One thing you need to internalize before you start funneling people into your mailing list is this: Your newsletter is a contract between you and a subscriber. On the signup page, ad, or call to action, you made promises to the potential subscriber and you need to keep those promises.

Promises you might have made to your subscribers: 

  1. They’d get something for signing up, if you do that.
  2. You’d never share or sell their email address. Don’t. It’s illegal.
  3. How often you’d email them.
  4. What those emails will include. 

There’s also an implicit promise, and that is that your newsletter will entertain or inform them—do not send unnecessary or boring emails!—but we’ll get to that in Week 4.

Whatever it was you told them they’d get for signing up, you have to stick to it. You’re obligated to make sure that you get that free story to them in a timely and convenient manner. (Not that I would ever turn off my automations for months to “update them” and forget that I promised a cookie, and get a bunch of angry emails. No way.)

Or, if you’re going to change a promise you’ve made, you have to give your subscribers a chance to refuse and opt out. You have to email them and tell them what the changes are going to be, and give them a chance to unsubscribe if that’s not what they want. And you’ll lose folks, every time. So, again, it’s a good idea to begin as you mean to go on. But if you’ve been neglecting them, or only emailing with releases, or anything that you can now see isn’t really best practice, better to lose some subscribers in the service of bonding more closely with the others.

I can hear you getting nervous, so I’ll touch upon unsubscribers. You don’t want ALL the people; you want the right people. Which leads us into encouraging unsubscribes, the most important part of your onboarding sequence. 

You will actively encourage people who do not enjoy your emails to unsubscribe. Why? Not every person who enjoys a book you wrote belongs on your list. This can be hard for certain people to wrap their head around. We tend to have a mentality that the person with the biggest mailing list wins (hat tip to David Gaughran, who was very wrong when he said that, but saw the error of his ways), but in fact the one with the most engaged mailing list wins. 

(For example, let’s say you want to do a newsletter swap. Someone says to you, “I only swap with people who have ten thousand or more subs.” I don’t have ten thousand subs, but I can tell you what, if someone swaps with me in contemporary steamy romance, I can guarantee them 400 clicks with my list. Many authors with bigger lists can’t promise that.) 

In list-building, you will necessarily cast a pretty wide net. That means you’ll get subs that won’t stick. That’s great! There are plenty more subscribers where those came from, and you will gradually pull in more and more of them, letting the disinterested ones fall by the wayside. They’ll show themselves out, and the ones who make it through the gauntlet of your onboarding will be poised to become real fans. 

I do try to catch people as they unsubscribe, suggesting that they follow me on Amazon or Bookbub. But I don’t concern myself with them overmuch. I’ve got a mailing list to focus on. Those people—the ones who love my emails, reply to my questions, and click to buy my books—that’s where I want to build my list.

Now, a few things on the sign-up forms themselvesThe forms have to have an email address field, obviously. Most services allow you to ask for a wide array of standard information—first and/or last names, dates of birth, gender, age, birthday, phone number—and, if you use custom fields, virtually anything else you might want to ask. None of it is strictly necessary, and much of it is off-putting to a new subscriber.

Rule of thumb: Every item of personal information you ask for at signup will lose you a certain percentage of potential subscribers.Once they’ve turned over their email address, many subscribers will begin to eye with suspicion any further questions from you. Wait until they’ve been through your onboarding, and then give them the option to update their information to include their birthday if they want to participate. 

One final thing you can do with signup forms is use them to tag or segment subscribers as they join—either behind the scenes or right out in the open. Some authors like to have visible checkboxes or some other way for subscribers to segment or tag themselves as they join. Some providers allow for forms that do this; some don’t. If yours doesn’t, I wouldn’t sweat it. I don’t really like to let new people self-segment anyway, because they always screw it up, LOL. We can talk about that in one-on-ones if you wanted to do it and want to know more about why you shouldn’t. 

You may want to do some behind-the-scenes tagging of your own, however. When someone uses the form on my website to join my list, my EMS tags them as “organic.” That’s a segment I want to keep my eye on, always. They are almost without exception the first to open, the most likely to click, and the most responsive to questions.

As far as what tagging or segmenting options you should build into a signup form, that’s another one of those “it depends” situations. We can pin them down specifically in our calls. One word of advice I will give, as it’s pretty universal, is this: tag/segment way more than you think you’ll need to. Far better that you have some tags or segments you never use, than to wonder 6 months later “I wonder how many people have clicked on this book since it came out?” and have to go back and chase those numbers around!


Answer these questions:

  • How many different points of entry will there be to your mailing list?
  • What landing page(s) do you need to make that happen?
  • What tags or groups, if your provider can do that?
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GracieMiranda
GracieMiranda
3 years ago

How many different points of entry will there be to your mailing list?
Through our websites, Facebook pages, inside the books.

What landing page(s) do you need to make that happen?
A webpage that shows the books they’re interested in and if they’d love to hear when more of those would publish, and each has it’s own embedded form.

What tags or groups, if your provider can do that?
Which website they used to add themselves to our list. Tag or group them by the book series.

Jennifer Baylor
Jennifer Baylor
3 years ago

*How many different points of entry will there be to your mailing list?

As I’m just starting out, points of entry will be my website and social media profiles.

*What landing page(s) do you need to make that happen?

I don’t know how or why or when to use a landing page, so I can’t answer this question.

*What tags or groups, if your provider can do that?

I really don’t know! I’m assuming a tag from each source, but what other kinds of tags should I consider? I’m still not 100% sure how the tags get triggered.

Marina Finlayson
Marina Finlayson
3 years ago

How many different points of entry will there be to your mailing list? One for Bookfunnel promos and one for everything else. I think? That’s the way it is at the moment. All my back of book sign-ups are taken to the same mailing list sign-up on my website. I don’t know if it’s possible to tell which book they signed up from? If I could tell, I could give them different cookies, depending on where they came from.

What landing page(s) do you need to make that happen? I think we need to talk about this!

What tags or groups, if your provider can do that? And this too!

crisgoode
crisgoode
3 years ago

How many different points of entry will there be to your mailing list?
Right now, one. I think I may look into 3 different ones for my 3 different email segments. And then offer the other two segments as a part of my introduction to the site/newsletter.
What landing page(s) do you need to make that happen? I think I need to alter my popup and make it 3 different pop-ups programmed to go off on the appropriate recipe. So, if you are on an Air Fryer recipe, you are prompted to sign up for that segment. If you are on a Low Carb recipe, you are prompted for that segment.
What tags or groups, if your provider can do that?
I will keep my 3 main groups: General, Low Carb and Air Fryer/Electric Pressure Cooker.

SusanJag
SusanJag
3 years ago

lol,I really wish I knew the answers to these questions. I would really like more examples
Im not sure if Im missing some content, and having a lot of tech problems with the course delivery.
When we submit homework, can we expect feedback??????

Jojo
Jojo
3 years ago

How many different points of entry will there be to your mailing list?
I generally set up three points of entry for my clients – website, facebook page, contests i.e. BookSweeps

What landing page(s) do you need to make that happen?

I generally build elements to my landing pages in Canva because I find that providers – i.e. mail chimp and mailer lite don’t provide enough design tools to make interesting or eye-catching landing pages. After I build the graphics I create the landing page.

What tags or groups, if your provider can do that?
At present, I have tagged/grouped people who have signed up via a contest like BookSweeps or the website or facebook but I think you make a great point about tagging or grouping according to more specific criteria 🙂

David
David
3 years ago

How many different points of entry will there be to your mailing list?
My website and I am planning on using BookFunnel. I have a sign-up at the end of my books and they come through my website.
What landing page(s) do you need to make that happen?
I have one on my website and I think I need one in BookFunnel.
What tags or groups, if your provider can do that?
I have a friends and family tag and I think I will have a Bookfunnel tag. I have only one series and one free offer, but if that grows I’ll want to tag by the series.

Melissa Lummis
Melissa Lummis
3 years ago

How many different points of entry will there be to your mailing list?
4. Website, ebook backmatter, events, & group or giveaways.

What landing page(s) do you need to make that happen?
2. Website, backmatter & events can all use the same one as they are organic. Group & giveaways will have a separate landing page.

What tags or groups, if your provider can do that?
I need help with this. I don’t use any tags right now, but I know they can be extremely helpful in marketing and optimizing clicks and reach. My best guess would be organic, specific giveaways, and event tags. ie. Organic, Giveaway, Group Giveaway, IBF (Indie Book Fest).

Tameri Etherton
Tameri Etherton
3 years ago

How many different points of entry will there be to your mailing list?
Ohmygosh, lots! FB, back of book, website, Instagram, list builders, Ads, newsletter swaps, what else am I missing?
What landing page(s) do you need to make that happen?
One for the website, one for each book, one per list above.
What tags or groups, if your provider can do that?
Groups:
Organic – back of book, website
Warm
Cold
Tags:
BOB – one for each book
Fantasy
Urban Fantasy
Sci-Fi
Romance
Heat Level Preference
Onboarding sequence complete (let’s me know not to send them the freebie if they sign up again through a giveaway, etc)
How they found me (Ryan Zee, website, FB, IG, etc)

I’m super lost on landing pages. What are they? Where are they? How to make them? Help!

vitoz1511
vitoz1511
3 years ago

How many different points of entry will there be to your mailing list?
Three: Signup on website, Facebook, back of book.

What landing page(s) do you need to make that happen?
One landing page. Mail Chimp shows where the email address came from. But!! Web page signup covers BOB, website traffic, and Facebook. So maybe that needs to be addressed.

What tags or groups, if your provider can do that?
I only have one tag at this time ‘Advance readers. But one for sure I will make is a tag for people that email me with questions about locations of the book and general overview of how much they like a book. For them to take the time to email an author they deserve special attention. Even if it was a free book.

Guinevere
Guinevere
3 years ago

How many different points of entry will there be to your mailing list?
At the moment, there’s back matter sign-ups and giveaway sign-ups. Within backmatter sign-ups, there are three different work groupings and five different series. I should probably really have a working website too…

What landing page(s) do you need to make that happen?
I need a different landing page for the backmatter for each series (because I have different cookies) and I need a landing page for giveaway sign-ups.

What tags or groups, if your provider can do that
Back matter specific to series (I haven’t been tagging this, but I can see where it would be very helpful–for instance, people who enjoyed my Wild Angels series about Hunters might especially enjoy my spin-off academy series, and it might be good to reach out them uniquely and/or to know if they are responding to the emails I send out about the spin-off at the rate one might expect.

Plus tags for different giveaway types–whether in takeover, or from a promo for a boxed set I’m in, for instance.

Teresa
Teresa
3 years ago

• How many different points of entry will there be to your mailing list?

At a guess, I need to mention my newsletter on Medium, on my blog, on Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon author central.
• What landing page(s) do you need to make that happen?

Ideally I will use one cookie and only need 1 landing page.

• What tags or groups, if your provider can do that?

Organic, a tag for where the person signed up, a tag per book (once I have a second book), and maybe a tag per cookie so I know who had what down the line when/if I change the cookie?

Marisa D'Vari
Marisa D'Vari
3 years ago

Answer these questions:

How many different points of entry will there be to your mailing list?

Tammi this is a hard one! I have no evidence of this, yet I do not think that too many teens go to a specific author website. Even if they do, my author website (now) features mostly my nonfiction (screenwriting books, media publicity books) and has a professorial tone.

That said, I do have a website in the name of my character that has not yet been developed. I would imagine that THIS would be the place they would immediately go to read more about the character and her world. And sign up there.

What landing page(s) do you need to make that happen?

I am unsure about the context you use for landing page, but I would drive would-be subscribers to the (character) website via social media.

What tags or groups, if your provider can do that?

I suppose I would mark people as “organic” who go to the (character) website. I can’t imagine teens would visit my FB page, which does have an author page, but is way too far from the topic of the book (wine designations, luxury travel).

TaraSaunders
TaraSaunders
3 years ago

How many different points of entry will there be to your mailing list?
Currently two, website and BookFunnel. My Back of Book sign-ups come through my website.

What landing page(s) do you need to make that happen?
One built into my website and one run by BookFunnel.

What tags or groups, if your provider can do that?
Organic, Bookfunnel to begin with. I currently have only one series and one cookie, but when that expands I’ll want to tag with the cookie/series they signed up for.

LeighDuncan
LeighDuncan
3 years ago

• How many different points of entry will there be to your mailing list?

Right now, I only have one point of entry—filling out the sign-up form on my website. I have, in the past, however, segmented out people who joined through various promotions (Ryan Zee) or signed up at a booksigning/workshop, but I haven’t run a Ryan Zee promo in years.

For booksignings/workshops, I always pass a sign-up list around the room or have it there on my table, and I segment people as I add them to my subscriber list. (Yes, my signup form makes it very clear that they’re giving me permission to add them to my newsletter list.)

Ideally, I would like to be able to track whether someone came to my newsletter through one of my books (do I really need to keep track of which book they came in through?), my FB page or by visiting my website on their own, but…

• What landing page(s) do you need to make that happen?

Since I’m not exactly sure what a landing page is or how I’d go about creating one, I’m lost on this one. Is a landing page a “secret” page on my website with a newsletter sign-up form? If it’s something else, no clue.

I’m thinking 3—one for books, one for my Facebook page, and one for people visiting my website, but…

How would I set up different landing pages without having to redo the information in the back of my books (which is far too cost-prohibitive to even begin to think about)? Currently, all my books contain an invitation to join my mailing list and a link that takes them to the Newsletter Sign-up page on my website.

Even if I were to set up different landing pages for different entry points, I don’t see any way to differentiate between people who visit my website and sign up there, and people who arrive there by following a link in the back of my books.

• What tags or groups, if your provider can do that?

Website signup
Book link signup
Facebook signup
Workshop or booksigning signup (specific tags for specific events)

How do you build tagging or segmenting into a signup form, for instance MailerLite’s, without asking intrusive questions?

Tom Sweeney
Tom Sweeney
3 years ago

How many different points of entry will there be to your mailing list?
There are several tiers. Nonfiction and fiction. I want to separate by organic, incentivized, and free. Nonfiction and fiction. Also by series.

What landing page(s) do you need to make that happen?
I don’t know that I need any landing pages. Do I? What purpose does a landing page serve that can’t be accomplished with embedded forms?

What tags or groups, if your provider can do that?
Hmmm. Maybe my answer for question 1 should be here? What is the difference between a tag and a group?

RMKerns
RMKerns
3 years ago

–How many different points of entry will there be to your mailing list?
BookFunnel promos, StoryOrigin promos, BOB (back-of-book signups), website signups, Facebook ads (forthcoming)…so, four. Wait. Eight. A set of four for each series.

–What landing page(s) do you need to make that happen?
Need a landing page for BOB signups (one for each series), one for the website, and one for the Facebook signups (proper tracking).

–What tags or groups, if your provider can do that?
I already have several tags for several purposes.