This week’s topic is something that I can go on about for hours and hours, and have written multiple posts on the subject. I come across way too many band websites that are static, stale, and look like they were designed in 1994. It’s 2010, guys! It’s time to get up to speed.
Week 3: Optimizing Your Website
If it doesn’t already, Ariel suggests that your website needs to serve two main purposes. First, your website must be a vehicle to build your mailing list. E-mails are arguably the most valuable asset to any band or musician, and if you make it hard for a fan to sign up to your mailing list, they simply won’t go through the trouble. Second (and third, really), your website needs to facilitate and encourage two-way conversation between you and your fans, and ultimately make you $$$$$.
6 Sure-Fire Ways to Catch & Hold Your Fan Base
If done wrong, these methods can come off as cheesy, so be creative about how you word and display all of this content on your website. Make sure everything you do is aligned with the image and vibe that you and your music gives off.
1. Add a pitch to your homepage
I don’t think this is necessarily a requirement for all bands, but it can definitely help give casual visitors a quick and easy way to identify with your music. Instead of including a pitch on the splash page of my band’s website, we decided to just put a few defining words about our music, because we liked the way it looked, and how it sounded when pronounced out loud. The brevity of the description also might peak a new visitor’s interest and get them to press the play button, because those are three words that aren’t regularly seen next to each other.
2. Your site must load in less than 3.5 seconds
I decided to go with Super Green Hosting for our website, because they have an excellent reputation for being speedy, cheap, and having excellent customer service. An added benefit is that the servers they host websites on are environmentally friendly!
If you have a Flash intro on your website (or a full Flash website), ditch it. Get rid of it. Right now. Delete it from your website forever. They are the most annoying things to sit through, and take way too long to load! Try WordPress instead.
3. No Flash Intros
THEY SUCK! see #2.
4. Have a consistent look and feel and name all over the net
Many social websites allow you to customize the look and feel of your profile. It is important to spread the look and feel of your official website to your other social networks, so it is easy for fans to recognize you, and remember you when they come back and visit for the second time. For my band, I styled our MySpace page & Facebook fan page to reflect the styling of our official website.
5. Give away an exclusive, free mp3/video to satisfy your fans
Every consumer (aka your fans) asks themselves the question, “What’s in it for me?” before deciding to purchase or opt in to anything. People instinctively love free stuff, so offerring up a free mp3 download is a great way to reward somebody for becoming your fan, and to tempt them to consider purchasing your music. We placed a mailing list signup sheet on our splash page, and a super-obvious banner on our home page where people can signup for a free download in a few easy clicks.
6. Make it clear and set them at ease
What good is offerring up a free mp3 if people don’t realize it, or can’t figure out how to sign up for it? On my band’s homepage, I tried to make it painfully evident where fans are supposed to click to receive a free mp3 download. Also, we included a short blurb at the top of the download page that states we will never, EVER send them spam e-mails to help put fans at ease.
[Image credit: Click here]