Question: which is more important: Facebook or email?
Believe it or not, your email is not only more important than Facebook, but also any other social network. Email marketing has been shown to be as much as 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined.
So it is the most important marketing tool you have to keep in touch with your fans, and to make more money for your music career.
Why email is so important
“You will now, and forever, own your mailing list.”
Beyond the critical fact that 80% of people between the age of 18 and 44 years-old check email before even brushing their teeth in the morning, there is really only one reason that matters.
You will now, and forever, own your mailing list.
This means that no matter which social media platforms stay relevant (or don’t), you can always directly reach your fans.
So as you develop an online marketing strategy for your music and further advance your career, you’ll want to have that mailing list handy.
9 ways to build your mailing list
There are plenty of ways to build a mailing list that you should be taking advantage of. Some require very little upfront effort such as a signup form on your website or social accounts.
But as those may help to slowly build a mailing list, you’ll want to use some strategies that help to really jumpstart the process of building your list. Here are a few ways to make that happen:
1. Email for a download / stream
This is the go-to suggestion for building a mailing list. Offer an exclusive download in exchange for an email address. That email will be worth much more to you in the long run than the $0.99. You can even automate an email-for-download through Bandzoogle’s mailing list tool.
Another great platform to look into for assisting with this process is NoiseTrade. They’ve built an entire platform around the concept of building a mailing list out of album downloads.
But people are moving away from downloading and towards streaming. So NoiseTrade recently introduced a new ‘premiers’ platform where artists can offer an advanced stream of a yet-to-be released album in exchange for the email address.
2. Sweepstakes Opt-in
Never underestimate the power of a sweepstakes. It creates urgency, and can create an easy high-value proposition for a fan to give you their email address in exchange for the opportunity to win something great.
But keep in mind, the sweeps needs to do just that, offer something great. A signed album likely won’t work. Think VIP, exclusive, and unique experiences when creating this offer.
3. Fan-Content Based Contesting
On the other hand, you can also offer opportunities for fans to gain your spotlight. Ideally something exclusive like backstage passes, or dinner before a show, etc. This type of contest requires the fan to create their own content and submit for review with their email address.
A remixing contest can be a great opportunity here. But other contests to think about could be more simple such as album artwork, tour posters, tattoo ideas, etc.
4. Access to exclusive content from the past
Your computer hard drive or cloud based data storage account can be a treasure trove of content that your fans would love to gain access to.
Demo recordings, lyrics for songs that never came to be, alternative artwork for albums, etc. Curating this content is a great way to make a unique experience your fans will certainly trade an email address to gain access to.
5. Future access to pre-sales before anyone else
This is a no brainer. Let your fans that sign up to your mailing list gain access to future album pre-orders, or tour pre-sale opportunities before anyone else.
6. Direct to Fan Purchasers
Let’s not forget those who are already purchasing from you. Anytime someone purchases from you through a direct-to-fan platform like Bandzoogle, Bandcamp, or PledgeMusic, it’s an easy opportunity to add to your mailing list.
7. Incentivize existing subscribers to help drive new subscribers
Why not offer a pledge drive? Create a timed offer that incentivizes your fans to help spread the word and drive new sign ups.
If a fan drives X sign ups in 1 month they will get [enter your prize here]. Make sure that prize is killer – you don’t want to make it feel like you are begging fans to help, nor should the experience feel like work for the fan. It should be something they want to do as the reward outweighs the effort.
8. Make it the primary channel to debut new material / videos
Similar to the idea that fans will get early access to pre-orders or pre-sales, why not take the next step and make your email the primary channel for all new debuts as well.
Any time a new song is released, your mailing list subscribers will find out about it first. New video? Your mailing list subscribers will see it first. Doing this ups the ante and continues to develop a higher-level relationship with your fans that shows you appreciate their interest in you and your music.
9. Create multiple lists for different reasons (i.e. segment your fans based on their needs)
And finally we get to an often overlooked concept – not all of your fans are the same. Some will be interested in you. Some will be interested in your recordings. And some will simply only care when you come to town because your live show is so unique it’s not to be missed.
These segments should be considered and you should start to develop separate mailing lists (and unique reasons to sign up to such a mailing list) for each type of fan.
Making the most (money) from your mailing list
Now the time comes to leverage your list to sell more music online and make more money for your band.
Here are a few ways to ensure your efforts are optimized for sales:
1. Only use one call to action
You may have an album out for sale, tickets for upcoming shows, and your online merch store fully stocked. But it’s important to avoid the instinct to offer all three at once.
Use a clear and simple call to action to drive attention to one thing that matters most. A study by WhichTestWon shows that sales conversions increased a whopping 1,617% by using one CTA (call to action) instead of multiple.
Also – your CTA must be a direct request for the email recipient to take an immediate action, such as ‘Buy the album Now’, ‘Take the survey Today’, ‘Share Your Feedback Here’.
2. Use your mailing list segments
Having trouble deciding which offer to focus on with your call to action? Lean on #9 above, and further develop these segments, or groups of fans, based on specific interests to make your offers more precise.
Know a group of your fans are only interested in new music? Send a newsletter to these fans with a call to action to buy your music online.
3. Create timed offers
Another great way to increase your sales is to develop a sense of urgency by offering something exciting or exclusive, with a very small window of time for people to purchase.
Try things like offering a unique bundle package. Maybe an album, tickets, and/or merch at a steep discount for one day only, or for the first 20 who purchase.
4. Pay attention to analytics from past efforts to inform future efforts
Finally, remember to pay attention to your analytics. Try out different calls to action in different monthly newsletters. You can even try a/b testing a single call to action by splitting your list into two and seeing which performs best.
You can also test different times of the day and/or times of the week to send offers to your mailing list. The more you can study the data in relation to driving online sales, the more you’ll be able to optimize for future sales.
Jon Ostrow is the Director of Sales at Bandsintown, Founder of MicControl, lover of all things music, a raging Phish head, and a coffee addict.