I recently came across a great article by music industry and PR expert Ariel Hyatt on how to write engaging newsletters (take a look at the piece on MusicThinkTank). Hyatt points out a study that found these interesting statistics:
“Overall, 86% of survey respondents said they used email to share content, while just 49% said they used Facebook. Broken down by age, the preference for email is more pronounced, as users get older. And only the youngest group polled, those ages 18 to 24, reverses the trend, with 76% sharing via Facebook, compared with 70% via email.”
Email newsletters, as she argues, provide a lot of opportunities to effectively target your audience by keeping up a relationship while also providing many possibilities for bringing in revenue. What distinguishes email newsletters from your stand-alone website or blog is the ability to maintain fan relationships over time. If you don’t have the time to blog on a daily basis, chances are you won’t be able to keep people coming back to your website because they know content won’t be updated on a consistent basis. When you finally want to ask your fans to buy your new single or t-shirt, you might have already lost part of your audience. The beauty of an email newsletter is you don’t have to send one out every day (and if you did, it would probably be too much for the average person—they would unsubscribe or delete the messages without even opening them). If you send a newsletter out every week, you know the people on your email newsletter list will be there because they check their email all the time.
One important thing to remember for email newsletters and other content you produce online is maintaining the right blend of personality, information, and calls to action. As Hyatt explains, calls to action involve asking your audience to help spread the word about you as an artist or they are for asking fans to buy something from you. You don’t want to seem like you’re just trying to sell to your audience and you don’t want to desperately ask for their help either. Asking your fans for something is best done after you’ve already engaged them on a personal level. You probably connect to your favorite artists on a personal level, not just through music, so why not do the same with your fans. Make sure your fans already know you personally before you try to solicit them for cash.
Each medium of communication has its own rules and etiquette for engagement. On Twitter, most of your tweets should be geared towards communicating personal anecdotes or links you find interesting—selling and promotional tweets should be used sparingly. When you are using Facebook, you should be aware of the dynamics of people’s news feeds. The more actively someone participates in a fan page, the more often updates from that page will appear in their news feed. If all you do is promote the same music profile and links over and over, chances are your audience will get bored and you will have a smaller and smaller presence on their Facebook news feeds. Keep a close eye on how people participate and communicate in each different medium (email, social networks, YouTube, mobile, etc.) so you can reach them in the most effective and non-spammy ways.
If you want to start an email newsletter, I suggest using Mailchimp for their incredible features, ease of use, and analytics. It’s free to use up to 1,000 subscribers!