Justine: Drip Campaigns (aka Automation) for New Authors

email marketingI recently switched over my email service from MailChimp to MailerLite (for a detailed explanation of why, read this post by David Gaughran). Mind you, I hadn’t sent any emails to my 46 subscribers since last November, and I figured (now that my kitchen reno is done and the kids are back in school) it was time to saddle up the ‘ol marketing horse again.

At the same time, I’m planning some FB ads in the near future to spread the word about my free short story (which is also a backstory to my first upcoming book His Lady to Protect) and hopefully help drum up newsletter subscribers prior to its release later this year.

However, before I go gung-ho on the FB ads, I wanted to make sure I had a drip campaign–also know as “automation”–set up for my new subscribers.

What IS a drip campaign? According to TrackMaven:

A drip campaign is a method used in direct marketing to acquire customers through lead nurture programs. It involves sending marketing information to prospects repeatedly over longer periods of time in order to nurture prospects or leads through the marketing funnel.

In other words, its purpose is to gradually expose your audience to your brand and/or identify specific things about your audience that will allow you to target your marketing more precisely. Drip campaigns are automated and usually done over a series of days, weeks, or months.

Drip campaigns are NOT the regular newsletters you send out to your subscribers with release announcements, giveaways, or appearance schedules. They are simply a series of automated emails to get your readers attuned to your brand, and, if done properly, to identify specific characteristics about your audiences.

In my case, I wanted to make sure I targeted my readers into specific groups based on the genres they read. Therefore, I decided to include a survey.

Here’s how my drip campaign/automation works (much of which is based on both David Gaughran’s and Mark Dawson’s lessons on attracting subscribers…not that I followed ALL of their rules, so caveat emptor).

Initial Sign-Up

My campaign starts with sign-up.

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This is my sign-up pop-up that appears on my website. I also have a page similar to this (that is not linked in the website header) that readers are directed to if they click the sign-up link I have in Facebook.

Users enter their name and email. New subscribers will then get a confirmation email for double opt-in, which helps ensure that a subscriber signed up, and not a bot. The confirmation email contains a link to the free story I’ve promised them, shown below.

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Note that none of the language I use says “confirming sign-up” or “double opt-in.” I learned that from Mark Dawson. Make the focus getting the free story, but do tell users that they’ll be added to your list.

As for the images, which I’ve tried to put front and center and make as professional-looking as I can, I used BookBrush (an amazing tool for creating ads featuring your book cover).

Once the subscriber clicks the link, they are fully opted in AND the link takes them right to my free short story download page on BookFunnel (I don’t waste time sending them another email with the BookFunnel link…I want to deliver what I promise as quickly as possible). Here, they can download my freebie book in any format that suits them.

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Now we start getting into the drip part…

Three Days After Confirming Sign-Up

After three days, the first email goes out. This one asks the reader if they’ve received their free story. It’s VERY simple, VERY short. Again, I’ve used BookBrush for the images and provided the link to BookFunnel to make sure they can download the book.

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Six Days After Confirming Sign-Up

At the six-day mark, another email goes out. This one is a survey. I want to know what genres my subscribers read. They likely don’t limit themselves to historical. When a subscriber takes the survey, they are put into a group for that genre (I have ten genres, including non-fiction, and “other”). Subscribers can be in more than one group, too.

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Ten Days After Confirming Sign-Up

After ten days, I send a survey to readers asking them what they thought of the short story. Readers can actually give me feedback in two ways: they can take the survey embedded in the email, or they can follow the link I provide to my Goodreads page for the short story and can leave a review there.

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Again, all of the images were created in BookBrush, and I have to say, MailerLite is super-easy to use (once you get the hang of a couple things). I actually think their drag-and-drop campaign (email) creator is awesome, and once I created an email I was happy with, I saved it as a template and have been reusing it ever since.

So…that’s my drip campaign (as it currently stands). My goal is to get readers sorted into groups so I can be more targeted with marketing in the future. For example, I may only send obscure historical factoid emails to those who like reading historical romance. Or, if I have a giveaway of non-historical romance books, I’ll target the readers of that genre.

Are you using a drip campaign/automation for your newsletter sign-ups? What information are you capturing?

So…do you fancy a free story? If so, just follow this link to sign up for my Readers’ Group. Of course, you can unsubscribe at any time.

6 thoughts on “Justine: Drip Campaigns (aka Automation) for New Authors

  1. Thanks for providing insight into that marketing process. I do have to say though, that as a reader, that kind of drip campaign is exactly why I rarely sign up for a “free” story, even with the assurance that I can opt out at any time.

    • I generally don’t like getting tons of emails, either. These few happen in the first 10 days, then it’s typically crickets from me. LOL. I’ll wait a few months and see how sign-up goes, and if it seems I’m getting lots of opt-outs, then it’s worth it to rethink my strategy. I have had a couple friends say that they like that they can specify the genres they like, so there’s that. To each his own.

      I think when I signed up for Mark Dawson’s list (I forget which one), I got the same sort of drip at the beginning, then really intermittent ones after that. Only filled with news, and not bothersome enough for me to opt out.

    • I have the same reaction about drip campaign overload, but based on marketing gurus like Mark Dawson and Nick Stephenson, most readers like to hear from authors. Maybe we’re more jaded/less fascinated by writers as a species.

      In some of the FB groups I’ve joined, authors talk about the frequency of newsletters that elicits the most engagement from their subscribers, and most are every 1-2 weeks. I kinda/sorta try to get something out twice a month, but then life gets busy and I have a long dry spell. I’m probably doing the worst thing–being inconsistent–but I live to break the rules :-).

      • I think you may be right regarding the reader/writer species…most people who I have talked to (who aren’t writers) are curious about us writers…how we work, where we get our ideas, etc. Dare I say we’re in the same leagues as famous people? (BWAHAHAHAHA)

  2. BTW Justine, I don’t think I’ve seen that cover for the prequel (although I have read the prequel, and it’s fantastic!). It’s beautiful. And your campaign is beautiful, too. Mine is just text. I should probably work on that. Maybe in October.

    One thing I learned in some webinar about sign-up campaigns was that varying the length of the emails is important, and making at least one of them a story (about the writing process, the series, etc.), is another step on the path to engagement. Hence, my third email is a longish explanation about my series book titles.

    • Thank you! You were actually the inspiration for me to change the cover for my prequel…all those gorgeous dresses on your book covers. I had to up my game!

      I also decided that I would have ONE downloadable book for all the prequels in the series, adding a prequel to it as I wrote each new book. Therefore, I wanted something that reflected the series as a whole (meaning same font, etc.), but that was also (I hope) eye-catching.

      Excellent advice about varying the length of emails. I will keep that in mind. I’ve been working on my next campaign (as they call them in MailerLite), but for that I was planning a cover reveal for book 2 in my series. 😀 I might delay that a little bit and write about something authory. We’ll see.

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