Maintaining your email list by hand is time-consuming but it doesn’t need to be. Composing an email, copying addresses into the BCC: Field – forget it. It’s a waste of your time, your at a higher risk of irritating your subscribers, technically you’re a spammer, and there are better and easier ways. Once set up, your list will essentially maintain itself, freeing your time up to focus on more important things.
Advantages to using software to manage your email list
Anyone can subscribe, at any time, through a form on your website. They are added to your list automatically.
No one gets hurt
Anyone can unsubscribe, at any time, automatically – you don’t have to deal with making sure they are unsubscribed.
You write to one address, and your email reaches everyone. This could not be any simpler.
Types of Email Services
There are many different types of services and they are constantly changing, but lets start with some basics.
Service Provider (Host)
- Mailing list software is usually offered by your host
- import your existing email addresses
- manage and schedule your email updates
Online Email Marketing Services
You can create and send professional-looking HTML email communications in minutes.
Many companies provide you with easy-to-use online wizards and templates that guide you each step of the way, with no technical skills on your end required. Once you finish designing and approve your email communication, robots send out your emails to one recipient at a time, thereby avoiding both spam blockers and the risk of sending multiple emails to a single individual.
There are a range of choices based on how big your email list is and how often you send to your list. These services are always adding new options and the market is fairly competitive. Some services are free for lists under 500 people. If you are interested in comparing some services, the best thing to do is search “Top 10 email marketing“
Tracking and Reporting Metrics
Real-time email tracking and reporting lets you know how many emails were delivered, which addresses bounced, and why. You also get reports on who opened your email, which links generated the most interest, and who clicked on each one. This is extraordinarily valuable information to measure the effectiveness of your communications, as well as the overall interest of your audience, and make changes.
Organize in Groups
With many 3rd party services you are able to segment your list into specific, well-defined, mutually-exclusive groups. Here are some examples: friends, family, collectors, press contacts, publishers, venues, curators, editors, etc. The reasons for doing this are to target your messages and save time in the long run. Say you have an event coming up that you want to invite all of your collectors to. It will be a snap to simply add all of the contacts in your collectors group to the BCC line of your email and send it off.
Be cautious, however, of sending the same email communication to the same person multiple times. Receiving multiples emails – we sometimes receive 5 or more of the same email – is annoying and will quickly turn people off to your announcements. Many of the services enable you to make sure you aren’t repeat mailing people at the simple check of a box—let the machines do the work so you can spend more time in the studio.
Use the power of social media
With many email marketing services you have the option of including links to social media sites which enables recipients of your mailing to “like” or otherwise share your email. Making it easier for people who support you to sing your praises is always a good thing. You can also embed links so that people can follow you in Twitter, Facebook or other social networking services you use.
Getting people to sign up, allowing them to move on
Give people the opportunity to sign up for your email list directly on your web site – perhaps at your contact page – and tell them how often you plan to communicate with them. Artist Steve Lambert, for example, states exactly how often he will communicate with his email list: “1-2 emails per month about the latest goings on.”
Give people the ability to opt-out or unsubscribe from your future communications. You are certainly aware that sending unwanted email to people is called spamming, and in additional to being a nuisance, it is also illegal. People that don’t want to be on your list are not going to help you.
Always give people other options of staying in touch with you. For example: a contact may not want to receive your emails, but would prefer to stay in touch via Facebook. Remind them this is an option.
The CAN-SPAM Act
Although this may be a case of too much information, it is important to be conscious of the CAN-SPAM Act, which was signed into law in 2003. As a result, all email communications must now comply with highly detailed guidelines. Here’s what artists need to know and your email must contain the following:
An legitimate address in the From address line
An accurate Subject line that is related to the content in the body of your email (ie, no deceptive subject lines)
An opt-out ability for recipients
And no messages can be sent to “harvested” email addresses, in other words email address that you’ve gathered from researching the web. (There are no restrictions, however, about emailing “existing customers or anyone who has inquired about your products or services”.)
For more information on the CAN-SPAM Act, check out Wikipedia.