Monday, April 5, 2010

Grow Your Email List With a Free Giveaway

A contact list is easily one of the most important marketing tools. The larger your mailing list, the more people you’ll be able to reach with all your important news: book releases, book signings, contests, giveaways, awards—and on and on. But the trick to maintaining an effective email list is first convincing readers they should sign up for your list. Under the FTC’s recent CAN-SPAM law, it’s illegal to email people without their continued permission, and you’re not likely to gain anyone’s permission, if you’re sending them emails they didn’t sign up for.

The easiest way to convice people to join your mailing list is an age-old method: bribery. You have to give readers an incentive to sign up. They’re giving you their email addresses; what are you giving them? Almost all giveaways take the form of digital media, which can be sent instantly and cheaply to hundreds of addresses. Ideas include:

  • E-book.
  • Weekly/monthly e-letter.

  • Tip of the week.

  • Sale/special bargain updates.

  • Contest prize (draw the name of one subscriber as the prize winner).

The possibilities are endless and easily tailored to your target audience. When I offered a free e-book, Crafting Unforgettable Characters: A Hands-On Guide to Bringing Your Characters to Life, to my blog readers, my mailing list doubled within a week. Whatever you decide, plan to put some time and effort into creating a worthy product. Hundreds of people will be viewing your giveaway and judging the quality of your work based on it. Don’t shortchange them.

Once you’ve prepared your giveaway, decide on an email management program and a delivery system. Most professional email services offer sign-up widgets for display on your site and instant email confirmation to subscribers, which you can customize to include the link to your ebook or any other url. You can also find customizable features (including email templates, bulk mailing control, and analytics reports) for making your future mailings as easy and professional as possible. Some of the more popular companies include:

  • Constant Contact: Arguably the most popular email service, but a bit pricey.

  • Newsberry: A good choice if you’re not sending out mailings more than once a month, since it allows you the option of paying per mailing, rather than per month.

  • Bravenet: Free for users with fewer than 500 addresses.

Giveaways are a fun way for both you and your readers to benefit. They get to enjoy the free goodies you’re offering, and you get to take advantage of the endless marketing opportunities provided by an ever-growing mailing list.

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  1. I just love to do giveaways too. The bonus is more new friends.

  2. They're lots of fun for everyone involved!

  3. i love this post. so helpful -- so true. thanks for the tips!!

    best of luck with everything!!

  4. for thought. I'm only just learning about how important self marketing is in today's environment.

  5. More and more, self-promotion is becoming vital for authors. Publishing companies are cutting back radically on marketing budgets, and writers are having to learn how to get their work to the widest audience possible.

  6. Will have to file this one away for when I'm formulating my marketing plan(s)! Thanks!

  7. Put it up there at the top of your list. It's *that* important.

  8. Thank you for these ideas, as soon I need to start a website.

  9. Bravenet looks great. Thanks for the pointers, Katie.

  10. @wondering: These days a web presence is vital.

    @Lynnette: I started out with Bravenet, then switched to Newsberry when I maxed out the free account.