On Wednesday 8th January I released TICK to the TOCK, and during the madness, I sent over 300 Personal emails within 3 Hours of each other. I didn’t ask anyone to buy my latest novel, nor were they sent in one mass bunch via Aweber or Mailchimp or GetResponse.
I wrote them all. Every last one of them. To just about everyone I know. Am I mad? Yeah, maybe a little…
And in this post I shall discuss how I did it and why, because maybe, just maybe, you can take something from this and tailor it around your own world. Whether you write books is irrelevant in all honesty, because this isn’t about TICK to the TOCK. It’s about my own journey, my own story, and how I want to connect with people in the NOW and in the FUTURE.
IT BEGAN WITH AJ ‘FRICKING’ LEON
In October 2013 I welcomed AJ Leon, Melissa Leon, and Jessie White to my hometown of Sowerby Bridge. AJ was globe trotting the world promoting his latest book, and I was lucky enough to host an intimate and awesome event where I interviewed and introduced him to my friends and family.
AJ is an inspiring individual at the best of times, but he said something that stuck with me and struck a nerve. He talked about his successful Kickstarter Campaign, and how he wrote and sent hundreds of personal emails within a few hours of each other – asking nobody to pledge to his campaign.
As I was planning my TICK to the TOCK launch, I skipped a breath and whispered, “Shit! That’s genius.”
You see, we all receive many emails each and every day, and we all follow people we admire who send weekly newsletters. But the day of the personal email is dying, which is a sad realisation indeed. If you want to truly connect with your audience, real conversations are necessary. And I know, writing personal emails all the time isn’t possible, but at times it is. This was one of those times, and I was bloody excited about it.
ONCE YOU HAVE THE WHY, EVERYTHING ELSE FALLS INTO PLACE
I spoke to AJ about this genius idea and figured out exactly how he did it (which we will come to soon), but in my opinion the HOW and the WHAT doesn’t matter unless you have a good reason WHY. Once you have the why, everything else falls into place.
I didn’t have one WHY, either. I had several:
- I’d reconnect with OLD friends
- I’d ask people to SHARE, not buy
- I’d start a CONVERSATION, not state a declaration
- I’d do something 95% of people WOULDN’T think to do
- I’d make a big IMPACT in a short space of time
In the end of the day, people will or won’t buy TICK to the TOCK. I don’t believe me asking them to will make much of a difference, but requesting a SHARE is another story all together. And life, as it does to us all, ticks away rather quickly, which means we lose touch with once upon a friends. Sending a genuine and personal email may just rekindle some of them.
I had no idea what the results of this crazy idea would be, and I won’t pretend that it helped make TICK to the TOCK a bestseller. But I stand by the WHY, and the benefits in sending over 300 emails in 200 minutes has had on my life.
THIS IS NOT FOR THE FAINT HEARTED!
How I went about this is rather simple, and it’s as close to free as free can be… sort of…
Because if you insist on putting a price on your time and your dedication to do something important, this exercise is rather expensive. Simply put, this is not for the faint hearted. Let me explain:
1: I started to write these emails in October. In fact, I had 75 days to write over 300 emails, which meant I had to write 4 emails every single day. This isn’t a lot, but I HAD to do it every day, and if I missed one (which I did – on several occasions) this daily number would creep up.
2: I had to create my list of people. This takes longer than you think, and tracking down all those emails is no easy feat. In fact, I had to use many of my friends Facebook Email, which is a fiddly and time consuming ordeal.
3: I had to write over 300 different, but very similar emails! This is the definition of tedium, and although it’s okay for the first week, by the time I got to December I was pulling my hair out.
Still, free is free (or nearly), and if you’re an organised son of a gun, you may like to learn how I went about this crazy task…
Although each and every email was written by me, and was personal and unique, I did use a generic paragraph with the most important information in it. It read:
Anyway, I have a single favour to ask of you: help me SHARE the good word. Launch Day is massive for an author, and a good first few hours paves the way forward. You can help more than you know by clicking this link >> http://bit.ly/1g7bKdJ << and completing Your Ticking Duty.
Like I say, I didn’t want to ask for a purchase, I desired everyone I knew to SHARE the TICK to the TOCK Love. This meant I had to create my Sharing Landing Page months in advance, although all you need initially is the URL Address. Over the weeks and months you can design and perfect this page, but you have to decide what you want to ask, and where you want to send them months before the big day arrives.
I also kept my emails rather short (4-6 paragraphs) and personalized them with stories, memories, and anetdotes specific to the reader. This, in my opinion is the most important part of the whole process. Not only does it rekindle lots of memories and good times with old friends, but it ensures they’ll read it and say, “Damn, he actually wrote this to ME!“
Other than this, there are no rules. Simply save each email as a draft and watch as this number climbs and climbs and climbs 🙂
**TOP TIP 1 – If you’re sending to a Facebook Email (email@example.com, for instance) DO NOT add a Subject Title. It makes your message read funny within Facebook, whereas if you leave this blank, it reads like a normal Facebook Message – Send yourself a message and see what I mean.**
**TOP TIP 2 – Try and mix up your Subject Titles, as if they’re all the same it may affect how many actually get sent. I’m by no means an email expert, but this doesn’t bode well for Spam Folders and the mysterious algorithms that rule the web.**
I used 3 tools throughout this exercise, two of which are completely free:
- GMAIL (FREE): I decided to use my Gmail account because I figured it would be friendlier to Spam Boxes and Junk Folders (compared to my self-hosting account). As I also saved over 300 messages as a draft, I didn’t want my regular email account to be bogged down. As a final sweetener, Gmail links with Boomerang, which comes next…
- BOOMERANG (FREE – $4.99): Boomerang is a fantastic App for Gmail that allows you to schedule and stagger messages for future use (which is exactly what I did). It also allows you to do other cool things, such as send automatic replies to those who don’t open your original email. Overall, this is a great little App, so I encourage you to read the full features on offer (READ HERE). It’s also FREE, but with a rather big BUT… Their Free Trial only allows you to send 150 emails within a 24-hour-period. This meant I had to upgrade to their $4.99 account, but you can cancel at any time, so don’t worry about being locked into a long contract.
- EVERNOTE (FREE): To keep track of who I had and hadn’t written an email to, I created a simple spreadsheet in Evernote that recorded: Name, Email Address, Email Written (Yes or No). This is super important as it’s easy to lose track as the weeks tick by. However, you can use anything to record this (Excel, Google Docs, a Scrap of Paper). I chose Evernote because I like to be connected with it at all times.
You may think there’s more to it than this, but there really isn’t. The hardest part of this whole task is the time it takes and the self discipline required. The actual doing is ridiculously simple.
Like I say, writing 300 personal emails and sending them within 200 minutes didn’t help TICK to the TOCK become a bestseller, but as far as I’m concerned it was a HUGE success:
- I’ve rekindled some old friendships and had a few great conversations
- The support and fine words sent my way has been rather remarkable
- It did provide a few important spikes and helped spread the TttT Love
Let’s look a little closer to the final point shall we, because I’m sure you’re weighing up the pros and cons right now, trying to decide whether the personal approach is right for you.
- The TttT Share Page had 200 Unique Visitors during the week after launch Day
- The Average Time was 3 minutes and 33 seconds
- The bounce rate was only 30%
- 131 of those unique visitors were from email
- And 45 were from Facebook (where much of my email was sent to)
- The Twitter Messages was Tweeted Over 50 Times
- The TttT Facebook Image was Shared 42 Times
- The TICK to the TOCK Landing Page had 230 Unique Visitors during this time
- I didn’t share this page an awful lot, so many of those visitors came via the Share Page
You may not find these numbers spectacular, but when I compare it to the launch of Beyond Parallel (my first novel exactly one year earlier), engagement and general interest are MUCH MUCH HIGER. And depending what you’re launching (a Kickstarter Campaign, a new product, a book perfect for your niche) and what your aim is (PR, sales, traffic), using this personal approach could have HUGE implications.
But like I keep saying, it isn’t all about the numbers and stats. It’s about the real conversations that are made, and the way it connects you to the most important people in the world… YOUR AUDIENCE.
Wow, this was a rather mammoth post, but I do hope you’ve taken inspiration from it, just like I took inspiration from AJ ‘Fricking’ Leon. Would I do this again? Absolutely! I’d probably do certain things differently, such as start the process earlier, get the Share Page Professionally Designed, and try and create a Press Worthy Angle so popular news outlets would potentially pick it up.
You can always improve though, so it’s on to you and how you can add your own personal touch. If you do choose to go down the personal path, be sure to let me know how you get on 🙂