I got a an email from one of my favorite singer/songwriters yesterday. I've been on his email list for a couple years now and I go to his shows whenever he plays in town - which is often because he lives here.
In this email he discussed that he had all the songs written for his new record and he shared a demo of one of them.
Stoked to hear it, I clicked the link on my iPhone to play in the car.
This is what I got.
Simple mistake right? Clearly, he copy and pasted the URL from the song window in HIS Dropbox. Problem was, that link didn't work for anyone not signed into his account. In Dropbox you have to click the Share button to actually share the public link.
Simple mistake, but came with deadly consequences.
It's hard enough to get people to open a mass email (Mailchimp's study revealed that average open rates for musician lists sit around 23%) and even harder to get them to click (average click through rates sit around 2.93% for musician lists). If your fans actually open the email and actually click the link and it takes them to a bum page they will be MUCH less likely to open/click your emails in the future.
He sent a follow up email the next day when he realized his error, but the damage had been done and those who hadn't yet opened the first email may have just thought he was cluttering up their inbox with 2 emails in less than a day and simply decided to unsubscribe altogether.
Your email list is your lifeline. It is the one solid line of communication that you have to your fans. It is the one constant that isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Social media sites come and go. Rise and fall. I once toured with a guy who had 60 million (I'm not exaggerating) plays on Myspace. But our tour was 2 years after Myspace died. So most shows were half empty because he had no way to let his fans know about the tour. He didn't have an email list, he had been solely relying on Myspace for all fan communication.
Remember when we were convinced by Facebook to build up our Likes and then they pulled the rug out from under us by reducing the "organic" reach of our posts to a fraction of what it used to be and made us PAY to reach OUR fans we had worked so hard to build up on THEIR platform?
Instagram is already starting to falter. Snapchat is now all the rage. YouTube is slipping in fan engagement.
But email, ahh email, has been there for us. Always. And forever. Yeah, Gmail now throws our messages into "Promotions" folder, but studies have shown that this move by Gmail hasn't actually affected open rates all that much (and some open rates have actually INCREASED!).
So even though email isn't as sexy as Snapchat or Instagram, it's there for us. It's reliable and constant. It's the SM58 of microphones. It's the Toyota of cars. It's the DMB of rock. Gets the job done, been around for awhile, isn't going anywhere anytime soon, but will never be the hottest thing of the moment ever again. (Under the Table and Dreaming was a once in a generation album)
What I'm trying to say here is take email seriously! (and Carter Beauford is a beast)
The Triple Check
When creating your emails, always check it over no less than three times. I know you probably always give your email a once over read before sending, but always, ALWAYS send yourself a test email and click every single link.
But make sure when you're triple checking your links that you do this from Chrome, right click and select "Open Link in Incognito Window." What this means is, it will open an entirely new "session" in a new window. You won't be logged into any accounts in this "incognito" window. It's like opening a guest account in the same browser. This is how you check to make sure everything works.
I made this mistake when I copy/pasted the PayPal URL from the Buy Now page I used to sell my merch. That didn't work for anyone who wasn't logged into my personal PayPal account - so, it worked for exactly none of my fans. For PayPal buttons you must use the "Email" link in the button creation edit section. But I didn't realize this and sent an email out to thousands with the wrong Buy Now link. Whoops!
Always, triple check your links in an incognito window.
If you edit your campaign after sending yourself a test email, send another test! I can't tell you how many times I've copy/pasted a paragraph and shifted it in the body of the email blast only to find out that the internal link did not paste.
Triple check everything. The only time you should ever hit Send is when you read the test email (both on your desktop AND on your phone) and it's perfect. And you tested all links - BOTH on your desktop and your phone.
Studies show that 65% of all emails are now opened on the phone. So your campaigns need to be mobile friendly. Don't make people read your email with two hands, zooming in and out. If they know that your emails never work on mobile they'll just stop opening them altogether.
How To Increase Your Click Through Rates (CTR)
Open rates are one thing, but if you're trying to get people to click through to something (like your song or a merch item), you want to make sure that a) the link obviously works and b) they don't miss it. Studies show (yes I read a lot of studies for this post!) that if you include the same link multiple times in an email (like beginning, middle and end) that people are more likely to click it than if you just include it once. So for a big release or launch, that's the time to include the most important link a few times. And the emails around a big launch, you should only include the most important link (multiple times). Don't clutter it up with links to your Facebook, Twitter, old YouTube videos, old albums, song demos. If you REALLY want people to click on ONE link, then just include that one link. If the email is just an update, sure, include a bunch of links and they can choose what they want to do.
I know emails take a lot more effort to put together than Facebook posts or tweets, but they're more important. So set a schedule for yourself. You should be sending emails AT LEAST once a month, but a better schedule is every two weeks. Or even once a week if you can swing it. You may think you're being annoying or bombarding your base, when in reality you're familiarizing yourself to your fans and getting them to know you a bit more. The more they know you the more they'll like you (hopefully). The more they like you the more wiling they will be to come to your show, back your crowdfunding project and buy your shit when the time comes.