How to warm up your subs View in browser

This week we’re talking about onboarding new subscribers – creating an automated welcome sequence to welcome those who sign up to your mailing list. Which should be pretty relevant right now to many of you, given the popularity of last week’s email on cheap promo options, and the BookSweeps list-builder promotion in particular.

By the way, if you couldn't jump on that BookSweeps promotion last week, it runs until Monday 1 June and a bunch of new promos have now been added to meet the unexpected levels of demand, so thanks to them for doing that. 

I’ll show you how to welcome all your new subscribers below.

It’s really important to take a look at your email set-up before you upload all those new subscribers you will get from BookSweeps. Each one of those email address you receive is a flesh-and-blood person who could become an engaged and happy subscriber on your list, someone who jumps on your cheap or free entrypoint to your series, or who devours your reader magnet and becomes a fan… or they could become deadweight, someone who quickly stops opening your emails — who you still pay for, of course.

The most important variable here is your Welcome Sequence — we break it down below.

Before we dive into that, my new YouTube channel is growing fast, as you can see above, in subscribers and views as well as content, so make sure to pop over there to see all the videos you missed this week.

So far we have covered: how Sales Rank works, and some surprisingly common myths; the weird secret behind Kindle Unlimited success; how to build the right kind of author platform, how to get more reviews for your book… without getting in trouble with Amazon; and then there were two longer tutorial videos on how to navigate the BookBub Ads interface, and another on how to use Canva to make free Facebook ad graphics. Which is a lot to cover in 2 weeks!

Please do hit that subscribe button (and notification bell) which is a pretty strong signal to YouTube that it should show my videos to lucky randoms, and helps me along in the path towards monetization and getting paid, which encourages me to make more videos so we all win! The thresholds are 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours, if you’re curious. I’m close to the former and a good deal away from the latter but making nice progress.

The great thing about my set-up is that I have pretty much figured out a way to pump out 2-3 videos a week without that impacting on writing time one bit, and you’ll get to see what I’ve been working on this year very soon. Not just the two new books you know about (Digital 4 and Decoded 2) but two new reader magnets which I haven’t yet mentioned! This is one of the reasons why these books took a little longer to come out than planned, aside from my fun four-week dalliance with whatever that virus was. I’m also building lots of bonus resources – How Tos, walkthroughs, video guides – that will be exclusively for purchasers of both books, and lining up all that stuff for four books simultaneously is… challenging, I must say. But it will be worth it!

I don’t have a release date, but all this is coming very soon. I hope to have more news week. Oh and this email is the SEVENTH in an intermittent series about email. Catch up on what you missed over at the Email Archive.

All About Email 7 – Welcoming Readers

Call them automations or onboarders if you prefer, but I always liked the term Welcome Sequence as it puts me in the right from of mind straight away. These aren’t numbers you are adding to a ledger, these are people who should be welcomed into your little world.

Warm vs. Cold subs

One thing we should recognize right from the off is that not all of these people are similarly enamoured with you when they sign up. Some will be “warm” subscribers who signed up on your website; those signing up at the back of your books are usually warmer again... unless you made a hames of it, as we say back home.

At the other end of the scale are “cold” subscribers who might have signed up via a lead generation ad on Facebook, and then those getting into your clutches via a competition or something like a BookSweeps promotion are often the coldest of all.

Just as with advertising, and any forays into broader audiences, colder subscribers usually need to be warmed up more than warm subscribers. Well, everyone needs warming up, but colder subscribers need a little more TLC and deft handling and introduction to the World of You.

Warming Them Up

As such, it’s usually best to have two separate onboarding processes for cold and warm subscribers. Some authors will go further again have multiple reader magnets (and maybe some specific content upgrades too), and all of those will have a separate onboarder/welcome sequence, and might be subdivided further depending on how the email was acquired – i.e. if they are cold or warm subscribers. And then a few will go as far as building a custom welcome sequence specifically for something like a BookSweeps promo, simply because the numbers and quality of the subs can make it worthwhile.

And if that sounds like a lot of work, it really doesn’t have to be — you can often just copy the same welcome sequence, and then just add a step or two, or remove a step or two, where applicable, and make small tweaks to the language of that first email.

Basic Welcome Sequence

Let me show you a basic welcome sequence that you can use and adapt to your own needs, and then copy and modify as appropriate for your warm and cold subscribers, as needed. And in case you’re wondering, this process is identical for fiction and non-fiction, the only possible difference being frequency of emails, if you email your non-fiction audience more frequently like I do. As a general default, I’m assuming fiction authors email monthly. (Non-fiction is all over the map, depending.)

EMAIL 1: Dole out your reader magnet. Keep this email short, free of words with a high spam score - especially in the subject line (like free!) - and right to the point. This is your first contact so it has a high chance of going to Spam or Promotions so you want to maximize deliverability by minimizing links, images, length of the email (file size is a variable!), and spammy words, especially in the subject line. Be welcoming, of course, but keep it short. I usually do one quick, friendly paragraph and a download button, which links to BookFunnel, and a friendly sign-off telling them they’ll get another message in a couple of days. Even if you plan to email monthly, you want more frequency in the welcome sequence so that you can warm them up.

EMAIL 2: Now that you have given them something, you can ask for something in return, but the relationship is still fragile at this point, so I don’t ask for something like money (i.e. I don’t push a book yet). Some people do. You might want to play around with this and see what works best for you. For me, I just check they got their free book, and then ask them to Whitelist my email — I’ll give you a Whitelisting example next week, if you’re curious. Only a few will do that, but it’s important enough that I make it my first ask. And then I put in a few softer requests too. For fiction I might say something like “Follow me on BookBub for reviews of my favorite historical novels,” and I’ll do a similarly soft push for Facebook Likes. For my non-fiction audience, I just to the Whitelisting and nothing else. It’s that important, and even more so for my non-fiction audience as those emails have a higher chance of going into Spam/Promotions, because they tend to have more links and/or images, and almost always use what are considered spammy words – hard to avoid given the topics we go through.

EMAIL 3: A few days later again, it's definitely time for another give. With my historical fiction audience, I lead out with my best piece of content — something that used to be the fifth email in my sequence, but I could quickly see it was outperforming everything else, so I moved it up. It’s a bright, glossy, magazine feature-style article about the time I visited one of the crazy places in the book that I actually dole out as a reader magnet. It also acts as a good preview of the content I give them monthly too. For my non-fiction audience, I push them towards my Email Archive for everything they missed — which fulfills the “promise” I make in some of my marketing pushing sign-ups, and also massively reduces the emails I get looking for some Facebook Ads email I did in the past. It also gives people plenty to chew on, and deepens engagement. I used to do something more similar to what I do for historical fiction, but switched it up to this more streamlined approach as it worked better. For fiction, I continue on in this manner for a few more emails, stretching out the time between them until I’m on a monthly schedule. For non-fiction, they go right into the main subscriber pool after this email sends (which I call GenPop — which I probably shouldn’t tell you ahahahaha!).

Adapting This Sequence

That basic structure above should be pretty adaptable. My non-fiction welcome sequence used to be 5 or 6 emails, and is now just 3, as that works better for that crowd, who are usually warmed up anyway by the time I sign up – that audience is almost exclusively organic sign-ups, so I only need one welcome sequence really. 

My fiction audience is more of a mix of organics and those coming from ads, competitions, and listbuilders. So this has several welcome sequences, depending on the source, but they are all variations of the same “master” sequence, with slightly different language, or one email extra, or one email less, based on whether it’s a warm or cold subscriber, and so on.

Find Your Own Voice

I deliberately didn’t link to the emails in question, and I’ll surely get questions about that, so let me explain why: people will just copy the emails and send them to their readers with only minor tweaks.

This is a huge mistake for two reasons. First, the way I talk to my readers is not the way you should talk to your readers. You have your own authorial voice and brand, and I have mine. This won’t just vary from genre to genre hugely, but from author to author too. You must develop your own, and you only do that through practice, not through copying another person. Second, you really must put in the work to get the right results here, and copying isn’t working. You need to dig deep and give your very best in these emails.

Just to underline how important a good welcome sequence can be: I was designing a new onboarder to dole out the original version of Amazon Decoded, which was itself written to accompany the launch of Digital 3 back in January 2018. I needed something for one of my welcome emails, and I actually went as far as to cut out a great story about George R.R. Martin from Digital 3 — the crazy story of what happened with the first covers for A Game of Thrones and how that nearly tanked his career back in the 1990s — just so I could exclusively use it in my welcome sequence.

Put some real work into this stuff and you will see results. Remember the time cost is heavily frontloaded here. You might need to analyse a little at the start, check your numbers periodically over time, and make some adjustments here and there, but most of the work is in the set-up, and then the benefits keep accumulating over time.


P.S. Writing music this week is from someone who sadly passed away a few weeks ago: Bill Withers. He considered himself a writer who happened to perform music, rather than the other way around, and this is him performing his favorite piece of writing: Grandma’s Hands. You might recognize that beat at the start!

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