I Have No Idea What I’m Doing: The Newsletter Drip Campaign

Welcome to a new series of posts. I’m a self-published author who is learning as I go. I have no idea what I’m doing and finding help isn’t always easy. So many blog posts are self-promotion for someone else. In this series, you get to learn about publishing with me because I’m always learning as I go. There’s nothing I’m trying to sell you any service, book, or app. It’s just me and my experiences.

Sounds good to me...

I’ve met some amazing romance authors over the past few years.  Not only are they writing great books, but they’re mastering the promotion and marketing process.  I enjoy learning from them and the most helpful thing I’ve learned from them is setting up a drip campaign for my newsletter. I wrote about why I have a newsletter about 2 months ago. Drip Campaigns are part of why I like having one. I had never heard about this before, but I did some research and realized these are awesome ways to passively let sales continue when I start promoting new books. I had to do a lot of research about this because, since I don’t join many newsletters myself, I had no idea what an automated/drip campaign was. Here’s your chance to benefit from me not know what I’m doing.

What is a Drip Campaign?

In the spirit of a faucet that annoys you, a drip campaign is a series of marketing emails. No, honestly! They’re a series of emails you can send to readers when they sign up for your mailing list. Each one is automatically triggered by an event: confirming subscriptions, one-week passing, etc. Most mailing list management websites will do this. Since I use MailChimp, I’ll explain this with them in mind. With MailChimp it’s called automation because you’re automatically sending out the emails. You can have as many emails in the campaign as you want and they can be sent as often as you want. You can add emails to the campaign as you go.

What I Did Already…

I set up it up when I stopped promoting Modern Persuasion and start promoting Phi Alpha Pi. I set up a four email campaign: a welcome email, one introducing Modern Persuasion, one sharing the audiobook, and one introducing A Little More Modern Persuasion. I set them a week apart. The first one triggers when someone registers for the list and then they are sent once a week until they’re done. When I stop promoting Phi Alpha Pi, I will reconsider the organization to not overwhelm new subscribers. In each email, I provide something free to the reader.

Benefits

The point of a drip campaign is to continue to promote your back catalog while you focus active marketing on your latest release. It saves you energy because it all happens in the background. You just have to respond to emails people might send you because of the campaign. For me, it has kept Modern Persuasion actively selling while I promote Phi Alpha Pi. I haven’t promoted it at all, but it’s outselling Phi Alpha Pi (and itself from last year). I’ve switched all my other marketing plans around the account for this shift.

Another benefit is that more of these emailed are opened and links clicked than in my regular emails. That’s saying something because I suspect my numbers are currently a bit higher than average, but that will change.  You can see reports about who opened the email, who clicked on links, which links they clicked on, and more. This is there to help you understand what might interest readers and what isn’t getting their attention.

Drawbacks

You can’t just ignore the campaign. It has to be tweaked. You have to watch it to see what’s working and what isn’t working. I see one email has low clicks and that’s because I’m offering just free phone backgrounds. My readers might not care about this, so I have to play with that email and see what else I can offer there. The same for all links. They need to be current and unbroken. If you add in a new venue for sales, it needs to go on the campaign.

There’s also the possibility that people might unsubscribe in the middle of this email series. They are overwhelmed with emails, so it’s not a surprise. I can see the numbers get slightly lower on the number of emails sent in each phase. I might soon be able to identify where I lose them and play with that email to make it better. So, this isn’t entirely passive marketing. You may also see fewer opens in later emails sent. This means the interest in dwindling and you should reevaluate the series and how quickly or slowly they’re getting the emails.

What should you do?

If you’re reading this, you’re considering a drip campaign. My suggestion is trying it once you have a good lead for the newsletter.  Mine are BookFunnel giveaways. I switched things to accommodate the drip campaign response. I think the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. My mailing list is sort of like my holy grail, so I want to do right by them and this series of emails is part of that. I might only have 2.5 books now, but having so many people engaged now means future books will be easier to promote. These readers will know my work better than people who casually find me.

I think this type of campaign is critical as I continue publishing books and try to make a livable income off of them. That might be years away, but I want to build a core group of readers who are engaged. I know some authors who have 10,000 member mailing lists. When I started I wondered how they got there and since it’s taken me a year to get to 2,000 members, I think a drip campaign is part of that.

Start by signing up for other author’s mailing lists. This will give you a chance to see what they do when you sign up for an email message. Don’t focus on authors with traditional publishers, look for indie authors. These are the people working on their own to connect with readers. If you really want to see mine, sign up.

My suggestion to get started

First, obviously you need a mailing list and you need a back catalog of books to do this. This can start before you have a back catalog of books. Start with a welcome email for new subscribers. If you were offering something for free, do it here. Get in the habit of quickly communicating with your new subscribers. Once you have a back catalog, plan the emails. What do you want them to know, what links do they need, and what do you have that can be given away for free. Write some short stories and flash fiction related to the book in your campaign. Then consider how frequently the emails should go out. How frequently does your email go out to them? Then do a test run with some friends or email addresses you can access. MailChimp allows you to preview them, but sometimes you need a subscribers point of view. Ask your current subscribers about what they would want. The key is to plan it out and then tweak.

What’s next for mine?

I’m doing a major review of my entire mailing list. This means asking those who have been through the campaign, what they thought of it and what could be different. It means re-considering what goes in each email, especially since I have a new publication coming out and it might be time to refresh what is given in each email. It might mean changing how frequently the emails are sent and other details. Who knows what will change!

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