[Editors Note: This is the second volume 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! Click here to check out Part 1.]
The 4 Elements of an Email List Strategy
“Strategy” can be an intimidating word. Some people think of it as a business plan with lots of fancy graphs and projections into the future. Others think of “strategy” as a way to manipulate the people and world around you to get something you want. And there are those who think that a strategy means commitment, therefore it is a word of terror.
Hey musicians, I’m talking to you when I say this: Strategy can mean all of those things, but when it comes to our careers, and specifically our email lists, strategy is simple and means this: we have a plan and we know why.
In other words, a strategy is being intentional with what actions you take.
You’re going to do stuff to move your career forward. You might as well do stuff that will make a difference. If you are doing what you think you should do, or what you’ve seen other musicians doing, then you’re guessing. If you’re trying stuff out and seeing what works, then you’re guessing.
When you’re intentional, it means you know what you want and you’re clear on what you need to do to get it.
The 4 elements of a strategy
- Clarity on your goals. Your subscribers need to know what you want. If you don’t tell them what you need for your career, they’re not going to know how to be a great fan for you. So they’ll start guessing. And you definitely won’t get any of the results you actually want. Take my friend Jamie Kent. All he wanted was to be the first indie country artist to chart on Billboard when he released his record. For 6 months leading up to the release, all he talked about online, at his shows, and yes, in his emails to his fans, was how COOL it would be to make this happen. Everyone was on board and pre-ordered his record on iTunes. And guess what? He did it. His record debuted at #16 on the Billboard Top Country charts. (Hear Jamie talk about this experience on my podcast Key Conversations, episode 207.)
- A content plan. You will be waaaaaaay less stressed out about sending emails to your list if you know what you need to write for each email series. What this means is figuring out how to automate your email series. (In other words, write them ahead of time, and send them out weekly or bi-weekly, based on where the subscriber is in their journey with you. For example, if a subscribe just signed up, you’d send them a series of four emails I like to call a Commencement series, or a welcome series. The intention of this series is to turn this person from a subscriber to a fan through sharing your best content and setting them up for what to expect as a subscriber.) If automating is a scary word for you, I’d strongly suggest taking a look at my Rock Your Email List course to get it all handled with ease.
- A timeline. Part of having an effective strategy is putting milestones in place so that the results you want are not “Oh, someday I’ll do X.” When you have a strategy and a corresponding timeline, you’ll be able to see what worked and what didn’t work. (The idea is to do more of what worked, and less of what didn’t work.) If you don’t give yourself deadlines, you can perpetually be “working on” something and never stop to say “did we do it?” Without a timeline, you’re talking about someday. When you have a deadline, you’re able to get even more specific. For example, “I will have 100 new email subscribers by the end of the month” is much more clear and powerful than “I want more fans on my list.” You can go and take specific actions to get 100 new subscribers. Do you want to make a certain number of CD sales in a given amount of time? Work backwards and figure out how many sales per email you make, and then craft a series of emails (I call a “Rise” series) to specifically sell your record to your fans. (Note, not all of your series are sales series, and I recommend switching up selling with “nurturing” your list. I’ll talk more about this in a future article!)
- Purpose. You want to have an overall idea of why you have an email list. If all you can come up with is “well, I should have one, right?” then I’d suggest sitting down and figuring out why it’s important to you. Specifically, how can you use your list to engage with your fans in a meaningful way? What would having a relationship with your subscribers mean for your career? What would change if you fostered care and put positive energy into the list?
If you can input these four elements of a strategy into your email list management, your subscribers will start to feel your clarity and purpose, plus gain insights into who you are. The more they can see you, the more likely the are to feel like they know you. This will have them stick around for the long-haul.
If you want to dig in deeper, watch this on-demand live training that goes through all the stages of email including strategy.