As previously discussed, giving away access to content online is a great way to build up your e-mail list.
I’ve seen bands use MP3s, unreleased live footage, and even free concert tickets to do this, but whatever you decide to give away to your subscribers, the most important thing is what you do with those addresses after you have collected them.
First, send your subscriber a thank you message, and remember that the thank you e-mail is different from a regular newsletter. You don’t want to scare new subscribers away by sending them too much information too early. After they receive the thank you e-mail, wait at least three to four weeks before sending them anything else.
The easiest way to avoid this is to keep track of how you collect your e-mails. Did this person sign up on your website? Through Facebook? Maybe a 3rd party blog site that embedded your email collector? What did your subscriber receive when they signed up? Did giving away two tracks off your studio album work better than giving away two live tracks? This is important information, because when the time comes to give away more free goodies – always the easiest way to keep fans engaged and interested – you don’t want to send people the same stuff twice.
This information allows you to build better e-mail collecting campaigns in the future, and it also gives you an idea of how to communicate with certain fans. If most of your signups come through Facebook, it could be best to focus most of your time on Facebook campaigns. If most of your signups come through your website, focus on updating it consistently.
Those good e-mail marketing systems I mentioned allow bands to track the habits of email subscribers. Every time you send an e-mail, you can see which subscribers opened it (and how many times), what links they clicked on, and whether they forwarded it.
These systems can then rank subscribers based off of their interactions with your e-mails. For example, a user who opens everything you send, clicks on all the links inside and forwards it to a few friends might get five out of five stars in the ranking system, whereas a subscriber who hasn’t opened one of your e-mails in six months might get one out of five stars.
As you continue to run these campaigns, this information can help you to further classify and reward your fans. That subscriber who signed up through your website over a year ago and continues to open your e-mails? He’s a long term fan. You can reward that fan with extra music or discounted merchandise.
This insight about your active fans allows you to target them specifically. Where your less active fans might just get general update e-mails, you can ask your active fans to help on a street team, blast show information, post videos online, or call in to radio stations.
Whatever you do, don’t overstep your boundaries with a new subscriber. It is good enough that they signed up on your list. You don’t have to friend them on Facebook or find them on Twitter. There are programs out there that allow you to do that by entering a fans email address. I advise against this. Instead, just mention which social networks your fans can find you on in your thank you e-mail. If someone wants to find you, they will.