Guest post by Cheryl B. Engelhardt of the TuneCore Blog
[Editors Note: This is the first in a multi-part series by Cheryl B. Engelhardt, singer/songwriter, composer, and the owner of the music career consultation site In The Key of Success. Cheryl will be breaking down the key S.T.A.G.E.S. of email marketing for independent artists – we invite you to follow along over the next few weeks, as we’re sure you’ll be walking away with some hugely helpful tips for your email marketing strategy!]
‘Email marketing‘ sounds like such a yucky term. But if you’re gathering fans and want to engage with them, sorry, ya’ll, this is the way to do it.
Just by thinking about my list used to seriously stress me out. Drafting content, formatting the email, checking links, sending it out, and dealing with replies was just the tip of the iceberg. Oh, and of course, the ego hit when I peeked at the unsubscribes (never a good idea.) The whole thing felt forced, was time consuming, and I wasn’t sure what the point was.
DISCOVERING MY FANS
One day, I received an invitation to bring my band to Switzerland to perform in a festival. Being a broke assistant at an advertising music house at the time, I knew I couldn’t afford to fly us all there.
I had been touring around the USA for about two years and had a small mail list. I decided to write them and see if anyone had unused airline miles they’d be willing to gift me and the band.
And they did.
This was the first time I realized that my fans were not there to simply read random updates about my career, but they were there to be a part of it.
Fast forward ten years: I’m asked to moderate a panel at SXSW on email marketing. Wanting to be fully prepared, I went down a rabbit hole of reading digital marketing books, attending conferences, and even getting certified as a digital marketing email specialist.
This is all to say: I learned a LOT.
So much of what works with email marketing is not what you normally see in the music industry. There’s so much out there and we musicians are simply not taking advantage of it.
In this series of articles, I’ll aim to give you a new context for email marketing. I’ll outline each of the six S.T.A.G.E.S. of email (yep, I made an acronym for it). Additionally, I’ll give you an opportunity to turn your fan list into your main source of engagement, support, and hopefully income! Without further ado…
THE SIX S.T.A.G.E.S. OF EMAIL MARKETING
Strategy – Strategy is the #1 component I see musicians missing. Without knowing what you want (yes, your goal is actually part of your strategy!), you’ll never be able to clearly communicate what you need to your fans. Thus, they will not know how to show up or how to contribute to you. Strategy involves getting clear on what you want and knowing how your email list will fit into achieving that goal.
Technology – This is the area where most musicians get really stopped. Maybe, at best, we understand that we need a list. Or perhaps we know that we can segment subscribers, or even that we can automate the emails ahead of time. But how to do that in the most effective way, and make our email platform really work for us becomes a conundrum at some point in the process. Unblocking technology questions gives way to a smooth system that works for you.
Awareness – People cannot sign up for your email list if they do not know that you have one. I know, this sounds like a no-brainer. But you’d be surprised by how many artists I see play live and never mention their list from stage. People want to continue the experience of your music – you have to give them a way to do that.
Growth & Gathering – Once you’ve got your family on friends on your list, it becomes time to expand your list to other subscribers who will ideally become fans and then customers. There are many ways to go about doing this, so stay tuned for the Growth article coming up!
Engagement – This is all about content. Your actual emails are what will turn your subscribers into fans and then customers and then superfans. Authentically telling your story, sharing anecdotes about songs, and yes, selling your products and services, will keep them around for the long-haul. (Click here to take a quick look at one strategy I’ve developed to get you set with content for a year!)
Selling – I would prefer to call this section “Monetization” but STAGEM didn’t make quite as cool of an acronym. But as I said in the previous section, selling is a key part to giving your fans an opportunity to contribute, thus building trust and loyalty. Not to mention, financially allowing you to continue to do this thing you love so much! Sell is not a four letter word. Okay, wait. It technically is a four-letter word, but it’s not a bad word. When you wrap your head around the idea that your fans want to consume your stuff, writing these kinds of emails will start to come more easily.
In conclusion, email marketing is not just about sending newsletters. In fact, I usually urge against sending the email newsletter blast. For now, go grab my free email workbook that outlines these stages and will get you started on figuring out where you are with your strategy, technology (and even help you choose a platform), and get going on growing and monetizing your list.