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The impact of mobile marketing can’t be overstated. According to IDC, more people in the U.S. will access the Internet through a mobile device than through their PC by 2015. In this new series, Elite Email takes a look at highly successful campaigns to uncover their mobile marketing lessons. This week’s case study: How the perfect SMS lineup brought a local sports television show a major boost in viewership and customer interaction.

Who says that only the biggest brands can get in on the power of SMS marketing? As Kentucky Sports Television (KSTV) showed with a three-week mobile marketing campaign, sometimes it’s not about the size of the marketing bat you bring to the game, but how you swing it. To learn more about KSTV’s successful sports-oriented text initiative, let’s spend a few minutes breaking down the show’s strategy and what it might mean for your organization moving forward.

Honing In on the Right Audience

For KSTV, the whole point of reaching out to customers via mobile messages was to boost the interaction between the community and this sports talk show. Naturally, the people pulling the strings of this campaign knew that not everyone would be interested in learning more about the sports-related content of this program. Instead of wasting time appealing to the masses, KSTV honed in a very specific target audience – men, aged 18 to 45, in the Louisville, Kentucky area. By keeping the focus on this group, KSTV could begin to mold the perfect plan to increase interaction from this demographic.

Enacting a Powerful Game Plan

Once the sports program had its sights set on this group, it needed to hammer out its mobile marketing game plan. With this in mind, KSTV set out to create “The Ultimate Tailgating Experience.” At the heart of this concept was enticing these men to sign-up for the mobile contact list in exchange for a chance to win a plethora of goodies. Included in this prize package was a $150 gift card to the Kroger grocery store, a case of Rootie’s BBQ sauce, an event tent, a grill, and a wide selection of sports memorabilia. In short, everything a sports fanatic would need to enjoy tailgating before a major sports event.

To add a little icing on the cake, KSTV provided extra opportunities to win the event for those willing to opt-in to its mobile marketing contact list more than once. In total, 10 additional shots at the grand prize were up for grabs for the fans willing to “double opt-in.” If you’re unfamiliar with this process, it’s a method usually used to confirm a contact list membership request or as a gateway that unlocks premium services and features – in this case, extra chances to win.

The Final Score

After an exciting three weeks, KSTV was ready to crown a winner. Of course, the winner we’re talking about isn’t the guy that won the tailgating goodies, but rather the sports television program itself. For all of its hard work, KSTV received the greatest prize any brand utilizing SMS marketing could ask for – a massive jump in visibility and consumer interaction.

With several thousand local sports fans participating in the event, KSTV was already on the path to notching a mark in the win column. However, the simple fact that over 54 percent of the respondents agreed to future communications helped lay the foundation for a responsive and connected mobile community. Additionally, KSTV sifted through the data in the weeks following the sweepstakes to learn more about its target demographic. This information would prove valuable in future SMS campaigns and other outreach programs enacted by KSTV.

Maximizing Your Time at the SMS Plate

So now that the clock has reached zero on KSTV’s outstanding SMS campaign, it’s time to figure out what your brand can take from this case study and put to good use the next time it sets into the mobile marketing arena. First up, if you’re going to offer a prize package or sweepstakes, you better make it worth your audience’s time. To make this a little easier, follow in KSTV’s footsteps and spend some time learning a little more about your target demographic. This way, you know exactly what strikes their fancy when it’s time to promote the big event. Additionally, getting creative with your consumer interaction, like double opt-ins and extra sweepstakes entries, helps strengthen the bond between you and your audience. With these lessons learned from KSTV’s campaign, you’ll have everything you need to knock one out of the park the next time you step up to bat with your mobile customers.

KSTV

 

The impact of mobile marketing can’t be overstated. According to IDC, more people in the U.S. will access the Internet through a mobile device than through their PC by 2015. In this new series, Elite Email takes a look at highly successful campaigns to uncover their mobile marketing lessons. This week’s case study: How Baxter Avenue Morgue connected with customers looking for the perfect Halloween scare via smart SMS messages.

For many people, there’s nothing quite like Halloween. While other holidays focus on bringing together friends and family for more serious reasons, this night is all about scaring the pants off each other. To help add an extra element to the fun and festivities, haunted houses, like the Baxter Avenue Morgue in Louisville, Kentucky, offer up delightfully ghoulish attractions. Unfortunately, when it comes to seasonal businesses with a short operational run, competition can be pretty stiff. With this mind, Baxter Avenue Morgue decided to go all in on a smart SMS plan in an effort to get a leg up on the rest of market. Even if your brand isn’t in the business of scaring its audience, there’s still plenty you can learn by taking a look at this haunted house’s frighteningly successful text message campaign.

The Basic SMS Plan

Baxter Avenue Morgue had one goal in mind when it came to setting up an SMS operation – engage it’s audience and set up future remarketing opportunities. To do this, the campaign decided to offer up a chance to win two free tickets to the attraction for anyone willing to join the haunted house’s mobile marketing contact list. All customers had to do was text the keyword BAXTER and wait for a new contest winner at the end of each week of the promotion.

Taking It a Step Farther with Targeting

However, no great campaign just fires off messages with reckless abandon and hopes for the best. Like plenty of other cases in this mobile marketing series, Baxter Avenue Morgue understood the importance of targeting. With this in mind, the haunted house chose to focus on teenagers and young adults in the Louisville and southern Indiana areas. Not only were these two portions of the local population into scary scenarios and thrills, they’re also some of the most active segments of the population when it comes to texting and mobile phone use. Basically, there’s little chance that an SMS message from the haunted house would go unnoticed by those who can’t stand being away from their phones.

Tuning Into the Right Channels

To get the word out on this campaign, Baxter Avenue Morgue picked up commercial spots during high volume television periods. Honing in on open commercial space during related programming, like AMC’s Fear Fest and ABC’s 13 Nights of Halloween, helped add a little extra punch to an already smart campaign approach. As information came in about these TV spots and correlated signup numbers, Baxter Avenue Morgue focused on optimizing its marketing budget by pulling weaker results and adding extra spots on successful networks and time slots.

The Final Numbers

Once the dust had settled and the campaign came to a close, the SMS campaign managers were ready to tally the results. In total, thousands of customers from the surrounding areas joined the mobile marketing list, giving Baxter Avenue Morgue a major boost in SMS contacts. From here, more than 50 percent decided to stick around and receive future messages from the organization. Considering that the commercial spots employed by the haunted house ran for only 15 seconds – a relatively short time to convey a call-to-action (CTA) – and that the value of the sweepstakes tickets were just $40 a pair, having such a positive and lasting response makes the results even more impressive.

Everything Your Business Needs to Scare Up the Same Success

So now that you know Baxter Avenue Morgue’s story, what lessons can you pull from this tale of mobile marketing success? To start, finding the right portion of your audience, and connecting with these individuals via the appropriate media, goes a long way. SMS marketing is more about quality than quantity, so don’t be afraid to focus on a select group, especially if these people are the most likely to convert by a wide margin.

From here, you don’t have to spend an arm and leg on marketing to make a splash if you have a smart strategy. This haunted house gave away one pair of tickets a week, hardly a king’s ransom by any stretch of the imagination, yet it still raked in thousands of new customers. With this lesson, and everything else you’ve learned from Baxter Avenue Morgue, you should have all the info you need to scare up some stunning results of your own the next time you send out a text.

Baxterave

 

The impact of mobile marketing can’t be overstated. According to IDC, more people in the U.S. will access the Internet through a mobile device than through their PC by 2015. In this new series, Elite Email takes a look at highly successful campaigns to uncover their mobile marketing lessons. This week’s case study: How great timing and a smart campaign put Route 66 Harley-Davidson on the fast track for SMS success.

Few things personify enjoying the freedom of the open road like hitting the highway on a Harley-Davidson. However, despite being one of the most iconic brands in the automotive world, the rise of manufacturers like Honda and Ducati have taken a serious bite out of the sales of Harley-Davidson dealerships, according to a report from the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally’s “Rally News” blog. To battle back against these dipping sales, Route 66 Harley-Davidson in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma decided to get a little cozier with shoppers during the holiday season via smart SMS marketing. To see how this text message push brought the Christmas spirit to Route 66′s customers, and pumped up sales in a major way, let’s break down the dealership’s approach to mobile marketing and see what your brand can use for its next SMS campaign.

Building a Savvy SMS Plan

To start, the dealership wanted to play on the concept of the “12 Days of Christmas” by offering unique deals and specials to members of its mobile marketing contact list. Aside from handing out valuable discounts for those looking to pick up accessories or parts for their favorite bikes, the campaign made great use of the buzz surrounding the holiday season. For each of the 12 days that made up the campaign a text message made its way to the inbox of participating members, revealing a redeemable offer related to a product sold in-store.

To give you an idea of how this worked, let’s look at Leather Jacket Day. As the seventh day of the Christmas promotion, seven different styles of motorcycle Jacket were sold at a 20 percent discount. While it might not be “seven swans a swimming” like the original version of this tune, having a deal like that come straight to their phones was music to the ears of the bike fanatics that make up Route 66′s mobile contact list.

Going the Extra Mile

Of course, no top-notch SMS initiative is complete without a solid push to gain new membership. With this in mind, Route 66 Harley-Davidson pulled out all the stops when it came time to promote its 12 Days of Christmas campaign. Social media, in-store advertisement, and reconnecting with past customers who might be interested helped swell the ranks of the list and ensure that these offers didn’t go to waste. After spending some time bolstering its contacts, the dealership began to fire off these deals once a day, creating a sense of excitement and anticipation among the shoppers looking to pick up something special during the holiday season.

Reaping the Rewards

So for all this hard work, what did Route 66 Harley-Davidson gain? To start, the owners noticed a stark upswing in general foot traffic at the dealership, as well as the obvious gains in its SMS contact list. This increased amount of customers in the store naturally led to a significant boost in sales – particularly with the promoted items. On T-shirt Day, sales of these shirts jumped to 250 percent of the numbers posted on an average day. Helmet Day saw the same amount of these high dollar items sold in one business day as what the dealership sold for the entire previous week. While we could go on and on with the stats that support each day, you can already see that this campaign was nothing short of a massive success for Route 66.

Finding the Road to SMS Success for Your Brand

It might seem like all you have to do to follow in the footsteps, or tire marks, of Route 66 Harley-Davidson is to slap a few texts together and send them to your contact list. However, the truth is that there’s plenty that can go wrong if you don’t pull things off just right. To help propel you to the same heights, you’ll need to put an emphasis on offering deals that actually matter. Whether it’s discounting high dollar items or running specials on normally expensive services, finding a way to add value to the customer is key. Also, planning your campaign around upcoming events, like the holiday season, is a smart way to generate some extra buzz. If you can put these practices to good use, you’ll find yourself in the fast lane heading toward major SMS success in no time.

Harley_Davidson

 

It’s hard to argue with the fact that texting with your customers is at or near the top of the list when it comes to effective marketing strategies. Whether it’s Mashable’s Allegra Tepper noting that viewers open 98 percent of sent messages, or Rimma Kats from Mobile Commerce Daily reporting that consumers are 10 times more likely to redeem a mobile coupon when compared to a traditional options, there’s no denying that SMS marketing is a powerhouse for brands that pull it off right. However, like any other great thing, a few bad apples can spoil the whole deal for everyone involved.

To help combat this wave of illicit text usage, the Messaging, Malware, and Mobile Anti-Abuse Working Group, otherwise known as M3AAWG, has released a series of industry best practices to help steer brands away from the temptation of mistreating contact list members. With that in mind, let’s dig into the report and see what your brand needs to do to ensure that it stays on the straight and narrow, all while keeping the good vibes flowing with audience members.

What Is M3AAWG?

While all of this sounds nice, you’re probably sitting in front of your computer wondering what M3AAWG is and why this organization cares about your text marketing campaign. To answer the first part of that quandary, this organization is an open membership group that services the technologically oriented communications industries – in this case, anyone who plans to connect with customers via text. As far as the motives of this group, the goal of M3AAWG is to bring these related sectors together to combat messaging abuse – namely spam, viruses, and any other threat to the digital well being of consumers around the globe.

Laying the Foundation

To pave the way for this goal, M3AAWG released a comprehensive review of the issues facing the industry and its recommended feedback to these problems. At the heart of the report is the concept of making mobile marketing abuse unprofitable. By having regulatory bodies and laws, like CASL, bring the hammer down on those who stick a toe over the line that separates acceptable from illicit, M3AAWG hopes to curtail the threat of spam and other shady practices to unsuspecting readers. Aside from covering the threats faced by the text community, the report also covers safe Internet browsing and protecting business web domains.

Developing Industry Best Practices

To help realize this dream of a spam-free community, M3AAWG offers up some important best practices for brands like your own. Before your messages start hitting mobile inboxes, here’s a quick breakdown of M3AAWG’s recommended tactics, as explained by The Wall Street’s MarketWatch blog. First, limiting the number of messages you send, as well as notifying the authorities of any group soliciting black market bulk user information, can help separate your campaign from the ranks of generic spammers. Naturally, there’s nothing wrong with connecting with your audience regularly, but if you’re going overboard with multiple daily messages, you’ve definitely crossed over into the shadier part of the industry.

From here, resist the temptation of spam endorsements at all costs. While the idea of pumping up your contact list with new users is great at first glance, subscribing to these services, even if it is free, only propagates consumer abuse in the form of compromised personal information and illicit data harvesting. Additionally, letting your customers provide feedback with the 7726 (SPAM) system keeps your campaign honest and provides feedback from the viewers at the same time. The last recommendation is a call to action of sorts for the industry. Instead of just reading about text messaging best practices on blogs like this one, connect with others via comment sections, forums, and social media to help spread the word about doing business, and gaining results, the right way.

Is This the Same as CASL?

Considering all the coverage we’ve given CASL recently, you’re probably seeing a lot of similarities between that legislation and this industry report. The big difference here is that CASL is a law with severe penalties for those who decide to break it, while M3AAWG’s recommendations for best practices is simply the industry chiming in with its own take on the right way to connect with mobile shoppers. However, if you truly want to stay on the good side of the law, the overlap between these two offerings can help reinforce a strong approach to mobile marketing, according to Candice So of news outlet ITBusiness.ca. It might seem like a little bit of overkill at first glance, but keeping up with M3AAWG’s releases and staying on top of all the latest regarding CASL enforcement is a smart way to keep your campaign rolling smoothly and avoid the long arm of the law.

MAAWG

 

The impact of mobile marketing can’t be overstated. According to IDC, more people in the U.S. will access the Internet through a mobile device than through their PC by 2015. In this new series, Elite Email takes a look at highly successful campaigns to uncover their mobile marketing lessons. This week’s case study: How the Nimnicht Family of Dealerships brought great mobile messages to car shoppers down in Florida.

Cruising by the beach with the top down and the sun shining on a beautiful day seems like all the advertising a dealership would need to sell cars in Jacksonville, Florida. Unfortunately for the Nimnicht Family of Dealerships, playing on the appeal of the good weather and location just wasn’t enough. With a plethora of competitors using the same tactics to sway shoppers looking for a new car away from these affiliated dealerships, this group – consisting of authorized Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, and Wheego dealers – had to shift into high gear with a smart text campaign to beat the heat. To learn more about this strategy, let’s take a moment to break down the particulars of the campaign and how your brand can put these lessons to good use.

Setting the Stage for SMS Success

With car lots and service centers located on both sides of the St. Johns River, the Nimnicht Family of Dealerships already had the infrastructure in place to offer a great customer experience to the people of Jacksonville. However, plenty of businesses have had the same foundation, but couldn’t seal the deal due to insufficient customer awareness. To get the message out about the cars currently in stock, the people in control of this dealership group decided to kick things up a notch with a smart and engaging SMS campaign.

At the heart of this promotion was a “text-to-win” contest. Essentially, potential customers and anyone else interested in the Nimnicht brand were encouraged to fire off a text to the dealership for a chance to win a variety of prizes. To help get the word out, this campaign used available billboard space and online ad content, in addition to local TV and radio spots, to connect with the local population. With nearly 1.5 million people living in Jacksonville and surrounding areas, it’s easy to see why this dealership group exhausted every venue available when building its SMS contact list.

Going Beyond the Basics

However, all of this was just the first phase of the project. Once excited customers participated in the text-to-win promotion, the Nimnicht Family of Dealerships went above and beyond by rolling out a second initiative based off of these new members to the texting list. For those expressing interest in hearing about new car offers during phase one of the campaign, the next wave of messages helped connect these mobile consumers with sales professionals that were ready and willing to walk shoppers through the process of finding the perfect new or used car.

The Big Finish

While the idea of a multi-tiered text campaign might seem a little overbearing at first, the results this dealership organization produced tell an entirely different tale. In total, over 4,000 people signed up to experience the fun and interactive text-to-win portion of the SMS initiative. This stat is pretty impressive on its own, but the people running the campaign weren’t satisfied with just good enough.

From here, the Nimnicht Family of Dealerships indentified and pursued leads from within these interested customers. Of this second wave, 9.25 percent were workable leads, giving the sales force for this dealership group more than enough customers to keep them busy in the following months. In short, this campaign surpassed plenty of expectations, easily entering the ranks of other resounding SMS success stories.

Polishing Your Own Text Message Campaign

So now that you know the story of how the Nimnicht Family of Dealerships left its competition in the dust with great SMS messages, what can you do to make your next campaign go over just as well? To start, leave no stone unturned. Whether you’re doing radio spots or in-store promotions, getting the word out about your initiative and growing your list is extremely important. Once you do this, don’t be afraid to reconnect with your customers and go beyond the basics. As this dealership group demonstrated, having a plan with several layers that goes beyond signing people up is a powerful approach. With the Nimnicht example and some savvy SMS knowledge guiding you along the way, there’s nothing that can stop your next text message campaign from joining the other successful brands found within these case studies.

Nimnicht_Dealerships

 

Chances are when you were a child, your parents sat you down and talked about the “golden rule” – treat others the way you want to be treated. As far as your daily interactions go, there’s plenty of merit to subscribing to this concept as you meet new people and connect with established friends and family. What might not be so obvious is that this, and some of life’s other tried and true staples for successfully navigating your social scene, also has a spot in your next great SMS campaign. To learn a little more about being polite, courteous, and effective with mobile marketing, let’s break down the five golden rules of texting with customers and what your brand can do to make sure it always stays in the audience’s good graces.

Make Your Message Clear

First up on the list of golden rules is leaving the text-speak behind. While it might seem hip and cool, chances are you have a better shot at offending your target demographic by using things like “ur” instead of “your” and not the other way around, according to Stuart Marburg of Australian newspaper The Age. To make your message clear and easy to read, write your texts in a simple, straightforward manner. A good way to test these texts is by asking whether you would take it seriously if it wound up in your inbox. If the answer’s anything less than a solid yes, it’s time to start revising the message and switching out the slang for plain English.

Be Considerate with Your Timing

Once your content is in good shape, the next step is not stepping on any toes as you start to plan when these text messages fire off. Again, an easy way to understand the importance of timing is to put yourself in the audience’s shoes. If you wouldn’t want messages popping up during the middle of the night or first thing in the morning as you try and wake up, they probably don’t want this either. If you’re dealing with a local audience, it’s easy enough to figure out appropriate timing. However, if you’re targeted consumers span several time zones, you’ll have to place an even greater premium on adjusting and staging automated messages to ensure that you avoid the faux pas of untimely and intrusive SMS marketing.

Skip the Fluff

Some brands try to turn marketed texts into novels as a way of artificially adding value for the audience. The truth is that customers aren’t interested in all of this fluff, as Susan Gunelius of Entrepreneur Magazine explains. Instead of long-winded and rambling messages, these shoppers want value in the form of straightforward and brief text offers. This doesn’t mean you have to completely cut out any of the friendly banter, just don’t let it interfere with the actual point of firing off these texts in the first place; to offer deals and discounts that not only entice the consumer to stop by your store, but also enhances the relationship between these shoppers and your brand.

Be Friendly

It’s important to note that skipping the fluff doesn’t mean you can’t take a moment to stop and say hi before diving into the meat and potatoes of your SMS pitch. Much like connecting with people face to face, there’s nothing wrong with being friendly and inviting to help kick a conversation off. If you have names attached to your contact list, adding these into your SMS messages with a salutation is a good start. For the brands that don’t have this info on hand or feel like this isn’t the right approach, simply starting off with a salutation at the top of the message is also an acceptable way to cut down the formality and make things more comfortable for your audience as your texts start to hit consumer inboxes.

Don’t Be Afraid to Take a Little Criticism

Finally, like plenty of life’s other endeavors, the odds of getting everything right with your first SMS campaign are pretty slim. With this in mind, it’s important to be open to criticism from your audience, according to Bob Bentz of iMedia Connection. While it might not be the most pleasant thing you do during your text campaign, listening to feedback and running A/B testing on your stable of messages is a powerful way to improve and refine your message. The benefit of keeping this form of communication open between you and your audience is that the more you connect with one another and work toward hitting all of the golden rules of SMS marketing, the better off both sides of this relationship will be moving forward.

SMS_Marketing

 

If you’re in the business of connecting with customers via marketed emails or SMS messages, you have probably heard that Canada’s new anti-spam legislation (CASL) is up and running this month. Of course, knowing that things have changed regarding marketing laws doesn’t do your organization much good if you’re not familiar with the new rules. With that in mind, let’s take a moment to do a quick crash course regarding the new legislation. From here, next week’s post on the subject will cover the basics of staying in compliance with the CASL as you roll out your next email or text marketing campaign.

Does CASL Affect You?

If you’re reading this article and you use email or SMS messages to connect with customers, the new anti-spam legislation directly affects how you conduct your operations on a daily basis. However, there are other facets of your business outlook that can also change based on the expanded coverage brought forth by this legal ruling. CASL also has specific regulations for any company that also installs software or programs on mobile phones or computers. Basically, if you have a branded app or download in addition to an email or text initiative, you’ll need to be extra careful as you move forward under this new system.

Express Consent

Now that we know who’s affected by this development, it’s time to look at the specifics of the regulations. First up is the concept of express consent and its role in the marketing process. At the core of every shady spam operation is the idea that quantity is better than quality. Naturally, the best way to boost numbers is to simply fire off emails to any address, regardless of whether or not the user wants these promotional messages. Under the new CASL laws, if you want to send an email, text message, or have your app installed on a consumer phone, express and documented consent is the only way to stay on the right side of the law.

Transparency In Transit

Outside of making sure everything’s crystal clear when it comes to asking for permission, the anti-spam legislation also takes aim at less than transparent communications. For instance, altering transmissions in order to have the message arrive at a different location is a major faux pas. Obviously, this is something that most legitimate brands aren’t interested in, but it’s still important to know about this technicality as it ties directly in with express consent and ensuring that the consumer always knows exactly what they’re receiving during a marketing operation.

False or Misleading Content

After covering how these messages arrive, the government’s new stance on the matter takes a look at what’s inside your messages. While this might seem a little nosy at first, the main issue here is that CASL wants to protect consumers from false or misleading emails and texts. Whether it’s slight embellishments or complete lies about products and services, hedging the truth for the sake of a great marketing push is a quick way to bring down sanctions and fines from the various branches covering the enactment of this new legislation.

Unethical Data Harvesting

The final big move from CASL covers unethical data harvesting during an electronic marketing campaign. Whether it’s prying into your audience’s personal life without their consent or keeping tabs via illegally acquired consumer data, this new set of legislation takes a firm stance on where morality fits into the marketing process. Additionally, infiltrating computer systems and installing programs without the knowledge and consent of the owner are also mentioned at length in this portion of the new legislation, giving the powers that be enhanced reach in the fight against unethical operations during the marketing process.

The Big Three

So what happens if you slip up and stick a toe over the CASL line? In this circumstance, be prepared to come in contact with at least one of the three government agencies responsible for enforcing the law. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has the power to issue monetary penalties to violators of this anti-spam law. In conjunction with this new ability, the Competition Bureau has the right to pursue potential misconduct and seek monetary penalties or criminal sanctions. Finally, an amended version of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Document Act gives the Office of the Privacy Commissioner extended authority to investigate illicit marketing operations occurring via text and email.

Now that you’re familiar with all the ins and outs of who administers CASL and what it covers, be sure to check in next week as we delve into the best ways to stay on the right side of this legislation and still make a major impact with your SMS and email campaigns.

CASL - Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation

 

Happening every four years, the FIFA World Cup is an event unlike any other. Whether you’re a fan of this kind of football or not, it’s hard to deny the impact this tournament has on daily life around the globe. However, have you ever wondered what kind of effect events like the World Cup might have on your brand awareness via email marketing? While this might seem like an odd question to pose, a quick breakdown of the statistics surrounding marketing initiatives could radically change how you view the connection between sports and marketing in the context of making a splash via the inbox.

A History of Sports and Marketing

But wait, don’t the sporting and marketing worlds have a great history of working together? While the answer to this question is a definite yes, things aren’t always so cut and dry. Sure, plenty of campaigns have utilized sports icons and figures to deliver a powerful message, but that’s not the only overlap between these two platforms. In regard to email marketing, the truth of the matter is that mega sporting events aren’t always great to have going on in the background when you start firing off marketed messages.

Discovering a Digital Connection

While the average football friendly or exhibition game might not garner a noticeable bump in consumer interest, events like the World Cup can drastically warp the priorities and focus of your target audience. In a recent study covered by Amy Gesenhues of Marketing Land, the digital connection between these worlds generally isn’t very accommodating to the world of email marketing. In fact, special circumstances – like the World Cup, Super Bowl, and other major occurrences – can actually cause some serious harm to you open and conversion rates.

The main issue here is not that the sporting world hates promotional emails packed with value and substance. Instead, it’s simply that when the game is on, rabid fans don’t have eyes for anything else. Whether the match ends in a one-sided rout or goes to penalty kicks, expecting your audience to check their inbox or alerts is a recipe for unexpected disaster that can really sink your email marketing ship long before it sets sail.

A Look at the World Cup

The aforementioned study from Marketing Land and the World Cup focused on three countries; Mexico, Brazil, and the United States. In Brazil, click rates and email activity during football matches plummeted to 61 percent of the country’s standard activity. While that might not seem like much at first glance, imagine losing around 40 percent of your audience right after you hit send on your latest content. Mexico saw a similar drop, this time measured in raw percentage of clicks, going from the usual 9 percent of email clicks to just 5 percent.

The final country reviewed in this survey of the email marketing climate during the FIFA World Cup, the United States, showed a minimal dip in email activity during the game. However, the drop, measured between 1 and 2 percent total, still shows that in countries only recently experiencing the football or soccer craze, this event still had a negative impact on email activity during the match times.

Coming To a Conclusion

This one instance of reduced email activity underlies a major problem facing brands looking to make a move via marketing messages. Even though email marketing is one of the most powerful ways to connect with consumers, if your timing is off, you can’t expect much from this type of outreach. Naturally, you won’t always be facing down the World Cup, Olympics, or NHL Finals every day, but it’s still worth keeping these events in mind as you begin to roll out your last digital campaign that places a premium on what happens in the inbox.

Building a Smart Plan for Your Business

If you don’t want to watch your email marketing operations take a nosedive every time your favorite team scores the game winning goal, build a schedule that’s cognizant of what’s happening in the sporting world. This doesn’t mean keeping track of every preseason or regular season game. In fact, depending on your target audience’s location, it might mean taking out certain sports entirely from the equation. However, once you have your ideal consumer profile set up and certain sports highlighted as potential problems, you can start to build strategies with playoffs, championships, and other major events in mind. This way, you’ll never deliver great email content that goes unseen when the big game is on the line.

2014_World_Cup

 

There’s no denying that email marketing is one of the fastest, most productive ways of making a splash with your audience. Unfortunately, all the great aspects of this channel can lead to opportunities for misuse and abuse, creating some serious ill will with your targeted customers. With that in mind, let’s take a moment to go over the seven “Deadly Sins” of email marketing and what your brand can do to avoid the temptation of falling into these traps.

Relying on Promotional Fluff

First up on the list is all about what’s going on in the body of your emails. While there’s no denying that these messages are promotional in nature, that’s no excuse for offering little to no value in your emails. In addition to the basic offers of discounts, coupons, and sales, be sure to add in content that relates with the reader and goes beyond the simple “buy this now” approach. Things like weekly newsletters and even previews of your latest blog post fit this niche perfectly. Not only will this save your readers from promotional fatigue, it’s also a great way to build a lasting connection that keeps your contact list healthy and full.

Forgetting about Your Mobile Customers

Once you have your message in order, making sure you go beyond desktop optimization is the next part of the process. While standard emails are still going to be the bread and butter of most marketing initiatives, not giving the mobile portion of your audience its due, is an easy way to miss out on a great opportunity for conversions. The worst part about falling prey to this marketing sin is that it really doesn’t take much effort to build a proper mobile message with the rise of templates and professionals who can help you along the way.

Poaching or Copying Content

Like pretty much any other facet of your business, taking the easy way out and copying or poaching content isn’t a strategy designed for the long haul. Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with leaning on the work of others to build a message or flesh out an idea. However, continuing along this path without giving credit where it is due, is a one way street that leads straight to email purgatory and a dwindling fan base that’s less than thrilled with your brand’s marketing efforts.

Going Overboard with Email Word Counts

When it comes to the length of your message, more is better, right? While this sounds good on paper, the truth is that most readers don’t have all day to sit around and read a novel delivered directly to their inbox. To really connect with your audience, keep this promotional content short and to the point, leaving out filler and unnecessary information when possible. By saying goodbye to forced word counts and shifting your focus toward brevity and impact, your brand can go above and beyond competition that’s still stuck writing long after your emails start hitting consumer inboxes.

Failing to Adapt Your Content to the Cold, Hard Facts

Much like the original Deadly Sins, there’s no place for pride in a proper email marketing campaign. Although it might be a hard pill to swallow at times, few email initiatives start off perfect. As the results from your latest series come back, don’t be afraid to face the facts and follow the lead your customer data illuminates. Sure, it might not be the best feeling in the world to admit that your content needs a little tweaking. However, when it comes to increased conversions and brand awareness, putting pride on the side and adapting to the cold, hard facts is always in the best interest of your marketing goals.

Succumbing to Link Overload

When it comes to proper linking, you’re probably looking back up the list and wondering how this fits in with poaching or copying content. Essentially, if you reference or cite something, there’s nothing wrong providing a link back to the source. Where you can really get in hot water with your audience is turning half of your email into hyperlinks back to your site and landing pages. When wrapping up the final tweaks to your message before it goes live, try to keep the links to a minimum. Not only can you avoid link overload this way, you’ll also be able to use the limited number of redirects to really emphasize a call to action or time sensitive offer as your email hits its crescendo.

Disregarding Spam Laws and Regulations

Of course, the biggest sin any brand can commit when it comes to firing off promotional emails is to run afoul of the government’s anti-spam laws. With the recent changes in the Canadian spam regulation, it matters now more than ever to get things right the first time. Failing to stay on target not only damages your reputation with customers, it also can lead to some serious penalties and fines. Aside from keeping up with the latest developments straight from the source, having an expert opinion on your side can help you avoid this sin, as well as the rest, once you’re ready to start harnessing the power of email marketing.

Sins

 

After all your hard work creating and optimizing what you thought was the perfect promotional email, there’s nothing worse than checking in, only to see your open rates are deep in the tank. For many brands, this nightmare becomes a reality quickly, often for some of the most preventable reasons. If you’d like to skip the disappointment and keep your messages out of readers’ virtual trash cans, here are five easy mistakes you’ll need to avoid as you make your way toward a powerful, and successful, email marketing campaign.

Succumbing to Link Overload

Think of the last time you cleaned out your spam folder. Chances are the messages in this portion of your inbox ranged from the stereotypical – foreign royalty asking for a small donation in return for riches – to the downright odd. However, one of the common themes across most of these spam emails is an overabundance of links within the message body. With many spam filters honing in on link overload, if you want to stick around in the inbox, you’ll need to pick and choose your hyperlink battles. Try to keep your linking to a minimum if possible, focusing only on redirecting to landing and promotional pages. It might seem like a wasted opportunity to not link back to your page throughout the message, but based on the direction major email service providers are taking these platforms, it’s your best bet for dodging an unwarranted trip to the spam folder.

Unnecessarily Promotional Subject Lines

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that subject lines can make or break your chance at connecting with a customer in an instant. But what if your viewers never even get a chance to hear your promotion out because the subject line of your message makes it suitable only for the digital trash can? Unfortunately, overly promotional or overtly sales-focused headlines often earn a ticket straight to the spam folder. To put the brakes on this problem, tone down the numbers, capitalization, and forceful words – think “hurry now,” “open immediately,” etc. – so that your message doesn’t look like it belongs with the rest of the spam folder riff-raff. Instead, keep things simple in your subject line and focus on indentifying the valuable content held within your message. This way, you’ll avoid the wrong part of your audiences’ preferred email clients, in addition to giving them a great reason to keep reading on once they receive your email.

Emails with Too Much Text

While spam filters probably won’t screen your messages based solely on the length of content within, that won’t stop readers from marking incoming emails from your brand as spam after opening something that’s better suited for a library shelf. Essentially, readers only spend about 15 to 20 seconds on each message, so if you go overboard with the length of your message, it’s hard to expect a favorable response from your audience. Unfortunately, there’s no defined ideal message length, so the answer to this dilemma is a bit murky. A good rule of thumb to stand by if you’re unsure about the appropriateness of your email length is to ask yourself a simple question – if this message found its way to your inbox, would you take the time to read it? If the answer is closer to trashing it and blocking the sender than it is to an emphatic yes, it’s time to do a little trimming with your content.

Attachments Only Cause Problems

At first glance, this section probably sounds like it belongs on a dating advice site and not a post about keeping your emails from being caught up in a spam filter. However, if you really want to keep your marketed emails in the clear, skipping attachments is your best bet. Sure, it might seem like a great idea to attach that infographic or eBook you’ve worked so hard on to every email, but this is a major red flag for plenty of email service providers. Instead, after taking a little time in the message to explain the value of these offerings, let your selective links lead back to this content via landing pages. This way, you’ll skip the spam folder and boost site visits at the same time.

Know When Enough is Enough

Tenacity is often a key part in any marketing operation. However, when it comes to your email initiatives, constantly targeting and messaging people who have bounced repeatedly is a recipe for disaster. Not only are you building ill-will with someone who’s simply not interested right this moment, your brand could also face a spot on Gmail, Yahoo, or another email giant’s blacklist – something far worse than ending up in the spam folder. Thankfully, if you can toe this line, while also keeping up with everything else you’ve learned from this post, there’s nothing that can stop your next campaign from being a smash hit with interested audience members around the globe.

Inbox vs. Spam Folder

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