If you run a music venue, you know how important it is to get people through the door. Did you know digital marketing can help you do just that? You can use it to spread the word about upcoming acts, increase ticket sales, and promote exclusive merchandise.
Using email is a great way to communicate with and grow a loyal base of customers, which contributes to the health and sustainability of live-music establishments.
1. Start Gathering Emails Now
Don’t wait until you’re ready to hit send to build your email list. “We started growing an email list in 2012 with a sheet of paper and a pencil at the club,” says Jeff, from Station Inn.
“After three years, I took over marketing operations and compiled that information into the first newsletter subscription list. It was 2,300 emails! Don’t wait for everything to be right,” he says.
“Put a sign-up form anywhere and start collecting emails and don’t be afraid to ask people to subscribe.” If you don’t ask for it, you might miss your chance to stay in touch and turn a customer into a loyal fan.
2. Know Your Audience
Website analytics are pretty powerful, and if you don’t already have some form of plugin or analytics tool built into your site, start now. Tracking the people who come to your site can help you know what to include in your newsletters.
For example, as a world-renown bluegrass music venue, Station Inn has an international fanbase.
“Currently, 80% of our fans live more than 100 miles away, and 20% of our fan base is outside of the US,” says Jeff. “With this sort of reach, having a website is crucial to be able to send out information in advance for those who travel to see us live.”
After an opportunity arose to stream a live show online for remote fans, Jeff used his newsletter list to let subscribers near and far know they could watch the live broadcast.
On that first night, 2,400 people tuned in for the concert stream. Knowing details about your fans, like where they live, can help you develop new ideas just like that.
3. Test Everything
You won’t find the perfect formula for your newsletter right away. That’s why keeping a close watch on performance and trying new things should be part of your strategy.
“Every few months, I will look at the success rates from each sign-up form and compare data,” says Jeff. “The simple graphs in MailPoet make it easy to see what is working and what is not. “
MailPoet makes it easy for her to manage all of her email lists and customize content for each of them, or send the same newsletter to all lists if she wants.
Your newsletter is also an opportunity to test different content. You can create multiple lists like Sarah from Sarah’s Jazz Club.
We previously wrote on this topic: start a second list.
If you have a promotional item to announce or a show to promote, you can try different banners and placements in your newsletter to see if one performs better. Use that data to refine your template for every new email.
4. Make Your Life as Easy as Possible
Maintaining a newsletter can feel like a lot of work, especially if you have a small team. However, there are tricks you can use to speed things up.
Sarah reuses content she’s prepared for her website’s blog and events calendar and adds it into her newsletter. While it’s always great to customize and add value to a newsletter that goes above and beyond what’s on the site, you can save yourself a lot of work by creating great content for your website from the start. It’s also good for SEO!
Choosing an easy-to-use newsletter plugin can help you manage your lists, templates, and analytics. Selecting a tool like MailPoet that integrates seamlessly into your WordPress installation will help you avoid unnecessary technical troubleshooting. After all, your email newsletter should be an asset, not a time suck.
5. Integrate Your Newsletter into an Overall Brand Strategy
Your WordPress site is a hub for your digital activities, and your newsletter should be a valuable extension to your online marketing strategy. Make sure you’re consistent with your tone, branding, and the goals of your business.
“Email is like a conversation. It’s the most engaging tool we have to reach our thousands of fans across the world, and they appreciate it too,” says Jeff.
“Every month, we have a few people reply, thanking us for giving them the schedule and expressing gratitude for the email. MailPoet makes that possible.“
Another example of cross-promotion is linking your newsletter to an online store. If you have a WooCommerce store for your WordPress website, use your newsletter to promote your new products and link to your store.
You can also use the widget areas on your WordPress site to display your sign-up form on your website in obvious and high-traffic areas. Don’t forget to link to your newsletter signup form when you send ticket purchase confirmations.
All of these little reminders create a consistent and cohesive messaging that will build up your online brand and help you create a following.
BONUS: A little tip from Jeff on the dreaded unsubscribes. “Don’t fret the unsubscribes. Watch them, of course. If you have a 20% unsubscribe rate, you are doing something wrong. But unsubscribes happen. People move, interests change, lifestyles change. Move on to gaining new followers.“
Station Inn’s newsletter was featured in a case study on this blog.
Illustrations by Bryan Bernard