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Writing and Publishing

What’s the Deal with GDPR?

Do I need to make changes to how I collect emails on my website?

deal with GDPR

I don’t think anyone fully understands the practical implications of the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) for the European Union. And we may not for a few years. Here are my thoughts on it. (Reminder: I’m not a lawyer, and this isn’t legal advice; this is my opinion.)

Discover How the GDPR Applies to Writers Outside the European Union

As it applies to writers, the General Data Protection Regulation affects us if we have people from the European Union on our mailing list and even if they visit our website.

Some people outside of Europe choose to remove all European subscribers from their mailing list, and others decide to ignore the law. Both are extreme responses.

As I understand it, the two main things that apply to us as writers are that when someone from the European Union gives us their email address, we must be clear what we will do with it, such as add them to our email newsletter list or send them periodic updates. Second, if they unsubscribe, we must remove them immediately and delete all their information from our records.

Email Marketing Providers Respond to GDPR

Email marketing providers (MailChimp, ConvertKit, etc.) have made sure their systems comply with GDPR, and they tell us what changes we need to do on our part to follow this law. This includes updating the wording on our opt-in message and our privacy statement on our website. GDPR also applies to Book Funnel and other providers that gather email addresses for us.

Some people think we need to provide notice to our website visitors from the European Union if our website uses cookies (most do). And that we must have all people from Europe (and unknown locations) re-subscribe to our mailing list. Sheesh!

Some people assume that GDPR will emerge as a best practice that we should all follow. To learn more (then you want to), do an internet search for GDPR.

But the short answer when it comes to the General Data Protection Regulation is to do what your email marketing provider recommends.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.



Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

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Writing and Publishing

Put the Reader First or Risk Losing Them

Write for your audience, and don’t try to impress others with your skill

Put the Reader First or Risk Losing Them

I recently read a nonfiction book. My assessment was that the author wrote to impress more than to educate. Though I did learn from her words, I’d have gained much more had she gotten out of the way and put me, the reader, first. I didn’t care how educated she was or about her sometimes sassy style. I wanted her to teach me.

Regardless if we’re writing a book, article, or blog post, we need to put the reader first. Our words need to serve them, not call attention to ourselves with our clever use of words or the way we weave a phrase. The same applies to sales copy and marketing efforts for our books.

Whatever our promotional activities, we must carefully consider each campaign from the perspective of the prospect. Before we launch our promotion, even before the test marketing, we should take a step back and look at our creation as if we were the prospect.

Consider an email I received. It was set up like an email newsletter. The first item caught my attention. The email only provided a two-line teaser, so I clicked on “more” to read the rest.

That took me to a website (as opposed to the full text, lower in the email). Unfortunately, that page only provided the first four lines of the text, so I couldn’t read further until I clicked on “read the full article.” I was six lines into it when the screen grayed out and an ad popped up, covering the entire piece. Then I had to “skip” the commercial so I could close the ad.

As this happened an intriguing video played to the right. My curiosity was piqued, and I wanted to hear the audio, but there was no volume control or “on” button. Incredible!

By then I had lost interest in the article and was peeved by the entire ordeal. I closed the window and opted-out from receiving further messages from the company.

I doubt that was their intent.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

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Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

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Writing and Publishing

How Not to Design an Email Newsletter

I receive many email newsletters and would like to read them, but usually, I don’t. The reason is they aren’t user-friendly. Here’s how they frustrate me.

  • How Not to Design an Email Newsletter
    The email contains the headline (which is generally interesting) and a couple of teaser lines. I need to click on “more.”
  • I’m then taken to a webpage. I see the headline again and a few additional lines of text, but it’s still not enough to satisfy my curiosity. So I need to click on “read more.”
  • Now I’m taken to a second page for this specific item.
  • About half the time, a pop-up covers what I’m trying to read. I’m not interested in an ad, and I don’t want to sign-up for anything or log in. Sometimes it’s challenging to figure out how to even close the pop-up.
  • By now I’ve lost interest and am frustrated. I close the webpages and delete the email. If I’m really irritated, I’ll also unsubscribe—and if I didn’t sign up for it, I mark it as spam.

But there are newsletters I will read—assuming they have relevant information that interests me.

Good email newsletters are self-contained within the email. This might mean they can be read straight through or that the headlines are at the beginning of the email with the linked text further down the page.

This means no clicking—or only one click. I don’t have to leave my email program, and I’m not subjected to popups. Then I will take the time to read it. And if we are cultivating an audience and building a platform for our books, isn’t that the goal?

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

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Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

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Writing and Publishing

Analyzing Email Bounce Rate Statistics

A few years ago I came across some statistics in DM News that puzzled me. They shared some numbers on email bounce rates, courtesy of MailerMailer. But they did so without explanation. I jotted them down for future consideration.

Analyzing Email Bounce Rate Statistics

They noted that when delivering an email message to our listless than once a month, the bounce rate is 5 percent. However, when sending an email message at least daily, the bounce rate drops to 0.4 percent.

When it comes to random statistics we need to be careful about how we react. If we jump to unwarranted conclusions, we could end up making bad decisions. The truth is that some reporters don’t understand math, and they present statistics out of context—or out of ignorance.

In this case, the numbers seem to imply that mailings that are more frequent enjoy a lower bounce rate. However, this may be a bad assumption. Is the bounce rate per month or per email?

I suspect it is per email. So, if you send one email message per day for a month, the compounded monthly bounce rate becomes 12.4 percent. This is much higher than when sending only one email a month.

What might be the cause of this? I’m not sure, but I do know that less frequent is better, which is why I am careful not to email my lists too often. Once a month is my goal and certainly not more than once a week. I think this is key to building an audience.

Plus less frequent emailing minimizes the chance of irritating readers. I prefer my audience to look forward to receiving my message, not dread it.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

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Writing and Publishing

Three Tips to Increase Email Success

As part of my publishing business, I send email messages to magazine subscribers on behalf of our advertisers. This is one of the services we provide. It’s commonly called e-blasts, but it’s just a different twist on email marketing.

I’ve done this for several years and have tracked vastly different response rates depending on the type and tone of the message. Consider:

1) Offer a Free Resource: An email for a free whitepaper enjoys a 20 percent higher open rate and a 400 percent greater click rate than does a straight ad. The lesson is to give people something of value. Help them; don’t sell them.

2) Invite Them to a Free Webinar: Emails promoting free webinars also enjoy higher open rates and much higher click rates. However, these are usually not as good as emails offering a free resource. If you’ve ever watched a free webinar, you’re conditioned to expect a sales pitch at the end, but you also know you will learn valuable information before they try to sell you something.

3) Avoid Straight Ads: Emails that try to sell something are the worst-performing of all, sometimes earning only single-digit open rates. If you must send this type of email, spend a great deal of time on your message and even more on your subject line. Though this is critical for every email message, it is even more important when doing straight marketing.

Three Tips to Increase Email Success

The subject line is key, affecting open rates by as much as 30 percent. In writing your subject line, remember that to meet CAN-SPAM regulations, the subject line must not be deceptive or misleading. I have also heard that the ideal subject line length is six to nine words.

Consider these factors when designing a message for maximum effectiveness. If you’re doing email marketing to communicate with your followers or to promote your books but not getting the reaction you desire, it might be that your message is getting in the way of their response.

What is your experience in doing email marketing? What do you think about attending free webinars? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

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