I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… The most important tool in my music marketing toolbox is my email management client. Your email list is your primary asset as a professional musician. You can have dozens of amazing songs up your sleeve, but sadly those songs won’t do much without an audience you can share them with (and hopefully sell them to). That’s where an email list comes in.
The bottom line… When you have a large mailing list of fans, you have the ability to turn to your audience over and over again to generate album, merch, and ticket SALES, and generate a real income for the life of your career.
But as I’ve also said, not all email management tools are created equal. There are many tools out there which can help you manage your email list. They range from the old “copy and paste an email to 50 people at a time” approach (an absolutely terrible way to go about it), to tools designed specifically for musicians, businesses, and finally marketers. The latter being my preference, as a tool designed for marketers tends to focus on features that one needs to actually SELL.
I’d rather not disparage any one company out there, as every solution has its place. So instead I’ll just say the tool I use, and STRONGLY recommend, is Aweber.
I’ve personally had accounts with over five different email management solutions and I’ve kicked the tires on dozens more. Aweber is simply the best tool for the price in my opinion, and they have the features that you actually need. Chief among them are the following:
- You can create unlimited lists.
- You can send unlimited emails.
- You can create an unlimited number of opt in forms, each with it’s own tracking so you know where your fans are coming from.
- You can create an automated email series which is pre-written and scheduled to go out and predetermined intervals (to develop a relationship with each new fan).
- You can send out real time broadcast.
- You can create list automation rules which (for example) unsubscribe a fan from your general mailing list when they become a customer, so you avoid irritating those who have already purchased with unnecessary emails.
- You have access to important stats and tracking information such as who has opened an email or clicked on a link, and who has not.
- You can then send an email exclusively to those who did, or did not, open or click, (This feature alone can boost sales by 10% or more).
- You can organize your list into segments and send (or suppress) emails to one specific group, such as subscribers in one particular location, or who subscribed via a specific page of your site.
- You can send plain text “looking” emails (which I strongly recommend because they tend to be perceived as more personal), or you can use any of their many slick email newsletter templates if you prefer something a little more “professional” looking.
- Free phone support – Super important!
- NEW: You can now upload contacts from your existing list and/or live shows without forcing those people to reconfirm.
- NEW: They now offer a free trial.
- The list of impressive features goes on and on…
But more important than the features is an often overlooked (but crucial) aspect of email management… DELIVERABILITY.
Email deliverability is a huge issue, and if you could only see the stats on some of those less effective solutions out there, you’d be shocked at how few of your fans are actually even receiving your emails.
Deliverability is key, and there is a lot going on behind the scenes with an email management provider to make sure those emails get through. And while Aweber is not the only provider able to get an email into a recipient’s inbox, they are the industry leader in direct response marketing circles and when it comes to deliverability, integration, and cutting edge features, Aweber has always been ahead of the pack. I’ve personally been with them since 2007 and haven’t looked back since.
There are costs associated with any reputable email management tool and Aweber is very competitive, with plans starting at $19. And while it may be tempting to go with one of the cheaper platforms out there, or even one of the software solutions that only require a one time fee, you’ll be sacrificing important features and/or deliverability in the process, and because your mailing list is going to have a more significant impact on your income than any other single aspect of your marketing and promotion, it’s simply not worth saving $5 month for what could mean thousands of dollars in lost revenue down the line.
However, I say all that only to get everyone up to speed on the importance of having a good email management tool in place. What inspired me to write this post today is a brand new feature that Aweber just quietly introduced, which is the ability to import leads WITHOUT having them opt-in again. This is a HUGE for us as musicians!
“Opting In” is an important part of maintaining a quality list with good deliverability. This simply means that a person must click a link within a confirmation email before they will be added to your list. This is done so that an “audit trail” is created and you can prove that each person on your list actually requested information from you. Because after all, Spam is ILLEGAL, and that audit trail protects you in the very unlikely event that you were ever accused of emailing people that didn’t ask to be on your list (don’t ever do that, it’s STUPID and sooooo irritating).
And so for this reason, most email management providers require any subscribers you import to opt-in again. This of course is not ideal for us as musicians, as we are often attracting some of our most valuable subscribers at live events. Or we may have an existing list that we have been accruing over the years which we want to move. Unfortunately asking someone who subscribed in the past (even if it was just a few days ago at a live show) tends to lead to enormous losses in confirmations/subscribers.
Fortunately Aweber has realized the problem that this was causing for many legitimate businesses and individuals and as a result they have introduced a new feature which allows you to import subscribers WITHOUT forcing them to opt-in again. The only requirement is that each subscriber did actually request to be added to your mailing list and that in doing so they were aware that they were being added to your email newsletter. Don’t even think about buying a list, or scraping people’s email addresses off of the internet and adding them to your mailing list. You will be marked as spam and the pattern will be spotted immediately, and your account will be in jeopardy. Plus, it’s super uncool.
Anyway… To those who are new to the direct response marketing process, this may seem like a minor development. After all there have been a number of solutions out there for some time that allow you to import without re-confirming. However there has not been a solution available with this collection of tools, for a comparable price, that has offered this feature… until now
It’s been a major obstacle for performing musicians, as well as those who would like to make the move to a better platform, but who didn’t want to lose a significant portion of their mailing list when they made the switch. Obstacle no more
That’s about it for today. This has been one of those posts I’ve meant to write for years. Aweber has been the backbone of everything I do, and everything I teach. If you’re not using them, I strongly suggest you take a look at the platform and see if it’s right for you.
Because as I’ve said many times before… your sales are going to be in direct proportion to the size of your mailing list. So go build that list!