As marketers, we're all trying to create connections between our audience and our brand.

Sometimes, creating those connections can be challenging, especially if you don't have a product that instantly inspires an emotional reaction.

So it seems like leading marketing for a major record label would be a dream job, because music is such a deep part of people's lives and hearts — which makes marketing a whole lot easier.

But marketing to music fans brings its own challenges to tackle. For the newest episode of the Marketing Cloudcast , the marketing podcast from Salesforce, we interviewed Itay Rahat, who's in the enviable position of Senior Director for CRM and Fan Engagement Platforms at Warner Music Group. Warner's artist roster includes acts like Ed Sheeran, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Aretha Franklin, and the Black Keys (yep, dream job).

Warner Music Group manages more than a thousand different artists in 35 offices around the world. In a recent conversation, Itay took us backstage to learn  how Warner Music Group manages digital marketing programs anchored by email for global audiences. This is a huge undertaking when you consider the task of connecting an artist with his or her fanbase and keeping those fans engaged — especially when every artist has a different way of relating to fans.

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You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Itay.


1. Use automated emails to reach fans without heavy lifting.


Concerts are one of the most compelling products an artist can offer fans, so clearly Warner wants to promote live shows to an artist's audience. Across Warner Music’s broad roster of 1000+ artists, thousands of live shows are happening all around the world.

When a fan signs up for an email notification about an artist, they expect to learn when they can attend that artist’s concerts in the neighborhood. The only way the marketing team can make that happen is through email automation.

Itay and his team have initiated a few key ways to personalize automated emails to fans: “The first thing is location. We need to know when a date would be relevant to a specific fan that the fan needs to know about.”

The system that Warner Music uses has enabled them to avoid having to build thousands of emails manually. As Itay explains, “We set out to automate the whole process by tracking bands and town listings which have concert events, and then we identify when an event is about to happen. About ten days in advance, we will take that information and build an email. We segment the audience in about a hundred mile radius, and this all happens automatically. The system does everything for you.”


2. Cadence is just as important as content.


“We see triple the engagement rates on those [personalized concert] emails because they’re so relevant in letting the fans know when they have the option of seeing their favorite artist,” Itay says.

He and his team have now expanded the program by sending an email thirty days before a concert, then a reminder three days before, and also some information one day after the concert to continue engagement with fans post-show.

“Even if the fan didn’t attend the show, there’s still a buzz in the city about that artist, because they were just there.”

So when you're building an email marketing journey for a certain subset of your audience, think about optimizing more than just the subject line, preheader, and content. Think about that optimal cadence.


3. Let your team focus on the skills you hired them for.


Improving productivity is a goal for every marketing team I know of. Itay advises marketers to identify which programs take up a lot of their bandwidth — especially bandwidth that takes them away from what they really should be focusing on — and then finding out if there’s a way to automate that. He believes that technology can help us solve a lot of problems today and that almost anything you put your mind to, you can achieve. “If there are no internal ways to do it, there is often a partner who can help you do it.”

Itay and his team have also looked at operational efficiency, plus agreeing on a value proposition. “It took us time to develop it. It took us time to understand what the best source is to do it, to test it, and to make sure it works correctly, but it was well worth it,” he says.  


4. Send content based on what fans care about, not internal priorities.


Itay explains, “We try to look at all the channels that fans are on. We have a network of stores on the website which our content team creates, develops, and manages on behalf of the artist,” he explains. They know VIP experiences, meet and greets, and other in-person engagements resonate with almost every fan, so they focus on promoting what's most important to them.

Every channel includes some type of opt-in form where fans can subscribe to an email list. “We do a lot of campaigns and sweepstakes to provide enhanced experiences with the artist, which allows for data acquisition.” Among many other ways to gain email subscribers, Itay says that in-venue acquisition is also a critical aspect of gaining subscribers.


5. Get creative with personalization based on your unique subscriber data.


Itay and his team had a super-creative idea for personalization that went beyond first names and recent purchases. For a subset of fans, Itay's marketing team knew their full birthdays (including the year) and countries. They decided to create a birthday playlist campaign that aligned with both age and geography. Their playlist curation team designed playlists that were perfect for each fan.

“It’s been very successful, and our engagement tripled with that campaign. We’ve been able to use these data points in an effective way," says Itay.

We talked about much more with Itay (@itayrahat) in our full conversation. Get the complete scoop on automated email marketing and list growth in this episode of the Marketing Cloudcast.

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Tweet @youngheike with marketing questions or topics you’d like to see covered next on the Marketing Cloudcast.