Building an e-mail list fans care about

Today, we’re talking about building an e-mail list fans care about. For the first half, I’ll be briefly talking about building momentum, and then for the second half, I’ll cover how to nurture those fans into super fans through your e-mails.

First, why even have an e-mail list in the first place?

As a music fan yourself, you may be subscribed to a few musicians yourself. For a lot of the big name artists, you may only see tour date announcements, new merchandise updates, and then merchandise sales.

What about for a musician like you that’s DIY, limited budget and not a lot going on? Why bother right?

E-mail marketing serves completely different functions for many brands. As an online musician with limited budget and maybe even limited touring opportunities, you need to leverage the available channels you have to nurture your fanbase. E-mail marketing is a tried and true method for many businesses, including musicians.

Artists have used e-mail marketing to connect with fans, nurture fan relationship and build continued interest. Rachael Yamagata is one artist I’m reminded of that uses e-mail to promote tours, but also to meaningfully connect with fans. In an e-mail just a few months ago from the time of this recording, Rachael shared about time, the passing of a love one, and where she’s at with writing. Tyler Hilton uses e-mail in a similar way with his fans by writing “journal” like e-mails about family, how he feels about touring, coming up with new music, and just thanking his fans. These types of e-mails build intimacy, a stronger connection with fans, and a reason to open the e-mail in the first place.

For you as a DIY musician, e-mail marketing isn’t just a tool to announce crowdfunding or something going on sale. It’s used to grow your fanbase and build a stronger connection.

Building an e-mail list fans care about

So, where do you begin?

You’ll need to create a reason for fans to sign-up for e-mails.

These days, e-mails have a lot of value. You can easily follow or add friends. But an e-mail is a direct line to someone, and pretty close to a text message, especially since many people can access email through their phones. As a DIY musician and marketer, you need to understand that e-mail is a form of currency because it has the potential build a powerful connection that is also profitable. So, to collect e-mails, anything you give back in exchange for that e-mail should have value.

So, what do you give out? Some folks give a free single, free shipping for merch, and or exclusive updates. You want to choose something that is small but still enticing enough to give an e-mail. It might help for you to think about different e-mails you might’ve signed up for and why. What did the artist or company offer you in exchange for an e-mail?

After you’ve created an incentive to sign-up for an e-mail, you’ll need to build a list. For a lot of the listeners out there, you may not have a lot to spend in ads. Thankfully, Facebook fan page accounts are free. And in Facebook there’s actually a way to synchronize your e-mail service provider and opt-ins. To find out how to do this, make sure to listen to the end for the freebie worksheet.

With that being said, social media is obviously huge platform that you can use to build growth organically through hashtag and newsfeed discovery.

Another way to build your e-mail list without any ad spend is to collaborate with other DIY musicians with like minded objectives. When you’re starting out, you can encourage each other to share each other’s music across posts and e-mail lists.

In Music Road’s Fan List Building Studio, we talk more in-depth about how to create a profitable fan list using social media on a budget. For more information on this, just click the link.

After you’ve built a list, you want to nurture interest by building e-mail anticipation and giving a reason to open the e-mail.

How do you build e-mail anticipation?

One example for e-mail anticipation is a “series”. In the marketing world, brands will often take their subscribers into a “journey” sort of experience. For example, in one e-mail there’s a sort of introduction; the next may be a story or background; and the following e-mails eventually lead up to a sort of call to action, in other words a desired outcome or action. A call to action could be visiting a page to draw more traffic to your website. It could be to buy an album, single, merchandise or support your crowdfunding campaign.

The “series” e-mails are usually about 3-5 e-mails sent maybe every day or once a week. This type of e-mail “campaign” is done to build anticipation and keep your fans interested in your future e-mails. It also sets the tone for what they should expect from your e-mails. This also builds word of mouth and allows fans to have more information to share about you, and perhaps encourage their friends and family to also be part of your list.

Other forms of anticipation could include upcoming announcements or sneak peaks.

Next, you want to give reason for your fans to open your e-mail.

Most people are flooded with e-mails from different directions – work, school, personal, etcetera. Not every single thing is opened right away or even at all. This means that there’s a lot of competition for attention. Subject lines is single-handedly one of the most important things you’ll need to write for an e-mail, so don’t take it for granted. Why? Because the subject line gives reason for your fans to open them.

Think about your own inbox. There are e-mails in there that you likely didn’t open. But there’s certainly a handful that you did. Why? It’s because of the subject line. Some of them feel more personal, some of them you might expect (i.e. “What’s new with Alexa” is one example in my own inbox; or “An item has shipped”), and some of them are a collection of subscriptions. One subject line I remember reading was, “What Taylor Swift taught me…” And this intrigued me because 1.) I’m a T. Swift fan, and 2.) I had no idea that this person knew Taylor Swift. Well, it turned out she didn’t, but she made observations on a few things Taylor Swift was doing and learned from her.

Part of crafting headlines includes building off what you know about your subscribers. And the other is building curiosity. Questions and cliffhangers are also ways to build interest. For example, “Would you ever listen to something like this?” or cliffhangers like, “I never expected this would happen at a show…” This grabs readers attention because it leaves them hanging. They’re curious about the answer to the question or the rest of your story to the subject line.

The Music Road Fan List Building Studio goes over comprehensive ways to build crafty subject lines that are not only enticing to open, but builds growth and is profitable. So, for the purposes of this podcast, this is just the bitesize version.

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