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With a multitude of new ways to engage your fanbase online, it’s easy to forget about the most effective tool you have at your disposal – good old-fashioned email. While it may not be as sexy as starting a Kickstarter campaign, building and maintaining a professional looking email newsletter is the most effective way to stay in touch with your audience. According to the ExactTarget marketing blog, 94% of consumers prefer to receive direct marketing communication via email than any other channel. And unlike many social platforms, with email you are in complete control of exactly how when you choose to communicate with your fans.
Here are five ways to optimize your band’s email newsletter:
1. Choose an Email Marketing Service Provider
The first thing to do when building a newsletter is to choose an email marketing service provider. Signing up for one of these platforms allows you to manage recipient lists, easily schedule email deployments, see detailed analytics and build HTML emails using professional looking templates. A few of these services include MailChimp, Nimbit, Constant Contact and ReverbNation, and most provide different tiers of service as well as free accounts. Each service also offers its own unique benefits, so do some research to see which works best for your needs. MailChimp, for example, lets you send to up to 2,000 subscribers with just a free account, while ReverbNation’s Fan Reach software allows you to integrate email sends with links to your various social networks.
2. Create Effective Subjects Lines
One of the most important factors to ensure subscribers receive and actually open an email is the subject line. The subject line is a subscriber’s first contact with an email and it’s necessary to keep them clear and to the point so subscribers know the purpose for the email before they even open it. Another tip: sloppy subject lines are the quickest way to trigger a subscriber’s SPAM filter. To ensure your emails land in a subscriber’s inbox and not their junk folder, avoid at all costs using phrases including “Free”, “% off”, using multiple exclamation marks “!!!,” as well as typing in ALL CAPS.
3. Write Concise Email Copy
According to MailChimp, people read promotional emails for an average of only 15 seconds. This means it is imperative to let recipients know exactly why you are contacting them quickly and directly. Keep your email copy to no more than a few hundred words and prompt fans to take a specific action, whether it is to “View our upcoming tour schedule below” or “Download our new EP here” – in other words, have a clear call to action. It’s also helpful to give subscribers many clickable opportunities to direct them to your iTunes, merch page or other desired location. A simple email template will help you insert hyperlinks into the email text and even create clickable buttons.
4. Design a Visually Appealing Email Body
Using one of an email platform’s pre-built templates is the easiest way to create a visually appealing email body. This way you can build professional looking emails quickly without needing to know any HTML or design code. Inserting a clean header image at the top of an email is a great way to quickly grab your reader’s attention and direct their gaze to the rest of the page below. Segmenting the email body into lists, paragraphs and tables is another way to help subscribers visually digest your content. Also keep in mind color scheme, font size and paragraph indentation when designing an email, but once again, simpler is better.
5. Determine Send Frequency & Segmentation
How often you choose to send campaigns will vary depending on your audience, but you need to be careful not to fatigue your recipient list with too many sends. For most bands this probably means no more than once or twice per month. Some email platforms offer tools such as open and click rate analytics that can give you an insight into how often to deploy campaigns. Some platforms, like Constant Contact, even offer geographic targeting options that can help you notify fans in specific metro areas about upcoming local shows. Most importantly, you need to be aware that fans have entrusted you with their email addresses and it’s necessary not to betray that trust.