When we start working with any new musician, two of the most important goals we start with are:
- Build a strong mailing list
- Build a popular Facebook page
From experience, these to platforms are where fans feel most comfortable interacting with musicians. They’re also the two that drive the most sales. So ahead of looking to drive YouTube views, Myspace friends, website hits, Twitter followers or Last FM plays, we look to develop email subscriptions and Facebook fans.
Many musicians try things like running competitions, giving away free music or creating viral videos to grow their fanbase, but few ever consider advertising. For the most part, we’re the same. I’ve yet to see a musician run an effective Google Ads campaign, the cost is too high and the sales are too low.
But Facebook ads are different. We’ve developed a strategy that combines the most effect methods of online music promotion and the most popular platform in the world – Facebook. We’ve run dozens of campaigns for artists all over the world and each and every time the results have been outstanding. On average, for the price of a new bit of equipment (or a night out for 4 band members!) we can get 1,000 new Facebook fans. In every singe case the fans have been more engaged, more excited and more willing to buy than the existing Facebook fans (who were mostly friends and family).
It’s one of the most effective things we do as an agency. So we’ve decided to share our secrets, in 6 easy steps:
1. If You Like Those Guys…..
If you’ve ever used “Power play” services on sites like Last.Fm, Grooveshark or Jango (or even if you’ve just shopped on Amazon) you’ll be familiar with this concept. With Power Play, you can pick musicians that are similar to your style and pay to be played to their fans. Some people have good success with these campaigns, but often it just “raises awareness” instead of resulting in connecting with fans in a meaningful way.
This is the principle we use to build and target our campaigns. Step one is to pick a handful of popular, established artists with a similar style, because their fans will be the ones we advertise to.
If you do a cover version of a hit classic, or collaborate with an established artist, you should always use this as the “hook” in your ad. We’ve had much better success rates advertising the connection our musicians have with established acts, instead of just a similarity. Obviously this option isn’t available to everyone, but use it if you have it.
2. Building A Good Landing Page
When people click on your ad, DO NOT send them straight to your Facebook wall. This is the number one mistake we see people making when they run a Facebook campaign. When you spend money on getting someone to click your ad, make sure they land on a customised landing page which will encourage them to click the “like” button. A strong landing page makes the difference between a lasting connection with a fan and money down the drain.
Some elements we recommend on the landing page:
- Offer the fans an incentive to like. On the landing pages we build we offer free mp3 downloads to people who click the “like” button.
- Introduce the music. We often put streaming players on the landing page which let people hear the music before they connect.
- Make reference to the ad. If they’ve arrived because you advertised “Like Bon Jovi? Then Check out our band!” then put your most Bon Jovi-esque songs at the top of the page to hear, maybe even make those ones free to download.
If you want more information on creating a landing page check out our other articles:
3. Target Your Ads
Once we have the groundwork in place – a list of related artists and a landing page – we pick the most relevant/popular artist from the list and go to work.
When creating your ads, the most important thing to do is target them one band at a time. That means you’re going to have multiple campaigns. In the example above, we’d call this the “Bon Jovi” campaign.
In the “Likes and Interests” box you can search for any other Band’s Page on Facebook and advertise to their fans. Don’t forget to find the section that says “Target users who are not already connected to:” so that you’re only advertising to people who aren’t already a fan of your page.
4. Ask Questions. Encourage Clicks and Likes
You might be surprised by this one, but encouraging people to click “like” in the ad copy can make a HUGE difference. Asking questions and encouraging clicks also really helps to draw people’s attention and encourage them to interact.
Encouraging people to “like” the ad will connect them directly to your Facebook page, which is ultimately the goal, but it will also make your ad “better” in the eyes of Facebook. We don’t know exactly how their system works, but the gist is this – the more people that click on and “like” your ads, the higher the Quality Score is for that ad. Facebook rewards “high quality” ads with a lower Cost-per-Click (CPC). This means that if your ad is designed to do well within the first day – not only will you get more fans on that day, but you’ll have a cheaper rate for day two, which will get -ou more fans on day two, which will…… As you can see, if done correctly this is can become a self propelling cycle.
This is why Facebook ads can work out so cost effectively – if you do it right at the start the prices will drop dramatically.
Because of this cycle (quality -> lowered prices -> more click -> even lower prices) it’s really important to put up the best ad possible. The price difference between an ad that gets a Click-Rate of 0.8% and one that gets 0.9% can be as much as 25%.
For that reason, we always put all of our advertising budget into the best performing ad. How do we do that? Trial and error! On day 1 of the campaign we pick roughly 5 images, and 5 different versions of the ad copy. When you combine that you get 25 ads. We submit all of these to Facebook for approval, with a daily budget of $10 or $20. This is a bit of a “wasteful” first day, but it allows us to start day two by stopping all but the top 2 or 3 performing ads. We then set the budget to the new daily limit, usually $20-$50.
Doing dozens of different ads can be a chore (we have developed specialised software which we use to save time) but it is well worth it. For every new ad you make you can be sure it will decrease your CPC. We can never guess which ad will perform the best, it always takes us by surprise!
6. Collect Email Addresses
This 6th step is a little bit cheeky, but so far the fans have loved it. When they arrive on the Facebook landing page, we offer them the free song(s) if they sign up to the artist’s mailing list. So when they click “like” they’re presented with a widget like the one below. We always try make it something compelling (i.e. more than just one song), an offer they can’t refuse.
Here’s three results from recent campaigns we ran which we would view as typical (click each image to enlarge).
As you can see, we were getting clicks for anywhere between 2p and 5p ($0.03 and $0.07). These clicks also converted really well. As you can see from the graph below, the number of fans rose from 300 before the campaign to 3,900 afterwards. In total, that was roughly $250 for 3,000 fans, or 8c per fan. The musician and her manager were delighted with the results – can you think of a better way to spend $250?
Because we offered good, targeted promotions – e.g. Cover versions of a popular musician by our artist – We had over 1,000 new email subscriptions over the course of the campaign.
Your Next Steps
The iterations in step 5 are both the most time consuming and the most important. Without them your $300 ad campaign can end up costing closer to $1,000!
For this reason we recommed to all of our clients that they use a Facebook ad management tool.
We use it to manage all of our campaigns and easily create the iterations for only $79 and it comes with a 14 day Free trial!).
What do you think? Will you be running your own Facebook ad campaign soon? Have you had similar success in the past? Leave a comment and let us know.
You can also download this whole report as a PDF, if you’d prefer to save it to read or share with others.