Email marketing is kind of like dating. It might take a few interactions before you can expect someone to... buy your album.
And just like dating, or any human relation for that matter, you can't expect to get something, unless you give something.
However, marketing is ultimately about selling something, so keep your end goal in mind even when it takes several attempts before you can push for the sale.
Every email should:
- Provide value to the reader
- Have a clear Call to Action (CTA)
- Address the individual and be personable
When someone gives you their email address, they expect to get something of value back.
The first thing you should think about when writing is what do you have to offer? What can you give the recipients to improve their lives in some way?
Sure, it's fun to think of email marketing as a great tool to make people buy your CDs, come to your shows and ultimately help you sustain your career. But none of this will happen unless you have something of value to offer first.
They buy your music because they like it. They read your email to be entertained, or informed or to receive a great discount on that new hoodie you're offering.
Call to Action (CTA)
The call to action is the main objective you want to achieve with your email. It could be selling tickets or getting people to your show, selling CDs, selling merch, asking people to tell their friends about you, download your new song, watch your video, give you feedback on your latest single, bandphoto, blog post, etc...
Sending an email to your fans simply informing them of your next gig, without asking them to do something, is a wasted opportunity. Every email should engage in some way. You want to build relationships with your fans and every interaction strengthens these relationships. The first time they might click on a link to watch a video, next time they might click on the "buy now" button to purchase your latest album.
The CTA should be an obvious button or link that clearly states what you want your reader to do. It even bears to be repeated. Put it in the header of your email, a text link in your main paragraph, a big button underneath, and even in your footer if you include other links as well.
Ideally, every email should only have one CTA. However, if you want to link to more than one target, put your main objective first. Perhaps the most important goal of your email is to sell tickets to your CD release party, but you also want to include your latest video. Start with your main objective, include a big button that says: "Buy tickets here" or similar and make your video link slightly more inconspicuous. Have a clear hierarchy in the flow of your email.
Address the individual and be personable
If you have collected names on your email sign up forms, you should utilize your email marketing platform's personalization feature, so your emails start with "Hi, David" rather than "Hi everyone!"
If you must mention your "email list", call it something cool and more personable, like your club or our community, association, nation, group, society, team, etc. Make them feel like they are part of something cool.
Never write an email to your "list". Don't write "to all our fans." It's not like they all get together and read your emails aloud to each other. People read their emails alone.
One cool trick is to visualize your one ideal fan and write as if you're speaking directly to her/him.
Speak in your own voice. Email is a rather intimate communication form so it's okay to be slightly informal. Your language should feel like you're talking to the person reading it. Talk about yourself in the first person "I" and "we", and your fans as "you".
Types of emails
There are 3 basic emails you should be sending on a set schedule, or when applicable:
- Gig / tour announcement
- New album announcement
Then there are 2 automated email sequences you should set up:
- Welcome emails
- Order confirmation emails
Gig / tour announcement email
Utilize your email list before any gig. If you tour a larger area, you should ideally segment your list by zip code so you don't crowd the inbox of people in Los Angles about your gig in New York.
For single, local gigs, email people a couple of weeks before the show. Tell them all the necessary details of the show; name and address of venue, date and time of the show, other bands on the bill, ticket pricing, etc.
Send a quick reminder the day before or the day of.
To make it more enticing, always state a good reason why they should come out to your show. If you play frequently in the same area it's easy to get in the rut of "it's just another gig". Try to do something every time to make it special. Will you be performing a new song? Is one of the other bands on the bill worth mentioning? Maybe you're shooting a music video and need live footage so your audience will be in your next video? Do you have some new cool merch to show off? Maybe you will give some away to the first few who buys tickets? Is the show for a charitable cause? Is it in a unique venue? Anything you can think of to set it apart from you last (and your next) gig.
If you're going on a longer tour, it's okay to send all the dates and main details to your entire list. This can be sent longer in advance. Also send segmented show reminders two weeks before each show.
When announcing a gig, what you're trying to achieve is getting people to commit to coming. If there is a cover charge, link to where they can buy the tickets. One way to incentivize people to pre-purchase, is to make the price lower than what it will be at the door. Or bundle it with a CD or merch item.
If there is no cover charge, you can still have a CTA. Either link to social networks like Facebook where you can set up an event and conveniently have buttons that says: "Interested" or "Going". Basic human psychology shows that if people make a small gesture like clicking a button, which publicly states their commitment to something - they are more likely to follow through and actually come to your show.
Instead of, or perhaps in addition to utilizing social media, you can use apps like Bandsintown or Songkick Tourbox where people RSVP to your show invitation. These can also be integrated on your own website.
New album announcement
Obviously you should tell your fans and email subscribers about your new album! You probably have so much to say about it, that the dilemma in this case is not coming up with something to write, but to limit what you should write.
The CTA is naturally to make them buy your new, awesome album. You should also include a little story about it, whether it be from the recording process, the meaning behind a certain song, how you came up with the artwork idea, who you'd like to thank, or anything else that might be interesting about it. Keep it short and sweet.
You can also include a free download of a song, a video, pictures of the artwork, etc.
Create some sort of scarcity and urgency by offering a special price for a limited time only, or signed copies to the first x amount of buyers, bonus tracks, bundle it with special posters, stickers, etc.
Also ask people to share the glorious news with all their friends!
Before the release
An album release is such a huge event in your career that you shouldn't keep it a secret until the release date. You can build up a lot of momentum and anticipation by sending multiple emails prior to the release. As you're writing and recording your music, you can email your fans about the whole process. A few ideas are: rough demos, daily journal entries from the studio, video snippets from the sessions, artwork draft ideas, ask for input from your fans, share lyrics, photos of the studio, the gear, the engineer, the snacks, the coffee maker, etc.
Newsletters should be a little beefier than your gig or album announcements with two to four different topics. Ideally newsletters should come at regular intervals so your fans know what to expect from you. They shouldn't be a blatant sales pitch, but a slightly more subtle call to action is absolutely acceptable.
Newsletters should be somewhat consistently branded. Try to stick with the same template for a while. Perhaps create a header image or logo you can utilize. Most email marketing platforms will have multiple pre-made template layouts for newsletters.
Feel free to mix media to keep it interesting. Utilize photos, illustrations and video.
Your fans want to get to know you, so what you can talk about is somewhat unlimited. Write anything that is interesting to you, new with you. How intimate and personal you wish to be is up to you. Be true to yourself and your comfort level.
You can for instance share stories from the road, playlists of what you're currently listening to, photos of your rehearsal space, videos of your pets, things that inspire you, food pics or recipes you like, a list of your favorite movies, licks you're practicing or anything that you think is worth mentioning!
The welcome email is the autoresponder your fans get when they sign up for your email list. For most artists these are an untapped goldmine...
People expect to get an email from you the second they sign up, so they're already waiting and ready to open it. Statistics from all email marketing platforms show that welcome emails have the highest open rate of any type of email, averaging 50%!
What to include in your welcome email depends on what your sign up form said. If you are enticing people to sign up for your list to receive a 10% discount on your new CD, you need to deliver on this promise immediately and give them the discount code and link to where they can make their purchase.
However, if your sign up form offers a free download, or is rather neutral, a hard sell in the welcome email might be too pushy. In this case, start with a sincere thank you and concisely include the following:
- welcome them to your community, club, family, whichever you choose to call it
- tell them what to expect from you in terms of email frequency and content
- encourage them to connect with you on all your social media platforms
- ask them a question or two to engage conversation
- if you promised a freebie in your sign up form, make sure to have a clear link for them to get it
- ask them to whitelist you (add your email address to their contact list) so your future emails won't end up in their promotions folder
- give them an option to unsubscribe if they think they received this email in error
This is quite a lot of information, so a series of welcome emails might be better than just one. If you set up an automated sequence of welcome emails, keep your ultimate goal in mind. Let's say your goal is to sell more CDs. Sometimes it might take a few emails to achieve this goal.
Use their first name in the subject line when possible. This is the first impression you're making, so make sure it's a good one. Be personable and reproachable.
Order confirmation emails
When someone orders something off your website, you should send them an order confirmation email. Your ecommerce site probably uses a stock email template that provides them a summary of their order.
Don't get me wrong, the details about the order needs to be included, as well as a heartfelt thank you, but you don't have to stop there. They've just purchased something from you! They love you! They're stoked and excited and certainly willing to do you one little favor...
Here are a few ideas:
- Ask them to share the love with their friends. Have links to your social media platforms and ask them to like your pages or share their purchase.
- Show them a related product. If they bought your latest CD, you can ask them if they have your first CD with a convenient link for them to purchase it.
- Offer them a discount code on their next order from your website.
- Include a list of your upcoming gigs and links to buy tickets or RSVP.
Email marketing platforms
There are numerous different email marketing platforms that all basically do the same thing. We have used several of them and would recommend Mailchimp for the following reasons:
- If your email list has 2000 or less subscribers - it's FREE
- It is a very powerful, yet easy to use platform
- They have a cute little monkey mascot
- If your email list has 2000 or less subscribers - it's FREE!
Email marketing for musicians conclusion
Email is the marketing tool with the highest return on investment (ROI) any musician can utilize. What you can write about and how you can monetize it, is only limited by your imagination.
If you found this article useful, if you have other great ideas about email marketing for musicians, experiences of your own with email marketing, or if you have any questions on how to do certain aspects of it, we would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.
Also worth reading: How to build an email list from scratch