What’s the best way to build your email list?
It’s a question every marketer asks themselves on a weekly (or more likely daily) basis.
We all know that email, despite competing against new kids on the block social media, SEO and their ilk, still provides the highest ROI.
But there’s a problem.
Email’s high return is dependent on having a high quality list.
As a CRO nut you’re more than familiar with the best practices for landing pages, pop ups and the psychological elements to persuasion. The problem you face doesn’t lie in on page optimization, but in driving traffic to your highly optimized lead gen pages and establishing yourself as an authority.
Often the problem we face in these areas a born of our desire to continue pressing forward.
Last year’s developments are old news. They’ve fallen by the wayside for a reason, to make room for bigger and better developments. For new approaches that demonstrate how inferior those past efforts were.
But today, I want to pull your gaze away from upcoming developments and tomorrow’s best practices. Not because they’re not beneficial. But because there’s a hugely overlooked approach proven to explode email list numbers that’s been around for some time now.
The approach I’m referring to? Publishing your very own eBook.
Before you scoff and launch into a tirade on how you’ve published 10 eBooks in the last year, let me explain.
I’m not referring to the eBooks you email gate and offer on your site as a lead magnet. I’m not even referring to the compilation of blog posts you corral together to make something that loosely resembles an eBook. And no, not the terrible marketing ploy of an eBook you can chop up into segments to use as guest post marketing material.
I’m talking about a high quality eBook you’ll publish for little to no price on the Amazon Kindle store.
No, a standalone eBook published for minimal or no price on the Amazon Kindle store.
Why Would I Want to Publish on Amazon?
For a huge number of reasons!
You’re here on Crazy Egg reading about digital marketing so it’s safe to assume you’re aware of the growing popularity of mobile and tablet devices.
According to Pew Research, as the popularity of tablets and other mobile devices grow, so too does the interest in eBooks.
The potential audience you can reach with a well optimized eBook is astounding. eMarketer predicts the sale of eBooks will outgrow the sale of mobile games by the end of the year!
And Amazon, well, they’ve got the largest eBook audience around.
But I know what you’re thinking. The potential for sales might be huge and the reach is impressive, but what’s an Amazon eBook got to do with growing your list?
Well, how often do you see marketers providing some form of free eBook or case study behind an email gate on their own site? All the time, right?
It’s a good way to gain a few new subscribers, but it’s not without it’s flaws. Chief among those flaws are:
- The difficulty in driving a continuous stream of high quality traffic to your lead magnet page.
- Making sure your eBook is seen as high value and thus, worth an email address.
There are so many businesses providing eBooks now that having a self produced one on your site isn’t anything to shout about.
Publishing on Amazon is a different kettle of fish.
For one, your eBook is automatically perceived as higher value simply because it’s on the Kindle store.
But that high value perception comes with a caveat. Your eBook still needs to be high quality and valuable.
The value through association with Amazon only goes so far. Thanks to the inbuilt review system a low quality eBook won’t last long.
It will receive poor reviews, which will lower your eBooks rank and placement in the search results.
If that rank becomes low enough it’ll be near impossible for users to find your eBook. You’ll see sales and sign ups decrease until they’re next to zero.
The other, and arguably most beneficial feature with Amazon publishing has to be the marketing. If you can organize a good launch (which you can because you’re a savvy marketing type) Amazon will continue to display your eBook to interested parties for months or even years.
That’s months or years of people downloading your eBook and reading your content without you having to lift a finger. Now, if you’re smart and include a few links back to your site or, even better, a specifically optimized landing page (eBook freebies are a popular choice) you could see your list explode.
There’s a plethora of examples out there of people who have used this method to great effect. Nick Stephenson is just one example. With a smart marketing plan Nick saw his list grow by 15,000 people in just over six months thanks to Amazon Kindle!
Of course writing your eBook isn’t going to be easy. You’ve got to consider everything from market research to actually writing the eBook and finally how you’ll promote the launch.
These are all important steps for producing an eBook that’s high value and built to last. Each one deserves an article on their own (if you are interested let us know in the comments and we’ll try to work some out).
Rather than give a general overview of a handful of points I want to look at one aspect of Kindle marketing in particular.
I want to examine the steps you can take to write an incredible book description on the Amazon store. That book description, if written well, could drive sales for months and, with a few smart mentions of your own site, could continue to grow your email list throughout.
Your eBook Title
Headlines. We all know their importance. From David Ogilvy’s 80/20 attention split observation to the myriad formulae and rules writers have developed over the years, headlines have always been top priority for marketers like you and me.
With eBooks, the title is your headline, and it could be the deciding factor in its success.
Thankfully there’s no new formulae or rules you need to remember specifically for the Kindle store. In fact, if you take a quick look at some of Amazon’s recommended eBooks I’m pretty certain you’ll find the title formulae quite familiar.
The above five examples are from the Kindle homepage. They’re the books Amazon has deemed good enough to recommend to new visitors and as such will receive an incredibly high number of impressions.
Notice how they all follow a very similar format.
The titles are generally separated into title and sub title.
The title is most often the keyword the particular target audience will be typing into their search bar. Prime examples above are the two books that have focused on “stocks” and the final entry with “success” (and to a lesser extent “success made simple”).
For users looking for advice on playing the stock market or how to succeed in life those primary keywords are going to jump off the screen and immediately grab attention.
The sub titles are there to bolster that interest, and it’s here we enter familiar territory. Nearly all the above examples above (and on the amazon store) take the tried and true approach of either a numbered or “how to” headline.
It’s a tried and true method for getting high CTRs. They’re simple headline formulae that explain the use of the content in specific terms.
Take a look.
“How to invest for success to make money” (granted they’ve butchered the title by adding “to make money”, but you get the idea)
“How to make your business goals and personal dreams come true in 6 steps”
“9 Steps to Stock Market Success”
These sub titles could all be taken straight off a blog post or some form of email gated content.
They’re specific, unique and most importantly often use numbers to highlight how easy the content is to understand and implement.
When you’re writing the title and subtitle of your ebook follow tried and tested formula. You’re not writing fiction and don’t need some overly pretentious literary title.
You’re writing a useful book on the niche you operate in. Think of it as business as usual. Include the keyword and follow with a popular headline formula and voila. Success.
This is the meat of your persuasive content.
You’ve got 4000 characters to play with when describing your eBook. I recommend using as many of those 4000 characters as possible.
The book description is akin to a regular sales letter, landing page or direct response email. You’ve captured attention with the headline, now you need to build interest, desire and solicit the purchase through the body copy.
This means there’s no need to deviate from the usual methods you employ. After all, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
However, unlike traditional landing pages and sales letters the one area you can afford to overlook is social proof.
Amazon has an extremely robust review system which will handle this for you. Don’t waste valuable words trying to repeat the sentiments new readers will leave in the review section.
To help highlight a good approach I’ve included an example below for a book with 64 reviews. That’s much higher than the majority of self published eBooks on the Amazon store so it’s obviously doing something right.
You’ll notice the description follows a very formulaic approach. Most notably it follows that tried and true method we all know and love, AIDA.
The headline is the attention grabber. As mentioned in the previous section it’s specific and answers a question its target audience will have been pondering.
The start of the description is a great example of a good hook that builds on that attention with a little interest.
The above example alludes to a secret Amazon algorithm. One which could be the difference between selling a handful or a truckload of your eBooks. If you were searching for advice on how to sell more books, that opening sentence will go a long way to securing your interest.
The interest building is then furthered with the mention of “step-by-step”.
Step-by step is a simple phrase, but it’s one that panders to the low attention span of today’s readers. You’ve got to remember that people are busy. They don’t want to spend hours trying to figure out how to apply the theories in your book.
Step-by-step elicits images of incredibly direct instructions. People want results, but they want simple instructions to help them achieve their goals. The phrase step-by-step gives the impression of a foolproof process.
This is then followed by the copywriter’s favorite tool. Bullet points. As John Wood explains over on AWAI,
“Online readers, who often skim more than they read, love bullets. They break up clumps of text and make the page easier to read. Plus, they quickly grab the readers’ attention and give them key information they’re looking for to help them make a decision.”
The screen cap offers a good example of how to organize your bullets. They start strong. The first bullet hones in on one of the major needs for Amazon authors. Top visibility and great reviews.
The bullet points then move away from the benefits and start to focus on the features of the book. In this case the specific actions and approaches you’ll learn.
This is a smart choice. Benefits on their own often feel too much like hype. The inclusion of specific strategies adds credibility to your claims. It gives the impression of a scientific method that’s been tested and optimized.
About the Author
You’ve probably already got your own audience established, right?
A few hundred or maybe even thousand subscribers who regularly read your content and know who you are and what you’re about.
But they’re not on Amazon. Or more specifically, they’re not the people who will find your book on Amazon.
The about the author section shouldn’t be overlooked. Not only does it give you an opportunity to further establish your authority and users trust in you, but it also offers the first location to place a link back to your site/landing page.
Here’s the author bio for Penny C. Sansevieri, who wrote the aforementioned book on increasing Amazon sales.
Penny begins with a mention of her credentials. A marketing specialist who also coaches authors on making the most of their publications. Great for building a little credibility with the Amazon crowd.
However, what’s particularly interesting is how she signs off the bio. She’s included two links, one to her website, the other to a specific sign up page.
These two mentions will generate a good bit of back traffic from the cautious shoppers who want to know more about the author before publishing.
The number of people who look at your book, examine the description and check who the author is will far outnumber those who actually click the purchase button.
Your author bio should include links to your site. Not only to catch a few of the interested people who don’t purchase, but also to help bolster your authority and build trust for those on the fence.
Each eBook on the Kindle store comes with a free sample for users. Amazon takes the first 10% of your content and uses it as a sample to try and persuade users to purchase.
These samples often include the title page and the table of contents.
Again, more people will read the sample than purchase the book. So what should you do? Include a link on the title page to the landing page or site you want to direct readers to.
If they’re reading the sample, they’re interested in what you have to offer. Even if they’ve no intention to purchase you shouldn’t just let them walk away.
Amazon allows you to choose seven keywords for your eBook.
As expected, these are used to categorize your ebook and, along with other factors, help identify it’s placement in the Amazon search results.
Amazon doesn’t have a tool that allows you to search for related keywords so you’re going to have to get your research hat on.
Your first stop should be other similar books on the Amazon store. When you’re on an individual book’s page, scroll down and you’ll see it’s Amazon Bestseller’s Rank. This is how well that book is performing across multiple categories in the Kindle store. It looks something like this:
The above example was pulled from a book on writing a resumé. The categories listed on the far right are good potentials for your keywords.
After you’ve applied this technique to a few books you’ll compete with, you should have a good idea of which keywords are easier to rank for.
Getting a book to bestselling status on Amazon isn’t that difficult. All you’ve got to do is pick a keyword that has little competition and you can be a “bestselling author” from that category. If you do manage to reach bestselling status in any category, you can expect to see your overall eBook ranking improve and, along with it, its placing in the Amazon search results.
The other step is to utilize a tool I’m sure you’re familiar with, Google’s Keyword Planner.
Keyword Planner isn’t geared toward the Amazon store and will of course provide information based on Google searches. However, I can’t imagine there being a huge difference in the search terms those using Google and Amazon tap in.
Keyword Planner is a good method to come up with a few alternative keyword suggestions should you really be struggling.
Let Amazon Take a List Building Load Off Your Shoulders
The problem with list building tactics is that many view them as an insular tactic.
Marketers often turn to the on site tactics of pop ups and landing pages to grow their list. They fail to look outside their own sphere of influence.
Amazon provides a great platform for small businesses and entrepreneurs to grow their lists. It’s got great reach, will handle the marketing for you and, providing your eBook is high quality, will help build you into a credible, trusted source of information.
If you follow these steps (and create a killer eBook!) you could still be seeing new subscribers join your list for months to come with little to no further effort from you!