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Email Marketing For Sports Teams



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Email Marketing For Sports Teams

  1. 1. How To Guide: EMAIL MARKETING FOR SPORTS TEAMS Copyright 2014 SimplyCast 1
  2. 2. EMAIL MARKETING FOR SPORTS TEAMS The entire goal of email marketing is to engage and nurture readers who want to be further communicated with. It could be to inform, educate, sell or all of the above, but whatever the reason, email marketing is still one of the best ways to leverage the web to grow business and expand brand reach. So before you hit the field with an email marketing campaign, we want to quickly go over the basics of how to best create, send and track your messages with ease. This is no different for sports organizations, professional or amateur. 1. Capture Data 2. Manage Expectations 3. Welcome 4. Personalization 5. Design 6. Being Social 7. Automation 8. Tracking 9. Follow Best Practices 10. Optimize and Repeat All sports teams have fans who are just waiting to be sent information via a multitude of services. Email is of course being the most popular and for now, the most accepted. This is changing with the rise of mobile and social media, but email marketing is certainly not dead yet. 10 Steps To Email Marketing Success Whether you are trying to reach fans with a monthly newsletter, or sending a simple welcome email when a fan buys a ticket, email marketing has a lot of advantages. But you still have to understand what you are doing and also what your goals are for doing it. Just because 20,000 fans fill the arena every night and clearly love your team, by not following best practices, they are going to bench your message quick. Copyright 2014 SimplyCast 2
  3. 3. #1: CAPTURE USER DATA No matter how much money you throw at your marketing and advertising campaigns, if fans can’t sign up on your website or other touch points, you are not going to last long. The form can be on the team’s official website, included on social media pages like Facebook, or even a link sent by email or SMS that sends a fan to your form. Recent studies have shown that over 40% of visitors will fill out a form if they feel there is something of value waiting for them afterwards. The data you collect will be what you use to further target future campaigns depending on how your fans want to receive their information. The two important practices as a sports organization, is to first, make a form easy to find and fill out and second, point out the benefit up front. If the call to action works, the results will match. Now most sports franchises today are already capturing fan data at a rapid pace via web forms. For those organizations, the collecting is not the issue. The problem is what to do with it, which will be covered later. Examples can include “sign up for free team updates”, or “be first to see our new t-shirt”, or “join our fan club for exclusive, free content”. Copyright 2014 SimplyCast 3
  4. 4. #2: SET AND MANAGE EXPECTATIONS Do you sign up for something blindly without knowing what will happen? Probably not. button, or showcase an example of what they are going to receive. So, it is essential that you let your fans know up front what they are going to get as a result of signing up. A really good way to do this is to point out the key benefits once they click on the submit Here’s the next step for the Michigan Wolverines’ sign up process which illustrates this point really well. Every reason for signing up is listed to the point of previous examples being listed of the official newsletters. Breaking news, ticket offers and more are part of the value for filling in personal user data. to feel swamped by email so don’t go overboard with your sending. Tell fans how often you are going to email them, and make sure you stick to it. Also, don’t underestimate the importance of telling fans how often you will contact them. No one wants Copyright 2014 SimplyCast 4
  5. 5. #3: WELCOME TO THE TEAM Your mother always told you to make a good first impression. Well mom knows best of course. Customers or in this case, your fans, are far more likely to interact with a welcome email than any other communication you will send them. Send them a welcome message while they are still engaged with your brand, using an automatically generated response directly after sign up. You could also think about using the welcome email as a tool for either cross-selling or informing recipients of other ways they can receive updates from the team. The University of Oregon Ducks email newsletter process points out how easy it is to jump on the mobile bandwagon. This could also be used to promote voice messages from players or any social media campaigns currently running. Copyright 2014 SimplyCast 5
  6. 6. #4: GET PERSONAL Personalization is almost mandatory when it comes to email and this is the case before your recipients have even opened it. Remember that you are competing with hundreds of other emails in your recipients’ inboxes so you need to get your team’s message noticed. Consider the following points on personalization before you send out your next email blast to fans. Do you already refer to the person’s name in the subject line? What about referring to it in the body of the text as well? Think about how else you can personalize the message. How about referring to last week’s game? Better yet, reference the last game that particular fan went to. You have the data. been to a game – treat yourself to an upcoming game using this exclusive discount on bleacher seats.” Mention specific players that they may be interested in. Mention items they have clicked on in the past but not bought. All of that wonderful information you have at your disposal needs to be referenced in order to really increase your conversions. Here’s an example from the Houston Rockets. It starts off with the person’s name to add a little personalization to the email. Be creative, it will only help with that personal touch you need to create long term loyalty. The only limitation is the data that you collect. For example, “Michael it’s been a while since you’ve Copyright 2014 SimplyCast 6
  7. 7. #5: DESIGN To successfully tackle the challenge of email design there are several areas to focus on. One of the main ones right off the bat is to use alternative text for those users that have images turned off. Not sure what alternative text means? Well it can be simply an explanation of the image or more effectively a call to action. When you open an email, most of the time images are not displayed, so you need to fill in the words that go in the spaces. Then if someone chooses not to download the images, they at least know where to click or who the email is from. Remember the more chances you give to click through, the more likely a reader is to do it. branding. The more official it is, the more in touch the sports fan will be to your design. Don’t forget to design your email for mobile as well. Take a look at how it looks on a Smartphone and tablet. This is becoming one of the most important aspects of email design and won’t slow down. The email below is an extension of the Detroit Red Wing’s main website. Everything is similar looking and placed in similar ways. Don’t make your readers search to hard for the information they want. Other design tips when it comes to sports is to make your email match the overall brand. Colors, logos and text need to match the official website or even the team Copyright 2014 SimplyCast 7
  8. 8. #6: THE POWER OF SOCIAL MEDIA Just as a catcher and pitcher work together to pitch a perfect game in baseball, email and social media can do the same for your marketing goals. The sports organizations that do this effectively will see the highest rate of engagement, and as a result, go on to see the highest rate of conversions. Making sure that every message goes out with a clear social media share function will ensure that you help to grow your list as well as letting your fans communicate using a channel that they really like. Whether it be Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube or any other social site, opening up channels of communication can only be a good thing. Here’s a clear example of social share buttons on the Golden State Warriors Insider newsletter. In the top right hand corner they have buttons linking to their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. By sending fans to these pages, you are further building your community and making a place for fans to digest new content that they otherwise would not see. Copyright 2014 SimplyCast 8
  9. 9. #7: AUTOMATION WORKS Automating your email marketing plan is the best way to go to engage fans the quickest, while at the same time, keeping the fan in control of how and when they receive information. You can can automate your email messages for any date or to answer any sign up opportunity. Within the sports industry there are unlimited opportunities when it comes to email marketing automation. Birthdays, dates of season ticket renewals, new jersey designs, transactional emails and even breaking news about the team. Automated emails save time and ensure that your customers get relevant offers and information in a timely fashion, as well making them feel like a VIP with inside access. Here is a simple process you can follow once someone has booked a ticket to a sporting event with automated triggers set up: A. Kyle receives an instant confirmation email thanking him for booking three days before the next game. B. Kyle receives information on how to travel to the game the next day. C. Kyle has a great time at the game and the day after he gets a feedback email with a short list of questions to learn about his experience. An email software provider will be able to help you set up these types of automation emails. The most typical email that is automated is the welcome email after a sign up to a club, newsletter or other fan related group. The beauty of automation is the message is immediate and adds a personal touch to the fan. All of the content can be built ahead of time so the marketing and sales team can be free to work on other nurturing campaigns once a fan comes into the mix. Copyright 2014 SimplyCast 9
  10. 10. #8: TRACKING If you are not properly tracking your email communications when engaging with fans, how do you know what is working or what is failing? First, is it reaching them? Are they opening it? Did they click on your call to action? You won’t and that is a scary place to be when marketing for a sports organization. From the results of these, you can start testing different variables such as subject line, content, images and your overall call to action. If you use email marketing software, the tracking mechanisms are in place already. You don’t have to worry about that. Email marketing is all about tracking and optimizing and if you are not doing this, you could be losing fan engagement fast. Your focus needs to be on specific metrics after each type of email is sent to a fan. Make a point to reguarliy look at your statistics as if you were scouting the team’s next opponent. Copyright 2014 SimplyCast 10
  11. 11. #9: FOLLOW BEST PRACTICES You hear about best practices, but a lot of times, they get overlooked or forgotten. But in the marketing world, there are these practices for a reason. They work or more importantly, they keep you away from doing what does not work. If you use the wrong word in your subject line or body of text, your email will never even hit the inbox. If you litter your message with big images, the entire point of your message could be lost if a fan does not download the images. If you tell your fan base that you will send them one monthly newsletter and you send seven, you will turn those fans to haters, pretty fast. Starting to see why they are called best practices? No athlete or team has ever had success without sticking to the rules and practicing. The same goes for email marketing. Copyright 2014 SimplyCast 11
  12. 12. #10: TEST, OPTIMIZE AND REPEAT This has already been mentioned but just like a coach drawing up an important play, we are going to say it again and again. With email marketing, you must test, optimize and repeat what works. This process never ends even if you think you have reached perfection. Things change. A fan’s taste will change. You need to keep innovating. The teams that do this keep winning new fans and keeping their hardcore fans loving the brand. Nothing can kill an email campaign faster than loss of credibilitiy. That means check the spelling of player’s names, the score of the game you are talking about and any other thing that will irritate a fan reading your message. Before blasting an email to your fan base, test the entire process until there is no doubt in your mind that it is ready. In sports, there is almost always a next game to bounce back if things go bad. With email marketing, while yes there is always a next newsletter or message, it is hard to win back a fan who know thinks you don’t know what you are doing. Copyright 2014 SimplyCast 12
  13. 13. DRIVE FAN ENGAGEMENT WITH EMAIL MARKETING After taking a look at how numerous sports organizations are using email marketing to drive fan engagement, it is pretty clear that the medium is still highly valued. Fan engagement builds the team brand and moves fans through the process of first contact to purchase at their pace. They control the trigger points when emails are received, which empowers them to invest more and more of their own lives in the team and the team’s success. The teams already offering a really slick sign up process are gaining new fans every day and nurturing the relationship automatically. For the teams not focusing on fan engagement using email, it is not too late. With automated welcome emails you will both save time and ensure a maximum amount of engagement with any future messages. The opportunity is great. | 1.866.323.6572 ext.1 Copyright 2014 SimplyCast 13