Why Facebook and Twitter Are Practically Useless Compared to Email

T-shirt: 'I Read Your Email'

Artists spent years cultivating their Facebook followings, only to discover they had to pay to reach their own fans.  And Twitter has always suffered from the same problem: tweets are only read a tiny percentage of the time, by a tiny percentage of followers.

But the worst part about these platforms is this: you don’t own your followers, because you don’t control the platform upon which they exist.  Which means the rules around how you can communicate with them can change overnight, just like they did with Facebook.

“Email marketing is 40 times as effective as Facebook and Twitter, combined.”

The opposite is true with email, where you not only own your list and the rules around it, but people read them.  Which is why some of the most successful artists in the world are not only using email, they’re constantly using email as a core communication tool.  In fact, a recent McKinsey & Company study found that email marketing is 40 times as effective as Facebook and Twitter, combined.

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“There’s a reason most artists still see email as their best conversion channel.”

If that wasn’t convincing enough, this is a platform that has undergone dramatic improvements over the years: Gmail cleaned up spam, Mailchimp solved bulk email, and ‘unsubscribe’ opt-outs became standard.  But the biggest transformation happened with smartphone ubiquity, which put the in-box in your pocket and according to research, boosted engagement across all age demographics.  “Email is having a renaissance through mobile,” explained Thomas Ford, CMO of Show.co, a DMN partner.  “People are more connected to their in-boxes than ever before and getting your message in there is absolutely essential. “There’s a reason most artists still see email as their best conversion channel.”

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Indeed, this is the reason why smart and successful artists are running campaigns that heavily involve email.  Like Ghost, a fast-rising Swedish metal band that will be appearing on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert tonight (Friday), a coveted pre-Halloween slot that makes perfect sense for this band.  Actually, Ghost has been well-known among metalheads for years, and the band has cultivated a global following by combining on-stage theatrics, ghoulish costumes, and a brand of pop-driven metal that works.

But that success isn’t accidental: this is a group that smartly uses analytics and yes, email, to maintain a strong-and-growing fanbase.  As part of their plan to maximize sales of their third album, Meliora, the band’s label, Loma Vista Recordings, began by looking at their data to decide the direction of their pre-­release campaign.  “Ghost fans are highly engaged, around the world,” says Loma Vista Creative Director Adam Farrell. “We can drop the proverbial Satanic pin in Sweden and fans in Brazil go nuts.  But we wanted something tangible and not just create awareness.

“Since we get the highest conversion rates for sales off emails, that was the obvious goal to ­build the email database prior to pre­-order launch.”

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One thing this campaign didn’t start out with was an email blast.  Instead, Loma Vista created a 120­-second ‘commercial’ that ran on VH­1 Classic during a late night airing of Caddyshack to introduce the new lead singer, Papa Emeritus III.  The clip was immediately ripped and posted to just about every metal site in the world.

Awesome initial results, and the next step in the master plan was to convert awareness into fans that the band could keep communicating with.  On that front, Loma Vista used Show.co’s ‘Email for Download’ tool to give fans a free 320k MP3 download of “Cirice,” the lead single. Loma Vista also added retargeting pixels to capture even more data to help drive conversions (in case ms and emails seemed too ‘old school’).

 

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(Show.co-powered campaign, linked from the ‘Cirice’ YouTube video)

 

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(Show.co-powered landing page where users enter their email)

 

43,000; 300,000; 63%…

Loma Vista set out to get a few thousand emails, on par with their previous experience with similar campaigns.  But this was a more sophisticated and planned-out approach, and subsequently out­-performed their previous campaigns by a significant margin.  In the end, Loma Vista collected more than 43,000 unique emails and added more than 300,000 people to their remarketing pools within the first week.  The campaign received an impressive 63% activation rate.

This wasn’t happening at the expense of Facebook, however, where Ghost has more than one million followers.  That’s a massive number, and according to Farrell, Facebook can be great for engaging a fanbase and spreading the word.  But it’s simply not the best method for reliably capturing and connecting with fans.

“Social is still critical, but email is essential.”

Indeed, this campaign was all about stirring up the attention first, then capturing that energy in a real and actionable way.  And the best, most effective investment this group could capture was actual email addresses of fans.  “Email is still the only direct connection artists have with their fans,” Ford continued.  “Tweets are quickly lost; Facebook limits your post’s organic reach. No matter how big you build your social profiles, it’s doubtful a large percentage of your fans will see your message. Assuming you’re not spamming people, your email will go straight to your fans.

“Social is still critical, but email is essential.”

 

Top image: Paul Downey, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC by 2.0).  Gmail logo courtesy of Google; Ghost images courtesy of Loma Vista Recordings.

25 Responses

  1. Toby Britton

    Good article and well timed! Yesterday we launched http://feedlamp.com a platform designed to give control of social media back to the artist

    Thomas Ford is right on the money when he says “Tweets are quickly lost; Facebook limits your post’s organic reach. No matter how big you build your social profiles, it’s doubtful a large percentage of your fans will see your message.”

    But social is very important, in fact, more important than ever as new platforms allow artists to publish rich forms of media for the fans to enjoy. Controlling that content and maximising its reach it is the key.

    That’s where Feedlamp comes in. We let artists use existing social content (they don’t have to create anything new!) and blend that with their streaming music, plus the best fan content, to create a new social experience. Used correctly, that social hub means all of the artist’s social content can reach their fans.

    In combination with good email marketing it could be a powerful formula!

    Toby

    Reply
  2. Remi Swierczek

    Global Radio with 100,000+ stations converted to primitive music stores would be the best friend of musicians and writers.
    CASH would deliver the best tunes to proper ears in all genres! $200B music industry by 2025 is no brainer.
    Current slave driver and the biggest music incinerator, Google would earn at that point more revenues from music than digital ads. We have to access Larry Page to execute this simple moonshot bigger than Google itself.

    Reply
    • Mr.

      Learned a lot about platforms that don’t function well and are effectively incomplete?

      Reply
  3. Anonymous

    A few problems with this. Firstly, millennials are not known for reading their emails.

    Secondly, from a being on the other end perspective it never feels like you can reach an artist through email. There is always the doubt as to who is really on the other end. If you are a super small unsigned artist, then sure it is probably you. But I have lost track as to how many artists I have emailed and either found out their account is run by someone else (who often times refuses to forward your email) or simply never gets read/replied to. Both far exceed the number of responses I have received. Even when the email is business related 100% in their best interest. And I am not talking artists signed to a major label. Trying to reach them through email is in the “don’t waste your time” status.

    Reply
    • Tone

      Conversions and engagement are two very different things.

      Conversions = selling releases, merch, concert tix etc.
      Engagement = brand awareness, fan relationships

      Both are necessary, but email is still better at converting.

      Reply
    • Anonymous

      This comment is nonsense. You’re missing the point. People opt into emails & you can reach them. Fans choose to like your social accounts, but you can’t reach all of them unless you pay. It has nothing to do with millennials.

      Everything in this article states facts…it even gives you metrics to prove the results. Maybe this comment falls in the “don’t waste your time” status because the article certainly doesn’t.

      You can make a lot of money with email marketing (i.e. geo-targeting, email segmentation, etc) if you know what you’re doing.

      Reply
      • Anonymous

        Facts? Really? Because the citations I see are from a company that uses email marketing. Because that source wouldn’t be biased at all.

        That moment you realize email is but one form of communication. A type of communication for which there remains no direct replacement but that every tech giant continues to put further and further on the back burner.

        Reply
  4. Anonymous

    A few problems with this. Firstly, millennials are not known for reading their emails.

    Secondly, from being on the other end perspective it never feels like you can reach an artist through email. There is always the doubt as to who is really on the other end. If you are a super small unsigned artist, then sure it is probably you. But I have lost track as to how many artists I have emailed and either found out their account is run by someone else (who often times refuses to forward your email) or simply never gets read/replied to. Both far exceed the number of responses I have received. Even when the email is business related 100% in their best interest. And I am not talking artists signed to a major label. Trying to reach them through email is in the “don’t waste your time” status.

    Reply
    • Tone

      Because when it comes to social media, Facebook still drives the most traffic (even though reach has greatly declined over the last year). Twitter and Instagram barely drive anything and Snapchat doesn’t drive anything at all.

      Reply
  5. Mike Vial

    Solid reminder about the importance of emails.

    All musicians need to recognize that email lists won’t get 100% engagement, or even 50% open rates, but don’t get discouraged. Music is a longer term dedication to finding the key fans, and the email list helps find them. It’s in that 10, 15, 20% who open up the emails.

    Mailchimp’s average industry rate for music: 12.4%.

    I don’t have any context for that data, but I’m sure the data is affect by musicians who only email once every six months, or email too often. Still, I’ve had some established acts with dedicated lists tell me they have about 20-25% rate on their email list.

    In some regards, Facebook numbers equal that: I’ll find some of my posts get about 25% of my “likes” to engage with a post, especially if it’s boasted.

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      “I don’t have any context for that data, but I’m sure the data is affect by musicians who only email once every six months, or email too often”

      …….

      Just out of interest, how often would you suggest sending emails?

      Originally I was thinking quarterly but maybe monthly would be better?

      Reply
      • Anonymous

        Monthly is best (absent special news – like a show)…. not enough to be annoying, not too little for the consumer to remember you.

        Reply
      • Mike Vial

        I agree with monthly, but every artist/writer has to find what works for them and the type of content they are sharing. I hate the word “Newsletter” because who really wants a newsletter?

        Not great comparisons, but food for thought: I read a “poem a day”from Academy of Poets’s site; Lefsetz can post as often or as little as he wants, and his core readers aren’t unsubscribing; Seth Godin has written a blog every day for 10 years, which I don’t have emailed to me, but the website is saved to my phone; sadly, if a band emailed that often, they’d probably lose subscribers. The focus needs to be on content, and then decide how often to share.

        One great aspect about having email lists is targeting those gig annoucements in fan area, so make sure you collect zip codes.

        Reply
  6. Mike Vial

    I don’t agree with the headline’s weight, though.

    In 2015, we can’t really argue the same as 2010 that email proves that FB and Twitter are useless.

    Again, Mailchimp’s music industry average shows a statistic of 12.4%. A big part of open rates depend on how you get emails.

    If you get emails from house concerts after meeting folks and talking with them, and you send interesting content, they probably will open your emails.

    If you get your emails using Noisetrade campaign, you are going to find a very low percentage of them become long time fans. (Still might be good to do, but it dilutes the open click stat since a lot of folks visiting Noisetrade use nonactive email accounts, or unsubscribe immediately. However, I really really do love Noisetrade. It’s just that further and farther you are from the person, the less connection you make. )

    Whether we like it or not, Facebook still drives the most traffic to our sites for most of us in the developing or mid-level ranges.

    Another case in point: FB changed things suddenly with boasting, which annoyed many. But Gmail randomly changes things too, like the interface to include move emails to categories like “promotion.” There is no guarantees our fans are savoy enough to even know how to navigate around all the changes, or change it back. It’s not an equal comparison, but just a reminder that there’s no silver bullet.

    Use multiple tools, be interesting. Stay positive.

    Reply
  7. Man from 1998

    This title is laughably stupid! I’d never use some college face book to market my band, are you kidding? Nor some bird whistles, of course no one listens to a parade of ‘tweets’ as the authors calls them.

    But this email thing, I think it going to be with us for a while, it sure beats carbon-copied memos! I think fans will read them.

    Reply
  8. Vail, CO

    Twitter is basically going do-do bird territory. Active users are flat and there isn’t a monetization plan. I’d be surprised if this is still around in 5 years.

    Reply
  9. Tim Wood

    How many folks keep an auxiliary email acct. like I do that I give out for email I don’t intend to read?

    Reply

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