You’re on the cutting edge. You’ve got yourself a Facebook fan page, tricked out with all sorts of fancy applications like BandsInTown and FanRx. You’ve got a YouTube channel with plenty of subscribers and you regularly host new content, all while maximizing SEO and creating synergistic opportunities between channels. You’ve got your SoundCloud, your Bandcamp, your Twitter; you’ve even revisited the new Myspace in hopes that JT somehow could bring its SexyBack. Despite all this, you still haven’t been able to crack the code to running a successful, spam-free email marketing campaign. That’s where this post comes in. Inspired by some great tips our pals at Topspin sent around, and with our own flair added in, here’s what we think you need to know to conquer email.
First off, you can’t play dirty; rules are rules. And according to the FTC, email marketing doesn’t get a pass. The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 was put in place to keep firms on the up-and-up when it comes to delivering commercial emails. The guidelines are as follows:
- Don’t use false or misleading header information
- Don’t use deceptive subject lines
- Identify the message as an ad
- Tell recipients where you’re located
- Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you
- Honor opt-out requests promptly
- Monitor what others are doing on your behalf
Got it? Good. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s go over some ways you can maximize the effectiveness of your email marketing.
Incentivize Opt In
This doesn’t mean prevent your users from hearing your music unless they opt in. Give your fans something special, whether it be exclusive audio or video content, a sneak peek at an upcoming release, maybe even goofy photos of you as a kid — anything you can provide to build a stronger emotional connection between you and your fans.
Only Send to Those that Are Expecting Your Message
Efficiency is key. You could send a blast to 10,000 unsuspecting email addresses you bought from the shady guy down the block, but the very large majority will immediately delete or disregard. Don’t send anything to someone who has not opted in to receiving your messages. No sense in wasting your (or their) time.
Don’t Go Overboard
While it is important to send emails regularly, make sure they are worth the delivery. If you’re constantly sending emails like “check out this picture of my cat!,” people will quickly loose interest and future open rates will be negatively effected. This doesn’t mean ignore your fans; they want to hear from you, otherwise they wouldn’t have opted in. Just maybe avoid cat updates. Keep it relevant. Keep it consistent. Keep it concise. And above all, keep it classy.
Different Strokes for Different Folks
You might want to consider creating separate mailing groups. The buzzword of the day lately is “superfan;” perhaps you should consider sending a tailor-made email message to these heavy users. It’s likely that not all of your fans will be interested in the fact that you’re offering a super exclusive, $5,000 gift pack including a live performance at your home and a back massage. Some of your fans might think asking for $5,000 for anything is egregious, and immediately unlike, unfollow and unsubscribe from all your channels in protest. Superfans, on the other hand, might be pumped for a back massage from their favorite artist. Consider your target. Craft your message accordingly.
Make a Good First Impression
When you look good, you feel good. Why should your emails be any different? Make your emails feel good. Take the time to create a visually-pleasing template. Make sure your color schemes match your brand elements. Create a look that is easily identifiable as your own. The more professional your emails look, the more professional you will be perceived to be. (P.S. – While having a beautifully designed template complete with embedded images and videos may look awesome, consider creating a plain text version as well; this way, those with private browser settings and slow connections can still enjoy the fruits of your labor.)
Make Your Message Engaging
Offer polls, ask questions, and otherwise solicit responses from your fans through your email messages. Perhaps you can build contests into your emails (“Identify the ‘Easter egg’ in this email and tweet a screenshot to me first for a free signed copy of my latest release!”) People love to be heard; give your fans a chance to communicate with you, not just be spoken to.
It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye
Nothing inspires more frustration than being unable to unsubscribe from an email campaign. If it’s hard for your users to opt out, you’ll take someone who is already on the fence about you and turn them into your arch nemesis.
Don’t let all your hard work go to waste. Use a spam checker such as IsNotSpam.com, ProgrammersHeaven.com or Email Spam Test to make sure your message isn’t getting picked up by spam filters. An email is only as good as the inbox it makes it to.
If you’re still questioning whether or not to use email marketing, check out this other post we wrote on how email can actually be way more exciting than you think it.