Fender: An acquisition analysis

As technology has evolved, so have the different ways of communicating with consumers. Whereas in the past mass media meant broadcasting a message to as many people as one could, nowadays consumers have become saturated and tired of the constant “bombardment” of commercial messaging. One way to approach these customers is to only send information to any consumers that have given their permission. Many companies have adopted this approach successfully, but garnering those permission-based contacts takes time and effort. This paper will analyze Fender’s effort in acquiring these contacts, both from owned media and paid media. The central question is, how is Fender doing on acquisition marketing and how could they improve?

Fender is one of the world’s foremost manufacturers of guitars, basses, amplifiers, and related musical equipment (Fender, n.d.). The company was founded in 1946 and in 1951 the first electric guitars and basses were introduced to the market (Fender, n.d.). The product caught on with musicians, and the company quickly grew, being sold to CBS in 1965 and finally becoming independent again in 1985 (Fender, n.d.).

Permission-based contacts are essentially consumers that have given a company or brand permission to contact them (Sendlane, 2021). Simplified, they are consumers that want to hear from the specific brand in question, which makes them very valuable. Since they are open to receiving a brand’s message, they are more receptive to it and more likely to take action, which could result in a monetary transaction (Ashery, 2014). Therefore, it is an essential step in every marketing campaign to acquire contacts as such. 

To analyse how Fender is currently collecting permission-based contacts, this paper shall firstly look at their owned media, starting with Fender’s own website, see Figure 1. 

Figure 1

Note: Fender, n.d.

To the author, it seems the main focus is on their product line, which would be concentrated on monetization within the framework of a marketing campaign. At the bottom of the page there is, however, the option to sign up for the newsletter, see Figure 2. 

Figure 2

Note: Fender, n.d.

This requires an active searching effort from the user, and would only be seen by the people who scroll to the very bottom of the page. The author signed up for the newsletter but had not received any communication from the company within 5 days. 

Next to their own website they also have an educational branch to their website, called Fender Play. See Figure 3 for their landing page.

Figure 3

Note: Fender, n.d.

They are incentivizing consumers to sign up to the service for free, in return for their contact information, before trying it out. This is considered by many to be the first step in permission-based marketing (Sukhraj, 2015). The author tried signing up for the free trial, the information that was required was his first and last name, email address, and a password for the service, therefore, it was perceived by the author as being a low threshold signup. After the author could access all the content he wanted for 7 days, with a prominent reminder at the top of the website to upgrade, see Figure 4.

Figure 4

Note: Fender, n.d.

Contrary to the newsletter sign-up form, Fender Play sent an email right away, inquiring about the consumers’ potential playing level. Additionally, at the bottom of the email is a call to action towards monetization again, see Figure 5. Fender Play kept emailing regularly to check-in in regards to progress, giving possible motivation, and answering any doubts new guitar players might have.

Figure 5

Note: Fender, 2021

Next to their website, Fender is also active on several social media channels, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube. This paper will go over each platform briefly to gain a better understanding of how each platform is leveraged for acquisition.

On Instagram, all posts are pictures or videos, without text on any of the grid thumbnails, focussing on different guitar players and guitars, see Figure 6. In all of their recent posts, Fender is referring to the link in their bio, which is a ‘tap.bio/@fender’ address. After clicking on this link the consumer will be redirected to an overview page of all their recent posts, but this time the posts are linked to a specific page, see Figure 7. 

In the past 14 posts, there were several posts redirecting to Fender Play, Youtube videos, Spotify playlists, or product pages and articles. Redirecting to Youtube and Fender Play could possibly be a way of acquiring permission-based contacts but the call to action was not overtly present. Spotify followers cannot be targeted in any way whatsoever currently, so these followers are not seen as permission-based contacts. 

Figure 6Note: Fender, n.d.Figure 7Note: Tap Bio, n.d.

However, the Tap Bio page, next to having an overview of all posts, also directs to their Youtube after swiping right, and includes a ‘subscribe now’ button, which is a clear call to the acquisition, see Figure 8.

Figure 8

Note: TapBio, n.d.

Next to their normal Fender Instagram account, Fender also has a Fender Play Instagram account. Fender Play has its own Tap Bio, which has several calls to action, see Figures 9 and 10. Additionally, they also have a page on their Tap Bio with a post/link overview, and a Youtube page.

Figure 9

Note: Tap Bio, n.d.
Figure 10

Note: Tap Bio, n.d.

The posts on Fender Play have a more acquisitional feel to them, redirecting people to the platform in an effort to either utilise the platform or sign up to the platform if they had not yet.

In addition to Instagram, Fender is also active on Facebook. Some of the same content is posted on Instagram as well, and like on Instagram, most posts do not have a call to action for acquisition. The author has inspected all posts from the past month and could only find one post focussing on acquisition, see Figure 11. This post was focussed on acquisition for Fender Play. The previous calls to action on Instagram were links towards Youtube, however, on Facebook, Fender has instead opted to simply upload the videos in their entirety, with no referral or call to action towards Youtube. The Facebook page button, which can be utilized by a brand for different means, is used to contact Fender, instead of possible signup to the newsletter button. See Figure 12. 

Figure 11

Note: Fender, 2021

Figure 12

Note: Facebook, n.d.

On Twitter, Fender again mainly refers to their own website, and also their Facebook page, see Figure 13.

Figure 13

Note: Fender, n.d.

As on the other social platforms, the author has gone back a month in time to find any acquisition calls to action. Interestingly, there were a lot more posts directing people towards Fender Play and Youtube than on their other social platforms. See Table 1 for an overview of Fender Play call to actions, and Table 2 for redirections to Youtube.

Table 1

Note: Fender, 2021Note: Fender, 2021Note: Fender, 2021

Table 2

Note: Fender, 2021Note: Fender, 2021Note: Fender, 2021

It seems that redirecting people towards Youtube had some of the desired effects since Fender has over 1,3 million followers on this platform  (Fender, n.d.). The tactic Fender utilizes to acquire followers on Youtube seems to follow a set strategy; They produce and post high-quality content (some videos have over 28 million views (Fender, n.d.)), and in the copy for the video, they will set several calls to action, in addition to a small text about the video itself. See Figure 14 for an example. 

Figure 14

Note: Fender, 2021

With this, they are calling upon consumers to follow them on several platforms, including other social media, subscribing to the Youtube platform, and downloading one of their apps, which will be discussed next.

Fender currently distributes 3 apps: Fender Play, Fender Tuner, and Fender Tone. Fender Play is an app that is a direct counterpart to the online version of Fender Play. See Figure 15. On the login screen, the app is already incentivizing users to sign up by offering a free trial.

Figure 15Note: Fender Digital, LLC. (2021)Figure 16Note: Fender Digital, LLC. (2021)

After logging in, the interface is very similar to the web interface, prompting you to upgrade to a full package, see Figure 16.

Fender Tune is an online version of their web-based tuner, which is essentially an online tuner for guitar and bass, see Figure 17 for the web version.

Figure 17

Note: Fender, n.d.

Upon opening the app the user is prompted to create a free account, emphasizing that it is  a limited time offer, see Figure 18.

Figure 18

Note: Fender Digital, LLC. (2021)

After logging in consumers can use the free tuner and other resources. There is also the possibility to browse the Fender shop and get small previews of Fender Play. See Table 3 for some example screenshots:

Table 3

Note: Fender Digital, LLC. (2021)Note: Fender Digital, LLC. (2021)Note: Fender Digital, LLC. (2021)

Fender has one more app available on the app store, called Fender Tone. This seems to be an app that can connect to certain amplifiers with a built-in Bluetooth function, see Figure 19.

Figure 19

Note: Fender Digital, LLC. (2021)

The author did not have access to such an amp and the app cannot be accessed any further without. The author assumes that this app is less focused on acquisition and will have a more functional role for select guitar players.

The same account can be used to log in for Fender Play, Fender.com, and Fender Tune, which means Fender has created several entry points into the same permission-based contact system.

Additionally to owned media, a brand can also collect permission-based contacts through paid media. This can be done for example by utilizing paid keywords, which brings your website to the top of the page when consumers search for specific keywords.

According to Similarweb, 60.41% of all traffic to Fender.com comes from search traffic, of which 1,66% is paid traffic (Similarweb, 2021), see Figure 20. 

Figure 20

Note: Similarweb, 2021

Of these paid keywords it is highly likely that fender play, fenderplay, fender online guitar lessons, and guitar lessons would drive towards acquisition, since those pages would incentivize people to sign up for Fender Play.

Having looked at all of Fender’s acquisition tactics several improvements are suggested by the author to increase their acquisition rate.

When one looks at Similarweb, it seems the website is ranked quite highly amongst all the world’s websites, see Figure 21, the website has more than 3 million monthly visitors. Just from a visibility standpoint it would be good practice to have a newsletter sign up pop-up form or the form embedded near the top of the page. If only 1% of their visitors would subscribe, it would already grow the permission-based contact list by 34,000 people, for example.

Figure 21

Note: Similarweb, 2021

Additionally, Fender has a lot of free content on their website. This includes beginner guides to the music industry, guides to guitar playing, why scales are important, and many more. A possible suggestion would be to leverage this free content in exchange for a consumer’s email address, in an effort to build their permission contact database. See Figure 22 for an example of free content on Fender.com.

Figure 22

Note: Fender, n.d.

Another strategy they could employ is utilizing paid keywords that would direct people towards this free content. In combination with the email leveraging, this could potentially signify a steep growth in email address acquisition.

Fender could also benefit from sending automated emails to people signing up for the newsletter on their homepage. For example, they could send an email inquiring what interests them in regards to Fender so the company can decide what relevant information they send the consumers. Currently, the email address is sent in followed by zero action from the company, which seems to be a waste.

The author has only used the free version of Fender Play, so it is unclear how the app and web version exactly behave when used in combination with a paid subscription, but a great driver of acquisitions would be to ask people to refer the app to their friends and family, combined with an incentive for both the referrer and the referee. 

Fender has a large social base to build upon, so the goal should be to redirect these owned audiences towards owned databases, such as newsletter lists. See Table 4 for an overview of their social numbers and website traffic. By trying to steer these followers and subscribers towards an email marketing list, Fender can ensure they will always be able to reach these consumers, regardless of what the respective social media channels decide to do in regards to algorithm or audience outreach. This could, for example, be done by utilizing additional links in their posts, calls to action in their YouTube videos directly, or “swipe-up for more” feature in Instagram stories.

Table 4

PlatformFacebookInstagramTwitterYoutubeFender Play Instagram
Followers3,5 million (Fender, n.d.)3,5 million (Fender, n.d.)668,400 (Fender, n.d.)1.13 million (Fender, n.d.)200,000 (Fender Play, n.d.)

By consistently offering high quality and engageable content, word of mouth could potentially spread across the brand’s followers and subscribers. The strategy is to post highly shareable content (learning tips, interesting facts, weekly highlights from the industry, etc.) that would be useful for musicians and their friends, featuring links with more free information, unlocked by providing their email addresses. This can be measured on Facebook and Instagram through their tracking and reporting dashboards.

All in all, Fender is quite active in acquiring permission-based contacts. While it might seem as if they are focussing on Fender Play a lot, since it is not their traditional core business, it is proving to be an excellent tool for gathering contact information from potential customers. Besides Fender Play, the apps Fender has developed are also contributing towards this goal. However, the website and social media channels could be used more efficiently, for example in directing people towards signing up for newsletters. 

To conclude with answering the central question, how is Fender doing on acquisition marketing and how could they improve? Fender is showing to be implementing elements of permission-based marketing substantially, however, to improve, the company is advised to redirect their traffic further and utilize clearer calls to action.


Ashery, E. (July 30th, 2014). Email newsletter monetization. https://goldlasso.com/blog/?Itemid=101&start=30 

Fender (August 7th, 2021). CAIN Performs ‘Come Forth’ | Fender Artist Check-In | Fender. [Youtube Video] Youtube. Retrieved on August 8th, 2021 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IXlMXCYXhEk 

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Fender [@fender] (July 15th, 2021). To celebrate #FenderPlay’s 4-year anniversary, learn any song in the @alberthammondjr Collection b/w 7/15 – 7/21 for a chance to win his Signature Strat + virtual lesson w/ a Fender Play instructor! [Twitter Post] Twitter. Retrieved on August 8th, 2021 from https://twitter.com/Fender/status/1415702963843178508 

Fender [@fender] (July 16th, 2021). @IlanRubin, drummer of  @nineinchnails and @AVABandOfficial, checks in to play ‘Talk Talk Talk’ with the sounds of an Acoustasonic Jazzmaster. [Twitter Post] Twitter. Retrieved on August 8th, 2021 from https://twitter.com/Fender/status/1416065374941065218 

Fender [@fender] (July 19th, 2021). Did someone say Ozzy? Master power chords and palm muting with hits from Ozzy Osbourne, Pantera and Motorhead in our Heavy Metal Crash Course. [Twitter Post] Twitter. Retrieved on August 8th, 2021 from https://twitter.com/Fender/status/1417182481753780227 

Fender [@fender] (July 19th, 2021). In this Artist Check-In, Venezuelan singer-songwriter Noreh performs ‘Visa,’ a song dedicated to those experiencing distant love. [Twitter Post] Twitter. Retrieved on August 8th, 2021 from https://twitter.com/Fender/status/1417152395264598021 

Fender [@fender] (July 21st, 2021). There’s always something new to learn on Fender Play. Check out new full song lessons for Green Day, Led Zeppelin and Lou Reed plus H.E.R. [Twitter Post] Twitter. Retrieved on August 8th, 2021 from https://twitter.com/Fender/status/1417907307841822721 

Fender [@fender] (July 25th, 2021). We teamed up with Fender artists to share their favorite riffs, techniques and tips. [Twitter Post] Twitter. Retrieved on August 8th, 2021 from https://twitter.com/Fender/status/1419326691231608836 

Fender [@fender] (n.d.). Fender Facebook Page. [Facebook Page] Facebook. Retrieved on August 8th, 2021 from https://www.facebook.com/FenderEurope/?brand_redir=84437728562 

Fender [@fender] (n.d.). Fender Instagram Page. [Instagram Page] Instagram. Retrieved on August 8th, 2021 from https://instagram.com/fender?utm_medium=copy_link 

Fender [@fender] (n.d.). Fender Twitter Page. [Twitter Page] Twitter. Retrieved on August 8th, 2021 from https://twitter.com/Fender 

Sendlande (June 16th, 2021). What is Permission-Based Marketing? https://help.sendlane.com/article/402-what-is-permission-based-marketing 

Similarweb (July 2021). Fender.com analysis. https://www.similarweb.com/website/fender.com/ 

Sukhraj, R. (September 14th, 2015). Permission Marketing: Seth Godin’s Guide to “Dating” Your Customer. https://www.impactplus.com/blog/permission-marketing-seth-godin-dating-your-customer 

Tap Bio (n.d.). Fender Tap Bio. https://tap.bio/@fender/cards/67909 

Tap Bio (n.d.). Fender Play Tap Bio. https://tap.bio/@fenderplay 

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