As an artist, it's important to take a step back and ask yourself: do you really know who your actual fans? Here Chris Robley explains why communicating with, and having a fundamental understanding of who your fans are is essential to capturing their loyalty and fueling your music career longterm.
By Chris Robley of CD Baby and the DIY Musician
Do you really “know” your fans online?
I don’t mean, like, having a clear picture of your target demographic or creating some fan avatar. I mean YOUR ACTUAL FANS. Are you communicating in a way that shows you know who they are, what they want, and what they’ve done?
Your fans want to be seen as individuals.
The larger your audience, the harder it is to keep track of your fans individually, but there are a few fairly simple things you can do online to treat your fans like individuals, and not a faceless mob.
You might be turning off your audience by not matching the message to the individual.
Many musicians just don’t treat this as a priority. I’ve been guilty too. But the more you understand your fans, the better able you’ll be to communicate with them, and the more likely they’ll be to subscribe, buy something, come to a show, etc.
Sure, they’ll know on an intellectual level that you’re not personalizing every single email, ad, or post by hand. But putting the right message in front of the right audience has a psychological effect; you’re demonstrating respect for each individual fan.
And again, the more you know about your fans, the better the chance that respect will be reciprocated.
Here are five things you might not know about your fans, but SHOULD:
1. You don’t know what she’s bought
It’s important to know when and how your fans have given you money.
No sense in advertising your last album to people who’ve already purchased it.
Conversely, who’s most likely to buy your next album? The people who bought your last one.
So be sure to tag email subscribers with information about their purchase history, and segment your list or ad audiences based on that information.
Where to start? You might already have customer records waiting (in the form of spreadsheets) within your CD Baby, Bandcamp, Kickstarter, or PledgeMusic accounts.
Understand where their dollars have gone. Keep track. Talk to them like individuals.
2. You don’t know what platform he’s on
Creating a Spotify pre-save campaign? You might not want to spend money advertising to fans you know are on Apple Music or Pandora. Want someone to create a Pandora station from your music? How about “suppressing” (not sending to) the people on your email list who’ve previously clicked a Spotify link.
Track those email clicks. Tag people accordingly. Then stop bugging them with social posts and emails that don’t apply to them!
3. You don’t know what their interest level is
Again, tag them accordingly. Send the deep dives to the diehards. Send the big news to everyone.
4. You don’t know where he lives
I don’t mean you should keep track of everyone’s home address. That’d be creepster. But know their general location: city, zip, region, country.
I can’t tell you how many email announcements I get from musicians playing gigs thousands of miles from where I live. Delete.
If you didn’t get a person’s geographic information when they signed up for your list, at least geo-target your emails. And on social, target by location if it’s a regionally specific message.
5. You don’t know her name
Yeah, we know Amazon didn’t manually write our name in the subject line, or at the top of the email. It’s a trick, right?
But it still works. A neuroscientist could probably tell you why. I’ll just repeat the findings: It works.
Personalize your communications.
To you it’s a simple merge-field. To them, it’s WHO THEY ARE.
It’s important to show you have an understanding of each individual listener.
As I said, musicians don’t often track fan behavior. So we send blanket messages that don’t apply to half the recipients. Then they learn to tune us out.
We can do better. We have to stop treating our fans like a faceless mass, and instead view them as a collection of individuals.
Let’s tag our email contacts, segment our social audiences, and use all this information to make our fans feel like we see them, know them, and APPRECIATE them.