Tips to Grow Your Email List & Sell More Books

Tips to Grow Your Email List & Sell More Books

Aerio Staff

The value of direct relationships with your readers has never been more important.

The Pandemic has severely challenged the brick and mortar book channels we are all used to. However, we’ve seen authors, publishers and booksellers who can reach consumers directly have been able to carry on, often with good results. Having a robust email program allows you to directly reach and engage readers, resulting in not only weathering the current storm, but thriving.

Benefits of a Strong Email List

Managing the Channel Shift

Over the past 20 years we’ve slowly seen a shift of consumers purchasing books online instead of in a physical store, however that shift has accelerated rapidly over the past few months. In the graph below we see that as of May 31, 2020 an average of 15% of responders indicated they deliberately purchased books online instead of offline because of the COVID-19 / coronavirus pandemic.

Source: Statista, B2C E-Commerce

Helping Customers as They Move Online

As consumers shift online, they need help. Searches for “buy books online” and “book recommendations” in Google have spiked in recent months showing people looking for answers and guidance.

Source: Google Trends

Aligning with People’s Preferences

According to an Adobe email report, Americans spend 5 hours/day in their work email. A majority also report that email – both work and personal – is their preferred channel for receiving offers, and many book readers consider new releases, price promotions and deals to be “offers”.

Source: Adobe Email Report, August 2019

Email Continues to Perform Well

Although email is often considered a boring tactic compared to social media or advertising, it is a historically strong performing marketing tactic with good open rates, click rates and a fairly low unsubscribe rates. Most successful companies have strong email marketing because it tends to produce good ROI and allows for analytics, learning, and refining over time.

Source: Adobe Email Report, August 2019

An Email Address has a Dollar Value

It often gets lost that email addresses can literally be assigned a monetary value – that is, how much is one worth to your company. This is key when considering how to engage potential subscribers and current subscribers - it is a value exchange.

Two great ways of calculating value:

  • Campaign Performance – revenue divided by email addresses reached.
  • Lifetime Customer Value - Average revenue per email address divided by average length of subscription (then subtract acquisition cost).

Tips & Tricks to Grow and Engage Your Email List

A good email marketing program doesn’t need to be big - everyone starts with a small list. How you manage that list and grow it will determine how much impact it can have in your book sales and marketing efforts. The basic principles are:

  • Manage – email list management tools.
  • Build – how to capture emails and grow your list.
  • Engage – how to segment your list and create engaging content.
  • Sell – driving book sales via email marketing.

First, let us define some terms:

  • Undelivered Emails - usually because of an incorrect email address, server issues, or because your message was marked as SPAM.
  • Open Rate – a measure of engagement - the number of recipients who opened the email, expressed as a percentage of total sends opened.
  • CTR: Click-Through Rate - a measure of engagement – expressed as a percentage of total sends resulting in a click.
  • Drip Campaign - planned, long-term nurturing of customers based on interplay between their actions and sends.
  • Retention - maintaining subscribers.

Email List Management Tools

There are many options of email management tools – typically they are priced to grow with you and many have a free starting plan. It doesn’t matter which you choose, just that you have a management tool in place to help you grow, support user preferences and privacy, and adapt and change over time.

6 Ways to Choose Your Email Marketing Platform

List management tools help to:

  • Manage user preferences and unsubscribes.
  • Segment users by interest, location, behavior, and more.
  • Clean bad and duplicate email addresses.
  • Offer integration support.
  • Provide email analytics to monitor performance.

List management tools also provide a variety of mobile-friendly templates, letting you create custom branded emails with your colors and logos. They can also handle email automation like scheduling welcome emails and nurturing drip campaigns, allowing you to engage with your users at the right time.

Build & Grow Your Email List

You can capture emails addresses and grow your email list in a variety of ways.

Use Your Website

Add a site-wide banner or sidebar and ask your audience to join your mailing list. Use tools that can help optimize engagement, create custom forms and landing pages, and more like:

When you’re ready to capture emails on your website, make sure to follow these best practices:

  • Make it clear – readers shouldn’t have to search.
  • Make it easy – don’t ask for more info than you need.
  • Offer value/incentives – give them a reason to sign up and let then know what they’ll get, like a free ebook or branded merchandise.

Use Social Media

Use your social media platforms to reach and engage your readers, then ask for an email in exchange for valuable content. Some ideas include sharing book previews and unique samples, and offering deals and giveaways. You can also link to your newsletter from your social profiles for added convenience.

Engage with Your Email List

Once you’ve built your email list, it’s important to continue to nurture and engage with your subscribers, using strategies like segmentation, content and data.


According to MailChimp, on average segmented campaigns result in 23% higher open rates and 49% higher click through rates than unsegmented campaigns. This is because segmentation is a critical part of your email content plan, as it may not make sense to send the same emails to all of your subscribers. Examples include:

  • Monthly new releases by genre
  • Recurring deal newsletters for a deals list
  • Author alerts where fans can hear about new books, tours, or special promotions for specific authors
  • Targeted genre newsletters like YA or motivational/inspirational., etc.

The key to sending relevant emails is to tag your contacts and track behaviors like:

  • Sign-up source (website, social media, etc.)
  • Language and location
  • Genre, title, and author interests
  • Purchase preferences
  • Self-identifiers and survey/poll responses

7 Ways Authors & Publishers Can Create Targeted Email Lists


Engaging content is crucial to keep your subscribers interested and loyal. Examples include exclusive offers, new book announcements and cover reveals, and recurring blog posts or newsletters. When it comes to content for email marketing, you’ll want to make sure there is:

  • Clear branding - it should be obvious who the email is from and it should feel on-brand.
  • Relevant topics based on user preferences.
  • Consistent touch-points – Monthly newsletter? Weekly deals round-up? Don’t let your list go stale.

Add Fireworks to Your Digital Marketing Campaigns with Great Content

Data & Analytics

Looking at analytics can tell you a lot about how your messages are received and engaged with. Use data collected to keep your emails timely and relevant, with info like:

  • Open rates
  • Time/day preferences
  • Headlines/subjects
  • Calls to action
  • Click-through-rates
  • Unsubscribes (aka “opt-outs”)

All email marketing platforms will provide some form of this data and some, like Emma, will also provide an overall score based on benchmarking and best practices.

Once you’ve collected data, you can then drill in deeper to understand things like when the emails were received and opened, who opened, who clicked, etc. All of this can help you become more relevant and begin to do things like segmentation– for example, openers vs. non-openers. You can also run A/B tests to understand things like how headline wording might affect opens and clicks.

Data and good email marketing go together. It is impossible to have a good email program without the use of data.

Book Marketing in a Digital World: How Analytics & Tracking Help

Sell & Market Books with Your Email List

Now that you’ve built your email list and are starting to engage with and understand your readers and their preferences, you can use your list to sell and market your books with things like:

  • Pre-Orders and on-sale awareness
  • Promotions, deals and giveaways
  • Publicity and news

You can also use tools like Facebook and Twitter to create look-alike audiences based on your email list, allowing you to extend your reach for additional book sales.

The Value of Free Book Samples

Capture Emails with Aerio’s Digital Previews & Giveaways

Aerio allows publishers and authors to create digital book previews. Each preview can be turned into a lead-capture tool by turning on our email capture settings.

Choose the chapters you’d like to display in the preview and decide how many pages you would like to display before asking for an email.

Aerio’s previews can also be used as free giveaways, in exchange for emails. Set expiration dates and usage limits to control access and see on-demand reporting for engagement analytics.

How to Market & Sell Your Books Online with Previews