There are a number of factors that go in to crafting the perfect email newsletter, form making the title engaging enough to catch a reader's attention to making sure the content is interesting enough that they continue to subscribe. In this piece we break down each step in the process of assembling a successful artist newsletter.
Guest post by Bobby Owsinski of Music 3.0
There’s a lot of thought that goes into creating an email newsletter that accomplishes the task of conveying your important information to your email list subscriber. For instance, if your title doesn’t attract attention, the email may not get opened. If the content is weak, the next one might not get opened, or worse yet, the person could unsubscribe. You could have a great offer that no one acts on because it’s presented poorly or visually buried. Let’s take a look at an excerpt from the 2nd edition of Social Media Promotion For Musicians that describes the elements of a great email newsletter.
The Subject Line
The subject line is extremely important because if done well, it entices the person that receives the email to actually open it. Remember that we live in a world of spam, and people get so much email every day that if the title doesn’t immediately register with them as important, it’s in the trash.
It’s important to keep your subject line to 55 characters or less. Most email clients that people use cut the subject line off after that many anyway, so keep your subject line short and to the point – five or six words max.
TIP: You might want to test multiple subject lines to see which one is the most effective. Have three or four sample lists with a limited number of subscribers (maybe 10 or 20) and see which one resonates best before you send the email out to your entire following. Many ESPs now allow you to do A/B tests to find out which subject line works best.
As in the subject line, first names get attention, so try to use the first name of each person you send your email newsletter to. That’s why it’s also better if you can at least collect the subscriber’s first name on the sign-up form. If you have a large number of email addresses without a name, it’s probably better to send a separate version of the email to them without a salutation at all, but avoid something that’s too generic like “Dear subscriber,” which degrades any personal impact that the newsletter might otherwise have. Something like “Greetings from beautiful downtown Burbank (or whatever town or city you want to use)” is a good catch-all that seems personal even if you don’t have the subscribers name.
1. What’s the news? Part of crafting a quality email is having a clear sense of what exactly the big news is. Your text should focus on the most newsworthy element of your announcement with supporting details (including multimedia links) that clearly lay out why this news is significant. Also, try to make it as timely as possible. There’s no sense in focusing the email on something that happened months ago. Stay with the present or the near future.
2. Always give them the basics about the information you’re conveying. Reporters call this the “who, what, why, when, where, how” model. If you have a show coming up, do your fans and yourself a favor by providing dates, times, locations, ticket links, a map and lineup of the show. Believe it or not, the majority of artists miss this when they send an email. If you want someone to respond and either come to a show or purchase something, give them all the information they need to do so.
3. Keep it short. Time is your enemy in a newsletter. The longer it takes to read, the less someone wants to read it. It’s not that your fans don’t care, it’s just that either their time or attention span is short, since there’s so much else going on at the same time. If you have a good story with good visuals, the newsletter can be quick, succinct, and to the point; all things that make everyone’s job easier. The ideal amount of text is around 500 words. You can always add a link to a page on your site with more details.
4. Add some pictures. If your newsletter is all text, it won’t be visually appealing. Once again, any hint of boredom and it won’t be read entirely.
5. Don’t concentrate on too many things. You may have a dozen things going on that you want to convey, but that will mean that the email will increase in length and there will be too many concepts for the reader to focus on. Try to keep it to the most important one or two items per email. You can either send people to a page on your site via a link for more info on the other items, or send another email focusing on a few of them in a week or two.
6. Keep important content above the fold. If your email is long enough that it requires the reader to scroll down to see it all, keep the most important information at the top before the reader has to scroll. This is known as “above the fold” and the concept comes from the newspaper days where the upper half of the page was where the top headline was located. The same idea still applies even in the digital world; keep the most important info at the top of the page.
7. Always be sure there’s a link to a place with more info. The link could be to your website, a ReverbNation page, a blog, or anywhere else where the additional info is located. Always give the reader a way to find out more if he wants to.
8. Write without swearing. It may be part of your persona as an artist or band, but not all of your fans or clients like crude language. On top of that, ISPs like Yahoo Mail, Hotmail, and AOL don’t like it either, and your message can be directed into the junk box rather than sent to your contact if you’re not careful.
Your Call To Action
A “call to action” is when you ask the recipient to do something. Do you want him or her to come to your site? Come to a show? Buy something? No matter what it is, readers are more inclined to act if you ask them to (surprise, surprise). Some typical call to action statements might be “Buy it here,” “Order it now,” “Click for more info,” or even “Send me your comments” links in the email.
One of the things you should be aware of though, if the call to action has too much hype it comes across as selfish or gives the perception that all you want is the reader’s money. If it’s presented more as information that the reader might like instead of a sales pitch, you’ll usually sell more and maintain your good will as well. Another thing to keep in mind is that you should always give before you get. Give the fans something special before you ask them to do something like vote for you in a contest.
Social Media Sharing
Even though you’re communicating via an email, social media is still important. Each email newsletter should also include links or icons to your social sites so people who aren’t yet following you can do so easily, as well as embedded social sharing functions. This allows people to tweet or add your news to their Facebookstatus. Do this and you’ve just multiplied your audience.
Make sure to include all of your info in your signature. If people want to contact you, they shouldn’t have to go through a game of hide-and-seek to find out how. The very minimum that you should include is your website, your email address, your Facebook page and Instagram address. Don’t forget to include your YouTube channel address too.
When it comes down to it, an artist’s email newsletter is all about content, content, content. Include information that your fan finds useful and they’ll always open your email to at least check it out.