Growing an email list is a top priority for any website owner, but for Authors it might be one of the most important things you'll ever do.
As the world of publishing quickly goes more and more digital, and authors opt to self-publish their books, having a website and an email list may be the only direct line of communication you'll ever have with your readers.
As an author, how do you get people to sign up for your email list? What do you do with those emails once someone signs up? How can you possibly manage all of this and still have time to write your novels and not become a full-time digital marketer?
The answer to those questions is simple: Thrive Leads and a little Marketing Automation.
Creating a Lead-gen Funnel for Authors
I'm going to share with you the simple process I use when working with authors to grow their email list. I place heavy emphasis on automating the entire process and making it as hands free as possible.
Create an Opt-in Offer
The first mistake most people make is to simple ask someone to join your email list or subscribe to your newsletter. Unless you're already a world famous author, chances are people won't be subscribing just to hear what you have to say.
We have to give them a reason to want to give you their contact information. Sometimes this is referred to as a 'lead magnet' or 'opt-in offer'.
Authors have it easy! Here are a few lead magnet examples for authors.
Free Short Story
Most Authors I work with have shelves full of short stories they've written but never published. Giving away a free short story or even a short book can be a really enticing offer, particularly to people who have already heard of you and perhaps read one of your books before. Who doesn't like free books? This doesn't have to look fancy -- a simple PDF will do.
First Chapter Free
If you're looking to promote an existing or upcoming book, consider giving the first chapter away for free in a simple PDF format.
Early-Access or VIP Club
I'm a big fan early access. People love the idea of getting things early or before everyone else. I think it's hardwired into us as consumers. Using an early-access or VIP club means you technically don't have to create a lead magnet at all; your lead magnet is actually just an advantage of getting your book faster.
Set Up a Delivery Method
Automation is absolutely key in delivering your lead magnet(s) to your readers. You don't want to be bothered with manually delivering and managing your email list. Who would do that?!
When someone joins your email list from an opt-in offer with a lead magnet attached, you need that email to be sent to them automatically based on a set of criteria. This is often referred to simply as "automation" or sometimes "workflows."
Email Service Providers
To send emails and grow an email list, you'll need an email service provider with the right features for sending automated emails.
I recommend MailChimp or ConvertKit for most of my clients. There are many other great options out there, but these two are the most accessible and easily integrate with Thrive Leads.
MailChimp is the cheaper option if you're just starting out, though it is definitely less robust than ConvertKit's offering. As your email list grows significantly, they end up being roughly the same price.
Your email service provider will handle all of the email crafting, delivering, and storing of your email list. Yep, this is an important choice.
Where to Store Your Lead Magnet
Once you have the emails written, the offers planned, and the automations crafted, you'll need to make sure you have a place to store and direct people to in order for them to claim their free story, chapter, or other asset.
Sometimes your email service provider can do this for you, and you can simply add the offer as an attachment to the email in that workflow. If this isn't an option for one reason or another, you can always link to the file within your email. You can host files on Amazon's S3, DropBox, or even your own WordPress site.
Another options I was introduced to by one of my clients (featured in this case study) is a service called BookFunnel.
BookFunnel hosts and facilitates the delivery of all your books in digital eReader, or eBook/PDF formats. When someone joins your email list, your email service provider connects directly to BookFunnel where they take over from there. And yes, it connects with MailChimp and ConvertKit (as well as many others).
Integrate Opt-in Offer with Your Email Provider Using Thrive Leads
Here's where the rubber really meets the road. You get all of the logistical stuff taken care of behind the scenes and then what? You need a way of collecting the contact information of valuable readers in order to deliver your opt-in offer and grow a list that you can use to market your current and future books.
The solution: Thrive Leads.
Whether you want lightboxes, screen takeovers, widgets, in-content opt-ins, slide ins, toolbars, or something in between, Thrive Leads can help you easily create the right offer for the right audience.
Design Your Opt-in Form
Thrive Leads has hundreds of templates you can use as a starting point, or you can design one entirely from scratch (which I do for myself and my clients because I like to be unique).
Connect Thrive Leads to Your Email Service Provider
Thrive Leads has a built-in ability to quickly integrate with every major email provider out there. Simply grab your API keys and input them into Thrive Leads. They take care of everything else.
Integrate a Thrive Leads Form with Your Email Provider & List
Now that Thrive Leads is connected to your email provider, you'll want to connect individual forms to the right lists, segments, etc.
Select your form and click 'Connect Form to a Service' then choose the connected service. Which email service use will alter these options, but typically you can select the appropriate list, group, segment and tags.
Choose What Happens Next
After someone fills in their information and signs up, their details are automatically sent to your email provider. Now what? Well, you get to choose!
With Thrive Leads you have to option to display a message on the screen, reload the page, or redirect them to another page. I strongly recommend you redirect them to another page where you can give them more information about what's to come -- you're a storyteller after all, right? Tell your reader to check their email (and confirm if necessary) where they'll find the necessary emails from you.
Simple But Not Necessarily Easy
Creating a funnel to grow your email list and expand your digital reach as an author has never been more simple. That doesn't mean it's easy!
Getting everything set up and working exactly how you want can take a lot of time and be confusing for anyone doing this their first time.
I'm happy to answer simple questions for you here to get you started, or if you prefer more hands on one-on-one help we can work together.
Good luck with your lead-gen funnel!