Wednesday, December 16, 2009

4 Reasons Why Your Email List Is Still Important

While the popular trend is to think that email is so "last year" for communicating with friends, fans and business partners as social networks like Facebook rise in popularity, it's a lot more important than you think in the grand scheme of Music 3.0.

In fact, your email list is one of the most powerful tools you can have because you control the message, and if done well, it can feel a lot more personal than communicating via Facebook or Linkedin or any of the other popular networks. Those two factors are important, but being able to control the consistency of your message is even more so.

For most artists and businesses today, the problem becomes how to effectively communicate with all of your "friends" and contacts, because social networks are a closed environment by nature. That means that you have a set of friends on MySpace and another set on Facebook and yet another on Twitter, and maybe even another set on an email list that you might already have, so your workload reaching them all has not only quadrupled, but the look and feel is inconsistent because of the nature of the network. If you're not consistent in your presentation, you're not controlling the message.

Those are already three points in favor of having an email list, but perhaps the biggest problem with social network communication is measurement. One thing that email can provide that social networks can't is sophisticated measurement of when the mail was opened, if it was opened more than once (even if it's reopened again a year later), how long it was read, and if it was passed along, among many other measurements. Obviously your personal email client on your computer can't do these things, but it can't easily reach out to thousands of people as well. That's why you need a service like Constant Contact, WhatCounts, or iContact, all of which also have the added convenience of constantly cleaning the list of bounces and outdated addresses (we'll discuss email service providers in a future post).

So now you can see why it's so important to capture any friend or contact info from those social network where you have a presence onto a master mailing list:

1 - communication control
2 - consistency of the message
3 - a more personal feel
4 - measurement

So if that makes sense, the next question becomes, "How do I get social network contacts on to a master email list?"

It's easy but takes a little work. When someone friends you on a social network, communicate with them and ask them to please sign on to your mailing list. Promise that you'll only send something of value to them when you email them and be emphatic that you won't spam them, then stay true to your word.

In a future post we'll look at some of the upcoming new email features that can help your click-through rates, as well as take a look at suggested email frequency and the ideal content.

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