Feb 242011

The company that we use to host our email mailing list just sent out an interesting article about the State of Band Email Marketing. They point out some of the mistakes and oversights that bands quite often make when sending out email updates to their fans. Many bands collect email addresses from their fans, but unfortunately many fail to follow up and even send out one email. It can be a lot of work to manage an email list…we know because we have a significant email list that we send weekly newsletters.

That’s why we don’t try to collect and manage the list by ourselves. We use a company called AWeber to help us. It’s not a free service, but it’s reasonably priced and they have all the tools to help manage that ever growing email list. Don’t discount the power of connecting with your fans via email. If you think all of you fans are following you via Facebook you may want to think again. Many people who hear you in a club or concert will never think about spending the time to look you up via Facebook by the time they get home. However, if you collect their email address at the venue you now have to way to keep in contact with them. And you can decide when to send your messages to them instead of hoping that they check Facebook before your next gig.

Collecting email addresses is the easy part. The tough part is doing something with them. That’s where a service like AWeber really earns its stripes. They provide all the tools you need to make managing your list and communicating with your fans easy and painless. A service like this allows you to:

  • Quickly and easily create sign up forms using their built in web tools. With all the smart phones out there you can easily have fans go to your web page and sign up right then and there. Maybe you have your merch person setup with a phone or iPad pointing to your sign up form. Fans can quickly and easily sign up. Speaking of your website, you’re not still using flash are you? Remember that more and more fans are trying to get to your site via their phones and many (most) of those don’t support flash. At the very least provide an alternate HTML version.
  • Companies such as AWeber always send out an opt-in email and easily allow fans to opt-out if they so choose. With all the regulations and emotion surrounding spam these days you want to be sure that your fans feel confident that you’re treating their email with respect.
  • Automatic follow up emails upon sign up. As well, you can schedule emails to go out on certain days or perhaps a particular email is sent exactly 30 days after someone signs up for your list.
  • If your band has a blog an email can be automatically created and scheduled to send out your blog updates.
  • If you send out an email with hyperlinks you can track what links were clicked and how many times. You can also track how many people opened your mail and who opened the mail. This is extremely handy for identifying who is really interested in your band (perhaps for special events like CD release parties) and what they’re interested in (maybe the new acoustic version of a song is getting lots of clicks).

One way to increase the amount of fans you get signing up for your email list is to offer an incentive. As a band you have an easy built in incentive…”hey, if you sign up for our email update list we’ll send you a free mp3 of a new acoustic version of our song. Only fans on our list are getting this version”. You’ll be amazed how quickly your list will grow from just offering your fans an alternate version of a song. It’s a win-win. They get something that they want and you get a way to keep in touch with them long after they’ve gone home.

I don’t want this article to come of sounding like an advertisement for AWeber. We think they’re a great and very useful service. We use them and highly recommend them. However, there are other services out there that may work for you as well. If you’re just starting out and money is tight you can try to manage it on your own for  a while. But realize that if you’re managing the list on your own and it eventually grows to a point that you need a professional service, all of your fans will have to opt-in again and that means you may lose a number of them who fail to do so. Just pointing that out so you’re not surprised in the future.

Here’s an excerpt from AWeber’s State of Band Email Marketing by Amanda Gagnon . The entire article is worth a read and they do a good job of pointing out the good ways and bad ways to use email in marketing your band.

“A few months ago, we stumbled onto Nine Inch Nails’ creative campaign. We wanted to see what other bands were doing, so we signed up for their emails.

Well, they’re not doing much. Most of their messages are infrequent and uninspired. Worse, many bands haven’t sent anything at all.

Why is this? I’ve got some theories of my own. And then I want to hear what you have to say.”

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