Last week, I showed you the basics on good flyer design not only for print, but for online use as well. In touching on internet use I mentioned email, which is where we are going today. While too many find annoyance in the weekly bulk of solicited messages, email marketing is still a strong resource for music and event promotion. Thus it’s a medium that should not be overlooked in your promotion campaigns. However, there is a right way and a wrong way to do email marketing… and I’ve seen plenty of “wrong” out there.
Building an email list
Before you can even fathom sending out emails to anyone, you need email addresses to send to. If you have a website for yourself as a DJ (or your promotion company), then you should be collecting email addresses through it right from the off. Some promoters also still carry the practice of collecting email addresses from patrons at their event. A pretty girl with a clipboard can go far.
While I am not sure about laws outside of the United States, you have to be very careful in how you collect emails here in the US. You cannot take someone’s email off their website or public profile of any sort. So if you see someone’s email on their company website, Facebook profile, another email, or wherever, it’s off limits. You can only send to an email address that was voluntarily given to you. This is very important because the last thing you need is a citation or fine from the FCC.
I’ll add to this that stealing or phishing emails can also lead you to trouble with the email providers themselves. If you were to somehow illegally obtain 10,000 email addresses, and then a large enough chunk of those recipients were to press the “Report Spam” button on your messages, whole email systems could literally block your domain. So any email coming from YourPromotionCompany.com to let’s say Gmail would be blocked.
Now if you can’t get emails right off the bat, consider buying usage of a list legally. Many commercial DJ-related sites will actually sell usage of their email list. Users receive an email with graphics provided by the client, but with legal and other nomenclature showing it came from the list owner. This is ideal if you’re pushing yourself as a DJ or artist, but I’m not so certain when it comes to events. At that point I’d look into local news sites and even other promoters. Money does talk.
Finding a platform to use
Now that you have your list set up (or are working on it), you will need to find yourself a platform to use. I see some out there sending hundreds to thousands from their own personal email boxes, but this isn’t a good practice. It’s more a sure-fire way to end up having your email account suspended or flat-out deleted, even if this is from web hosting. If you have a website, look into the control panel from the host. Many already offer basic email marketing software for you to use. If not, then consider looking into a service such as Constant Contact, MailChimp, or someplace with the right price for your needs.
Designing and building an email
When it comes to actually designing / building an email, you should first think about what you want to send out. Sometimes you’ll just have one message to speak of, like an upcoming event. Other times it’ll be multiple events, a new mix or track, and so on. Just like with a flyer, you need a hierarchy of information in your emails. Your goal is to first get past the spam filters, then grab the reader’s attention so they might actually want to look at your message.
In my experiences, there are three types of emails I’ve seen. Many you’ll notice are completely made of images, either as one big one or as a layout chopped up and put back together using old-school HTML tables. This is wonderful to get a beautiful, solid layout in front of the recipient, but if they have their images turned off, they won’t see much of anything at all.
Another solution would be a combination of text and images. Maybe you’ll have a branded header, information as HTML text, but with a reference image next to it for added colour and pizazz. These can be perfect, but sometimes you’ll see layouts fall apart in different email clients. And this very website (for example) sends out simple plain text emails, which means 100% of the viewing audience can read them. Granted they visually do not grab attention, but they work ideally for some audiences. It’s definitely worth testing this for yourself.
Now you don’t have to be a designer or coder to make emails. All those email marketing services I’ve mentioned will offer you a plethora of templates you can use and loads of customisation options. I’d honestly say it’s the best path for the amateur or DIY-thinker since they build these templates to work perfectly on most email clients.
Six more tips…
- Keep your email blasts consistent – If your audience is used to one a day, great! But if one a week is your rhythm, don’t suddenly send 10 a week. I’d also suggest considering whether you want to set up a “do-not-reply” email address on your hosting so recipients cannot reply to you, or whether you’d rather have that ability for them to reply and start a dialogue (you can on Digital DJ Tips, for instance – all replies get read and responded to)
- Test the best time to send – I’ve been shown that the best times to send an email blast are Tuesdays or Thursdays in the afternoon. Studies have shown that these times guarantee the best chances of recipients seeing them and opening them. But this can vary. Think about how many emails you find in your inbox every morning. Would you want yours in there? Or perhaps catch them when they are not overloaded with promotional email?
- Be careful with your subject lines – Subject lines are the number one factor spam filters will look at. Try not to use the same old subject line every week. I’d also try to avoid using words such as “free” or “cheap” or “win”, as they will get you tossed into spam folders easily. I’ve also heard using several exclamation marks in your subject line will hurt you
- Try to keep your file sizes small – Again, this is why I said you should have web versions of your flyers, as attaching a 1MB JPG will only get you set as spam. Remember that many people might be receiving these emails on mobile devices while out and about. They should open quick and not cause any hassles on the recipient
- Make sure you put links to your website and social media in your email – It should be part of your template in some way. The best strategy for content is also to put short and sweet snippets of copy with a link leading them to a website for full information. Overloading an email with hyperlinks and text can also get you deemed as spam by some email clients.
- Make sure you put a clear means for recipients to unsubscribe from your email list – In the US it’s law. Most of the services will automatically add it in, but you should still check and make sure outgoing emails have that link at the bottom where someone can unsubscribe
We’re going to wrap up this series with surprisingly what inspired me to start it. Posting videos online is a wonderful way to promote yourself, but we all see way too many poorly made videos on the internet. We’re going to dive into video and give you some easy ways you can wow your fanbase and go further.
Here are the links to the other parts in this series:
- Creating Killer DJ Promotional Materials, Part 1: Your Bio
- Creating Killer DJ Promotional Materials, Part 2: Your Logo
- Creating Killer DJ Promotional Materials, Part 3: Your Press Photo
- Creating Killer DJ Promotional Materials, Part 4: Flyers
- Creating Killer DJ Promotional Materials, Part 6: Videos
Do you use email to promote yourself or your events? Got any questions, or any advice you’d like to add? Please do so in the comments.