With so much noise and confusion in the world of online marketing I thought it might be useful to lay out some basic starting points to form the foundation of a successful campaign. Here are 5 things that, in my opinion, are essential to maximum online exposure.
1 - An active mailing list with an incentive to sign up.
Here’s the basic idea: You exchange value to build a relationship with people who will become your fans, friends and customers. Your mailing list is how you stay in contact with people to build that relationship and how you offer them opportunities to buy in at a deeper level. You should offer a clear incentive to people on your site for signing up to your mailing list. You might consider offering them a free download or maybe something more creative. Use your imagination. Just make sure that what you offer has value to the person who signs up. This is an important part of the game, so don’t bury your signup form. Put it out in front.
Click here for an example from a site that I built for artist Stoll Vaughan.
Myspace has declined in popularity, but it’s still necessary for artists and bands. It is still the quickest way for a person to get from point A to your music and people still expect you to have a Myspace page. When I worked in music licensing I always went right to an artist’s Myspace page because I knew exactly where to find the music. If you don’t want to worry about keeping your page updated and active, but you don’t want to be absent from Myspace then you can have a div layout done that hides your last login date, fan comments, etc. Ask me for more info. Facebook and Twitter are very popular right now, so it’s an obvious choice to have a presence where most of your present and future fans are. Twitter is full of very cool marketing possibilities, but that’s a whole other discussion. Just know that it can be the quickest way to reach the highest number of people.
3. - A Website with traffic analytics.
This should be the epicenter of your online campaign. This should be where you drive traffic to and this is where people should go to buy from you. Use your other social networking sites to drive traffic to your website. Track the traffic with either Google Analytics or a comparable setup. With most setups you can view how much traffic you are getting, where it’s coming from, what pages people visit, how long people stay on your site for and more. Google Analytics is free and easy to install on most sites. Need help? Contact me and I’ll point you in the right direction. If you don’t have a website, or are looking to set up a new one, then I highly recommend SquareSpace, which is very cool and very reasonably priced. Alternatively I build custom flash sites if you have a larger budget.
4. - Digital Distribution.
One of the first things you should do if you’re releasing your own material, is to sign up for digital distribution through either CD Baby or Tunecore. This will get your music to all the major players in digital downloads like iTunes, Amazon and a number of others. Be aware that it will likely take in the neighborhood of 6 weeks to get your music on iTunes, so don’t wait around - get on this! I recommend in most cases that artists link to iTunes for their download sales. It’s reliable, buyers trust it, and most customers already have an account set up, so the purchase is faster and smoother. If you go to Madonna.com or RollingStones.com you’ll see that I’m not the only one that thinks this is the way to go.
5.- A Blog.
Blogs are very useful for a number of reasons. They’re a great place to post news, music, videos and all kinds of other forms of content. They’re easy to update and you can set them up for free at sites like Wordpress.com. One of the cool features you can set up is to have links to your blog posts automatically sent out on Twitter, Facebook and Myspace. It’s also easy to set up automatic links on your blog so people can share your posts on their facebook page, social bookmarking pages like delicious, digg and many more.
Get those five thing in order and you’re well on your way. Of course there’s a lot more to learn, but remember, the more you learn the more powerful you become. Resist the temptation to give up when you get frustrated. Take a break and then get back to doing your homework. If you take the time to push through the confusion then you’ll achieve clarity and you’ll understand how and why to use the tools that you have available to you in order to get what you really want - and help other people get what they want.
If you’ve got any questions about any of this then feel free to contact me and I’ll do my best to help you out.
For more info on basic marketing strategy for musicians, check out my blog at IndependentRockstar.com