7 Ways to Make Your Email Newsletter Rock
Ask a room full of marketers if they think that email newsletters are a great way to stay in touch with fans—dollars to donuts nearly all of them do; ask a room full of music fans if they enjoy reading newsletters—you tell me how they’d respond.
How’s your Zen? Creating an email newsletter that people enjoy reading and that will serve you as a musician will involve a few counter-intuitive choices. As illustrated above, a good email newsletter is both a really powerful marketing tool and really hard to pull off.
You’ve got a challenge ahead of you, but once you’ve created a newsletter that people actually enjoy reading, you’ll pull your head way above the rest of the inbox-blockage. With that said, what are the top priorities?
1. Keep a 90 to 10 Ratio of Information to Promotion in Your Emails
I told you to get Zenned up. This tip comes from the marketing geniuses at Hubspot—the truth is, when you try really hard at something, quite often it will push back and the harder you try, the harder it will push back. The same is true for promotion: an email newsletter that’s mostly promotion will end up mostly in the trash. Because, honestly, who wants to read promotion?
Your priority is to give your readers enjoyment and build a relationship with them, very few people relate to purely promotional material. You need to market yourself, of course, but let this promotion consist of a few well-placed sections that fit with the theme of the email, rather than dominating it.
2. Calls to Action: Fewer is More
For readers who aren’t marketers (here’s why you may be both) a call to action (CTA) is the point in your email where you identify what you want your customer to read/buy/visit and give them a link to do so. So if your newsletter for a given week promotes a gig, the part where you link them to the box office is the CTA.
So, how many should you have per email? As many as possible? If you ask people to see your gig, check out your YouTube, follow you on Facebook and Twitter and check out your new Bandcamp page they’ll probably do nothing, if they ever make it to the end of the sentence.
The science is in on this one: according to Ubounce, when companies give people loads of choices, customers are actually less likely to buy than when given fewer choices. Ideally, you should have one main CTA to which you’re channeling readers and a couple of secondary ones—the fewer there are, the more they’ll stand out.
3. Write in Your Own Voice
Writing a newsletter that reads like a commercial is another way to send it straight to the trash; thanks to Go Forth Music for reminding us of this. Music fans are already bombarded with marketing copy—on their way to work, on television, on the internet—reading your email newsletter written in your normal voice will be a breath of fresh air by comparison.
It must be, of course, in snappy, standard conversational English, spellchecked and well-formatted, while keeping as much of your personal voice in there as possible. People signed up to your newsletter to keep in touch with you.
4. Nail those Subject Lines
These first three tips only really matter once your fans are actually reading your email, and the top way to get them to read it is a subject line that they can’t resist. Let me guess, you don’t want to to be sitting for 10 minutes picking at a subject trying to make it sound cool. This is why doing so will get your newsletter read, because it stands out against all the boring subject lines in your fan’s inbox sent by people who couldn’t be bothered to write good subject lines.
Venture Harbour observes how people love secrets, tips and other exclusive stuff. This is part of the reason why they subscribed, to learn more about you. So, in the headline, outline briefly what information your readers can access that isn’t available elsewhere, which of your secrets are you going to reveal? Beyond that, make those subjects short, descriptive, and start with the most important word.
5. Include Video
You should always use the tools and media that best suit your craft, and video is almost the perfect medium for music because of its ability to capture the impact of a performance. You can combine tip 4 with this one, too:
Take a high-quality video of your show or rehearsal and upload it to YouTube, but adjust the privacy settings so that it’s accessible only to people who have the link. Now your email newsletter can include an exclusive video, available only to people on your mailing list. Meanwhile, if your fans use Gmail, they’ll see a video embed when they read an email in which you include a YouTube link, so they can watch, listen and read all in one place.
Don’t worry, according to Brafton, 60% of people were using Gmail in 2012, and if your fans can’t see the embedded video, they can still follow the link.
6. Keep Your Audience in Mind
Know your audience and you will know how to make the best email newsletter for them—this will involve thinking like a marketer again, but don’t worry. Who listens to your music? If your audience is primarily teenagers who are always on their smartphones, try a stripped down format that lends itself to the small screen.
If your audience is older, chances are they’ll read your newsletter on their lunch break from the office. In this case, why not make it long form and send it off timed to give them something to read when they clock off.
Your artist page on Facebook can help you to access a lot of this information, such as age and location. With such a globalized market, it’s not unlikely for musicians to pick up fans around the world. Many EDM acts, for example, have plenty fans in Mexico City—why not write to them specifically, in their own language?
Your newsletter can even be a way, in itself, to learn about your audience. The popular and free email campaign tool Mail Chimp, for example, lets you see how many people opened your email and clicked on a link. This way, you can learn what works and what doesn’t and improve your craft with every issue.
7. Keep It above Board, Make It Easy to Subscribe and Easy to Unsubscribe
If you want to succeed, you have to get your newsletter out there: collect email addresses in return for free merch at shows, allow to people to sign up through your site, and so on. At the same time, make sure you don’t get yourself in trouble: though it may be tempting, don’t add people to your list if they haven’t explicitly signed up. Remember that really cool unsolicited newsletter you got last week? Yeah, me neither.
As Music Think Tank reminds us, you are legally required to have permission to add people to your mailing list and give them the option to unsubscribe. Make it easy to unsubscribe, too.
This may sound like a strange priority, but, put it this way: if someone’s tired of your newsletter and you let them unsubscribe easily (without searching the email for the right button or having to login to a website to update one of those retched ‘communication settings’ pages) you’ll part ways on good terms and they may even re-subscribe later on. You don’t want to annoy people or make them stay subscribed but just mentally black-hole your emails, which would be much worse.
This is how it’s done. Keep it Zen, genuine, above board and original, and you can add email to your armory of tools for building and maintaining your fan base.
Post by Oliver Cox.
Oliver Cox is a contributing writer for SplashFlood, a music promotion app. He writes freelance for a number of sites and brands, specializing in music. Coming from a musical family, Oliver loves to combine is interest in music with writing, to explore how the modern musician can find success.