How to master the art of email promotion

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Whilst much focus rightly sits within social media platforms, and the way musicians market themselves across the likes of Soundcloud, Facebook, and Instagram these days, one of the most efficient ways to maximize potential audience, and help your fanbase grow, is – still – via email. Not only can email help provide fans with an ‘exclusive’ feel via giveaways and pre-access ticket codes, but email marketing has been shown to be as much as 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined. Here is a place to reach your fans directly to connect, stay in touch, and sell music, merch, tickets and more. But first, you’re going to need to choose a mailing list service:
One of the popular mailing list services right now is MailChimp, which is a great standalone email marketing platform. It’s free up to 2000 subscribers, and you can easily embed the signup form onto your website. There is also FanBridge, which is another easy to use, standalone email marketing service. However, there is no free option on FanBridge (with plans starting at $19.99/month).

Building Your Mailing List

Once you have your email platform chosen, it’s time to start building your list. It’s important to note that people must opt-in to your mailing list, as is required with any form of permission marketing. With that said, the first step in building the foundation of your mailing list is to build a list of everyone you already know and send them an email specifically asking for their permission to join your mailing list. Once you’ve got that setup, there are several other ways to continue building your mailing list over time, including:

  1. Email for a stream/download
  2. Future access to pre-sales
  3. Incentivize existing email subscribers to help drive new subscribers

The frequency of newsletters/emails

The goal here is to focus on consistency. In other words, how often do you feel you can send your newsletter. Once a month? Once every two weeks? The best way to test the waters here is to start less frequent, get comfortable, and pick up speed. It’s always easier to deliver less content to your fans, and then reward them with more if you can, than it is to start delivering tons of great content, only to have to scale it back. There is both an art and a science to sending out an effective newsletter on a regular basis. You don’t want to hold onto too much information for too long, as your newsletters will become overwhelming to your fans and likely to be ineffective.  You’ll need to test it out with your own fan base, understand what works and what doesn’t, and make tweaks from there. Then make sure you include some sort of an intro and/or other content (like a music video) so your newsletter doesn’t only feel like a sales pitch.

Each newsletter should have one clear ‘call-to-action.’ Your call-to-action could be a button or a hyperlink, driving fans to whatever it is that will achieve your goal. Selling albums? Include a ‘buy the new album’ button. Increasing awareness for your new music video? Include a ‘watch the new video now’ button. Avoid including more than one call to action, as it can cause overwhelm.

Subject Lines

No matter what you put in your email, if the subject line isn’t attention-grabbing, the email won’t be opened. And that great email you worked so hard to put together will never be seen. Again there is an art, and a balance, to a great subject line. You want your fans to be so intrigued by your subject line that there is no question they will open the email. However, it needs to be relevant. You don’t want people to open the email, only to be annoyed that whatever you promised in the subject line doesn’t actually exist. The best way to find success with subject lines is to simply test them and learn using split testing (sometimes called a/b testing). The idea here is that you create two separate subject lines, and send each one to a small % of your overall mailing list, maybe 10 – 15% each. Whichever one has the strongest open rate is the one that the remaining fans on your mailing list will receive.

Analyzing Data

Finally, we come to the science of it all. Marketing is only as good as the goals you’ve set in place, and the best way to tell if you are effectively meeting those goals is to analyze the data. You can then let it inform how to improve the next time around. All email marketing platforms will give you the open rate and click thru rate of your newsletter. Use this data week after week to create a benchmark for yourself to understand your average open and click thru rate. You may find after a few months that you average a 20% open rate and a 5% click thru rate, but you noticed that the one time you included a personal note as the introduction to your newsletter, you saw the click thru rate jump to 10%. This is a great insight to help you create more relevant content moving forward. By mastering the art of email promotion, not only can you create a loyal and everlasting fanbase, but you can help your brand grow to an almost unlimited level.