Savvy authors invest time and effort in their mailing lists. They know it gives them a direct connection to their readers and fans who will buy their books.

With a “set-it-and-forget-it” mailing list provider, it’s easy to start building your mailing list. But you should also periodically keep an eye on it to make it even more effective.

So how can you do this?

By tracking your stats.

It’s quick and easy to do. There are five key stats to look at.

1. Open rates

open-1315639-640x480The percentage of people who open your email is called the”open rate”.  As a general rule of thumb, an open rate of 17% is considered the average, but it’s difficult to give an exact figure because there are a lot of factors that influence it.

Many authors have open rates of 60% and up, but if you have a large or old list, your open rate may be a lot lower. If most of your subscribers came from contests or giveaways, they may be less likely to open emails from you than organic sign-ups from links in your books, for example.

How can I improve my open rate?

Rather than just deleting subscribers who aren’t opening your emails, you can take a more active approach.

Increase how frequently you send emails. If you only email a couple of times a year, your subscribers may forget who you are. Emailing more regularly and including engaging, free or exclusive content is more likely to “train” readers to open your emails immediately.

Make sure the subject line is compelling. As well as avoiding words like “free” or “VIP” which can trigger spam filters, keep subject lines short, snappy and compelling. For more advice on this, check out 8 Tips To Write A Killer Subject Line

2. Click-through rates

click-1516490-640x480This is arguably more important than your open rate. Also known as the engagement rate, it tells you how many people clicked on a link in your email.

The click-through rate is calculated by dividing the number of total clicks on a link by the total number of subscribers on your mailing list. It’s a handy metric to analyze as it shows you how engaged and interested readers are by what you write.

How can I improve my click-through rates?

Don’t include too many links in your emails which could confuse your readers. Aim for one link per email. That said, include more than one opportunity for your readers to click the link. Think about including it at the start of your email and then one at the end, as a “PS”.

Make your link interesting or intriguing to encourage readers to click on it and experiment with wording and placement.

3. Spam complaints

no-spam-1444554-639x629It’s important to keep spam complaints low so that your future emails don’t automatically get sent to the spam folder. If you get too many spam complaints, your mailing list provider may flag or block your account.

How can I keep my spam complaints low?

To comply with the CAN-SPAM regulations, emails must include a clear way for the reader to opt out of further emails from you. Here at Publishing Spark, we automatically include an “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of each email, so you’ll always be CAN-SPAM compliant.

Don’t leave it too long between emailing your subscribers. Apart from potentially increasing your open rates, regular email frequency can reduce spam complaints because readers are more likely to remember you if they hear from you every few weeks or so, rather than only once or twice a year.

4. Unsubscribe rates

to-say-goodbye-1466698-640x480While it can feel personal if someone decides to unsubscribe, don’t worry too much about it.

People unsubscribe for any number of reasons (they might stop being interested in your type of books) or you might get more unsubscribes than usual after contests or giveaways.

Remember that it’s always better to lose a subscriber through the unsubscribe button than it is to receive an abuse complaint.

5. Subscription rates

graph-line-up-and-down-1-1237014-640x480This shows you how well you’re doing when it comes to building your mailing list. You can measure the success of your various strategies for building your mailing lists – and, if you have more than one list set up – compare the growth you get from different sources, whether from front or back matter in your books, or via particular marketing campaigns. These figures will tell you where you’re getting the best returns for your marketing time and effort.


Part 2 in our mini-series on how to build a rock-solid mailing list:
7 Ways to Turn Readers into Buying Fans



Is Your Author Mailing List Effective? 5 Ways To Find Out
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