iconsWith countless music businesses focusing their promotional efforts on social media, many now view e-mail marketing as a dead issue.

Reality doesn’t agree! In fact, with a strong content-enhancement approach, e-mail marketing is more powerful and effective than ever.

Why? Because it moves the conversation about your products and services to a more personal environment…the e-mail inbox. Even with so many other ways of reaching customers, the e-mail inbox remains the number-one preferred channel for permission-based marketing messages.

Before sending your e-mails, devise a manageable content strategy. What is the goal of the message? Whom will it be sent to? When will it be sent? How will you grab his or her attention? What action do you want him or her to take? How can you ensure it will be successful?
Although many dealers are tempted to use the BCC field within their e-mail program, this is not an ideal method of delivery. In fact, it can cause some serious problems. We live in the age of “Permission-Based E-mail Marketing.” This means the addresses you collect should all have given you their permission to send them e-mails. Any sent without permission could be viewed as Spam. Your e-mail provider can take action to stop your e-mails and, possibly, place you on a blacklist. Always provide customers with the ability to unsubscribe, or opt-out, from your list.

E-mail broadcasting provides a great return on investment as compared to other marketing channels. There are numerous benefits to incorporating e-mail into your promotional plan.

1.    Let Someone Else Do the Heavy Lifting.
Consider using a third-party e-mail marketing service, such as Constant Contact, MailChimp, Vertical Response or others. I can’t stress enough the value these companies offer in terms of saving you time and money. One of the most important benefits is their ability to automatically clean your mailing list. When bounces occur, they dynamically remove the address from your list and provide you with detailed statistics.

2.    It’s Easy to Use.
Many services include professionally designed templates that make it easy to add your own content and quickly send your message. Even with modest computer skills, you can achieve great-looking results. Experienced users appreciate the flexibility of the platform, and many create their own templates to ensure they are projecting the exact look they want.

3. It Creates Loyalty and Repeat Business.
Content is king. It’s crucial to your success that you provide valuable content. It is the key trigger for inspiring customers to take action and to remain loyal. Although it might seem that the entire e-commerce landscape is in a race to see who can sell products for the lowest price, I can assure you that today’s customer wants (and expects) more. With the right strategy, you can influence customers to read your e-mails and look forward to receiving more of them from you.

Your business is focused on creating music makers. Whether you’re a teaching studio, guitar shop or specialty retailer, you speak with people every day who have the desire to learn. Use your e-mail content as a way to teach. How about sending out monthly messages that chronicle a new student through his or her first year of lessons? Explore the highs and lows…his or her successes and challenges. What about a series of messages giving a behind-the-scenes look at a vintage guitar restoration? Remember to add video content within the body of your e-mail messages.

Although it’s tempting just to push out special offers to customers, remember to include unique information that sets you apart from the rest of the competition. The added value that your staff and experiences can provide is precisely what will build loyalty. Once you have that, sales increases will follow.

4.    Make it Personal.
The “shotgun” approach to sending e-mails is dead. Your recipients will decide if your message is worth viewing in a matter of seconds. So many of us read through our inboxes with our cursor hovering over the delete button. Today’s customers are better informed and they know how to spot e-mails that provide little or no value. To grab their attention, you need a compelling subject line. Be careful of the wording to avoid Spam filters and what the recipient might perceive as being junk. To see sites that list Spam trigger words, simply

Google: “Spam trigger words.”
Your challenge as a music retailer is to better understand these customers and to reach them with relevant, engaging content that provokes action. Make sure that the actual sender of the e-mail is a name that is recognizable (a person or your store name). One of the best ways to grab someone’s attention is to use personalization. Studies show that, when a recipient sees his or her name, your open and click-through rates improve by as much as 20 percent.

There is no specific age group that prefers e-mails; they certainly reach all demographics. This is good news for stores that send out interesting content. Once you start sending e-mails, it’s important to judge your success with measurable results. Third-party services all include statistics within their memberships. If you’re doing it on your own, try to gauge your results. Here are a few pitfalls to avoid.

1.    Unreliable E-mail Lists.
Always show your customers respect and ask to add their names to your list. It takes time to build and cultivate a high quality mailing list. Avoid shortcuts such as using or buying third-party lists. Always include clear opt-in (and opt-out) methods. This will add trust and build confidence in your brand.

2.    Don’t Blast Everyone with the Same Messages Over and Over.
The most effective e-mail marketing messages have content that looks like it came from a human, that’s been personalized, that solves a problem, that’s educational and that’s timely. Smart retailers use e-mail not as a one-way communication vehicle but, rather, as a catalyst to inspire action and feedback.

E-mail marketing still provides dealers with the most direct and cost-effective communication tool to drive sales. Smart retailers that understand the value of this sales workhorse have no intention of giving it up any time soon.

David Hall is Vice President – Sales & Marketing for Cutting-Edge Solutions. Their eCommerce products, The Generator and Pro-Active Websites, are utilized by leading vendors and retailers within the music products industry. Contact him at david@pro-activewebsites.com.


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