Nuts & Bolts: Comedian: Email Pulls in Crowds, Social Is Ephemeral
TM: What channel works best for conversion?
SH: One thing that I'm doing now is I have a giveaway on my site. I have a free album download, which would have an actual retail value of $10, because that's what it costs to get it on iTunes. And it's something that people want. It's not a marketing tool. It's an actual item of value. But the downloaders have to sign up with their email address. And I believe having your own email list is the best conversion. Because Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, these will all eventually go away. It's a matter of time before something new comes up. Some will last longer than others, but look at MySpace. Flash in the pan for two years and then it disappeared.
So I think that being able to reach people without a social network middleman is the most important thing.
TM: What's the size of your email list?
SH: My tour list is probably around 30,000 with emails at 50,000 total. … How long did it take to build that up? Oh, years. Because you build it up and then someone leaves. And then someone changes their email and forgets to update it on all the lists they're on, you know? Especially, I have a huge college following. So I can't tell you how many dead .edu email addresses I have after graduation every year. So it's probably about 10 years or so since I started doing it and the majority of it has come in the last couple years.
TM: Why has your list grown the most during the past couple years?
SH: Just becoming more popular. For all of the direct marketing you can do, nothing beats consistent word of mouth.
TM: How often do you perform list hygiene? (I.e. Get rid of the bad addresses from the graduates—if they don't work, that is. Some do.)
SH: About once a year. But bouncebacks are no big issue, I have a spam filter that gets rid of them.