Since the dawn of the Internet age, there may be no more firmly established method of connecting a talent and fans than email lists—mass messages that band or artist sends to an audience to update everyone on upcoming shows, recordings, and so on.
On the surface, an email list is one of the simplest technologies to use, requiring nothing more than the accumulation of addresses and composition of some messages. The game grows more complicated when you consider how long the technology has been available, though, and with that, the level of nuance and number of best practices that have developed.
Today’s email reader is more discerning than his counterpart from a decade ago, who probably did open just about every email he received, particularly if it related to an artist or product he liked. Today’s consumer doesn’t wait for such messages to come in, but more proactively visits favorite artists’ websites and uses Facebook and Twitter feeds to keep up on the news. In line with this, today, people use spam filters and are much quicker to delete any email that sneaks past such a fence, recognizing it for the impersonal communication that is.
A wise a cappella group will not spam its email list. The more you’re emailing your fans, the more likely they’ll become oblivious to the white noise of your messages, and not even read them when you actually do have big news to share.
Similarly, an a cappella group shouldn’t let an email list go unused. Mass emails are a good way to spread the word about truly important developments with the group, like an end of semester show or a notable competition appearance. Just how often it’s appropriate to email should be dictated by how often you have real news, but a good rule of thumb is to not use the list more than once per week—probably not more than two-to-three times per month.
Mass emails can be concise. In an age when Facebook newsfeeds and Twitter are king, people who want to read in-depth material will pick up print media. People opening an email want bullet points and streamlined prose that communicate a message as efficiently as possible.
Emails should also be well-written. Though it may seem contradictory, the rise of blogs, microblogs and texting have given rise to a new generation of grammar Nazis and critics of language who will be turned off by poor writing, misplaced homonyms, and even typos. Take the time to craft emails well.
Emails should also reflect the group’s personality. If you pride yourself on professionalism, don’t to ROTFLing your way through a message. If you’re a fun group, don’t be afraid to use slang, contractions, and generally less formal style than you would for a term paper.
Finally, a group should think about incentives for fans to read emails. Consider the Rockapella strategy of emails that channel readers toward free downloads. Are your emails breaking news? Are they giving readers something unique or something for free? If the answers are no all around, you have to question what is motivating anyone to read your stuff?
Email with a purpose, and think about the most effective uses of the medium for your specific group’s specific purposes.