Many Authors feel intimidated by the idea of growing an email list.
Now, you don’t have to have an email list. You can write and publish a successful book without one.
But an email list doesn’t have to be intimidating. It can be one of the most fun and exciting things you do as an Author.
At a high level, the best way to build your email list is to provide something of value to your readers.
If you’re feeling daunted, don’t go into this process thinking about building a list. Consider this an opportunity to be creative and build relationships within your community of email subscribers.
Plus, an email list can also be a great opportunity for you, personally.
Most nonfiction Authors write books with a certain objective in mind. You want to make money by attracting new clients, finding new speaking opportunities, or becoming a thought leader in your industry.
In other words, you’re not interested in becoming a full-time writer. You’re interested in attaining goals related to your primary occupation. So, this email list isn’t about selling your book. It’s about selling yourself and achieving those goals.
If you go about it the right way, you can build a lead generation machine that works for you while you sleep. Here’s how to do it.
Step 1. 15 Proven Tactics for Building Your Opt-in Email List
The first step in building your email list is to figure out what you’re going to offer your email subscribers.
List building is all about what you provide to readers. No one wants spam or boring updates. They want high-quality content, tutorials, or unique opportunities that provide immediate value.
Think of this as an exchange. What will you provide a reader in return for their contact information and attention?
There are virtually infinite options, but here are 15 proven ways to attract new subscribers.
1. Offer Free Assessments
One way to grow your email list is to offer subscribers a free, automatic assessment. They’ll answer questions, and in return, you’ll send them a diagnosis of their problem.
For example, you can include a button on your landing page with the following call to action: Want to maximize your retail operation’s efficiency? Click here to take our free shipping and handling assessment.
Here’s another example: Is your marketing strategy reaching the right audience? Take our free assessment!
After they’ve answered the questions, you have two options:
- Collect their contact information and email them the results
- Make this the first step in a book offer. They get their results immediately, and then you offer a free download of your book so they can learn what to do with those results. They just need to provide their email address for the download link.
The second option is more effective. Think about it from a reader’s perspective. They’ve just answered twenty questions for their free assessment.
With the first option, you’re holding their results hostage. That might be frustrating.
With the second, they get automatic value, regardless of whether they download your book. That makes them much more likely to follow through.
You want email sign-ups that yield new customers. You don’t want subscribers who get their results and immediately unsubscribe because they feel like they’ve received all the value you have to offer.
You might be wondering, Why would I give my book away for free?
Remember, you’re not trying to sell your book. You’re using your book to sell something else—your expertise, services, or products.
Offering someone your book for free is a great way to bring them into your potential customer or client pool.
2. Provide Quizzes
Offer your subscribers a quiz. Tell them how well they did, and then offer your book so they can learn even more.
The more surprising the quiz, the better. People don’t want to take a boring, predictable quiz. They want to learn new things along the way.
Better still, surprise your readers with opportunity. Give them intriguing data, like You could be earning up to 3 times more than you are now. Take our quiz to learn the best way to use your leadership style to nail a management position at work.
Curiosity is a great way to attract potential customers.
3. Create Worksheets
People are often enticed by offers for additional content. If your book includes actionable advice, why not build a worksheet designed to help readers put that advice into action?
For example, if your book is about goal-setting, offer a downloadable pdf that helps them create specific, measurable goals.
Ideally, your worksheet will go along with your book’s content, but it will also lead your readers toward your ultimate product or service. Your worksheet might help them set goals while showing them that accountability for those goals isn’t always easy. They’ll appreciate your guidance and ideally seek you out for additional coaching.
As people go through this process, you want them to learn more about what you do and why they need your product or service.
Once you have their email address, you can keep offering them content that shows them more about what you have to offer. When they finally come to you as potential customers, they’ll already understand your value.
4. Offer Downloadable Templates
Instead of a worksheet, you can offer useful templates that help subscribers see the value of your insights.
For example, you could offer a creative brief template to help marketing teams or offer a business plan template for startups.
These templates help solve our readers’ problems, but they also allow readers to see, in a concrete manner, why our methods work.
Providing readers with a helpful tool gives them firsthand experience that convinces them of your authority and credibility.
5. Provide Timely Information
Who doesn’t love getting the latest scoop on industry news, best practices, or other timely issues?
A timely information offer for email subscribers might look like this: “If you’re in X industry role, I’ve done your research for you by reading all these white papers. Subscribe to get a rundown of the things you need to know this week.”
Timely information is a type of content that you can offer each week, ensuring that your email subscribers stay engaged.
Be aware, though. This is time-consuming work, so it’s best if this research is something you’re doing anyway.
6. Emphasize Partner Offers & Discounts
Email list growth happens much faster when you’re part of a community. Influencers or colleagues can refer their subscribers to your email list, and you can do the same. It’s a win-win way to boost your subscriber numbers.
Your call to action could be something like this: “Sign up to get 5 of my partners’ exclusive discounts each week.”
Just remember, you don’t want these to be random. These offers should appeal to your target audience; otherwise, they won’t have the desired effect. Someone signing up for a newsletter on financial advice probably has no interest in getting a discount from a beauty product supplier.
Your target audience’s specific needs should be at the top of your mind.
Done right, though, this can be a great way to network with new partners, as well as a valuable opportunity you offer potential customers.
7. Collect Weekly Insights & Inspiration
Weekly insights and inspiration have wide application, but they’re especially great for Authors of how-to and self-help books.
The tips and inspiration that you select can continue to connect people with your book’s content. They can help sell your book and your brand.
8. Generate Mini-Courses & Webinars
You can provide a valuable mini-course that ties into your book’s content and, ultimately, the thing you’re selling.
The key element here is that the content needs to be high-value. Don’t try to hoard your valuable insights and include generic information in the free webinar.
When readers get high-quality content from your mini-course, they are more willing to sign up for a content upgrade to a longer course. They might also decide to hire you for a speaking engagement, sign up for your consulting services, etc.
9. Create List FOMO
Once you’ve accumulated an impressive following, you can use your stats to create FOMO (fear of missing out). This can help you get even more followers.
People don’t like to let valuable opportunities go by. If you convince them that they’re the only ones missing out, they’re much more likely to sign up.
Tell your website visitors, “200 industry leaders subscribe already,” or say, “Join over 200,000 subscribers in getting the latest weekly updates.”
10. Get Creative with Other Lead Magnets, Resources & Giveaways
The previous 9 examples are just a few ideas. The key is to offer any kind of actionable resource. Readers want immediate information and value.
Get creative and think about who your target audience is, what their needs are, and what kinds of resources they value. Your offers might be really specific to your industry or your methods.
Just remember, there are many people and companies competing for customers’ attention. Make sure that what you’re putting out there is worthwhile for your readers. That’s the only way to convince them to sign up and stick with your email list.
If you’re having trouble deciding between the above options or coming up with out-of-the-box offers of your own, the next 5 tips focus on how you can build your email list by speaking directly to your readers’ motivations.
11. Appeal to Affluence & Status
Most people want to make money and increase their social status. And these two desires are actually related. Why? Because money leads to status, and status can lead to opportunities, which lead to money.
Appeal to potential subscribers by offering them content that can help them achieve these desires.
Sign up to learn the top 15 ways to improve your ROI.
Sign up now to find out how you can attract high-profile clients.
Alternatively, you can appeal to people’s love of affluence and status by positioning your list as an affluent, high-status resource. For example, you could say, “Join our exclusive, insider community to learn how to effectively grow your wealth.”
12. Offer Reassurance
People want to feel confident about their prospects, and they want to feel good about who they are. At the end of the day, they want to feel important and accepted. Your email list can offer valuable reassurance.
Lists oriented toward daily inspirational quotes and weekly affirmations are especially good for audiences seeking reassurance.
If you’re speaking to an audience plagued with fear and anxiety, it’s also good to focus on how your emails and advice can help them. For example, Are you worried about having enough money for retirement? Sign up for my weekly email newsletter for advice that will help you achieve financial confidence.
13. Focus on Time & Convenience
Anything you can do to save people time or make their lives more convenient will provide them immediate value.
That’s why lifehacks and listicles are so powerful. If convenience is important to your target audience, focus on how you can help them reclaim time from their busy schedules.
14. Provide Pleasure
Pleasure is a powerful motivator, and it’s also one of the most flexible in terms of content.
If you’re looking to provide pleasure to your email subscribers, you have a wide range of options. You can provide a daily joke, a weekly cartoon, feel-good human-interest stories, adorable animal photos—anything that’s going to bring a smile to someone’s face.
Make sure that it connects to your ultimate sell, though. Your goal is to appeal to a particular audience, improve your conversion rate, or attract new customers. It’s not to generate a random collection of happy content.
Tie the pleasure back to your goals, or make the pleasurable element one piece of your overall content. For example, close every email with a joke. But don’t send out an entire joke newsletter.
15. Zero in on Personal Empowerment
People want to learn how to do things that help them. More importantly, though, they want to get the motivation to do those things.
You can help motivate your readers by providing exercises, tips, or insights on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.
Tailor these to your book’s content so your readers can clearly see how your advice connects to their daily lives.
Step 2. Build Your Opt-In Offer Page
Once you’ve come up with a solid set of tactics, you’ll need to build your opt-in offer page.
You should send people to a website or landing page that includes a sign-up form. That way, you can immediately collect their contact information and automatically send them their freebies.
A good sign-up page will regularly bring people in and do all the work for you. You shouldn’t ever have to email someone individually. You don’t want to spend all your time following up with leads.
You have 3 solid options for building an opt-in page:
- Your own website with an integration of forms. If you aren’t skilled in web design, you’ll need to hire help for this.
- Use MailChimp to create a landing page with an embedded email sign-up form. You don’t even need a website if you do this. MailChimp’s support pages will walk you through the process.
- Use MailChimp to create pop-up forms to embed on your website. Here are the instructions for that process.
If you choose one of the MailChimp options, MailChimp will send an opt-in confirmation email to new subscribers when they enter their email address. Once they confirm, they’ll automatically be added to your mailing list.
Step 3. Get the Word Out
There are a ton of ways to lead people to your offer page. Here are just a few examples of ways you can drive traffic to your site.
1. Run Ads
We don’t recommend running typical book ads, but an ad for your landing page may make sense if you have a clear target audience and you know where they spend their time.
Your ad money will be best spent on a platform that fits your target audience.
- LinkedIn reaches professional audiences, so it’s a great platform for advertising business, finance, or other professional books.
- Facebook ads are a good place to start if you have a solid handle on your key demographics. For example, if you want to target fitness buffs living in the Midwest.
- Twitter is popular with journalists, celebrities, and politicians. If your book focuses on trending topics or current events, Twitter may be useful.
For more details, check out this post on creating good book advertisements.
2. Email Your Friends & Family
Word of mouth is one of the most effective ways to promote a book.
Send your friends and family the opt-in offer and ask them to spread the word via social media or email.
Even if a handful of acquaintances share the link, you could potentially reach thousands of new connections.
3. Add Your Offer to Your Email Signature
This is a huge opportunity that many people overlook.
But think about it. Most people send dozens of emails every day. Within a year, that could add up to thousands of free impressions.
More importantly, those impressions are with people who are connected to you, so they have even more reason to be interested in your offer.
4. Add It to Your Social Media Profiles
One of the best ways to spread the word is through your organic reach on social media. Organic reach refers to all the connections you have access to without paying for advertising.
Most Authors automatically think about posting their book or website link to social media. That’s great, but it isn’t sufficient to keep your offer top of mind. Most people see a post once and keep scrolling.
The best way to remind people about your landing page is to add the link to all your social media profiles. That way, every person who visits any of your social media feeds will see it.
And they won’t just see it once. They’ll see it every time they open your profile.
5. Share It with Social Media Connections
If you have any powerful social media connections or connections with a large organic reach, you should reach out to them directly.
For example, if your former colleague started his own consulting company, and he has a lot of influence with your potential customers, send him a message on LinkedIn, Facebook, or the social media platform of your choice.
If you ask people to help promote your offer, it’s best to give them a clear call to action. Be explicit about what you want them to do.
For example, say, “Could you share this link to everyone in your LinkedIn network?” or, “Would you be willing to add this link to your next newsletter?”
It’s much easier for someone to follow through on a specific ask.
6. Include It in Blog Posts & Social Media Posts
If you’re blogging or writing posts for your social media feeds, make sure to include your offer at the bottom of every post.
You could even include the link in the middle of the blog post if it’s relevant. Be careful, though. You always want your content to feel editorial, not advertorial.
Direct people to your homepage or your email opt-in page and tell them what they can find there.
For example, To learn more about running a successful online business, visit my website and take our free e-commerce assessment.
7. Write Guest Posts that Link to It
One good way to connect with new audiences is to write articles or guest posts for other bloggers.
Back when print media was king, space was limited. But with digital media like blogs, there’s no limit to how much content you can feature.
Most bloggers are on the hunt for great content. So, if your article would be interesting to their readers, they’ll happily give you space.
Write a solid piece of content related to your book, and provide a link to your offer. When you write intriguing or helpful articles, new subscribers are more likely to come to your website and sign up for your email campaign.
8. Reach out to Influencers
Make a list of the major influencers in your field. Think about the people who are recognizable in your core audience and who can make a difference.
Who do they trust? Who do they listen to? If you could get someone to endorse you, who would give you the most social proof?
This may be association leaders, Facebook group managers, bloggers—anyone who can make an impression on the people you want to reach.
But be realistic. I don’t mean that you should reach out to Oprah or Joe Rogan. Instead, reach out to the people that you can realistically form relationships with.
9. Reach out to Media
Find the relevant outlets and pitch them your ideas. Remember, at the end of the day, the media isn’t interested in your book. They’re interested in what useful knowledge you can share with their audiences.
Your pitch should always speak directly to the outlet’s primary audience, the show’s specific angle, or the host’s unique angle. Your book will help you land media coverage, but the coverage is never about your book.
Then, once you have coverage, provide great content. Then, and only then, can you plug your offer.
Inspire and intrigue people first. Once they’re hooked, tell them how they can learn more.
10. Ask People for Leads
This is a highly powerful and surprisingly under-used way to spread word of your offer.
Your network is one of the best sources for potential leads. There’s nothing wrong with making full use of your connections.
As long as you aren’t pushy, many people are willing to help if you ask.
If you’re speaking to another writer, here’s an example of a reasonable ask: “I’m trying to get in front of bloggers who are trying to do X. Do you know 2 or 3 people I could send my offer to?”
These kinds of leads are pre-qualified and come with personal introductions, which means they’re more likely to pay off. Plus, they’re free.
If the primary value you’re offering people is your newsletter and not any worksheets, free books, or other promotional content, you can also take a straightforward approach. Just ask people to sign up for the newsletter.
You should still make it sound valuable, though: I’m offering daily insights on x, y, and z. This many people have already signed up.
Show examples on the landing page of what people will receive in your newsletter. They’ll be more inclined to sign up if you can show them that it’s not pointless junk mail.
Above all, use reader-oriented language. Pitch your offer so that it’s about them, not about you. “Hi, I’m an Author, and I wrote about X. Please sign up,” is not a compelling pitch.
Ask questions about their needs. Have you ever wanted to X? Are you struggling with Y? Do you wish you had Z?
Talk about them. You could start making money from home today. You can have the body you’ve always wanted. You can make sure your children are taken care of.
If any of the tactics you’ve put into place aren’t working, don’t give up. These are all things you need to actively manage.
If it’s not successful, rewrite the copy. Rework the offer. Reposition the ask.
Look at it as an opportunity to do more research and learn more about who your audience is and how you can help them.