Canadian Musician - July-August 2022 - Page 11

to be judicious with its use .
“ You have to be very intentional in the way you ’ re doing it . If you just spam people all the time , that ’ s the quickest way to slow that momentum . You have to make it where it ’ s very personable ,” advises Lewis . “ Perfect example is I don ’ t try to fake that an artist is actually sending the text messages out . We create a team , so when the fans engage , even though they know they ’ re talking to a representative on that artist ’ s team , they know I ’ m in communication with the artist . So , they say something like , ‘ Hey , so and so ’ s song changed my life ,’ I ’ ll take a screenshot of that , get it to the artist , the artist will say , ‘ Oh my god , that ’ s amazing !’ and then we communicate that back to the individual . So , the fan actually feels some sense of a humanizing relationship there .”
What this looks like for music businesses , Lewis notes , is that there should be four or five messages of value to the customer for every sales-oriented message . So , sure let people know about the new video or a sale on merchandise , but in between each of those should be four or five messages that are interesting , fun , and engaging . “ So , you ’ re giving value , giving value , giving value , and then asking for something in return ,” Lewis explains . “ When you can successfully do that , your marketing will change overnight once that starts to go on for a long period of time .”
In terms of how much is too much when it comes to sending messages , there is a human awareness element to it . You have to know your audience , feel it out , and avoid annoying them or else they will unsubscribe . So , you certainly shouldn ’ t send out messages daily like you would on social media , or even multiple times a week like you may with email marketing .
“ Text messaging is very specific to whatever industry you ’ re in . If I ’ m working with an artist , fans maybe love more frequent engagement . Every once in a while , somebody is going to be like , ‘ I can ’ t handle these , it ’ s too much ,’ and even more so if it ’ s coming from a business . So , it might only be once a week . I think that you have to determine that ,” he says . “ One thing I love about Community is I can see the analytics and see how many people are opening it . And if I see a higher open rate in like the 70s , 80s , or 90 percent , that kind of inspires me , if the content is good , to do that a bit more frequently . Also , when we send the texts out and we see an increase in sales , whether it ’ s merchandising or ticket sales for a tour that ’ s going on , things like that might be more of a time to ramp up .”
Keep in mind , Lewis adds , that when somebody subscribes to a text messaging list , they ’ re granting access to the palm of their hand 24 / 7 , so don ’ t abuse it . “ I think a
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good rule of thumb is try once a week , and then maybe bump it to two times a week . But stay on some type of consistent schedule . I mean , I subscribe to a ton of businesses that send me an ungodly amount of text messages and I unsubscribe to every one of them that gets annoying with it , but I love the ones that send me something of interest and value .”
One of the wonderful things about text messages , Lewis says , is they can sometimes create spontaneous , authentic conversations and feedback with the fanbase . “ And it throws them off , because they ’ re so used to be marketed by brands and companies . Just last week , I sent out a text and I said , ‘ What are you listening to on Spotify right now ?’ and the majority of people were sending their playlist and talking about the music they ’ re listening to , which was great , because now we ’ re getting research on what people in our fanbase are listening to ,” Lewis says . “ And then some people are like , ‘ Why are you asking this ?’ and it was like , ‘ We care because we want to be educated on what you guys like , because it affects us . It gives us feedback on who we should maybe set up tours with . What do you like about those artists ?’”
That brings up another point , which is the time of day that people are most receptive to messages . If you ’ re making people ’ s phone ping while they ’ re sleeping , you ’ ll lose them . So , it ’ s about when they ’ re most likely to be looking at their phones .
“ Depending on the demographic , if we ’ re working with an artist that has a younger fan base , sometimes we want to send it around lunchtime when they ’ re in school . In the summer , it doesn ’ t really matter as much . Sometimes we send them a little later at night , based on that demographic … You test it out and see what works . Sometimes you
could send it at two o ’ clock and somebody ’ s sitting at their desk and they ’ re bored , so they might want to check it out . But I typically look for those windows of opportunity that are going to be best to capture their attention and it ’ s different for every market .”
One last important thing to remember is how you build your contacts list , because both the U . S . and Canada have strict antispam laws . In short , the people must clearly opt in and consent to receiving text messages , and must also have the option of unsubscribing . You can provide incentives to opt in , such as 15 % off their next merch purchase on your website . In fact , the merch table at concerts provides a great place to collect subscribers via QR code that takes them to a simple signup form .
“ From a liability standpoint , when it comes to texting , you have to be very careful too . When you ’ re dealing with that many people , you don ’ t want some hourly employee jumping on there and conversing with people because that could get you into some human resources-type issues ,” Lewis adds .
Lastly , he says , remember that text messaging is a distribution platform , so you need valuable content to distribute , whether it be YouTube videos , a new song on SoundCloud , a blog , a recent interview you did with a website or podcast , etc . Otherwise , all you ’ re left with is the annoying sales-driven messages .
“ It has to be very humanizing ,” Lewis says in closing , “ and if you don ’ t abuse the technology , I think the fans will embrace that — they share it , they get other people to sign up .”
Michael Raine is the Editor-in-Chief of Canadian Musician .
SEAN LEWIS
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