Mailing lists are a very effective way to keep people updated on all your latest news, gigs and events. Although social media is massive these days, mailing lists provide the best way to keep in touch with fans.
In this article, we’ll cover a few common questions and then look at the best practices when using your mailing list.
Why are mailing lists important?
Mailing lists offer many advantages over social media. It’s reported 71% of people check their email before doing anything else online. On top of that, sending an email straight to a fan’s inbox is far more direct and much more likely to get noticed compared to a social media post amongst hundreds of others.
A mailing list can be a fantastic marketing tool for a musician or band.
How do I create a mailing list?
The best way is to sign up with an email marketing platform. There are many available so it’s important to do a little research to find the best for your needs. Most companies offer discounts or promotions to get people to sign up.
Once this is done, you’ll need a page on your website that allows people to enter their details to sign up to your mailing list. This should be a fairly straightforward task for someone with a few technical skills. Your mailing list provider should have some guides on how to do it. If all else fails though, get hold of a developer to help you out.
It may be worth collecting the location of the subscribers so you can send out emails to people local to gigs you are to play. People might not want to give you their full address but you should be able to get the county nearest city.
Get as many of your social media followers onto your mailing list. Your own mailing list is a far more stable place to retain your contacts.
Remember to collect email addresses at live events also so you can manually add these people to your mailing list afterwards.
How often should I message people on my mailing list?
Emails are best kept for high quality, important updates/events. They should not be sent out every day. Remember you’ve been given permission to post straight into someone's personal mailbox. Make sure you send content subscribers will be interested in and find useful.
If you start sending poor quality messages that look like spam, you will loose subscribers. If users start putting your messages into their spam folder, you may start to get a reputation for low quality emails.
Say a subscriber uses Gmail. They get your message but it reminds them of a spam email so they move it to their junk folder. Gmail learns messages from you may be spam. If a few people start moving your messages to spam, Gmail may automatically start treating all messages from you as spam, automatically confining them to the Junk folder as soon as the messages arrive.
This is obviously a bad situation that will negatively affect your delivery rate and reputation.
Remove inactive subscribers
Your chosen mailing platform should give reports showing the subscribers that are not interacting with your messages. This happens with all mailing lists, some subscribers will just not open your messages.
People regularly create new email addresses and forget about old ones. Other people may have subscribed to your mailing list impulsively but don’t actually have that much interest in your messages. Whatever the reason, it’s generally regarded as good practice to remove subscribers that are not engaging. Why is this?
Well firstly, the less subscribers on your list the cheaper it is for you. The more emails you need to send, the more you will generally be charged by the mailing platform.
Secondly, sending emails to addresses that are not being opened will throw all your reports stats out, making things look worse than they are.
Finally, zero interaction from subscribers that should no longer be on your mailing list may push mailing platforms to see your messages as spam, again meaning future emails go straight to the spam folder.
When should I remove subscribers
People have varying views on when a subscriber should be removed from a mailing list. There’s not really a correct answer to this but as a general rule of thumb, after a couple of months of no interaction with any of your messages, it’s probably time to unsubscribe the user.
Before you do though, it’s worth creating an email campaign to re-awaken these people if possible. This is a last ditch attempt to get inactive subscribers back into the swing of things. I couldn’t find any examples of re-engagement emails musicians or bands use but I found various examples companies use which should give you an idea of the content you could try.
Personalise and make use of images
Don’t bore subscribers with endless lines of text! One of the big advantages of a mailing list is the ability to personalise your content in whichever way you want. Images can be added to emails to break up the flow. The way you brand yourself or your band, the colours you use, your logo can all be incorporated into the email.
Use great subject lines
When a message arrives, the recipient will initially see who the message was from and the subject. Make sure you use a subject that encourages the subscriber to open the email. Use catchy attention grabbing phrases but don’t go over the top. You want to be able to backup any grand gestures in the subject with the actual email content rather than risking subjects simply being seen as click bait.
Various tools across the web will help you create your email subjects. I really like the Free Subject Email Analyzer from isitwp.com.
Good use of a mailing list
If you collect people’s location when they sign up, you could use your mailing list to message them when you’re going to play a gig in their area, perhaps offering them slightly discounted tickets as a subscriber. The email is relevant or targeted to them through the location. The slight discount you offer means the user will value being on your mailing list.
To make your fans feel valued. Try and make the mailing list your personal connection between you and your subscribers. Make the mailing list the first place you reveal new news or events. Announce gig dates on your mailing list a few days before your post to social media. Share song lyrics, artwork. Make sure you let everyone on social media know your mailing list is the best place to stay in the loop. This will help get your social media followers onto your mailing list.
Promotional vs non-promotional content
It’s important to create a balance of content. You don’t just want to be overtly promoting yourself. Make space for non-promotional content. Message about offers, prizes or giveaways. Perhaps link to a poll on your site you can then message the results of later on. Message about interesting stories that have happened whilst on the road. Remember to keep it to the point and personel.
Encourage two way communication. Ask a question such as “do you guys know of any decent support group that would like to work with us” or where’s the best place to play in an area you’ve not been to before.
You can only send emails to people that have given you permission to do so. If a subscriber decides they don’t want your messages any more, you must unsubscribe them
An unsubscribe link is the best way of allowing users to deal with this themselves. This should be very easy to implement with your mailing service.
Mailing lists are a fantastic and powerful way to communicate with your fans. Make sure you keep on top of inactive subscribers and remove any subscribers that don't want to receive any more messages.
Design and brand the messages carefully and make sure every message you send would be a message you yourself would want to read if you were the recipient. Make sure everyone knows your mailing list is the best place for your followers to go to.