You announced in April that FanBridge is now connecting more than 100 million fans with artists through the fan relationship management platform. How do you count that number?
Spencer: That’s actually specifically just within emails. It was actually a little bit taken out of context. In the entire platform, it’s far more fans if you include Facebook and the social world. What that means is that we have over 100 million emails in our database. These are fans who have given their information, given their email and are being communicated with over email as a channel with our artists. When you factor in things like Facebook—
Noah: Facebook, Twitter, Myspace—it’s got to be hundreds of millions more.
How exactly do you make the artist-to-fan communication process easier, and why couldn’t artists just do it themselves?
Noah: Before FanBridge, an artist would try and just use a social network—like they would just use Myspace to communicate with bulletins or messages to their friends, or they’d use Gmail or Outlook or Hotmail or other email services to collect emails and message them, but all of those places have a limit on how many emails you can send. You can’t really group people, you can’t target, you can’t handle the technicalities of email—like feedback loops and unsubscribes and bounces and all that kind of stuff. So at a very fundamental level, it’s handling all of the technical details of sending and managing large bodies of email-based subscribers.
On top of that, we built an interface that’s really easy to use where you can do things like easily target campaigns by zip code and radius. So if you’re touring, you could say, “Send this only to fans within 30 miles of Nashville,” and it will only go to fans within 30 miles of Nashville. We’ve also built features that, based on where a fan signs up from or where they’re opening or clicking or engaging with emails from, automatically can find their geography even if fans didn’t give it right away, which helps the artists further fill out their targeting capabilities. It can also collect other demographic information. So if a fan wants to share their age or their gender or their social network identity, that can all also be stored in the same place helping the artist further see who their fans are, where they are and communicating better with them. And then also on artists trying to do it themselves, there’s the whole speed of analytics on the back of all that stuff that tells the artist a few things. One is the traditional email statistics—who opened my email, who didn’t open it, who says this is spam? It’s announced from the social networks—how many people clicked from each of those places, who clicked on every link and went? It makes the analytics really easy to comprehend and then act on them.
We also, last summer, launched a product called FanRank, which essentially looks at that same data and a bunch more engagement data points between the artist and the fans, but looks at it over time, so it’s an algorithm that automatically segments the fan base into super fans, casual fans and at-risk fans. As an artist, you can see whether a fan is moving up from one group to the next or down or staying at the same level on the value curve from one week to the next. You can also target based on that. You could do a campaign where instead of just serving fans within 30 miles of Nashville, it could be super fans within 30 miles of Nashville and invite them to a pre-show or an after-show party. A smart marketer would treat each of those groups differently.
Spencer: One way to visualize it as well is for nine bucks a month, or for free in some cases, what you’re getting is that dream friend, that geeky dream friend in the room who’s sitting next to you, and you’re saying, “Hey, I want to be able to do this stuff,” and they’re saying, “Well, OK you could do it this way, or we could do it this way, or have you thought about this other stuff you can do?” We want everybody in the system to feel like they’ve got a friend sitting next to them at FanBridge who is just helping them build what they want to do.
Noah: Client service is a competitive advantage for us. Everybody gets a personal account manager. You can call us; you can email us. The phone number’s on every page of the website. We don’t hide behind the website. If you ask around and talk to clients, they rave about it. You can send us your list in any format, and we’ll clean it up and import it to you for free. People have even faxed us lists that we’ve typed in and get into their accounts for them. Whatever we can do that gives you a better experience with FanBridge and helps you move towards the eventual goal of making your fan relationship more valuable, we’ll do that.