing and can move them to sign up for future messages. You're bound to draw in more quality subscribers who value what you have to say in the inbox.
So why are we putting such a focus on getting your social followers to become email subscribers? Email conversion rates are 40 times that of Facebook and Twitter, so moving someone from fan or follower to subscriber puts them in a really good position to become a customer that buys more books.
3. Try -- and test -- different attention-grabbing subject lines. Subject lines can be a boon or a barrier. Get it right, and they can lead to more opens, clicks, and shares. But get it wrong, and they cause potential readers to simply hit "delete," or worse, "unsubscribe."
Instead of wasting this valuable real estate on bland, vague language like "April newsletter," write concise and creative subject lines that demand a click. And be sure to split test different subject line copy with each send. It's a great way to maximize open rates and learn what works best with your audience.
While it's a bummer that there's no formula for a perfect subject line (our team of chemists is working on it as we speak), here are a few best practices:
- Make it short and sweet. There are two numbers to keep in mind. The first is 32: It's the number of characters iPhones allow before cutting off the subject line. Another important number is 50: Exceeding 50 characters can sometimes lead to your email ending up in the dreaded spam folder. If you have more to say, continue your thought in the preheader text.
- Be clear and compelling. Busy subscribers are only scanning their inboxes, so don't get too clever with your subject line. It might be hilarious, but you run the risk of them missing the joke -- and skipping your message altogether. Instead, provide a clear and specific preview of the content they can expect to see when they open. By all means, be creative, but don't bury the lead. Use the subject line to tease the content so that your audience can't resist clicking and opening.
- Find inspiration in your own inbox. Southern lifestyle magazine Garden & Gun recently sent a mailing with the subject line "A Mississippi Roadside Marvel." This subject line is great because it says you're going to see something awesome, but it doesn't give away all the goods. It forces you to open to see for yourself. (And in case you're wondering, it worked. The mailing went to 60,000 contacts, and the open rate was nearly 40 percent!)
Yes, it can be challenging to think about your own marketing when your first concern is promoting your authors and their releases. But even if you deploy just one of these email marketing strategies, you'll build a bigger audience, get wider distribution for your content and create more connections to help your publishing business grow through 2015 and beyond.
Christopher Lester is the vice president of sales at Emma where he leads the team of experts who provide strategic and tactical services to all Emma clients, as well as specialized support to large senders and significant brands.