Promoting your band is costly and time-consuming and often leaves you with little in return. Every time you have a gig or single release you take to social media; print up posters; and embark on both a radio and blog campaigns.
But with every other band doing the same, it is hard to generate any real traction and by the time your next release comes along you feel like you are back to square one.
This is why having an engaged fan-mailing list can be extremely valuable to your band.
Knowing this is one thing, pulling it off is another.
Below I will show you how to not only get more subscribers, but how to ensure those subscribers read your emails, click on your links and ultimately buy your music.
If you want to succeed using email to promote your music, sell more music and get more people to your shows then growing your mailing list should be your first priority.
This does not mean you should go out and buy email addresses or steal them from another band. Firstly that is illegal and secondly it will do nothing but cost you money in the long run
You want the right people on your mailing list. People who are fans of your music and who want to be on your list. This will make your efforts far more effective.
ou are new to email marketing then you should read my post on how to build a fan mailing list. This will help you get your first 1,000 sign ups.
For the next 9,000 emails you will need to be more creative.
While social media seems intuitive for musicians and allows them to easily create updates and promotions, the thought of starting a blog seems complicated and time consuming.
In actual fact it doesn’t need to be either and the benefits strongly outweigh the negatives. Having a blog allow you to drive people to your website on a regular basis without seeming pushy.
You then have full control over what people do once they get to your website.
You can add calls-to-action within your posts and throughout your website that greatly increases the number of new subscribers you will see on your mailing list.
This is something that social media doesn’t give you the option to do, at least not effectively as it’s not in Facebook or Twitter’s interest for you to grow your mailing list and pull your fans away from their platforms.
Make growing your mailing list the main focus of your website.
You will find it easier to sell music to people on your mailing list then you will to people who are simply browsing your website.
So instead of trying to sell to new visitors, get them onto your mailing list and create many more opportunities to sell to them.
Place sign-up forms throughout your website and remove site elements that will likely distract your visitors and cause them to leave your website, which include Twitter and Facebook boxes.
Competitions are a great way to boost subscribers.
The key here is to make your new visitors want to share
ure you use a competition app that encourages new entrants to share the competition with their friends. To do this you should use an app like KingSumo or Upviral who have viral sharing built in.
Also make sure that your prize is not only appealing but relevant. It’s easy to get a few thousand entrants if you offer a free iPhone but how many entrants will actually care about your music.
A good offer would be festival tickets to a small or medium-sized festival that you are playing at.
Possibly the most effective way to grow your mailing list is to find similar bands and get them to promote your list for you.
This is usually done by either paying them or agreeing to promote their list to your audience in return.
A lot of bands feel that they are in competition with other bands and that by promoting that band to their fans would somehow cause them to start following that band instead of theirs.
What actually happens is that both bands will benefit.
If you can find 5-10 bands with similar size mailing lists to you, you can easily triple or quadruple your mailing list with little effort.
Better still, find a similar band with a large following and convince them to promote your offer.
This was demonstrated when Fanfarlo convinced Sigur Rós to send a shout out to their fans about the London band and then tweaked their website to promote their album for only $1.
If you are looking to create a highly targeted ad campaign on a small budget then you won’t find a better option than Facebook.
Facebook have gathered so much information on their users, not just from the info on their profiles but from other websites and apps that each user logs into or browses.
This makes it easy for you to target a specific group of people who are most likely to like your music and places your ads in front of them.
Video is a great medium and video ads are great a grabbing people’s attention. Youtube only charge when either someone clicks on you ad link or when your video ad reaches the 30sec mark.
Recut your latest video to be about 40 seconds with some voice over and a call-to-action. You could even try cutting to a shot of one of the band members talking to camera.
You can then target specific channels to advertise on. This is great way to target fans of similar acts.
If you want email marketing to work for your band then you need your subscribers to open your emails in the first place.
People who don’t open your emails are of no value to you and will cost you money to keep them on your list.
So how do you get more people to open your emails?
The best way to keep subscribers interested in your band is to email them regularly from day one.
This may seem counter intuitive, given that nobody likes being bombarded by emails and I’m not suggesting you bombard people’s inboxes, instead send insightful, engaging emails that your readers will look forward to opening.
Most bands promote their mailing list and then don’t bother sending any emails for weeks or even months.
If I don’t receive my first email from you for over a month then there is a good chance that I won’t recall signing up to your mailing list or even who you are.
This is a wasted opportunity.
To fix this you should try to send out an email every 1-2 weeks.
Engaging your fans in the first few weeks of them signing up is the most important.
The stronger the connection you can create at the start of your email relationship, the more engaged they will be as you continue to connect with them.
Most email service providers offer some form of automations, allowing you to set up a series of automated emails that gets sent to new subscribers over a defined period of time.
This is a great way to nurture their relationship with your band.
You can drip feed your music, videos and stories to them over a few weeks and at the end promote some of your back catalogue or upcoming albums or gigs.
Often the one thing stopping your fans from opening your emails is the subject line.
Knowing how to write better subjects is key to increasing your open rates.
So what makes a good subject line?
Keep it short. Most people will view your emails on their phone so anymore than 7 words and it’s not going to fit on their screen.
Make it intriguing. If you can make people think, “What’s This About?” then you are on the right track. But don’t make false promises.
Personalise it. Consider using the reader’s name in the subject line.
People’s lives change and so do their interests and preferences. A loyal fan now may not be interested in your band next year and might stop opening your emails.
You should clear out your mailing list once a year and remove all Graymail.
Similar to opening rates, click through rates are directly associated with how engaged your followers are.
That said there are some general guidelines to increasing click through rates:
According to Hick’s Law, the more choices you present the longer it will take for a person to make a decision. This will often lead to no choice being made.
For this reason you should try to limit yourself to one call-to-action per email and at most two. Anymore and less people will click through to your offer.
If your email is full of images and boxes and has loads of small text bunched up together then people may not even know there is a link there. It is best to use clean spacious designs that are easy to read.
A lot of people read emails on their phone and making sure your email is legible on small screens is a must. The same goes for links, your fans need to be able to easily click on the link you present them.
If you have links grouped too closely together then there is a good chance the user will accidently click the wrong one.
A lot of bands suffer from “me, me, me” syndrome. Every message they put out into the world is about asking for a hand out. As if every band is entitled to make a living from music.
People are busy, they have more things vying for their attention than ever before and unless you have something for them then, I’m sorry, but they’re not going to be interested in what you’re emails.
Rather than promoting your iTunes links in all your emails, try offering free content such as video, photos, blog posts etc…
Once you get up and running and used to sending out emails the next step is to analyse and test.
Compare your different campaigns to see which ones get the highest open and click through rates and which ones bomb and learn how you can improve.
Most email service providers offer A/B testing where you can enter two different subjects and it will send each version to 10% of your fans and the remaining 80% will receive the highest performing subject line.
Your goal should be to grab their attention and from there build trust. This is hard at first but if you continuously deliver great content, instead of pushing for a sale then that trust will come. Here is Seth Godin explaining it.
Now that you have a guide on what you should be doing it’s time to put it into action.
It is important that you plan out your email marketing in advance as failing to do so will leave you with no content to promote when you want to engage your fans.
Having a plan in place will allow you time to create the content you need in advance.
Make a list of all the different types of content you can offer: audio, video, blog posts, live streams, photos, Q&As, etc… Then, make a list for each content type and when you have 10-20 bits of content you should create a schedule for the next 2-3 months.
If you have the content in place before you start or at least a good chunk of it done, it will be a lot easier to keep to your schedule as you will only be worrying about publishing and updating your fan list and not about creating the content.