Monday, May 10, 2010

Direct To Fan Platform Overview

Oniracom (who's vice-president and creative lead Jacob Tell was recently featured in my Music 3.0 Internet Music Guidebook) recently posted a great overview of three of the most high profile direct-to-fan platforms (D2F for short).

D2F marketing is what every artist and band should be doing, but it takes a lot of time and a good bit of expertise. As a result, a number of companies have developed services that enable you to do D2F quicker and easier than you could do yourself. Let's take a look at an excerpt from their post. You can go directly to Oniracom's site for the full overview and their conclusion of who does the best job.

Bandbox is a widget that you embed on your blog, website, and/or social profile that enables fans to directly purchase digital downloads, order full CD’s, and other merch bundles without having to navigate them away from your website or social profile.

Why it’s cool
It’s free and it’s right there! The fan doesn’t have to go looking for your songs on an online store or separate download application. Which is why Bandbox is great for independent and up-and-coming artists. This platform also enables you to set your own price for songs and physical products, which means each artist controls their own store.

In addition, Bandbox also gives you access to consumer data (e-mail and shipping address) to see who is buying your songs. This information is great for geo-targeting fans later on down the line.

The Topspin D2F platform consists of three components; a retail channel on social sites, blogs and websites, promotional widgets that drive and track traffic, and campaign management through integrated Google Analytics E-commerce reporting.

The embedded shopping cart enables you to sell customized merchandise and product bundles, where you are able to set your own prices and promotional agendas. Topspin is one of the few platforms that advocates a fan/customer support system.

Why it’s cool
Topspin is the only site that accepts international currencies and allows you to fulfill physical product shipments from any warehouse in the world. Topspin provides detailed information about each fan, which allows you to track specific fan behavior profiles.

The Topspin Knowledgebase is a great way to learn the basics of direct-to-fan marketing and how using their product can benefit both you and your audience. They did an excellent job at providing a user-friendly resource to go to with any questions or concerns, check it out here.

The Nimbit D2F platform is comprised of three parts, Marketing, Direct Sales, and Business Management. Managed all from one Nimbit dashboard. Nimbit does not choose to utilize a marketing widget like the other two platforms, instead they capture fans through e-mail lists and sign-ups, in a customized store front that matches the skinning on your site or social profile.

Every time someone downloads a free track or purchases anything from your site, they automatically get added to your e-mail list. Which allows the artist to see what each fan is purchasing, where they are purchasing from and gives you a means to contact them, in order to sustain that reciprocal relationship between artist and fan.

Nimbit also utilizes very detailed analytics, click thoughts and geo-targeting features, that enable you to easily segment and customize your marketing campaign. Features include a fan list manager, content manager, campaign manager, message editor and custom search windows.

On the storefront, every Nimbit account includes digital and physical fulfillment, which means you don’t have to worry about shipping anything out to anyone, anywhere. Other features include nimbitskin, (allows for the customization of the retail store), Mystore and nimbitOMT (a channel to embed across your social profits).

Why it’s cool
It’s totally easy and user-friendly. Catalog and content management allows you to submit content once into the Nimbit dashboard and you can instantly add it across all of your social networks, blog, calendar and website, (I’m still uncertain about how this works for tour dates). But, it does provide the fans the opportunity to instantly buy tickets from you website or social profile.

People who don’t know how to write professional messages to send out in an e-blast can choose from a template and fill in the blank with a promo code to get free tracks. It tracks each fan’s activity for you, which allows you to foster a better relationship with the “super fans.”

Nimbit provides a means to capture fans as soon as they purchase a digital download or any other product from your customized storefront. This site also integrates text messaging into their marketing campaigns more so then any other site, which is definitely the next step in social media.

For the complete article and their opinion of who does the best job, go this page on the Oniracom's site.

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