Three goals for your online music marketing

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To build an active fan base online, you need to create and execute an effective content strategy.

Often the focus is on the idea of engagement – finding ways to get your fans involved by responding or taking some sort of action. There is no doubt that fan engagement is part of an effective online music marketing strategy, but it shouldn't be your only focus. In fact, engagement should be one of three goals for the content you create. As you plan your content for the weeks and months ahead, consider the importance of three specific end results for your communications:

  1. Communication
  2. Engagement
  3. Sales

It won't happen all at once – there are different reasons to publish content and strategic times for particular messages and calls to action. Each bit of content you publish should focus on a single objective as your take one step at a time in pursuit of your larger music career goals.

1. Communication

No matter where you focus your energy – your blog, a newsletter, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – the platform acts as a channel for you to get the word out to your existing fans. Not all content needs to create engagement. There are instances when your message shouldn’t require a call to action or a reason to engage.

Your day-to-day. The minutia of your everyday life can be interesting and valuable to your fans. Sharing highlights of your day can be a great way to communicate with your fans and give them something to feel a part of – particularly when you’re in a creative mode or recording. This is a great way to strengthen your ties with your community of fans.

News and updates. Sharing news about your current tour, latest project, recent collaboration, or next music video is not shameless self-promotion. If you have news you want to communicate about your band, your music, or yourself, share it via your social channels.

Curated content. What are you passionate about? Whether it's music or something else you love, why not assemble and share content with your fans on a regular basis? Communicate your passions and their role in shaping you as an artist and a person. Just like any other content you post, make an effort to keep it varied by utilizing text, photos, videos, and links to articles.

2. Engagement

As I mentioned before, engagement plays a critical role in your digital marketing strategy. Engagement allows you to encourage conversation, build loyalty, and nurture your connection with the fans who are most likely to spend money and support you.

Start discussions. Are there any political or social causes you support? Were you inspired or disheartened by a story in the news? Did one of your favorite artists just release a new album? Whatever topics you find relevant, or anything you can cast a unique perspective on, can start a discussion. Encourage your fans and give them the opportunity to voice their opinions, share their stories, and use your social channel as a platform to be heard. They will reward you with increased loyalty and direct support.

Be responsive. Engagement is not a one-way street. When you encourage your fans to join in and speak up, any comment that isn’t acknowledged by you in some way – a like, reply, re-tweet, etc. – is a wasted opportunity to enhance engagement. If someone comments, and you acknowledge it, you’ve created instant gratification that may persuade them and other fans to get involved the next time you ask a question.

Contests and incentives. Engagement can definitely be more than commentary and discussion: it can be a way to reward your fans for their support and involvement. Create opportunities, like a contest around a new album or tour. Give away 10 tickets to each show in exchange for 10 new email addresses. Give an album away to the first 25 people to share your album announcement video. Come up with ways to make it worthwhile for your fans to get involved with you on a regular basis and integrate them into your content strategy.

3. Sales

While social media might not be the all-time greatest direct sales tool, your channels should be used to generate sales and leads that can turn fans into purchasers – either now or at some time in the future.

Build your mailing list. Take every possible opportunity to build your mailing list: it is the most effective direct sales tool you have in your digital arsenal. Always use your live shows to build your list, but every week or two, ask fans online to join your mailing list – offer something exclusive and attractive in exchange for joining, and make sure you’re emailing a newsletter at least once a month. You also need to incorporate a call to action to join your mailing list on your website.

Create sales opportunities via your newsletter. Every newsletter you send should have one strong call to action. Unless you have a reason to be asking fans to do something non-sales related – share a new video, vote for you in a contest – you should be driving your most loyal fans (i.e. your mailing list) to be purchasing from you. This is a great opportunity for you to extend VIP opportunities, create exclusive bundles, and offer limited-time products, all of which can be publicized through your social channels to encourage further mailing list sign-ups.

Make it urgent. A great way to drive sales is to create a sense of urgency with your offer. Think about opportunities to reach out to fans with time-sensitives offers or discounts to increase the perceived value of your offer and help them make an immediate decision to purchase.

Jon Ostrow is Director of Sales at Bandsintown. Follow him on Twitter @jon_ostrow.