Mailing lists, one of the single most important tools you’ll need as a musician. Big businesses such as Amazon MP3, Google Play, and CD Baby all use mailing lists to increase interactivity with their fans, and to make more money. So if you didn’t think you had to build a list before, believe me when I tell you, you do!
If you don’t set up a mailing list asap, you’re literally letting long-term fans and money slip through your fingers. A list is one of the biggest assets you can build as a musician, so I suggest you get on the case right away.
Today we’re going to be looking at what mailing lists are, why you as a musician need to set one up as soon as possible, and the best way to go about building one. We’ll also look at a few other important tips and tricks along the way, such as how to increase the amount of subscribers you gain, the best tool to use for building a list (Hint: Aweber), and how you can take your list building efforts to the next level. So make sure you read on till the end for all the info.
This guide is the first in a two part series. The second one will be about email marking for musicians (Don’t read that yet, read this guide first), a process that will allow your to communicate to the people that end up subscribing to your mailing list. For now though, let’s focus on setting everything up so you can get those subscribers in the first place.
What Are Mailing Lists And Why Are They So Effective?
A mailing list is a list of people’s contact details you will collect to have further communications with them in future. You’ll often want to collect at least their name and email address, but you could also get their phone number, city of residence (Which is useful to know when you want to contact only those of your fans who live in a certain area), and pretty much anything else you will find relevant.
You will want to ensure that these people want to receive communications from you, as having someone on your mailing list that doesn’t want to hear from you is a waste of time for you both.
Once on your mailing list, you can send your subscribers more information about yourself, exclusive tracks and competitions, and anything else that will help build up the relationship you have with them.
Mailing lists are effective as they allow you to reach potential fans in a place they’ll always check. While social sites such as Twitter and Facebook are a great place to be, sometimes your message can slide of the page and not get seen by certain people. When you email someone however, you will get directly into their inbox and stay there until they see it.
Think about it: Most people check their emails. You need an email to sign up to the majority of websites (Facebook, Twitter, Amazon etc), so people generally check their emails on a regular basis. So what better place is there to contact them with your message?
In order to contact them though, we first need to add people to your list. This is what building a list is all about.
What Tools Will You Need To Build A Mailing List For Your Music Career?
As we’re going to be building hopefully quite a large list of people, we’re going to need industry specific tools. While it would be great if our usual Gmail or Hotmail account would allow us to build a mailing list, in reality it doesn’t.
To successfully build a list, we will need to be able to do a few things:
- Build An Opt In Form.
An opt in form is how you capture people’s contact details. You put this form on your website, and people can add their own details at will. You can see an example of an opt in form on this page. You’ve probably also seen them on a number of blogs you’ve already visited.
- Mail A Load Of People At Once.
Your list is something you’ll want to continue to build, as the more people you have on it, the more people you can potentially turn into your long-term fans. Sending a load of emails via your general email account however isn’t really practical, as you’ll be faced with a limited amount of options. For example, you can’t segment your email list based on their previous interactions with you, where they live, and the like.
To make the most out of your list building and email marketing efforts, you’ll need a tool that will allow you to do all these things and more.
- View Analytics Of How People Interact With Your Emails.
As well as being able to collect contact details and conveniently mail people, you’ll also need to be able to see how many people are opening your emails, what they’re finding interesting, and what they’re not too keen on. Basically, what works and what doesn’t. Because of this, we need a tool that can give us these stats and allow us to improve our email marketing campaign. More on email marketing in the next guide.
While there are a number of tools that allow us to do these things, the current market leader is Aweber. Aweber allows you to do all the above things and more, making them a one stop solution for building a music mailing list. While I have both Mailchimp and Aweber accounts, if I had to start again and only pick one, I’d go with Aweber.
While you can get other tools in additional to Aweber to make your list building even faster, I suggest you only start out with this one piece of software. During the early stages, you don’t want to overwhelm yourself learning a load of new tools. Furthermore, you don’t want to spend too much money on list building initially, so buying anything else shouldn’t be a priority.
Anyone that wants to get their list building going faster by using advanced strategies and tools, can check out Lesson 5 in the Academy. I personally suggest you learn to use Aweber effectively first, and gain your first few subscribers. See how that goes, and learn how to get more subscribers from there.
How To Build Your Mailing List
Ok, so onto the good stuff. Now that we know why mailing lists are so important and we know the tools needed to successfully build a list, the next thing we need to do is to get people onto this list. There are two main ways you can do this:
One of the ways of building up your mailing list is by presenting an opt-in form to visitors of your website. If they fill in the form and press submit, they will signed up to your list automatically. From here on, they will receive your email updates directly to their inbox.
The other way is to collect people’s information face to face. You may want to do it like this at concerts or music related events, as if people are attending something you’re putting on, there’s a good chance they’ll be interested in keeping updated with what you’re doing next.
Now putting up an opt-in form or going round asking people for their email address is all well and good, but it doesn’t always give you the maximum amount of sign ups you could potentially get. Unless they’re a hardcore fan, you’ll end up with a lot of potential fans ignoring the opportunity to sign up to your mailing list. This may not mean they wouldn’t enjoy what you have to say in your updates, they just didn’t have a big enough incentive to sign up at the time. That’s why it’s a good idea to offer people something in exchange for their email address.
A ‘free’ gift in exchange for someone’s email address is often good for getting people on your list. If you were to offer someone a free song or EP in exchange for their email address, I guarantee you’ll get more sign ups then if you were to just ask someone for their email address with no instant incentive.
While it may be harder to give away something when approaching people in person (By giving away a CD for example, the expenses would add up very quickly), this is the ideal way to get people to sign up online. After the initial cost of making the song is paid, it doesn’t cost anything to send out this song to everyone that signs up to your mailing list. This means you get lots of new subscribers in exchange for virtually nothing. And if a few of these people on your mailing list buy your material just once, you’ve made back the money it cost to record that initial song.
If you’re building up your mailing list offline however, the best way to persuade people to join is by listing the benefits to them. It’s no good just sticking a piece of paper and pen in people’s face and telling them to sign up, you have to explain to them why they should and how it will improve their life. What sounds better to you:
- “Hi, do you want to be on my mailing list? Write your details here”, or
- “Hi, I saw you liked my music. If you want to know when I’ll be performing next, get on my mailing list and I’ll send you those details as well as some free songs”.
Using the second approach you’ll get more subscribers, as you’re making it more about them and how they can benefit.
If you’re collecting the information at your own show, you’ll find a lot more people will sign up to your list, as they’ve already got a proven interest in you. They are at your show after all…
If you’re collecting information at a event not exclusively about you, this can be a bit harder, but still do-able with a good pitch.
We talk a lot more about building your list in the Academy. We give you the best places to place your opt in form for highest conversions (Higher conversions = More people signing up = Bigger fanbase = More money), tools you can use to gain more subscribers, a bunch of tactics we use to drive traffic to our sign up page, tips on the best way to communicate with your list and build up a good profitable relationship with them, and much more. Check out the Academy here if you want to learn all of these things and much more.
How To Build A List For Musicians Conclusion
If you’re not already building a list for your music career, you’re missing a big opportunity to keep in contact with potential lifelong fans. People don’t instantly become long-term fans of yours, you need to build a bond with them and make them feel more attached to you. You can do this using your mailing list.
Big business all over the world use mailing lists to increase the amount of money they make and customer loyalty, so I suggest you get on board and start doing the same.
Now that you know how to build a list, the next step is to learn how to market to your list. That’s the second part to this guide, so check it out.
As always, please share this guide on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest and the like. Thank you.