- The Most Specific Generic Self-Publishing Advice I’ll Ever Give You
- Episode 1: Write A Good Book
- Episode 2: Set Yourself Up for Success
- Episode 3: Build A Platform
- Episode 4: Use Social Meda
- Episode 5: Don’t Be Afraid to Promote
- Episode 6: Design Matters
- Episode 7: Use “Drip” Marketing
- Episode 8: Offline Marketing
- Episode 9: Online Marketing
At my previous full-time job, marketing jargon was thrown around like candy at Halloween.
“Synergistic outreach programs.”
Most of these terms weren’t “real,” they were just the most descriptive (albeit abstract) ways of explaining something we were about to start doing. My role in all of it was usually on the SEO or content-creation side of things, but when we pow-wowed about “how to reach our mailing list in the most effective way,” my input was simple:
It was something we’d done in the past, and it was very effective, but it fell into the category of “too-easy-and-brainless-to-really-be-prudent,” and was often abandoned in favor of more “corporate-y” choices, like expensive blog advertisements at demographically-targeted websites or print canvassing throughout the metropolitan area.
It was sort of a shame — drip marketing was something I’d done before, and I’d seen how well it worked — both on me as a customer, and for my business.
But what’s this “drip marketing” thing all about, and how can you use it to promote/sell your work online?
For a website or blog to be successful, you need to have a long-term outreach and engagement plan.
If that sounds strange, put it this way:
You need to have a plan in place that invites and entices visitors to return (or take action in some other way).
This is pretty easy to do — social media, newsletter campaigns, and guest posting all involve these necessary “calls-to-action.” But there’s another, more powerful way to invite people back: Drip Marketing.
“Drip” marketing is a term used to describe a slow, steady “drip” of marketing outreach, and it’s often employed by businesses like online stores (Amazon) and membership websites (Mint.com, goal-setting websites, etc.)
As an author, you can tap into the marketing power of drip-based campaigns as well. First, though, let’s talk about why you should be interested in it:
- Drip Marketing is usually “hands-off.”
- Drip Marketing is as close to “set it and forget it” as you can get away with.
- Drip Marketing is free, and taps into your existing fan/customer base.
Drip Marketing is usually “hands-off.”
When you set up a drip marketing campaign, what you’re really doing is preparing a scheduled list of emails to be sent after someone signs up to your mailing list. It needs to be prepared, planned, written, and scheduled — certainly no small feat — but once it’s done, it’s done.
You can literally press “Go” and move on to getting people to sign up for the list.
Drip Marketing is as close to “set it and forget it” as you can get away with.
You don’t need to constantly open MailChimp, start a new campaign, and schedule it every time you want to send something to a new subscriber. Instead, you can almost “set it and forget it,” and the emails will be sent automatically.
You might want to send a “Thanks for Signing Up” email one day after someone signs up to your newsletter, and that would be impossible to manage if you had to log in each time someone subscribed, copy/pasted the email, and sent it. Thanks to technology, that’s not required.
Drip Marketing is free, and taps into your existing fan/customer base.
Any large company will tell you that it’s much easier and cheaper to keep an existing customer than it is to acquire new ones. Plus, existing customers already like you (hopefully), trust and respect you (hopefully), and know your products and books. Try selling me a thriller from an unknown author, and I’d want to do research, read reviews, and see a preview.
But try to sell me James Rollins’ or Dan Brown’s latest, and I’m all in.
Using drip marketing tactics, you can tap into the power of your list and continue to provide value, automatically.
So how does Drip Marketing work?
I use MailChimp’s autoresponders to create my drip marketing campaigns. No matter what ESP (email service provider) you use (and I highly recommend getting one — it makes like way easier), you probably already have tools that allow you to create autoresponders.
The idea behind an autoresponder is simple: After a certain event (e.g. “user subscribes,” “1 week after signup,” user clicks certain link,” etc.), your ESP sends the “auto response” — just an email that you’ve written and saved.
Do this for 10-20 emails at a time, space them out one after another on a set schedule, and suddenly you’ve created an autoresponder campaign.
I use this exact method for my free fiction-writing course — a 20-week autoresponder campaign filled with advice, resources, and tips for getting your novel written.
This is essentially drip marketing, but with a minor difference: my fiction course isn’t (currently) trying to get anyone to take action on anything, or buy a product. It’s simply an informational email course.
When you set up your drip marketing campaign, you’ll probably want to have an “end goal” in mind: what are you going to want your subscribers to do after getting your emails. I like to break this answer down to a “campaign-level” answer and an “email-level” answer. That means I have a long-term, entire-campaign goal I want the subscriber to do, and I have “checkpoint” goals I want them to take action on at the end of each email.
The steps for setting up a drip marketing campaign are as follows:
- Decide what you’re going to promote. This can be a product, your latest book, or your website/blog in general. Remember that you’re not sending “Buy My Book” emails each time — you’re providing valuable content via email and simply linking to the book/product once in a while (the sales pitch is indirect, except for at the end, when you might want to directly ask them to buy).
- Set up the autoresponder. This includes signing up at an ESP, if you don’t already have one. I know and love MailChimp, and they’re totally free up to 2,500 subscribers. Once you’ve signed up, you’ll want to design a simple template that your email content will live in.
- Design signup forms. You’ll need a way to get people onto your list — you can use a page on your website, like this one, or you can set up a popup on your home page or sidebar inviting people to sign up. I use WP Subscribers, which is a premium plugin but worth every penny.
- Plan your emails. Start by figuring out what content you’ll provide. I like emails that are short — around 300-500 words — if possible. They’re easier to read and digest, and your message doesn’t get lost in the weeds. Choose titles that are catchy, not spammy, and promise great content. You’re dealing with peoples’ inboxes here, which are sacred, so be sure you’re making the emails worth their time!
- Write the emails. Maybe you’re reusing blog posts, other emails you’ve sent, or writing stuff from scratch — either way, this is the time to bust out all the stops and make your email the best it can be.
- Include a link to your product/book. At the end of each email, include a link: “If you’re interested in reading more about this, check out my book…” That’s all. You don’t need to spend an entire email hawking your book at people each time. Save that for the final email in the drip marketing campaign, or don’t do it at all.
- Schedule the emails. Figure out what schedule you’ll follow (see my example below), and then use your ESP’s tools to set emails to send on those days. That’s it!
Here’s an example:
Let’s say I’m wanting to promote my new book, Welcome Home: The Author’s Guide to Building A Marketing Home Base. It’s a helpful resource for anyone interested in building an online platform, and since it corresponds to what I talk about on this blog, drip marketing would be a perfect way to promote it.
I’d start by setting up an autoresponder campaign in MailChimp, and then I’d set an email to go out once a week, for maybe five weeks. Once a week is a good schedule for my readers, as more than that can seem invasive. Further, promoting a book or a product (even indirectly) for longer than five emails can get spammy.
My proposed drip marketing campaign schedule would then be written. I’d want to provide as much value as possible, but also pose some questions to the reader to challenge them.
The five emails would have catchy titles, like “How to Build An Author Website in 15 Minutes,” or something like that. Having a great title is crucial to most online endeavors, and certainly for email campaigns. At the end of each email, I’d write:
“Did you like this content? If you’d like more of it, stay tuned — there’s more coming! Also, check out the book this information was taken from: Welcome Home: The Author’s Guide to Building A Marketing Home Base.”
It’s a non-invasive, non-pushy sales pitch, and it shouldn’t scare anyone away (most people who’ve read all the way through the email are going to expect or even want more information — those who haven’t, won’t even get there.)
The last email in the series might be a list of the previous emails, useful for archiving the content in one easy place, and it would again point to where the subscriber can find the book or product, if they’re interested in learning more.
Setting up an autoresponder/drip marketing campaign is dead simple. Sure, there’s some upfront work and set up, but it’s well worth the effort. Most bloggers already have enough content to be able to create a campaign from scratch in a day, and those that don’t will benefit from taking the time to write it out.
If you’ve never looked at drip marketing or autoresponders, do it. It’s cheap (if not free), easy, and can be a constant, never-ending marketing tool for your products or books!