You want to know if you’re making more money than you’re spending right? That’s the most basic principal of running a business. So when you’re an independent hip-hop artist or small label, that principal is no different. Marketing budgets can be tight and every cent matters. I’ve experienced that myself. I get it.
However, if you’re a newly established brand or have just started to invest in yourself, you shouldn’t be expecting to see an immediate return on investment. That’s the reason I am writing this. I see where independent labels and artists spend money and then I hear or read about the frustration when things aren’t working out.
There are usually two primary contributors to this frustration:
- An artist or label invests in short term promotion tactics, which are inefficient in the long run
- An artist, their manager or promotion team haven’t decided how to measure their efforts
So they either give up, or spend their next lot of marketing budget on trying a different tactic. The circle continues.
I don’t want you to do that. Now, I am not saying these methods below are fool proof. They are not. Some might not even be relevant to you right now. The most important thing to take from this article is that, you need to be considering other non-financial indicators of success, particularly when you’ve just started spending money on your promotion campaigns.
Website Traffic Growth
This is a pretty standard metric in order for you to be able to measure popularity over time. To begin with, all you really want to know is whether there is an increase in people coming to check you or your artist/s out online.
My recommended steps in order to do this are:
- Sign up for Google Analytics
- Create a Property for your main website
- Configure the account to remove traffic from your own IP address
- Configure the account to exclude traffic from known bots/spiders
Need help? Get in touch.
This is a metric within Google Analytics (and other Analytics tools) that can be really valuable over time in helping understand whether your promotion efforts are generating visits from loyal fans.
Essentially, you want to see an increase in your fans returning to your site. This is even more important to consider whilst you’re running a promotion campaign.
To do this, follow these steps:
- Open Google Analytics
- Audience > Behaviour > New Vs Returning
There’s no “golden ratio” of New Vs Returning visitors you should have. However, over time you want to ensure that the total number of returning users is increasing and you should expect to see a higher percentage of returning users during the window of your promotion campaign.
Your Email List
Your email list as an artist or label is one of your most valuable online assets. Check out this great interview with Talib Kweli where he talks about the role his own email database plays in his business model.
People still read email, particularly when it’s an artist they have a vested interest in.
A great way to start building your list is by offering SOMETHING exclusive to those who join. Thinking back to earlier this year, De La Soul did this great when they gave away the excellent “Smell the D.A.I.S.Y.” project for free. Well, at least in return for an email address. The next time they release a new project, tickets for a tour or merch, they’ve got a whole bunch of direct leads to kick off their marketing.
Social Community Growth
As part of building your brand, you’ll naturally want to see your community on social media grow over time. However, during a specific promotion campaign you should see your social following grow at a much faster rate.
How do you measure this? Simple.
- Note down all the social platforms you have a presence on
- As you start a campaign – record the total number of followers you have on each platform
- Sum your collective social following
- Note the budget and time period of the promotion campaign
- Record the size of your social community the end of your campaign
If you benchmark this for your next marketing campaign, you’ll be able to compare your efforts for different promotion tactics in the future.
Number of Citations
Citations in this context are simply the number of times you or your project are mentioned online. Again, it’s a good habit to benchmark this for your next promotion campaign and then continue to compare the results to previous campaigns.
So what are the best ways to measure mentions of you online? Here are a couple of simple solutions.
- Set up Google Alerts for your name and project
I’d recommend setting up “As-it-happens” alerts, for all source types, in all regions and for all result. E.g. Stalley – Ohio
- Use a paid database management or online monitoring tool
There are hundreds of paid PR and social media monitoring tools. If you’re an artist, ask your PR team or manager which one they are using and ask if they are comparing the differences in your campaigns.
If you’re a small label, PR team or publicist that needs some support choosing the right tools, get in touch and I will help.
If you’re looking for a free manual solution, try this:
- At the end of your campaign, hit Google
- Type in the name of the artist and project, e.g. Stalley – Ohio
- Click the “Search tools” option just below the search bar
- Click the option “Any time”, scroll down and click “Custom range”
- Now choose the date range for which you were focusing your PR efforts
- Two options here, if you want to judge the quality of the citations, you should run through the first 100 results manually and collate the social and readership details for those website. Alternatively, take a quick note of the total number of results Google has indexed for your search (you’ll have to click the “Search tools” options again to get this number.
Rather than just keeping check on the amount of social comments, shares, retweets etc that you acquire, try focusing on the total reach of these social actions. Are the users or brands sharing your projects more or less influential than for previous campaigns? Are they who you expect them to be?
To test this, you could use social scores like Klout or PeerIndex to measure their social authority, or simply note down the total size of their audience on the platform that they shared your content.
I’ve covered this in a little more detail previously, but the most popular link shortening tools such as tiny.cc and bit.ly offer both the ability to customise URLs and also provide click statistics.
If you’re not making sales on the products you’re promoting, you should at least consider the amount of clicks you’re driving.
If you’re driving a tonne of clicks but are not seeing an increase in sales, it’s time to consider 2 things:
- Is your pricing strategy right?
- Are you promoting in the right areas? That could be on and/or offline.
Inbound Emails and Calls
This is one that I don’t hear a lot of people measure, but it’s so important and arguably one of the biggest non-financial indicators that your marketing efforts are working.
Are you getting more inbound emails or calls? You may not be making more direct sales, but if you’re getting emails for interview requests, booking requests, features or requests to be added to your mailing list, these are all windows of opportunity that can provide greater exposure and additional revenue streams. Building relationships and then managing them effectively is key for future growth.
Need more help?
Hopefully the list above will help you gain more of an understanding as to whether your current hip-hop promotion methods are working or not. If you’ve got any to add, let us know in the comments below. If you need help with a campaign, get in touch.