Ranking Your Fans from 1 to 5 (and What Those Ratings Mean)
[Editor's Note: The following post is by Ryan Sweeney, who's currently recovering from a week up at NXNE with his artists]
My last article touched on the use of third party e-mail marketing systems like Mail Chimp and Constant Contact. These sites allow bands to track which e-mail subscribers open e-mails, click on their links, and forward content to other contacts.
Many e-mail marketing sites rate your subscribers based on this activity. For example, I use Mail Chimp, which gives all of my e-mail subscribers a ranking of 1 through 5, with 1 being the least active and 5 being the most active.
Different sites have different criteria for rating fans, and it is very important to understand what those ratings can mean. How you interact with a group of 1s should differ from how you interact with a group of 3s, which should differ from how you interact with a group of 5s. Below I outline what the ratings mean to me when I am dealing with the e-mail lists of the bands I manage.
1 Star Fan
This is someone who has never opened an e-mail from you or has not opened an e-mail in a year or so. Maybe they had 1 PBR too many that night and don't even remember your band, or maybe they felt sorry for you and signed up just to be nice. Whatever the case, they are dead weight, and it is probably best to just say goodbye to them.
But wait a second: e-mail addresses are really valuable, right? Isn't it better to keep them on?
Not exactly. Except in very specific circumstances, it is always better to have a smaller e-mail list with active fans than a large e-mail list with tons of inactive fans.
If Band A has an e-mail list of 5,000 fans, but 2,500 of those them are considered 1 Star Fans, that is far less useful than Band B's list of 2,500, which contains only 200 1 Star Fans. Because 1 Star Fans are essentially inactive, you could say that Band B has a list that is 92% active. A 92% activity rate is a great statistic to mention to agents, publicists, and labels when you are pitching your band. It also means you're more likely to deliver (or over-deliver) on the gigs you book.
Because 1 Star Fans are more trouble than they're worth, you should give your e-mail subscribers at least a 6 month window to show that they don't fit into this category. If you're really patient, you can even give them a year.
2 Star Fans
These folks don't help too much, but they are still nice to keep around. A 2 Star Fan is someone who might open 10% of the e-mails you send. They usually don't click on links in the e-mails or forward your e-mails along to their friends.
These fans might come to shows, but they might not. They might buy your new record, or they might not. In other words, they aren't extremely dedicated fans, but nonetheless they still enjoy your music.
3 Star Fans
These are the fans that pay attention to what your band is doing. More than likely, numerous 3 Star Fans will be at your show the next time you come to their city. These guys check out the e-mails when you send them. They might not open every one, but a good majority will be opened and they will click on links in your e-mails every now and then.
A 3 Star Fan is someone who could eventually become a 4 Star Fan or even a 5 Star Fan. It is always a good idea to send this group extra goodies like free tracks, videos, and so on. These fans will make up a majority of your fan base. They won't follow your every move, but they do enjoy what you are doing and for the most part pay attention to it.
4 Star Fans
These are the people that love everything you do. They open almost all your e-mails, click on links, watch all the videos and download your music. They pass your music along to friends every now and then too. They are almost always at your shows.
These guys will participate in contests when you run them, and they will vote for your band if you need them to. When running certain campaigns (especially something requiring extensive participation), a band should pay special attention to this group.
A 4 Star Fan can tolerate more e-mails per month than a 2 or 3 Star Fan. You might be able to send them 2 e-mails every month instead of 1. But be careful, don't take advantage of this group too much. Just like a 3 Star can become a 4, the opposite can happen.
5 Star Fans
This group will do almost anything for your band. They are the super fans." They open every e-mail, watch every video, buy all your records and merchandise, and will even hang posters if you ask them to.
5 Star Fans can bring your band to another level. They are eager to spread the word of your band and get their friends to come to your shows. Be sure to reward this group heavily with everything you can. It is a good idea to give these fans exclusive offers that you don't give other fans. This will keep them interested and working hard.
Check out the rest of Ryan's articles about band e-mail lists.