The Myth of Fewer Emails: How to Get Better Engagement with More Not Less

Too many authors are scared of their email subscribers. 

Don't believe me? 

Have you ever heard this line, “I don't want to email my readers too often or they might unsubscribe.” 

This sounds like fear to me, but it's an unfortunate catch-22. 

If you email too often, then they might mark you as Spam and unsubscribe. 

But if you email too infrequently, then they might forget about you and have no interest in buying your next book. 

What is an author to do?

Well, in this article, I'll show you:
  1. How anticipation improves email open rate
  2. How to train your readers
  3. Subject line tips
  4. The importance of experimentation

Personally, I tend to err on the side of emailing more often…

While making every effort to ensure the emails are as engaging as humanly possible. 

This way, my readers know what I have coming up and they actually look forward to my upcoming messages. 

Here are four tips for how to get more reviews and sales from emailing your readers more often. 

1. Anticipation Increases Open Rate

anticipation increases open rate

I used to be afraid that emailing too often before a launch or course would keep readers from opening the following emails. But I also worried that if I waited until launch day to spread the word that they'd be as cold as a car engine in the Chicago winter. I decided to email out about a prize giveaway before the big day in order to warm up my fans.  

At first, I thought the experiment was a big flop as my email to a very excited list only received about a 55% open rate. But when I emailed the first launch email, my open rate shot up above 65% with 500+ clicks. By preparing my fans for what was coming, I actually built up the anticipation for the following email. 

Sending an extra email ahead of time made a big difference. 

2. Train Your Readers 

Train Your Readers

Back when I first had an email list, I would write my messages and send them out whenever I had time. This meant that my readers would get emails from me at random times of day like 11am some days and 7pm on others. At the time, I didn't realize that this was the equivalent of having a TV show bounce around to different time slots, and we all know how well that worked for Firefly (tear). 

So in order to make my emails “must read messages” I needed to train my readers to check out my correspondence at certain times. For my occasional list swaps, I chose to focus on certain days of the week at the exact same time. I settled on Sunday and Tuesday mornings around 8am. 

Now, I realize that my readers are all over the world and that some folks will be asleep at 8am my time. That isn't the important part. What's essential is making sure that your fans look for your emails heading to their inboxes on a regular schedule. 

Whenever I diverged from the plan, my open rates to my newest readers tended to dip below 30%. But whenever I kept to my regularly scheduled program of Sunday and Tuesday mornings, that open rate ranged from 35-40%. By helping my readers to work my emails into their routine, I was able to increase their engagement. 

You can often send more emails than you think if your readers are expecting and looking forward to them. 

3. Use Obvious Subject Lines

Use Obvious Subject Lines

There's an ongoing debate in the author community about how unique and creative we should be when we write our books. Now, I'm personally a big believer that we can absolutely fulfill ourselves with our art even if we're writing to market, and a lot of it comes down to creativity within certain constraints. The same situation is true when it comes to our email subject lines. 

Copywriting is different from writing prose, and much like poetry, we don't have a lot of available word space to tell readers about our launches, our promotions, and our emails. With subject lines, you usually only have 5-7 words maximum to get your point across to your reader. 

For example, in the first email that's part of my autoresponder sequence, I'm typically providing a free book or resource. I'm also introducing myself, telling a little story, and asking a question to inspire engagement. But despite the fact that my email “contains multitudes,” the big reason my new readers will want to open it is that there's something they've asked for inside. 

Rather than being creative with subject lines like “Welcome to the Navigators” or specific like “A Thank You from Bryan Cohen,” the subject line that has led to upwards of an 80% open rate is “Here's Your Free Download”. Maybe it's a little bit obvious, but in copywriting, simplicity is part of the art. 

Avoiding my impulses to be clever and sticking with more obvious words like “Free,” “Today,” “Prizes,” and other indicators of what readers will find inside can increase your open rates. Evaluating your existing emails for how they're teasing your readers about the content of your messages can make a huge difference. 

And there's absolutely nothing wrong with repeating the same subject line 3-6 months down the line (especially if it works). 

4. Experiment and Then Repeat What Works

Experiment and Then Repeat What Works

If you've been trying the “send fewer emails” experiment and it hasn't worked to increase engagement, then testing out the above three tips is worth a shot. But your boundless creativity does not need to stop there. You can try out anything with your list of readers and see what works. 

Perhaps, you can try writing an email or two in the voice of one of your main or side characters. I've seen authors use their email list to release exclusive, never-before-seen short stories. Some writers use memes, and others link to videos. 

The first time I tried a survey with a prize incentive to my email list, I had no idea if it would work or not. But once I received over 1,500 clicks and 1,000+ entries, I knew that I'd absolutely bring it back the following year. 

You can try anything you want to see if it leads to more engagement, but once you do…

Please make sure you write down what worked so that you can do it over and over again. Every new subgenre in publishing started because some author took a chance on it. All TikTok trends followed the same path. But it was always up to the author to notice what worked well and what didn't. 

Final Thoughts

So, go out there and try some new tactics, figure out which one is the best, and then use that idea over and over again. 

I hope you found today's tips helpful. 

I've got more tips available for you in my upcoming book, Self-Publishing and Email Marketing. My pre-launch campaign for the book is now live through June 30th. Click here to “Back the project,” and secure your Kickstarter-exclusive copy and rewards before everyone else. 

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