This is not a post bashing ReverbNation (there is plenty of that elsewhere).
Hell, I've had a profile on there for years and have had very few problems.
It is not a bad place to network with other musicians. They have a few decent tools. And its nice to have some links back to my website and other social media properties.
If you are just starting out and testing the waters, you could do a lot worse.
But if you want to get serious about marketing online, building your fan base, and growing your music career, you should be thinking beyond ReverbNation. Especially when it comes to your email marketing.
Why You Shouldn't Use ReverbNation for Email Marketing
Managing your email list with ReverbNation would be similar to taking your first $50 pawn shop guitar out on tour with you.
Sure it would get the job done. BUT its not what a professional or even a part-time up and comer would use on stage (that is unless you are someone like Jack White).
The pawn shop special doesn't stay in tune and has strings that are about 1 inch of the fret board. It was not made for professionals, it was made for beginners who may or may not stick with it.
ReverbNation doesn't specialize in email marketing. Email marketing is just a bullet point on a long list of services.
Think about it. Your email list is one of your greatest music marketing assets. You are creating a database of fans that you will build a relationship with and can support you over and over for years to come. Don't you want to give it the best chance to grow and flourish?
For instance, if you needed a brain surgery, would you:
A) Hire general practitioner. The same guy who prescribes you cough medicine when you're feeling under the weather.
B) Hire a brain surgeon who lives and breathes brain surgery. Who knows the latest procedures. Who's performed the operation multiple times before.
A dedicated email marketing service focuses on email marketing. They know their industry. They see what works and what doesn't, faster. They will be on top of the leading trends. They will be able to implement them quicker and more effectively than a service like ReverbNation – who has its hands full with all their other features.
A dedicated email marketing service has many features that ReverbNation does not.
Here are a few:
Marketing automation tools like autoresponders.
Autoresponders are huge since you can build out your entire fans journey once. Just set it and forget it (at least until you need make adjustments). You can set up messages and have them drip feed to your fans to keep them engaged with your music and message. Build relationships on autopilot. This saves you a ton of time.
ReverbNation allows one autoresponder message. You can use it as a welcome email and set it up to send an email right after someone signs ups.
But that's it.
Custom design capabilities
Dedicated email marketing services provide more flexibility for designing your own sign-up forms and messages. They have a variety of templates that are tried and true. Plus they offer the flexibility to tweak those designs to your liking. With ReverbNation you are stuck with same template thousands of other musicians are using (less of a chance to stand out or give your fans an experience unique to you).
There are others but I'll save a few of those for the next section.
My favorite alternatives to ReverbNation
About a year and a half ago I switched over to GetResponse from Aweber. Aweber served my well for many years but GetResponse had some handy features that Aweber did not.
First, they offer landing pages. For me this was great because they made it easy to whip up a page for a one-off campaign rather than have to mess with tweaking my website. They have a ton of templates to choose from so you can tweak a few lines of text, swap out the photo and, bam, you have a landing page. (note: this is super if you want to start building your email list but do not have a website or your website is outdated and not so mobile friendly).
Second, during my trial I noticed they had 24/7 live chat. This is awesome because when I get stuck or just needed a quick answer I could get help right then and continue working. I didn't have to stop to hunt through an FAQ, do a Google search or send out an email to support and wait a day or two for an answer.
Third, their autoresponder interface was very visual. By that I mean, you could drag and drop your messages around on a calendar rather then “visualize” them. This just made it easy to schedule things.
Their templates for sign-up forms and emails are very nice looking and easy to customize. They also have some cool features that I have yet to use like surveys and webinars. And speaking of webinars, soon I hope to experiment with using a performance as a webinar. That could be pretty cool.
For new users they have a very slick training program. Each day they take you step by step through short video lessons. They show you stuff from how to set up your account, writing effective messages and sign-up forms all the way to promoting your list and getting more email subscribers.
Press play to get a sneak peak of GetResponse…
Want to try it? Try GetResponse Free
I have been using Mailchimp with this website for 6-7 years now. It does the job but it is a little less intuitive and not as well supported IMHO, as GetResponse. It also lacks a few features that are very handy; custom forms, landing page creator, step by step training.
But it is free to start. Plus it is one of the most widely used and most popular email marketing services out there.
Want to try this one? Go here.
Honorable mention… Aweber, FanBridge (never used it but they are a tad spendier than the GR or MC)
Before I forget, I wanted to mention that these services do a great job integrating with other services like WordPress, Google Analytics and most social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc.
>> FREE PDF DOWNLOAD: Get access to the free Email List Jumpstart PDF checklist. Plus, get a bonus copy of my ebook “Sell More Singles” to discover the strategy I use to build my list and sell more music. <<
How to start building your audience using these email marketing services
You can choose either Mailchimp or Getresponse. But for the following examples I am going to use GetResponse because you can use their landing page feature to get up and running fast.
Click the above link and lets do this.
2) Set up your account and create your first campaign
Once you are signed up click the arrow next to “current campaign” and select “create campaign”. From there they will walk you through set-up. Easy-peezy.
3) Set up a landing page
Now, just set up a landing page. Click “Create Landing Page” or select “Landing Page” in the top menu, pick a cool one and start tweaking.
Here's an example of a landing page I created and used (here's a link to the live version):
4) Share the landing page
More on how to do that right here….
How To Jumpstart Your Email List
There are a few ways to build an email list but lets keep it really simple.
Step 1: Manually reach out and invite 50 people to your list
Start a spreadsheet (google doc or something). Then list out 50 people that you are close to: moms, dads, aunts, uncles, good friends, neighbors, work peeps, super fans, etc.
Then “one-by-one” send them an email, text, a Facebook message, phone call or whatever. Tell them what you are up to and ask them to join. And offer a free track or something.
Say something like this…
I am starting a newsletter for my band and offering some free music.
I'll be sharing music, show dates and stories about the bands journey.
Do you want to be included?
Reply to this email and let me know.
When they reply “hell yeah” you reply something like this…
Here's how. Just click on the following link and introduce yourself.
BTW, can you think of anyone else that might like our music? If so, can you send them that link and ask them to introduce themselves too?
Would be a huge help.
This will be a great way to jump start your list and see how well everything working before moving on to new fans.
Step 2: Manually reach out and invite 50 MORE people to your list
I bet you know at least 100 if you really think about. Rinse and repeat.
Step 3: Spread the link love
Now you should have a good start to your list. Next, add links to your profiles on all your social media sites. If you want to track which sites send the most sign-ups, create a copy of your opt-in page for each site.
If you have a website, add some forms to it too.
And if you are playing live, create sign-up sheets, flyers or cards that you can have at your merch table or hand out to people. GetResponse even has an app you can use on your tablet or phone to collect emails on the spot.
Step 4: Start thinking about where you can find more fans
I created a whole course on finding fans so I won't go into too much detail here. But just list a bunch of artist similar to yourself and figure out where most of their fans are hanging out. Then start hanging out. Engaging with them without over promoting yourself.
If you are using GetResponse, they have a great training to help you grow and nurture your list.
Remember, your email list is going to be one of your most important assets. Starting with the right service will set you up for years to come. It will also help you avoid making the same email marketing mistakes most DIY musicians make.
Your Next Step…
Now, are you ready to get started on your list?
Click the image below to download a copy of the Email List Jump-Start Checklist PDF. PLUS, I'll send you a copy of my Sell More Singles ebook so you can discover an effective strategy for releasing and selling more music.