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One of the great benefits of email marketing is that it’s fast. There’s no long lead time like with traditional print media. And, while it might not be as fast as composing a 140 character tweet, if you have a properly setup database and email marketing platform you can get news out in a hurry. For many organizations this is critically important because over the past 10 years there has been countless times where we’ve had a client send out an urgent email to their mailing list in order to distribute proper information, control the news (often in response to some bad press) or send a time sensitive promotion.

Today I’m going to give you an example of how one of my favorite bands, Phish, failed to capitalize on this big benefit and as a result had lots of misinformed and angry fans.

…I was going to title this post “Phish Phailed“, but thought that was too cheeky even for me!

Last night (July 9), Phish was scheduled to perform at the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre. It was their first show in Toronto in nearly 13 years and I, along with a ton of other fans, were very excited.

To set the scene correctly, it’s important we flash back to the day before (Monday, July 8) when Toronto was hit by a record setting storm that dumped more than 90 millimeters of rainfall in just two hours. To put this in perspective, Toronto usually gets 75 millimeters of rain during the entire month of July. [More on the storm from the Toronto Star]

There were major power outages and even on Monday it was clear there would be some concerns about a big concert happening Tuesday.

But, Phish was quick to take to social media to put those concerns to rest. At this point they could have sent an email to everyone who had bought tickets (at least from them directly because they had all the email addresses), but I’m OK with them only using social media since at this point the news is really just that nothing has changed. And, their comments to give extra time to get to the venue is helpful.

With the concert scheduled for 7:00pm, at 1:04pm they sent out this tweet:

At about the same time (1:05pm) they even encouraged people to budget for extra time due to TTC and Go Train slowdowns… but everything was running.

With Phish giving the green light, people headed to the venue with the expectation that everything was normal…. and the show would go on!

Once again, the show was scheduled to start at 7:00pm.

At 6:27pm (which for those scoring at home is 33 minutes before show time), Phish sent out this tweet:

This is where we start to begin to see an epic failure on the part of Phish’s marketing team.

The second they knew the show was cancelled (which in my own opinion should have been before 6:30pm) they should have sent out an email to everyone with the news.

This would have distributed the information faster, better and to a broader audience than just the single tweet. I’m not saying they should not have posted to Twitter, but rather they should have done both.

As a perfect example, a friend of mine was still driving to the venue when the show was cancelled. If he received an email, it would have popped up on his iPhone and just seeing the subject “Phish Show Cancelled” would have given him all the information he needed. Obviously while driving he was not reloading his Twitter feed to see if Phish had posted anything…. that thought hadn’t even crossed his mind. He got to the venue, paid for parking, and only then did he bump into people (who had seen the tweet or heard from someone else) that told him the show was postponed.

The email they should have sent out didn’t have to be overly fancy, they didn’t need a graphics designer or a copy writer. They could have just put together a basic email and distributed the information to everyone right away. They also could have included a bit more information to answer some questions that fans would have right away.

What’s even more silly is that they did create a page on their website (see below) with important information. So, why didn’t they just copy and paste that and put it in an email? If they were using Elite Email (which, to be clear, they do not since we would have made sure they did this right!), creating an email with this content would have taken all of 2 minutes.

Phish Website: Toronto Show Postponed

 

So, we know that Phish missed the key opportunity to send out a timely email that would have helped & informed their fans. But, surely someone on the Phish team would have realized an email was needed at some point and it would have gone out a little after the tweets and website updates.
…. nope!

Today (July 10) at 11:38am, they finally sent out an email. That….prepare for shocking moment…. contained the same content that was on their website.

This email went out 17 hours and 11 minutes after their tweet!

WOW!

I’m here preaching that one of the biggest benefits to email marketing is that you can send out important information fast and Phish took over 17 hours to get it together.

Here is the email they sent:

Phish Email: Toronto Show Rescheduled

I hope everyone else who puts on any type of event can learn from this epic fail by Phish. It’s sad to see one of my favorite bands mess up so badly. (I also hope they don’t read this and revoke my tickets for the make-up date!)

In closing… should we discuss the irony of a band named Phish having to cancel due to too much water?! Nah…let’s not go down that path.

Phish Fail

 

It was big, it was nasty, and it was clear that it was all people were talking about on TV, radio, social networks and email, too.

Hurricane Irene was the first major hurricane of the 2011 season. It became a Category 3 hurricane and made landfall in states that aren’t used to that type of extreme weather. So, it’s no wonder that chatter about this crazy storm was all over cyberspace.

It’s always amazing to think about how fast information can spread these days as opposed to even 25 years ago. Even without turning to traditional media (since I know CNN had reporters just about everywhere to catch every raindrop and gust of wind), you could login to Twitter and get real-time accounts of what was happening.

Since email marketing also has the benefit of being real-time (obviously there’s no waiting for things to go to the printer!) we saw a huge spike over the weekend for emails that were in some way talking about Irene.

Whether it was aid organizations sending out tips, small businesses urging their customers to be safe, or hotels offering discounted rates to people evacuating from Irene’s path, it was clear that “Hurricane Irene” was the big email marketing trend over the weekend.

Over the past 72 hours, we sent out emails from a countless amount of industries each touching on this storm in one way or another.

We also noticed the engagement was incredibly high… much higher than normal engagement metrics from a weekend in August.

This doesn’t really come as a surprise because one thing we are always telling our customers is that sending highly relevant content will lead to the most engagement. Since the emails were about the hurricane that was rapidly charging towards their doorsteps, it’s hard to get more relevant than that!

Here at Elite Email we knew that the Hurricane Irene emails would be sending out fast and furious this weekend, but we also knew that some of our data centers were potentially in the path of Irene and could feel the wrath of Mother Nature. Our system’s team worked hard over the past week checking and re-checking everything, communicating with people in our data centers, and making sure that in this crucial time period where time-sensitive emails were shooting out, we would not have a minute of downtime.

Since Elite Email has geographically dispersed data centers, we have amazing redundancy to ensure that even if one of our data centers did experience a problem, we could have easily routed all traffic to a different part of the country, or a whole different country altogether.

I am happy to say, that we did not have any downtime and not one important email was delayed even when Irene was hammering us the most. As always, our customers put their trust and faith in us, and we do everything to not only meet, but exceed the responsibility that comes with that.

 

It’s always fun to see holiday themed emails and yesterday was no exception with St. Patrick’s Day emails flying out by the hundreds-of-thousands.

Yesterday, if you had asked the staff at Elite Email in the morning what St. Patrick’s Day was all about I’m confident you would have heard “green beer” from just about everyone. (Many people were dressed in green and although green beer was on their minds all day, we figured it was in our customer’s better interest to hold off drinking until after work.)

But, by the end of the day, after seeing so many emails turn green featuring leprechaun’s & shamrock’s, and talking to customer’s about sending out timely themed emails, our staff realized that St. Patrick’s Day may be more about green emails than green beer.

We’re always telling customers that one of the great benefits of email marketing is that you can be so incredibly timely with your campaigns and tie them into current events with almost no lead time. Holidays like this truly highlight that benefit!

Of course, we had many customers who scheduled their St. Patrick ‘s Day email marketing campaigns way in advance, but we saw many others simply login during the morning, create the email and send it out just a few moments later.
… just try doing that with a traditional paper flyer campaign!

From a mailing list subscriber point of view, receiving emails that reflected some sort of association with St. Patrick’s Day made them feel more relevant, and, as we know, the more relevant a message, the higher the engagement.

So, be sure to keep your eye on your holiday calendar and plan to integrate your email marketing with whatever the day’s festivities bring!

Happy St. Patrick's Day

 

By the way, for those that haven’t see the Chicago river died green, check it out!

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