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ed. note: Many thanks to team member Nancy Cavillones for submitting this post, which originally  appeared on her blog at http://va4indieauthors.com

The Basics of an Email CRM

One thing you’ll almost always see in a book marketing plan, or a book marketing course, is an emphasis on “building your list, ” using an email CRM, sometimes called an ESP or Email Service Provider. This means building a list of email subscribers. Of all the ways to reach your readers, the email list remains the most effective way to sell your books.

  1. If a reader is on your email list, that means that they WANT to hear from you. (More on opting-in in just a moment!)
  2. You have more time and space to say what you want to say to readers.
  3. You have the opportunity to provide extra value to your readers.

In this post, I’ll cover the very basics of using an email CRM, or Customer Relationship Manager. If you subscribe to an email newsletter or online mailing list, chances are very good that they are being delivered to your inbox via an email CRM like Mailchimp or Constant Contact.

First, let’s talk about WHY you, an author, needs an email CRM. Whether this is your first book or your 100th book, when you write a book and sell it, you are in the author business. When you collect email addresses, you must provide a way for readers to automatically unsubscribe from your email list. You cannot do this with a personal email address.

Another difference between an email CRM and your personal email is that your personal email server will almost certainly flag you as a spammer if you start sending mass emails, and you’ll end up in some hot water.

Okay, let’s break down the parts of an email CRM.

Campaigns: Sometimes called a broadcast, campaigns are one-time emails that are sent to your whole list, or a segment of your list. These are usually newsletters, product offers, announcements and updates.

Segment: A portion of your subscriber list that has something in common. For example, you might identify a segment of your list as people who downloaded an ARC (Advance Review Copy) of your book. This will be important when we talk about opt-ins below.

Landing Page: A type of form. Landing pages are a full-page design, usually containing sales or promotional copy and calls to action, along with a form to sign up for whatever it is you’re selling.

Subscribers: These are the people who have agreed to get emails from you!

Automation: An automation is a workflow based on triggers. For example, someone may fill out a form to get an ARC of your book. When they fill out the form, it might automatically trigger a welcome email that contains the link to their copy of the ARC. You can do all kinds of neat things with automations, depending on which email CRM you are using.

Forms: This is what readers fill out to let you know that they agree to get email from you. Forms can be as simple as a first name and email address. (Always get the first name, so you can personalize those emails!). Some forms may collect more information, like what kind of content they are interested in or demographic information. I have a client whose form asks whether the reader is a parent, student or educator. The emails she sends out are tailored to each of these groups.

Opt-In: To get someone on your list, you must ask permission! Don’t be a spammer. Get permission from readers to email them. Many opt-ins have a freebie attached to them. You send them the freebie in exchange for their agreeing to be added to your email list. Many authors give away a free chapter of their book as the freebie or an ARC. If you receive a list of email addresses from an event or promotional coordinator, keep these emails separate from your main mailing list. Only add them to your main list if they’ve expressly given permission. For example, if you participate in a BookFunnel group promo, you will collect a whole lotta emails from people who opted into the promo, but not necessarily your email list. Create a segment of those BookFunnel people, send them a welcome email and invite them to join your regular mailing list. It’s just good business practice.

Email CRMs range from super basic to powerfully featured. If you’re just starting out, I recommend using an email CRM with a free plan like MailerLite or MailChimp. As your audience and your business grows, you can graduate to something like AweberConvertKit or ActiveCampaign. Here,  at Women in Publishing Summit, we recently switched to ActiveCampaign because the automation features are very robust.

 
Nancy Cavillones is an indie author’s best friend and is on a mission to keep authors sane by handling the minutiae of their online presence and communications. She’s been online in some form or other since 1993, and still has the AOL dial-up tone stuck in her head. She enjoys taking the scenic route, forcing her kids to appreciate nature, and spending time in New York City by herself in a desperate attempt to recapture her college days. Originally from Upstate NY by way of Long Island, Nancy recently relocated to Northern California with her family from Redding, Connecticut. Nancy is the co-editor of Lose the Cape Mom’s Guide to Becoming Socially and Politically Engaged (And Rising Tiny Activists, Too!). She has been a member of Team Alexa since 2016. Find her at http://va4indieauthors.com, on Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook.

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