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October 2012

Reporter: Anita Mae Draper

Anita Mae DraperDraper writes Historical Romance set on both the Canadian and U.S. prairies. Retired from the Canadian Armed Forces, she lives in Saskatchewan with her husband and two of their four children. You can find more than you ever wanted to know about her at her website.

Presenter: Thomas Umstattd, Jr.

Thomas Umstattd, Jr.Umstattd built his first website at the age of 13 and taught his first web design class at only 16 years old. He currently is CEO of Castle Media Group LLC, a company that builds websites for world changers and runs, a resource for authors timid about technology.

Workshop 2: Platform Boosting E-Newsletters

Signpost“Value’s something people would be happy to pay for and are pleasantly surprised to find it is free,” said Thomas Umstattd Jr. in his ACFW conference workshop Platform Boosting E-Newsletters.

Umstattd shared how author Randy Ingermanson, one of his clients, got 28,000 subscribers to his subscriber list in six years by constantly adding value to his website every month.

Although he said said Ingermanson’s website is the “poster child for how not to make a website that works,” there are things Ingermanson has done right, such as the eye-catching Email Notification box. He noted when Ingermanson re-released an out-of-print book “he mentioned it in his e-newsletter twice. The day it came out, it was the No. 118 best-selling book on Amazon.”

How to increase your subscribers

Umstattd shared seven proven things authors should do to boost their subscriber list:

  1. Avoid Me Mail: Make your e-newsletter about your reader, not yourself.
  2. Offer a carrot: Such as a recipe, a short story, etc.
  3. Pick an attractive title.
  4. Integrate with your other social media efforts.
  5. Simplify your sign-up form. Only ask for information you will use to make it easier for them to sign up.
  6. Collect email addresses offline, such as at speaking engagements, book signings, etc.
  7. Include a privacy policy visible near the subscription button.

If you haven’t yet created an e-newsletter, Umstattd also shared seven tips to help you do so:

  1. Use MailChimp. It’s free unless you have more than 2,000 subscribers.
  2. Use a professional email design.
  3. Provide value.
  4. Be consistent.
  5. Experiment.
  6. Measure your results.
  7. Keep it short.

Once your e-newsletter is designed for eye and mind appeal, Umstattd said you need a list of email addresses to send it to. However, there are laws in place to stop spam. “Spam is in the eye of the beholder,” Umstattd said. If the user hasn’t given permission to use his email address it’s spam—which can be creepy or charming depending on the way the recipient sees it.

Which smoothly leads us to Umstattd’s last seven tips—ways to avoid being tagged as spam:

  1. Have your subscribers double opt-in, so there is no confusion about whether they’ve subscribed. (Retain any paper subscriptions you get at speaking events so you can prove, if necessary, that someone signed up.)
  2. Offer one-click unsubscribe.
  3. Send at least one e-newsletter per quarter.
  4. Write intriguing subject lines.
  5. Avoid bad words.
  6. Use a trusted sender.

More tips from Thomas

  1. Use a name in the From line that people recognize. Keep it consistent.
  2. MailChimp will ask for your credit card number to ensure you’re not a robot.
  3. NameCheap is the best place to buy your domain name.
  4. Don’t use GoDaddy.

If you use these tips, you’ll create an attractive and efficient e-newsletter—but don’t send it to anyone unless you have their permission.

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