[Editors Note: This is the fourth 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, Part 2 and Part 3.]

In this fourth part of the S.T.A.G.E.S. of email list series, I’m combining the A. and the G.: awareness and gathering, or growth.

You may recall, S.T.A.G.E.S. stands for Strategy, Technology, Awareness, Gathering, Engagement, and Sell. Awareness and Gathering are both huge topics that overlap a lot, so we’re going to tackle them in one fabulous article.

Awareness

The first step of expanding your list significantly is to know that it is YOUR JOB to create awareness. (I’m not talking about adding one subscriber every few weeks, or getting only 3% of your audience to sign up, I’m talking blow it up!)

In other words: you have to let people know you have a list in the first place.

Ideally, you’d avoid the following practices:

  1. Saying, “I have a list, will you signup?” or, similarly, “Will you sign up for my newsletter?” The good thing in those two questions is that they are yes/no questions. (If you’ve ever done my Perfect Pitch course then you know that a Yes/No question has significant psychological impact that drives the person answering to answer in the positive.) But the thing that is not great about these two questions is that they are not specific, they are a little self-centered, and they are boring. No one wants a newsletter anymore.
  2. Not announcing that you have a list at all, especially at a live show.
  3. Only mentioning your list once or twice on social media… ever!

Don’t do those things if you want to increase awareness around your email list

Instead, do these:

  1. Let people know you have a free gift for them, and ask them, “Where should I send it? Just let me know by sharing your name and email on the pad going around.” (Make sure that you have a free video or download that is exclusive for those people signing up on your list.)
  2. Share your signup link multiple times a week across all of your social media platforms.
  3. Make sure your website is set up so that it’s super easy for someone to know about your list and subscribe to it. They shouldn’t have to dig around to get to it (and they most likely won’t.)

Gathering

Now that you’ve gotten the word out (and continue to get the word out) that you have a list, and it’s awesome, and they get a thing, etc etc, how can you grow beyond your friends and family? Who else can you be gathering and priming to be megafans?

You’ve got to be like a squirrel always on the hunt for nuts. Aka subscribers.

Here are three strategies that are super effective to quickly and regularly.

  1. If you’re performing live, take advantage of the fact that people will most definitely have their phones on them. You can say, in the middle of a set, that everyone should take their phones out, and send an email to “show@yourband.com” and you’ll send them a free gift. When you get home that night, you can gather and input people’s emails into your mail list. OR… you can use your email platform and a cool tool called zapier.com to connect the two so that the process is automatic- anytime you get an email to show@yourband.com, the sender gets added to your mail list. Pretty cool, right? There are also other tech tools to get signups at live shows. Text-to-opt-in and apps from your email platform that you can use on your tablets work well.
  2. Cross promote with an artist whose audience would also like your music. A great way to find these artists is to check out venues where you’ve played. Who was on the bill with you? Also look at indie Spotify playlists of genres you fit into. You can also meet like-minded artists at music conferences and networking events.When you find that perfect fit, you can pitch them to see if they’d be into doing a song-swap. What that means is, you would send an email to YOUR list, saying something like, “Hey, I have a cool friend with a great tune. Go to this link to grab it and learn more about them,” where “this link” is the link to the their signup page. Then the artist would do the same with their list for you. This could be a great way to increase subscribers with very little effort. You also don’t need to be touring to utilize this.
  3. Paid ads. Before you roll your eyes or think you don’t have any money for this, consider this awesome fact: for every $1 spent on your email list, the return is between $38 and $44. That’s a widely known marketing fact. Your email list, when set up correctly, will most likely be your largest source of income for the life of your music career. Invest in it like you believe this with all of your heart and soul. Facebook ads, Instagram Ads, Found.ee and Spotify audio ads are all great ways to get started. I would pick ONE of these four platforms and dig in to learn about how to most effectively target your ads, write great copy, and create the best graphics/audio for the ad. Video ads are converting well these days. Consider creating a quick video for your ad.

You can take on a bunch of this stuff, like, today. Which is pretty cool. See if you can double your list in the next month. That’s always a really fun challenge and one I encourage you to do a few times each year. Put your efforts into gathering new subscribers, and you will increase your fans, superfans, and ultimately, your advocates. In the next article, we will talk about how your content is key. Use it to take your subscribers on a journey that will have them sticking around for the long haul.

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