By now, I’m sure you know I’m a big believer in the importance of building and maintaining an email list to keep connected to your fans. Because there’s so much obsession with social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, my belief in old-fashioned email mailing lists tends to generate a lot of questions from comedians who don’t necessarily believe in their value.
A conversation yesterday over in the Connected Comedy Forum brought to my attention that one of the reasons you may question the relevance of email lists is because there’s probably some basic misunderstandings about what you should do with your mailing list if you have one.
To help clarify how I think you should be approaching your mailing list, here’s a breakdown of three basic concepts I think will help you better understand how you can make your mailing list an effective asset.
1. The more value you provide to your mailing list subscribers, the more comfortable you’ll feel about promoting it.
One of the most common things I hear from comedians who have a mailing list (but don’t have many subscribers) is that they feel awkward about asking people to subscribe – either in person or on their website or social media networks. I understand why you may feel uncomfortable doing this, but I think the real reason behind it is because you know you’re not providing any value to your subscribers.
If you’re solely using your mailing list to promote your own appearances, merchandise, and other stuff you’re asking your subscribers to do for you, then no wonder you feel awkward about asking people to sign up for it. Basically, you’re asking people for permission to spam them. Of course, the flipside is also true and that’s why…
2. Your mailing list should provide more value to your subscribers than it does to you.
There’s nothing wrong with occasionally promoting your stuff to your mailing list subscribers, but that’s NOT the main purpose of your mailing list. The purpose of your list should be to provide value to your subscribers and if you do that, you’ll feel much better about asking people to subscribe and they’ll be much more likely to do so.
Look for creative ways you can provide value to your subscribers – maybe it’s exclusive content, or special offers, or giving them special access to something they care about. Maybe it’s using your list as a way to curate other great things they’ll be interested in (as I’ve discussed before), or maybe it’s something else all together.
The point is that the vast majority of what your subscribers get should provide value for them and not just be something you’re asking them to do for you.
3. Don’t think of your mailing list as a promotional tool, think of it as a way to deliver content.
Just like with your website or social media accounts, you’ll find that your mailing list will be much more effective if you employ it as a way to deliver content as opposed to as just a way to promote yourself.
You can use Twitter to constantly blast out tweets asking people to come to your next show, or you can (and should) use it to connect and interact with your followers in a genuine way. The same is true for your email list – think of it as a tool to deliver content as opposed to just a promotional tool.
Again, it’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming your mailing list is just another way to promote your stuff, but if you follow these three suggestions and consider your mailing list instead as a tool to provide value to your fans, I think you’ll find it much more effective.