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Product Launch Email Campaign in 5 Easy Steps
Before we get into it I want to go over a few things:
This is essentially an email sequence.
This sequence does not need to be done day-to-day. You know your audience/subscribers best. Use that knowledge to gauge the time span you should take in delivering these five emails.
This sequence should be implemented when you have something completed that you are ready to sell to your audience. If you don’t have a completed thing to sell, DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT do this sequence. Even if you think you’ll be finished/ready by the time the fifth email is sent. Wait till you are finished.
Be sure to read to the end for a BONUS email tip.
For the purposes of this post I’m going to use myself and my upcoming serial novelization as an example. My plan is to release the prologue chapter on Sunday, June 5th. However, I want to get my email list prepared for this for multiple reasons:
I will begin to send them emails on Sundays (5 in May, 4 in June, and if they decide to become a paid subscriber, every Sunday moving forward). This adds a fourth email day in my weekly cadence of sending emails.
I want to provide ample time for my free subscribers to know what’s coming and how they can be a part of it.
Getting paid subscribers before my serial begins is great to use when marking once I start releasing chapters. The copy I use can read “Supported by X subscribers already! Don’t miss out!” Or something to that effect.
EMAIL #1 / STEP #1 [May 1st Delivery]
You’ve got a thing to sell and therefore you want to tell your entire email list with the hope that after all this time they have been receiving your free emails they may be ready to show some support in a more meaningful and financial way. Therefore, with this email you’ll want to be very direct and upfront from the Subject line down to the CTA at the end. Let’s begin…
Here is a list of things you’ll want to include in this email (preferably in this order):
Banner image (If you don’t have one, that’s fine. But a catchy image that has the name of your serial and conveys the genre would be great to have). Using Canva is okay but if you have a few bucks and can afford to hire someone even from Fiverr that could be something worth saving for as you begin to plan.
What is it exactly? What are you selling/sharing with your subscribers? Just flat out say it’s a serial that will be delivered episodically chapter-by-chapter, week-to-week. Or whatever your delivery schedule is. This would also be a great place to hook them with what the story is about. Take your blurb (you do have a blurb, right?) and throw that in there, maybe beef it up a bit.
Who is this for? Let your subscriber know that this serial is going to be more of the great fiction they’ve enjoyed from you, only better and a continuous story! Make them feel like this is what you’ve been building up to this whole time (if you haven’t been hyping this project previously) and the cost to them will be minimal compared to the extra content they will be receiving.
What’s in it for them? They need to know that you’re not just after their money. Tell them exactly what they’ll be getting and how often for the money they will be putting forth. Be specific. In my case, they’ll receive one chapter of about 5,000 words in length every Sunday for approximately 32 Sundays in a row. Add that you understand if they just aren’t sure. Even though they’ve received other fiction work from you they may not be and that’s okay, because you intend on releasing the first four chapters to them as a free subscriber so they can decide then. There is no rush.
Lastly, and most importantly, a CTA (Call To Action) button that will direct them to easily pay X amount to subscribe and receive this content.
NOTE: One thing you can consider doing during this email campaign you are running prior to your new product going Live is offering an exclusive discount to your subscribers only if they do it while this campaign is running. For instance, I could offer a 20% discount off the monthly/annual fee from May 1st - May 31st only.
EMAIL #2 / STEP #2 [May 8th Delivery]
It’s now the following Sunday and if I’m lucky I will have a handful (maybe) of people from my email list who decided to upgrade to being a paid subscriber. If not, that’s okay, cause we have a plan and we did say they can wait till my free chapters to make up their decision. Let’s continue…
When I release my serial it will be my first time doing it and up until that point I have only been sharing short stories I’ve written. That doesn’t exactly help my case that I’ll be able to deliver on my promise from my first email and it’s likely my subscribers will be thinking just that: How do I know this is real?
The way to convince them otherwise is in this email by answering these key questions:
Proof | One great way to show proof could be through screenshots. It might seem silly but it works. If you’re someone who prints out your manuscript during the editing phase (like me) then take a picture of that. If you plotted and wrote it all in scrivener, screenshot the chapters, show the word count. Little things like that go a long way towards proving that you’ve done the thing and it’s not like you’re writing it right now. Guaranteed delivery.
Stats, Stats, Stats | Like the images, again, if you’re like me and you love documenting things on spreadsheets, then you’ll want to perhaps either share the link so people can actually see your progression towards completion or a screenshot will suffice.
Emotion & Story | Lastly, tell them why you wrote this story. Take them on a journey with you from how the idea came about to why you were so passionate about it that you not only finished it but decided to share it just with your subscribers whom you value so much.
CTA | Add that call-to-action button again. Never leave home without it! From this point forward this CTA should be in just about every email you send, even those that aren’t in this sequence.
EMAIL #3 / STEP #3 [May 15th Delivery]
Another week has gone by and I’m sure I will have been biting my nails. Hoping I see some paid subscribers, but not beating myself up if I don’t. I’m playing the long game at this point so I’m not expecting much of any traction. My focus will be on the next email and this one will be a bit tricky to navigate. Here we answer one question and it’s a personal one so figuring out how to both ask and answer it when you’re communicating with your entire email list can be like walking a tightrope without a net.
What fears/worries do they have? Tackle those worries, put yourself in their shoes and face them head on!
I know what my fears are. My fears are that no one will read my serial and I’ll be crushed. On the other end I fear that everyone will read my serial and no one will like it. What could be worse? But to consider what a subscriber might fear or worry about when it comes to my trying to sell them on the idea of sponsoring me while I put out a serial week-to-week can be confusing and tricky. Here are some ideas I came up with to answer this question:
What if they don’t like what I’m writing?
They can’t afford the amount I’m asking even though they want to support me.
For some reason I proved to them that it's finished but they think I lied and will never release all of the chapters like I promised.
All valid concerns they can have and all of them easily answered. For starters, you can explain that you want them to tell you if they don’t like something. Why? Because you want to bring them on this journey with you. Yes, the story is written but it’s far from finished. Think of your subscribers (free and paid) as your beta readers whom you desperately want to hear from. Because one day you will publish this book and put it up on Amazon and when you do the help they gave you along the way will get mentioned (likely in the acknowledgements page).
If they can’t afford it and tell you that either via an email or a comment, be sure to answer them. Tell them you appreciate them even considering becoming a paid subscriber and maybe offer to give them access for those 32 weeks that the story will be released (that is possible to do)? It doesn’t really cost you anything to do this and it will show them that you care. You’ll be surprised how many of those people will turn around and become a paid subscriber when they are able because they will remember your kindness at the time. In my case, I have a 2nd and 3rd book in the works so every “free access to paid” I give I hope will convert to paid when the next books come out. Provided they enjoyed the first one, of course.
EMAIL #4 / STEP #4 [May 22nd Delivery]
We are getting close to D-Day when there will be nothing left but to put those chapters on autopilot and let the system work. But before we do we have two more emails to get through. This one is designed to lean in on the immediacy of the situation. Why do they need to act now? You may think this is a hump you just can’t get over, because they can sign up whenever and read yoru serial whenever. Where’s the incentive to “act now” for them? Here are some tips to consider:
First, you have that discount you’re going to set up. Great way to put a timer on signing up before the end of the month or they’ll miss out.
Do a giveaway. For every 5 new paid subscribers you’ll send one lucky winner the entire epub file at the end of the 32 weeks for free! You can, of course, increase that 5 to whatever number you want. If you’ve already got at this point 25 paid subscribers then make it for every 25. Pick the winner at random from each grouping of 25 using a random generator you can find for free online.
Offer to put their name in your book when it’s fully published on Amazon. They will be under a special “First Supporters” section. That way you can still have a standing offer to list the names of all your paid subscribers in your book, except those who subscribe before the book goes Live on your Substack will get named first. (Of course this only applies if you intend on turning your serial into a book for purchase.)
Extend the discount on paid subscribers if you hit X amount of subscribers by the end of your campaign. In my case it would be May 31st. And if I had, for example, 50 paid subscribers near the end I might say “If I get 25 more I’ll extend another month.” Don’t reveal how many you have or you want to reach (at least not yet and you’ll see why later).
Whatever you decide to go with, make sure there is a clear and present time limit that your subscribers must jump on or lose the opportunity. And as always, don’t forget your CTA at the end!
EMAIL #5 / STEP #5 [May 29 Delivery]
This is it. The last one. The last push before there will be nothing left for you to do but make sure your emails are scheduled to go out on time on the days you designated. This final email is literally just a reminder for your subscriber. Let them know there will be no other reminders like this one. So if they were holding out to the last minute (in my case) they have just 72hrs to get in on the exclusive offers they get by becoming a paid subscriber early. After that the discount goes away and while they’ll still be acknowledged in the book as a supporter, they won’t be listed as a “First Supporter” with everyone else.
A little last minute reminder goes a long way towards getting those people who live their life waiting till the last minute. I’m like that and I know there are so many others who are like that as well.
BONUS: (this isn’t the bonus email tip but rather a bonus to include in this last email) A prequel of the story you are about to release. Not a long one either. Novelette or novella length should suffice. Make it something that leads into or takes place around your serial in some way. If you’re not working on a serial but something else entirely, then give your subscriber something of equal or slightly lesser value from the whole they are going to receive once they become a paid subscriber.
Leave that last CTA for them and push that send button. Leave the rest up to the powers that be on what happens next.
BONUS EMAIL TIP
A QUICK THANK YOU
When you send your first chapter, in the beginning, before the chapter stuff starts, be sure to thank all of those who were “First Supporters.” And if it’s a large number (say, over 50) then say that as well. It will solidify for those who are still “on the fence” that you are worth backing because others already have. This is a great way to convince them to become a paid supporter.
If this is a great tactic, why not divulge these numbers sooner? Why wait till this campaign ends? It’s a bit of reverse psychology. During the campaign if you reveal too early how many paid subscribers you have then others reading it may think “she’s got more than enough, I don’t have to subscribe right now. I’ll wait.” And you can never know what number that might be to make a person feel this way. It can be 5 or it can be 50. Play it safe and reveal nothing till after. Because chances are that person is also holding out to see just how many paid subscribers you managed to get. Are others taking you seriously? Their mind shifts from not wanting in to all of a sudden feeling comfortable giving their hard earned money.
This won’t work every time. It’s not some tried and true bonus, but the only way to know if it’ll work for you is to try it.
Let me know in the comments if you try any of these or all of these ideas out? How far in advance are you planning to implement these emails? Did you find that they worked or they didn’t work? What ways do you use to entice your subscribers to buy something new you’re selling?
Also, if you’re looking for a community of fiction writers who are also dabbling in Substack (all of us on different levels of expertise) might I suggest joining The Fiction ‘Stacks community discord. It’s a great place to discuss how fusing a newsletter and blog with community can be an amazing experience for both the writer and the reader.
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