If you've been collecting email addresses from your fans for any length of time, you're already way ahead of where many musicians are.
Building a mailing list (also known as a newsletter) is an essential task for all musicians. It will increase the amount of money you make from music, and it will help you stay in contact with fans in a way social networking sites simply can't. You can see why musicians need to build a list here.
That said, tallying up your subscribers is not enough. You also have to communicate regularly with your fans, and if you want your fans to open your emails and click on the links you provide, you have to be prepared to experiment and optimize.
Keep in mind that a 20% open rate is considered good, where anything above that would be considered excellent. If you're already hitting that mark, you're clearly doing something right.
However, there is always room to improve. Here how to increase open rates for your emails so you'll in turn get more clicks and people checking out your music.
But first, if it's your aim to do music professionally, you'll want to check out our free ebook while it's still available:
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Improve Email Open Rates With Powerful Subject Lines
There are a lot of thoughts on what makes an effective email headline. I have often felt that the most important thing you can do is to take a look at the emails that arrive in your inbox and observe what engages you.
As far as the length of your subject line is concerned, shorter ones tend to perform better. If your headline is longer than 50 characters (that's characters, not words), it tends to be less effective. There is one exception; longer, descriptive headlines do well when you're sending emails to a highly targeted list.
Also keep in mind that personal messages tend to perform better than promotional messages. By using a personal tone in your emails, you can often increase your open rate.
What works best really depends on your list. Here are some different headline types to experiment with:
- Standard subject lines. If in doubt, use a headline that simply conveys what the subscriber can expect to find inside (i.e. “Our New Album Is Almost Done!”).
- Controversial headlines. For example, “Miley Cyrus Can't Even Come Close…”
- Funny subject lines. “The Most Wonky, Un-Danceable Music You've Ever Heard”.
- One-word headlines. Barack Obama was known for sending email messages with subject lines that simply read “Hey” during campaigns. That'll get the best of your curiosity.
- Questions. “Did You Know That We'll Be Performing In Your Home Town Soon?”
- Headlines with numbers. “7 Different Ways To Purchase Our New Album”.
- Scarcity-driven subject lines. “This Is Your Last Chance To See Us Live This Year”.
- Mystery. “This Incredible Artist Is Going To Be Sharing The Stage With Us”.
Don't just guess which of these will do well though, you need to test these subject lines.
Best Practice: Split Test Your Headlines
One of the best practices when it comes to email marketing is to split test your emails. The point of split testing (also known as A/B testing) is to see which of your headlines will get the most of your fans to open your emails.
It works like this: first, you put together two separate emails. These emails are sent out to randomly selected portions of your subscriber list. Then, the email with the most opens or clicks is automatically sent to the remainder of your subscribers. Too easy, right?
However, you don't necessarily need to put together two entirely different messages, and here's why; the open rate of your email is mostly contingent on the headline. After all, it's the first thing people see when your email is delivered to their inbox.
In effect, the two emails you send out can simply have two different subject lines. By repeating this process whenever you send out a new message, you can continue to test different headlines, and begin to figure out which kind of email subject lines get opened the most.
Only Email Relevant Updates To Increase Email Rate Opens
Staying relevant with your emails is about more than just making sure that you're staying on topic, (though that is also important).
By accessing the stats within your email service, you can see your fan's geographical locations. Depending on the email service you use, you can segment your list by location. Therefore, you can also ensure that your messages are highly targeted. For example, if you know you're going to be touring the US, you can have those dates go out to just your US subscribers.
Another key piece of information you'll find in your stats is you the platforms your subscribers are using to open your emails (desktop, mobile, Hotmail, Gmail, etc.). This should give you an idea of how much you should be prioritizing mobile devices over desktop devices, and so on. Most email services have mobile-friendly templates that you can use if you find that you have a high number of opens from mobile devices.
Timely news is another strategy worth exploring, especially if you find any news headlines that you could somehow piggyback on.
Include Effective Calls To Action
In my opinion, an effective call to action begins at the planning phase. In other words, you need to have a specific goal for every email you send out. You should be thinking about what you want your readers to do after opening your email.
It's important to be single-minded in your focus, as this will ensure that the purpose of every single email you send out is clear to you and your subscribers.
There are a couple of different considerations when it comes to call to actions. The first is whether to use buttons or plain-text links. The second is what text to use.
Let's explore the first. In general, buttons should be used for whatever the main call to action in your email is. If you have more than one call to action, then ensure that the most important one is a button. A button says to the reader, “pay attention to me, and take action”. Make sure to avoid overuse; don't use more than one button per email. Use text-based links for non-essential call to actions.
The second consideration is what text to use. The now-familiar “click here” is a good start, but it should be more descriptive than that to communicate the benefit to the reader more clearly. Consider these examples:
- Click here to read the rest of this blog post.
- Click here to download our new single.
- Click here to buy our new album.
- Click here to order tickets for our next show.
As you put these strategies to use, you will begin to increase your email opens and clicks. However, don't forget to experiment and tweak as you go. What works for others won't always work for you.