In Part 1 of “The Tools of Music Fan Engagement”, I discussed blogging (read it here). Another important tool to use for fan engagement are email newsletters. Having an email newsletter might sound a little old school, but the reality is that it’s still proving to be the best way to keep in touch with your fans over the long term. So when it comes to fan engagement, having a newsletter should be high on your priority list of tools to use.
Why Newsletters are Great for Fan Engagement
Email newsletters are great for fan engagement because it’s a direct line of communication with your fans. If they’re on your mailing list, it’s because they chose to sign up, meaning that they want to hear about your career. This also means they can respond directly to you and a personal dialogue can be started between you and your fan.
Newsletters are also the most reliable way of reaching your fans. With social media, you’re never really sure who is seeing your updates, and the percentage of fans actually seeing the updates can be shockingly low. For Facebook, studies suggest the average can be from 6% to 16% of fans seeing and engaging with Pages. With Twitter, well, it’s even worse.
With email newsletters, open rates tend to be higher, and you can also measure the opens and click-throughs on your links, allowing you to see who is reading and interacting with the content in your newsletters.
Note: Don’t ever add people to your mailing list without their permission. Spamming people can do irreparable harm to your career, as you will likely lose those people as potential fans forever.
Other Great Reasons to have a Newsletter
Besides being a great tool to directly engage your fans with, there are other benefits to email newsletters:
You Own It
Remember all those fans you had on MySpace? Well, MySpace owned their data, not you, and chances are if you didn’t get them signed-up to your mailing list, you lost contact with many of them.
Facebook? Twitter? Same deal. Bottom line is that social media sites are great tools for interacting with current fans and finding new ones, but you’ll want to get them signed-up to your mailing list so you can stay in touch with your fans over the long-term, regardless of which social media site is popular at the time. As Benji Rogers (Founder of PledgeMusic) said in a must-read blog post:
“If email is not the biggest part of your social strategy, then you are giving the power of communication with your fans to companies who will gladly take them and whose advertisers will thank you to no end for providing them with eyeballs.”
Drives people to your website
If you’ve posted a new blog, have new music, or a new video, email newsletters can be a great way to drive your fans back to your website to check it out. And while they’re on your site, they’ll likely check out other content, and maybe shop for some merch in your online store. Speaking of merch...
Best Way to Sell Music & Merch
Some musicians try to sell music and merch on Facebook, Twitter, and even YouTube. But when it comes to making money, email newsletters are still the best way to convert fans to paying customers.
As noted artist manager Emily White has said, an email list is “an artist’s retirement plan”. So anytime you have new music or merch for sale, be sure to make that your primary call-to-action in your next newsletter.
Shows that you’re active
The new music industry is all about getting and retaining fan attention. Newsletters are a great way to regularly let your fans know about the latest news in your career and remind them that you’re still active.
Keep it Authentic, Consistent and Sustain It
With your newsletter, keep in mind the 3 Pillars of Music Fan Engagement. The newsletters should be in your own voice (authentic), you have to send them out on a consistent basis, and to really see results, you’ll have to sustain it over the long term.
And of course, it goes without saying (but I'm saying it again): Never leave your fans hanging. If a fan emails you back with a compliment, thank them. If they ask a question, answer it. This will encourage them to stay on your list and talk about you to their friends.
Make Your Mailing List Your Primary Call-to-Action
In case you haven’t noticed, I place a high importance on email newsletters. So for your website, I strongly suggest you make your mailing list signup your primary call-to-action. A call-to-action directs people's attention to something specific you want them to do when they land on your website.
If you’re an emerging artist, focus on building that mailing list before anything. Don’t worry so much about selling music & merch just yet, build a strong mailing list and over the long term it will be worth much more than trying to get that 0.99$ download right away when people visit your site.
Remember to Offer an Incentive
When it comes to building your list, remember to offer an incentive to the person who will be giving you their email address. Getting the “latest news” or “inside scoop” on your career is nice, but offering a little something more might be the difference between getting that email or not. It could be as simple as a free MP3, or even an exclusive song/EP/Live Album that can’t be found anywhere else.
Do you send out a regular newsletter to your fans? Do you find it increases sales? Attendance to your shows? Let us know in the comments!
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