Entertainment

How Tim McGraw Uses SMS Marketing to Engage His Super Fans

85%

subscriber growth from December 2020 - April 2021

3.4k%

subscriber list growth powered by the December 2020 sweepstakes campaign, which unlocked a 42.7% CVR

10.5%

CVR on non-promotional “Stay in the Know” list growth creative

Learn how Tim McGraw and his team at EM.Co use text messaging to communicate on a more personal level with fans.

About 

Tim McGraw’s unparalleled career includes over 80 million records sold worldwide, 44 number one radio singles, 19 number one albums, and countless industry awards and accolades. His unique chart achievements include three singles on the Top 20 radio charts on multiple occasions, as well as having two singles spend over 10 weeks at number one. His last solo project spawned one of the biggest hit singles of all time, “Humble and Kind,” whose message continues to impact fans around the world—including a Spanish version sung by McGraw.

He has routinely been cited as one of the biggest touring artists in the history of country music. As part of the host committee, McGraw welcomed the largest outdoor crowd ever to his Nashville performance at the 2019 NFL Draft. He also appeared in the NFL Tailgate Party for Super Bowl LII and the College Football Playoffs 2020. McGraw’s current single with Tyler Hubbard, “Undivided” was the Billboard No. 1 selling Country Single its debut week and was featured in the 2021 Inauguration performance, “Celebrating America,” seen across the world.


Challenge

Tim McGraw has built a huge community of country music lovers—his super fans. Tim McGraw and his team at EM.Co, a modern entertainment management company, were looking for a new way to communicate on a more personal level with fans, whether updating them about upcoming tour dates or selling new albums and merchandise. They were also looking to further build out Tim McGraw’s fan club, McGraw One. 


Solution

Tim McGraw and his team at EM.Co partnered with Attentive to build on their existing SMS program and directly reach their biggest fans. “I’ve used SMS for artists for years,” said Brian Kaplan, Vice President at EM.Co. “It’s come a really long way and has so many different use cases. E-commerce is just a small portion of what we use it for. Building a list we own and can use to activate our audience will be very important for us.” 

What I love about Attentive is the platform itself and the ease of use. I’ve been really impressed with their Client Strategy team, who’s been integral in the success of our program. Attentive’s functionality and customer service are top-notch.

- Brian Kaplan, Vice President at EM.Co 

Strategy

Tim McGraw uses Attentive’s Email-First sign-up creatives to collect email addresses and phone numbers simultaneously. “Being able to own our list is one of the most important things about SMS,” said Kaplan. “It’s a direct touchpoint that allows us to get in front of the fan in the best way possible.” McGraw’s team uses a variety of strategies to incentivize email and SMS opt-ins, including new monthly sweepstakes. In December 2020, new subscribers were entered to win a McGraw Fan Prize Pack, including an autographed album, vinyl record, and more. 

We’re focused on growing our SMS list right now. We’ve deployed a few monthly sweepstakes as an incentive to sign up for our emails and texts, which have been successful in acquiring new subscribers.

- Brian Kaplan, Vice President at EM.Co

Knowing that Tim McGraw’s SMS subscribers are some of his biggest fans, he sends texts giving them exclusive content and updates before anyone else to further engage loyal fans. Recently, Tim McGraw sent a text message giving subscribers a first look at a new album. "We use text messaging to give fans information before anyone else," said Kaplan. "When we launched the Here On Earth Ultimate Edition, we wanted to let subscribers know before the press or our social media followers. That first look made them feel like they were a part of the launch." 

The instant gratification of texting our fans—whether to give them updates and information or for customer service—before using any other channel is appealing, and our fans love it.

- Brian Kaplan, Vice President at EM.Co

Texting with fans ensures that they know about each exciting update—whether it’s a new album, music video, or tour date. Because subscribers read texts right away, Tim McGraw and his team at EM.Co rest assured that their messages will be acted upon right away. 

To build excitement before releasing his single with Tyler Hubbard, a member of Nashville-based duo Florida Georgia Line, Tim McGraw sent fans a message sharing the story behind the new song. The text ended with a link to an Instagram post with a song clip to drive additional engagement on social media. On the day of the release, he sent fans a text inviting them to listen to the song, including an image of the album cover and a link for fans to listen on their favorite streaming platform.  

The algorithms on social media have impacted our ability to let fans know what’s coming soon—whether that’s a new tour date or an upcoming album release. SMS allows us to reach our audience directly; we know they’ll see the message immediately.

- Brian Kaplan, Vice President at EM.Co 

While tours are on pause, Tim McGraw and his team use SMS to help subscribers discover merchandise. On Valentine’s Day, Tim McGraw sent subscribers an exclusive offer for 14% off all merchandise, as well as a bonus piece of apparel with their purchase of McGraw Machine Hits on vinyl. 

Because text messaging is such a personal channel, Tim McGraw and his EM.Co team rely on SMS to replace the traditional fan club model. “Text messaging allows us to communicate 1:1 with fans and offer them something special to be a part of,” said Kaplan. The team uses personalized text messaging to make subscribers feel connected to Tim McGraw, create excitement for digital releases, and drive merchandise sales. 

We’ve essentially eliminated our previous fan club model in favor of text messaging. We used to send out physical mailers with a letter from Tim McGraw. We’ve taken that content and turned it into a text message. It’s quicker and more personal than mailers, and the fans love it.

- Brian Kaplan, Vice President at EM.Co

Over the holiday season, Tim McGraw sent SMS subscribers a personal message from his family. The note let fans know that he was impressed by their kindness throughout a tough year, helping deepen a sense of community among subscribers. Tim McGraw and his EM.Co team included a link to an additional video message from Tim fans could watch. 


Results 

Since launching with Attentive in November 2020, personalized text messaging has become a top priority for Tim McGraw and his team at EM.Co. 

Tim McGraw’s investment in a strong list growth strategy has paid off. Between December 2020 and April 2021, his SMS subscriber list has grown 85%. The December 2020 sweepstakes list growth campaign helped fuel this growth. The custom sign-up landing page unlocked an 80.4% CTR and a 42.7% CVR, ultimately powering a 3,451% increase in SMS subscribers in December. 

Tim McGraw’s texts to fans drive immediate action and have resulted in increased web traffic and music streams.

I love SMS because within five minutes of sending a text message, 90-something percent have already looked at it, and 40-50% have clicked through. It’s a much higher conversion rate than any other channel because subscribers are 1) on their phone already and 2) super fans. We know they’re the ones who are going to convert. They’re excited to be part of this exclusive list.

- Brian Kaplan, Vice President at EM.Co

Once it’s safe to start touring again, Tim McGraw and his EM.Co team are eager to use personalized text messaging to drive ticket sales and engagement before, during, and after performances. “Our biggest list growth opportunity will come from live shows when we start touring again,” said Kaplan. “We’ll be able to put that Text-to-Join information on the jumbotron to collect new subscribers quickly.”

As for the future, Tim McGraw is looking forward to using the personal, two-way nature of text messaging to engage fans in real-time conversations. “We’re excited to dig into personalization and effective ways to respond directly to our fans,” said Kaplan. “We’re excited to roll out more features soon."

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