[Editors Note: This is the third 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! Be sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2.]
Tackling Email Technology
Technology can be a huge block for musicians. Even if we’re tech-savvy, technology stuff can feel like a massive entry drain that takes away from what we really want to be doing.
Email lists are no different. To get one going, you need to peel through a few technological onion layers to get to the good stuff. The good stuff includes a well-set up email list and an automatic welcome email that delivers your first piece of content to your new subscriber.
If you’re a musician reading this, I’ll guess you’re in one of two places: you have a list set up but aren’t totally rocking it yet (and perhaps want to change email platforms), or you know you need one but aren’t sure where to start. If so, read on, my friend!
I like to think of the technology of email lists in three categories.
- The set up
- Sending automated and broadcast emails
- Ongoing management and maintenance
If you get stuck in setting up your list and connecting it to your website, then you can’t move forward.
So let’s talk about each of these three things separately.
The Set Up
There are three different kinds of platforms:
- Basic. Website hosts like Wix have this built in to their templates. They’re very easy to set up to simply start collecting emails, but bells and whistles (and automation) are usually limited. These services are generally free.
- Designated. These platforms, like Mailchimp (my recommendation), ConvertKit, Awebber, and Constant Contact are designed to do ONE thing, and that’s be a manager of your email list. These have varied pricing but many are either free or very inexpensive up until a certain number of subscribers. You have the ability to design your emails, automate them, and segment your lists (which is a techy thing I get into in my Rock Your Email List course.)
- CRM. Customer Relationship Management platforms, including Infusionsoft and Hubspot, are robust programs that can do advance tagging, automation campaigns and sales integrations. This is for the person ready and willing to dig into the tech world deeeeeeep. Additionally, you probably have a larger list to support the high starter costs. (If your list IS large, these sites tend to pay off in the end, as Designated platforms generally get exponentially more expensive as your list grows.)
Once you figure out what your tech tolerance is, you’ll be able to get going with a platform. I always encourage musicians to watch all the intro tutorials the platform offers, so you can become a master at the one you choose.
Sending automated and broadcast emails
Once you’ve written your great email, it comes time to format it and send it. The decision becomes: do you send it now, to your current list? Or, do you pop it in a sequence so that every new subscriber, forever, gets to read it?
You can figure out the answer to automate vs. broadcast question by answering more questions.
- Is the email timely? Does it talk about an event that is coming up soon? A release or news that is only interesting for people right now? If so, then send it to the current list as a broadcast, and do not put it in any automated sequences that will go out in the future.
- Does the email contain cool content? A video from a show, a link to a Spotify playlist you made, or a download for a hand-written lyric sheet? Automate that- make sure the email gets seen by any current AND future subscribers.
The idea behind automated emails is that once you write the content, you add it to a sequence that gets sent out over time. When the email gets sent is according to your subscriber’s behavior. Your email list continues to get content from you. You don’t have to sit down every two weeks and stress about a “newsletter”. (No one wants to read newsletters anyway.)
If you can figure out if your email platform allows for scheduling, aka automating email series, start learning how to do that asap. If not, it’s okay, you can still write a bunch of content ahead of time and pull from your growing library of engagement emails when the time comes to send a new email.
Ongoing management and maintenance
Keeping your list “clean”, meaning “engaged” is key to a healthy list. Re-engaging people who haven’t opened or clicked your emails in at least 6 months is part of that process. Deleting hard bounces (emails that aren’t working) every 6 months keeps a list clean. Checking your subject lines to make sure they’re getting the opens you want is also part of keeping your list up to snuff.
You want to continue to check your content, see what emails are getting better responses. I’m always tweaking my series to make them better and more engaging.
If you’ve totally rocked your list and have some great automated series ready to go for all the subscribers in your list, then throw in a real-time broadcast every now and again. The good thing about pre-written automated series is that the pressure is off to send a newsletter. At the same time, it’s always nice to read something that is time-sensitive.
Note: automated emails should read JUST like a real-time broadcast email. You should be writing to one person, making them feel like the important subscriber that they are. You should always write in your own authentic voice. Make sure that the reader feels important, and part of your team. Because they are. I will dig into crafting email content in a later article in this series.
If you want to discover more about your email list tech tolerance, I cover it in my free online training – sign up to watch it here.