You've probably heard it a million times: your e-newsletter is one of your most important tools as a band! But why is it so dang hard to keep up with and deliver regular engaging content?
Well maybe, just maybe, it's because you're unsure of your approach and what works.
If that's the case, then this quickie list of dos and don'ts for email marketing is for you. Hopefully these tips help you straighten out any email marketing nightmares you might be trudging through!
What good is an email list when I can just connect with my fans on social media?
When a fan gives you their email address, they have consciously opened the door for communication. This is a great thing! It's like picking up a number from a cute girl/guy at the bar. If you play your cards right, this acquaintance could turn in to either a quick fling or a long-term romantic lover.
Something to keep in mind – and it's easy to forget – is that funneling new fans to your e-list is truly the only way to own that data and ensure over time you will be able to stay connected. Sure, it's more annoying to set up and maintain a newsletter rather than sending people over to Facebook or Twitter, but it's truly the only reliable platform. Look at what happened with Facebook when they inflicted the world with promoted posts. We send our fans to them, and then they charge us to speak to them? Unfortunately, the future of social media is too unpredictable to rely on, and the e-newsletter is your secret weapon. Use it wisely and you will be grateful!
- 66% of consumers have made a purchase online as a result of an email marketing message
- 76% of email opens occur in the first two days after an email is sent
- 48% of emails are opened on mobile devices (and only 11% of emails are optimized for mobile)
My advice? Come up with a strong direct-to-fan strategy for your e-newsletter and take the time needed to properly develop it.
1. Know your voice
Your e-newsletter is an extension of your band and needs to be genuine for fans to connect. It should also match the tone on your social platforms and website blogs. Ensure that you're consistent across the board and always genuine for the best results.
2. Use a professional email service and graphic designer
Strong presentation is crucial. There are a number of great services that help you send professional looking emails. My top two recommendations are MailChimp and Topspin.
- MailChimp is an email client built to help you send emails to large quantities of people. The platform provides you with great insights into your subscribers, simple and clean designs that you can fully customize, and nice ways to segment lists for geo-targeting purposes. Under 2,000 subscribers and it’s free! Upwards, it’s still very affordable. I'd recommend MailChimp as a good starting point if you're new to email marketing.
- Topspin is a direct-to-fan sales platform that’s great for both independent artists and signed artists wanting to engage fans directly. The platform truly becomes powerful when you have an email list of 2500+ subscribers. I think it’s pretty incredible for email marketing, giving artists opportunities to appeal to fans personally and give them actual value for signing up for your newsletter. It's very similar to MailChimp, but the main difference is that it's fully integrated with your online sales platform. If you can swing paying $9.99 monthly for a basic account, it's worth every penny.
The back-end for both services is very easy to use. Hire a graphic designer to customize your template and update accordingly periodically. This will go a long way in ensuring your emails stand out and come across as a reliable source of information.
3. Ensure your email is mobile friendly
As you saw in the statistic above, lots of people will be receiving your email on their phone. Using a professional service like the ones I've recommended will ensure you're set up for clean mobile delivery. Always do a test version to work out any kinks before pressing the send button.
4. Recruit every chance you get
Now, don't be too obnoxious about it… but when you come into contact with a new supporter, transition them over to the mailing list! Have a signup form at your merch table to ensure fans can quickly add their name after seeing you blow their minds at a bar. Funnel emails in from your e-store, Bandcamp, social platforms (MailChimp provides a great Facebook plugin) and more. Collecting your fans together in one organized place will save you time and energy when you have a big announcement. Also, don't forget those emails you get from fans, bands who want to tour with you, or journalists who want to interview you – don't miss a key opportunity to add them if they've shown they want to support the band.
5. Reward loyalty and create opportunities for engagement
Your mailing list should be treated very much like they are on "the inside." Reward them with access to information before the general public, and provide them with exclusive opportunities like pre-sale codes, merch bundles, contests and more. All of these things will create an opportunity for engagement and for fans to take action. Make it easy for them to feel special, and make them want to share that excitement with their friends. Ensure that there is an interactive element – for example, asking your fans to vote on a new merch design or including fan-created content is a great way to connect as well.
6. Integrate your social and sales links
Make sure that all information is delivered clearly and concisely, especially when it is surrounding sales. Make it easy for fans to find tickets to a gig or buy your new album. Also, make it easy for fans to share and connect with your band on social. Placing recognizable social icons at the top and bottom of your email will go a long way.
7. Come up with a cool club name for your fans
Give your fans a name so they can feel part of a club and connect amongst themselves. We've seen this work very well for huge artists like Lady Gaga's Little Monsters and Tegan & Sara's Superclose Society – and it can work on a smaller level as well. Everyone likes to feel like they belong to a clan, and helping fans connect with each other will further strengthen their connection to your music and create a strong community around your band.
8. Provide a lot of visuals
Does anyone even read copy anymore in today's fast-paced society? You are probably skimming the sh*t out of this right now – and that's fine, carry on! But case in point - load up on photos (good ones) and videos before writing long diatribes. Linking to longer blog posts for fans that would like to read more is better than blasting them with four paragraphs of text. Make your email pleasantly skim-able.
9. Take time to edit
Typos and informational mistakes are not okay! It quickly will affect your credibility in the fans' eyes, and they will question if they can trust the information in front of them.
10. Review what's working and what's not working
Analyze your stats to make important decisions about what type of content to include, when to send your newsletters and more. General trends show that emails are opened more often during the day than at night, and that more links lead to more clicks, but be careful about using generic information like this as hard and fast rules for your own email list. Instead, use it as a starting point to help guide your initial decisions, and then test one thing at a time and analyze your results after every email campaign. You can even ask your fans for feedback on what they would like to see more or less of. Constantly reiterate and update to ensure your newsletter is as effective as can be.
1. Only talk about yourself
Ya, ya, ya – we know you’re awesome and the majority of the newsletter should be about what your band is up to, but don't be afraid to integrate other topics and relevant interests to your fans. Connecting with your fans doesn’t need to start and end with you – there are some great cat GIFs, for example, that I'm sure would make them chuckle and feel like they're getting an email from a friend rather than a marketing machine.
2. Forget to geo-target
Sending regional information to your international list is basically asking for your fans to unsubscribe. Be very sensitive on who sees what, and make sure that the way you speak to your fans is in line with what is relevant to them based on location.
People are sensitive about what comes in their inbox, so don't abuse your privilege. I recommend sending one newsletter monthly and only adding a second if something major needs to be announced right away.
4. Get flagged as spam
There are a few ways to avoid spam filters so that your hard work doesn't get dumped into a black hole. Words like "free" or "sale" in the subject line should be avoided, as should excessive punctuation and ALL CAPS! Always having the option to unsubscribe in the email will help tremendously. Here is a thorough article outlining some more ways you can stay on the safe side when it comes to sneaky spambots.
5. Obnoxiously sell
There are so many ways to engage fans without blasting them with "BUY OUR NEW ALBUM" six times throughout an email. Sell them creatively by sharing great content, bringing them into the process (photos or clips from the studio), including recent media links or coverage, and then have a subtle but very clear sales link at the bottom. Fans don't need to be hit over the head with a sales pitch. They already signed up and are in contemplation mode if they don't already have the record. Use great content to win them over!
6. Include large files/photos
Emails that take too long to load are asking to be instantly deleted. Period.
7. Regurgitate information
If you don't have anything new to say, then don't say anything at all. Re-announcing info and hoping that people who didn't open the last blast you sent might open this one now is only going to irritate the loyal fans who do open every email, and those are not the people you want to upset. If anything, create a separate segment of your list that only consists of people who did not open your first email, and send only that segment a gentle reminder about your announcement (now's your chance to test a different subject line, too).
And there you have it. Best of luck on your email marketing adventures, and thanks for reading! Tweet me with your additional ideas @saridelmar.
Sari Delmar is the founder and CEO of Audio Blood, Canada’s leading creative artist and brand marketing company. Through unique PR and promotional packages, Audio Blood continues to be on the cutting edge of music marketing and promotion. Their client roster includes the likes of Pistonhead Lager, PledgeMusic, Iceland Airwaves, Canadian Music Week, Riot Fest, Beau’s All Natural Brewing, The Balconies, Ben Caplan and more. At the age of 24, Sari leads a team of 10 out of the company HQ in Toronto, Ontario, has spoken at a number of music conferences and colleges, and sits on the Toronto Music Advisory Council. Read more from Sari at SariDelmar.com.