The Key To Converting E-mail Lists Into Fans

Words by Jed Carlson
1) Always respect a person's desire to unsubscribe to your list. IMMEDIATELY UNSUBSCRIBE THEM IF YOUR EMAIL SERVICE DOESN'T DO IT FOR YOU.
2) Always give before you get. Give the fans something special before you ask them to do something like vote for you in a contest.
3) Always talk to them without swearing. It may be part of your 'persona' as a band, but some people don't like that language. The Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like Yahoo mail, hotmail, AOL, etc don't like it either, and your message will go directly to the junk box. You wouldn't talk to your grandma that way, would you?
4) Always avoid 'scam' words in the subject line. Words like 'Free' and 'Help' will land your message in the junk box 100% of the time.
5) Always message them no more than 4 times per month. Ideally it would be less than 3 times. Fans want to be kept up to date, but they don't want to feel like they are your only fan. Messaging them all the time gives the impression that you don't have anything more important to do.
6) Always target them with messages that are RELEVANT to them. If you have a show in Seattle, don't message your fans in Miami. Keep your powder dry for a message to them later about something else.
7) Always give them the basics about the information you are conveying. Reporters call this the 'who, what, why, when, how' model. If you have a show coming up, do your fans (and yourself) the service of providing dates, times, locations, ticket links, and lineup of the show. Over 75% of Artists miss this essential piece when they email. If you want someone to respond and come to your show, for goodness sake, go so far as to give them driving directions if you can. Each ticket sold is money in your pocket.
8) Always link them to some place to find out more info about the band. This could be ReverbNation or MySpace or a homepage or blog. But ALWAYS give them a way to find out more.
1) Never add emails from people that haven't given explicit permission to you to be placed on your list. It’s natural to add the editor from Pitchfork or New York Times to your list in hopes of getting them to notice your email. RESIST THIS URGE! This will ultimately count against you in terms of deliverability and credibility with your fans and those sources. Email is about permission, not spamming. Most email service providers (including ReverbNation) will turn your service off if you are adding people that haven't opt-ed into your list. BEWARE. Instead, write those editors from your personal email, asking them to join your mailing list if they so choose. If you get them to agree, you are in good shape.
2) Never buy email lists or share lists with other bands or labels. This is tantamount to spamming people that haven't opt-ed into your list and it will be met with resistance from the fans as well as your service provider.
3) Never ask Fans to take an action to help you out if you haven't first given them something of value. Reserve some songs for use as 'chips' to play with your email list. Give them a link to some exclusive content from time to time, BEFORE you ask them to go to that radio station website and vote for you to get on the air. Don't underestimate the power of reciprocity with fans. Reciprocity means giving before you get. Give away. They will remember.
4) Never respond to the responses to your emails later than 3 days after they are sent. Fans are time sensitive machines. Keep good track of when responses come in and handle them immediately. You will be rewarded with loyal fans.
5) Never take aggressive action against a fan that has had any problem with your message. Simply unsubscribe them. It doesn't pay to fight with your customers, Period. Advanced Strategies
Most Artists have a MySpace page, a Facebook page, and a homepage/blog. That's good. But the key to approaching the internet as a whole is finding a way to 'own' the fans from all of these different networks, rather than 'renting' them under the terms and conditions of each particular site. Your email list is the best possible 'home' for all of these fans. It gives the Artist the most flexibility to communicate, make offers, and conduct their business, regardless of which network the fans come from. As a result, we promote a philosophy of looking at each of these 'networks' as a lead generation source, as opposed to the home base for conducting their marketing. Why turn your marketing and promotion over to the whims of MySpace? Labels, venues, and sponsors will take much more stock in a band that has a robust email list that they 'own' over Artists that just have a ton of 'Friends' on social nets. In order to break from the concept of 'renting' fans, Artists need to do a few simple things:
Add 'fan collectors' (join our mailing list) functions to all of their sites that lead back to their main list. Provide an incentive for joining the mailing list, such as access to exclusive content like a song they can't get anywhere else. ReverbNation provides exactly this feature when an Artist uploads a song. They can designate it as a 'fan exclusive' and we create a 'download' widget that they can add to their MySpace page. This widget will require them to join the mailing list for the Artist in exchange for receiving the content. Artists post this to their MySpace page, blog, etc. by simply providing their login to each site and we post it there for them. Artists who use this tool grow their mailing list 600% faster than those who do not use this method. Email your fans regularly with relevant info, and not too often. Fans who receive 'high quality' emails from Artists tend to stay on the list over 95% of the time. If Artists follow this method, in addition to the best practices outlined above, they will see their emails lists grow substantially, and they will have real control over their future.

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