Looking for a simple, yet effective way to grow your audience and build an interactive community around your work? Love it if there was a way to do it for free? Say no more! I’ve asked guest author, Tyler Vawser to walk us through the “what” and the “how” of SUMOME – a technophobe-friendly set of tools to help build your website traffic and community. (And for a free 30 day course on list building, check out Email1K.com.)
Over to Tyler…
Would you rather…
a) struggle to get the attention of one book buyer at a time?
b) create a mechanism that gathers together fans of your work AND allows you to contact them directly about this and every book you write?
If you’re leaning toward option b), then you’re in luck!
Today, I want to show you how building an email list (the “mechanism”) can help you sell more books today and many more books in the future.
1) Why email is especially valuable to writers and authors;
2) Three tactics you should be using;
3) A set of free tools you can use to start growing your email list (I’ll show you EXACTLY how to set each one up).
(Kimberley has an amazing series of posts about the importance of email lists, along with additional list building strategies. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to check out her series here.)
#1 Why Email Is Especially Valuable to Writers and Authors
When you are starting out on your website it is easy to be consumed with “Traffic.” You want hundreds of readers to visit, comment and share what you’re writing. And it’s extremely discouraging if you build it…and…they don’t come.
The most popular writers on the internet typically have one thing in common: a large and growing email list. They may use other strategies too, like a well designed site or a strong social media following, but their email list is their secret advantage.
Here is an example that shows why starting and growing an email list is more important than Facebook, Twitter, and even the online marketing mantra get more traffic.
Tim Grahl at Outthink works with many of the most popular writers in the world including Daniel Pink—a #1 New York Times bestselling author.
Tim’s #1 weapon for selling hundreds of books? The author’s email list.
Tim recently told me that an email subscriber is 24 times more likely to buy than a Twitter follower! That means at a minimum you need to find 24 Twitter followers for every email subscriber.
Popular author and blogger Seth Godin says that an email subscriber is 20 times more likely to click a link! So it’s not just sales—it’s engagement and traffic too.
#2 Three Simple Tactics You Can Use to Start Building Your Email List
- Make it easy to say “Yes”
It sounds simple, but it’s surprising how few people ask for email addresses. To get someone’s email you have to ask and also make it as easy as possible for them to say, “Yes.” One of the easiest ways to do this is to add a simple opt-in form paired with a compelling incentive.
List Builder is a pop-up that asks a visitor if they want to subscribe or get your free incentive. There are plenty of other plugins that do the same thing, but SumoMe allows you to set everything up in less than 2 minutes. (Stay tuned for the exact instructions on how to use the WordPress plugin, install and set up List Builder.)
My favorite feature of List Builder is its ability to recognize when someone is leaving your site. At the moment it notices the mouse move towards “Exit” it triggers a pop-up that gives them a chance to subscribe.
List Builder will capture 2% to 10% of your website visitors’ email addresses before they leave. Even if you’re getting 100 visitors that means you have 2 to 5 new subscribers who want to hear from you.
- Ask politely
Pop-ups can feel a bit rude. Everyone is used to seeing pop-ups on retail sites and we have become blind to (or irritated by) pop-ups.
The best time to ask someone is when they are enjoying your content and reading it from top to bottom. If they find the content interesting and engaging—chances are that if you ask for their email, they’ll sign up.
Scroll Box offers an alternative to popups. It politely asks for email addresses at just the right time – before someone finishes reading your post. You can set it to appear when someone has read 80% or 90% of a blog post – or wherever your average reader tends to abandon the post (harsh, but people don’t always stick around until the end of your article). You can use an analytics tool to see where readers stop reading your top posts or pages.
Offer a special giveaway like an ebook or simply offer to keep them updated about your next blog post or newsletter. Scroll box is an easy way to ask your reader to optin without interrupting or being rude.
- Upgrade Your Readers
“Content Upgrades” is a favorite strategy of some of the biggest bloggers on the web.
The idea is simple: while a post is 100% free, you can give bonus material in exchange for an email address. Throughout the blog post you can offer bonuses or something unique in addition to the post, such as the exact outline you use before writing a new chapter or a checklist that summarizes the steps you discuss in your post.
A perfect example of a great bonus is Kimberly’s “54 Ways to Build Your Email List (for Writers)” bonus on her 5th post in the email building series.
The strategy works because:
- Engaged readers want more
- The bonus offers valuable content
- The exchange is fair: the reader gets a free blog post plus a bonus, and you get their email address.
Most of all content upgrades make YOU a resource! If your additional content is great and especially useful, you will find your readers referring others to you.
A Content Upgrade doesn’t have to be complicated. If you write a “How To” or “Top X Things…” post you can easily create a cheat sheet or a checklist that fits onto one page. The most used tool for this is Leadpages, but you can start offering this by creating a dedicated page with a sign up form unique to that content.
#3 Free Tools You Can Use to Grow Your Email List & Set Up Guide
Now all of the above might sound great, but if you don’t know coding or you hate installing multiple plugins then it feels like a chore – not a win. If you’re like me, you find an amazing post with “how to” instructions only to be stumped by some small issue. And after an hour of frustration you give up and resolve never to listen to a “How to Guide” again.
SumoMe.com, is the easiest set of tools you’ll ever use to grow your email list AND your traffic. You don’t have to scour the internet to find the best plugins for WordPress or Blogger to grow your email list – they’re all built-in to one. SumoMe works on any website using a small snippet of HTML code or a WordPress Plugin. (Best of all the tools are free to use!)
Step 1: Visit SumoMe.com
Here you can see all 10 tools that are part of SumoMe. Today we’ll look at just three tools.
Step 2: Install SumoMe
Click here to see the instructions to install. Select “Wordpress” if your website is built on WordPress (if it’s any other site click “Get HTML Code.”) We have videos that show you how to install SumoMe on every major platform including a video for WordPress and a video for installing on Blogger. (There are also videos for other platforms including Tumblr, Weebly, Wix, etc.)
If you watch the videos and still want help installing it, you can email the SumoMe Team to help you.
Note: If you hate downloading plugins for WordPress or don’t understand the process, there is an alternate way that many WordPress users find helpful. Go to your Dashboard in WordPress and in the left column select “Plugins” and “Add New.”
Next, search for “SumoMe”
Install the top left result “Double your Email Subscribers & Double your Sharing” and then “Activate” it. It will look like this:
Remember, if you are using a non-Wordpress site you can find video instructions here.
Step 3: Register your account.
(Before you start this step make sure you clicked “Activate Plugin” after installing)
Go to the Homepage of your website (e.g. YourWriterPlatform.com). On the top right or bottom right you’ll see a small blue line. It’s very small (on purpose) so take a close look. When you “hover over” it or go to click it a “Crown” icon will appear, click it and the image below will appear. Click “Sign Up” and follow the instructions to create an account with your email address and password.
Step 4: Install the Apps
Click on Sumo Store icon and install any “app” you want. SumoMe is a single plugin, but offers 10 tools or apps for growing traffic, email collection, and website analytics.
An easy app/tool to start with is the “Share” app. It adds a set of social media icons on each page making it easier for anyone to share your content on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Evernote, and even the Amazon Wishlist button – perfect for any pages you have that offer a book for sale.
There are similar plugins that do the same thing, but the SumoMe Share app is clean, simple and adjusts to have the social media network with the most shares on top – to optimize traffic. In fact, you can see it live on YourWriterPlatform.com.
Install it by finding the icon in the Sumo Store
Click “Free” to install the app. Next head back to the Sumo Store to install List Builder.
List Builder is SumoMe’s #1 tool for growing your email list. It creates a pop-up that asks visitors to sign up for your list. Remember you have to make easy to for people to say yes to your email list!
Go back to the Sumo Store one more time to set up Scroll Box.
Scroll Box is the politest way to ask for emails. It slides a box out from the bottom of the page when your visitor is almost finished reading.
Step 5: Connecting SumoMe with Your Email Provider
Now you just need to set up List Builder or Scroll Box one time with your email provider. SumoMe integrates with 8 major email providers. If you don’t have an email provider set up, head over to MailChimp.com to create a free account. (If you’re not ready to set up integration, SumoMe will start saving email addresses in a file that you can save or export later.)
Click on your provider and follow the instructions to connect SumoMe.
Step 6: Customize List Builder and/or Scroll Box
It is incredibly easy to customize List Builder and Scroll Box. Make your heading a Call to Action, add text that explains what your readers are getting when they sign up, add button text (i.e. Subscribe Now), change the colors to match your site and you’re done!
If you’re serious about building momentum and increasing sales of your books, it’s essential that you begin by building a community from the traffic you already have — and the best way to do that is through an email list. While tools like the Share app can help your community share your content with their friends and peers, building an email list allows you to capitalize on the additional traffic you get from those sharing your content.
Turning your list into a growing fan base of eager supporters – and book buyers.
Please leave a comment below with any questions about set up, OR if you’ve applied one or more of these free tools, include a link to your site!
Tyler Vawser is the Marketing Sumo at SumoMe.com – free tools for growing your traffic and your email list. Tyler lives in New York City and can be found walking in Central Park, taking the 1 train, cruising OKDork.com, or in a random coffee shop.