How important is email to you in your daily life? Is it more or less important than it was a year ago? Chances are, if you’re under the age of 35, email has been playing a more minor role in your life this past year. So says the results of ComScore’s US Digital Year in Review. The report points towards a future generation of adults for whom email is not the go-to communications tool that it has been for the last two decades.
For the youngest age group examined in ComScore’s analysis, the 12-17 year olds, there was a shocking 59% drop in time spent using email. However, more interesting from an independent musician’s perspective is the 18% drop in email usage by core music consumers; 25-34 year olds. These are the people with the cash to buy your music and merchandise. These are the people with both personal and work email accounts. So, what gives? Why are this audience no longer spending so much time with email? And how is this going to impact on your fan email strategy?
Well the most compelling reason people seem to be spending less time with email is because they are spending more time with social media. In mid 2010, social networking sites overtook email in terms of usage with 14.4% of all time spent online occurring on social networks. Facebook continues to be far-and-away the most popular social network in the US.
And it’s a trend that’s likely to continue with the imminent (non Beta) release of Facebook Messages which is likely to further erode the place of traditional email. Google have shown they are worried about this – they have reacted with Gmail ‘Priority Inbox‘ which they claim makes the email experience better by automatically sorting out which emails are more important to you based on which ones you read and which ones you reply to. This ‘added value’ email service appeals to savvy Internet users who are tired of the clutter in their email caused by notifications from their social networks. But it also means that as a musician, your emails could end up in the ‘Everything Else’ folder and therefore less likely to be read by your fans.
So, how to get around this? How do you effectively use email marketing techniques in an age where social media is becoming more important than traditional email and traditional email is becoming more sophisticated? Well, here are our Three Top Tips:
#1 Integrate, Integrate, Integrate
Make sure you integrate social media across all of your properties. That includes buttons and links to your social media sites in your fan emails. You should be linked with your fans on as many platforms as possible to strengthen the connection and ensure that if you do lose engagement with them via email, you are still connected with them on Facebook or YouTube.
#2 Content, Content, Content
The only way to ensure that the maximum amount of people read your emails is to ensure that you write the most appealing emails you can possibly write. Write with humour, style and informality and you’ll be rewarded with high open rates. Write in stilted prose and with a pushy sales approach and you’ll get fans unsubscribing from your list faster than you can say ‘spam sucks’. Read some more tips on writing good emails here.
#3 Incentivize, Incentivize, Incentivize
Provide incentives or rewards for being connected with your fans. Give them exclusive content like free downloads or discounts ahead of everyone else. You should treat the people who elect to connect with you via email as VIPs – they could be a rarer breed than ever before.
Overall, remember to do what works for you. If you have put the effort in with email but are still finding that the results don’t measure up to what you are experiencing on social media then that’s okay. It’s a shifting communications landscape – the most important thing is to keep up with the pace.