Contacting fans is hard
All I've been doing lately is trying to promote my upcoming shows (July 31 Ottawa! August 7 Toronto!) Previously I've been lazy about show promotion due to insecurity and shame but desperation has once again won out.
I'm pretty sensitive and protective towards people who subscribe to my mailing list. I don't want to piss them off with bullshit updates or waste their time. This is mostly an issue when I have an occasional show - nobody cares if there's a show far away from them that they can't attend and it's annoying to get those emails. So I built this mappy email signup thing which you can see on my live page.
I've built up a good number of email addresses in there and they're targeted nicely. Anyone in there has specifically entered their email address and selected their location. That's about as opt-in as it gets in this world. "Please contact me if Brad Sucks is in this area, no fooling."
So while I went about contacting folks I tracked the event detail clickthroughs with a url shortener and the results were disappointing:
First I sent email the way I usually do -- I use Listmessenger from my server. I've had suspicions for some time that my mail was not getting to most people on the mailing list but I didn't have anything super important going on so I didn't stress about it.
The clickthrough rate for Ottawa was 8% and 16% for Toronto. From what I can see that's not a bad rate for your average semi-spammy email list. But again - this one is as targeted as it gets. Why isn't it much, much higher?
I have a decent number of demands over on Eventful. I've bitched before that they don't give me access to my demanders' email addresses (and was laughed at by the CEO for the suggestion I should have them if Eventful gets access to them). I sent out mail to my fans in areas in and around Ottawa and Toronto. For Ottawa and Toronto both I received zero clickthroughs. For Toronto I got 1.
I'm pretty shocked at that. What's the deal? Did the emails bounce? Are the addresses invalid? Are the Eventful emails getting marked as spam? I have no way to know. You fire your message to people who have demanded you in the area and that's that. Hope for the best.
Anyway I've put the Eventful widget up places (including my live page) thinking it couldn't hurt but I think I'm done with that. No point gathering fans through a service if I can't reach them.
Frustrated with these results I signed up for MailChimp. It's a pay mailing list service that's been highly recommended to me and they appear to have a great reputation. My best guess was that ISPs were maybe shitcanning my emails? Anyway, I bought some credits and sent out apologetic new versions of the emails to the same lists (removing anyone who replied that I knew had received the emails).
This time Ottawa got a clickthrough rate of 10% and Toronto got 3%. So it got me some extra eyeballs but it wasn't a huge improvement.
In the end
Out of all the fans in and around Toronto and Ottawa who voluntarily gave me their locations I have been able to contact only 5%. Awful.
Of course I feel bad for selfish reasons - I want these shows to go well, I want lots of people to come out, I want them to be a success. I've rented the club in Toronto and I'd like to not lose money. And psychologically a lot is riding on them for me. These will likely determine if I go ahead with some tour plans next year.
But I also feel like I'm letting these folks down. They've specifically asked me to tell them if I'm playing near them, which is such a nice thing for them to ask. I've promised to tell them when I'm in town and now I feel like I'm not able to hold up my end of the deal. That sucks and I have no idea what to do about it.