I’ve mentioned it before in previous articles, but if you don’t have a mailing list, you’re missing out on really building a fan base. Even though social media has been and continues to be a hot topic, email continues to be one of the most effective ways to build and maintain a brand (your music IS a brand).
Email vs. Social Media
I know you might think that Facebook and Twitter are the best way to tell your fans about what you’re up to, but that isn’t always the case. Don’t get me wrong, they are great tools, and you SHOULD continue to use them. Just don’t depend solely on them to build and maintain your audience.
The main problem with relying on social media is that everything is done on their terms. For example, if you make a post about your Kickstarter campaignA funding platform for creative projects. Used often times by musicians as a way to fund recording, touring, or music videos. on your Facebook page, you have no control or idea if everyone who likes your page will ever even see it. Facebook has their own rules, regulations, and algorithms that determine what posts show up for what users. And if you post on Twitter, your message will be drowned in the sheer mass of the Twitter-verse in the blink of an eye.
On the other hand, if you send an email to them, you’re pretty much guaranteed that your message will end up in their inbox. And it will stay there until they do something about it. When it is delivered is up to you, not some algorithm that a computer programmer made up.
Email also comes across as a more personal, intimate communication. When you post a new status on Facebook, you’re basically saying “Hey World, this is what I think.” When you send an email to Joe, you are saying, “Hey Joe, check out what we’re up to.” And I mean that literally. If you are doing it right, you can personalize the email so they actually see their name.
I want to stress again that I’m not suggesting any form of either/or relationship. Please do continue to use social media to spread the word, just make sure to spend some time building your email list as well.
Building Your List
Sadly, your list won’t just magically grow by itself. You’ll actually have to use a little elbow grease to get the wheels turning.
Bring a Clipboard
The easiest way to start building your email list is by simply bringing a clipboard to your shows. Keep it at your merch booth, or wherever you hang out after the show, and encourage anyone and everyone you talk to, shake hands with, sell merch to, or even make eye contact with, to sign up. You’ll be surprised at just how many people actually will. Remember, it’s a lot easier for someone to write their email on a piece of paper that it is for them to log into Facebook and click “Like.” By having them sign up for your mailing list, you can retain any fans that were at your show.
Ask Your Friends
You’ve probably emailed your friends at some point in your life, right? Why not ask them if they’re okay with being added to your mailing list? There shouldn’t be any problem since you’ve already converted them into diehard fans (and shame on you if you haven’t!).
Everyone likes special offers! If you provide some incentive (free song download, free tickets, a giant hug) it will only increase your chances of them signing up. The key here is to make sure the offer is exclusive. If they can get whatever you’re offering by doing nothing, then there’s not really much incentive.
Contact Social Media Followers
It might seem like overkill, but you want to reach out to your biggest social media followers. There’s a really good chance that the person who comments on every post you make will have no problem hearing more about you in email form.
Keep in mind that this isn’t Social Media. Your fans don’t want emails on a daily basis. They also don’t want emails that don’t have good content. Think quality over quantity. 1-4 times a month is plenty. Save your memes and witty comments of the day for your social media. Use this to keep people updated on announcements, shows, and merchandise.
Whatever you do, don’t add people without permission. No one wants unsolicited email. In a lot of countries it’s actually against the law to send out bulk email without express permission from each of your recipients. If you are using a company to do it for you, you even run the risk of having your account shut down if you get too many spam complaints.
Maintaining Your List
Maintaining your list doesn’t have to be difficult. Unlike social media, you don’t need to make daily interactions (you actually shouldn’t), nor do you have to devise your own methods to keep everything organized. There are companies that do that for you!
Using a professional company is the best option for numerous reasons. First, it means a high delivery rate. Email providers, like Gmail and Yahoo Mail, hate spam. When mass emails go out, like in the case of a band emailing all their fans, their automated spam blockers are likely to flag your email if they aren’t coming from a trusted source. Your ISP isn’t a trusted source. Professional mailing list companies have done the leg work necessary to let email providers know that anything coming from them is not spam. They can do this by following all the CAN-SPAMA law that sets the rules for commercial email, establishes requirements for commercial messages, gives recipients the right to have you stop emailing them, and spells out tough penalties for violations. laws. If you do it on your own, you may not be following them, and as a result you might get flagged as spam.
In addition to them making sure you don’t become spam, they also provide lots of templates and tools to make it easy for you to create emails and integrate everything into your website, Facebook, Twitter, etc. It can save you quite a bit of headache.
Last, and definitely not least, they provide analytics. These companies want your email to be effective. In order to do that, they provide you with the tools to see how many people are actually opening, reading, and click the links in your email.
I don’t want to go on forever, so I’m just going to recommend the company I use, MailChimp. There are a lot of other companies out there, but MailChimp has always worked well for me. If for any reason you choose another company, you want to ensure they offer a couple different things:
- High delivery rate
- The ability to add emails manually. If you don’t have this, all those clipboards at your shows are useless.
- Integration tools or a good API
A lot of them, MailChimp included, also offer free trials before you make a decision. Don’t be afraid to give it a test drive before dishing out any money.