Pigskin and E-mail - A Winning Option

  |  September 23, 2010   |  Comments

Six rules all football coaches know and how e-mail marketers can apply these lessons to their digital gridiron efforts.

College and pro football season has arrived. With the cooler fall weather hitting my part of the map, I am ready for it! The beginning of the season is filled with anticipation, hope, and lots of excitement (and, let's face it: beer). Let's look at six rules that all football coaches know and how e-mail marketers can apply these lessons to their digital gridiron efforts (which often feels like an appropriate name for e-mail marketing daily tasks).

Use the week ahead to prepare and test: Anyone who has ever watched HBO's "Hard Knocks" or closely follows football, realizes coaching is hardly a cushy gig (despite the inflated salaries and requisite perks). In between navigating locker room feuds and team politics, late hours poured over game tape as well as preparing multiple scenarios demonstrate that success is often tied to preparation.

Well, guess what, so is e-mail. Your boss may think your e-mail campaigns can be put together quickly, easily, and virtually for free (e-mail is cheap and easy, right?), but the best campaigns have quietly been testing creative, messaging, subject lines, offer, and virtually every other detail that can impact success. Your e-mails may be sent every week, but just like any NFL or NCAA coach, showing up just on game day without full preparation doesn't cut it.

Defense wins championships: Offense gets the attention and puts the points on the scoreboard. Promotional e-mails are the offensive juggernaut of any e-mail program. Yep, they deliver revenue and what many of your customers want.

However, just like a solid defense keeps your offense from having to do all the work and provides some well needed rest (ahem, frequency issues anyone?), newsletters and relationship marketing are the equivalent of a solid defense. Not as flashy as the offense/promotional e-mails, but they are what can build long-term success and be part of a combination that doesn't leave you a one dimensional program.

Block and tackle: The hefty guys in the trenches clear holes for the offense and plug gaps on the defensive side of the house. Without them, you are not going to have a chance in succeeding.

Design, messaging, and coding of your e-mails are the O and D line for your campaigns. Like offensive lineman, there are more rules in what you can't do than what you can, and e-mail designers have to abide by these protocols as well. Just because you are big doesn't mean you can block, and verbose copy certainly doesn't automatically translate to e-mail success (in fact, it usually guarantees failure). Finally, coding an e-mail can often bail you out of image suppression, mobile rendering, and more challenges. If you fail to address this area properly, your e-mail will be sacked for a major loss and that, my digital friends, can be painful.

Go for the deep pass on occasion: E-mail marketers are mostly a conservative bunch. There are some folks more in the guise of Boise State though. While ensuring each campaign advances in a strong but deliberate manner may be the goal of each campaign, every once in a while you should think about sending all of your receivers out for a deep pattern and let it fly. Not on second and 25 but every once in a while to keep your subscribers honest and see what happens.

At halftime – don't be afraid to revamp the game plan: Sometimes you may be on your way to a blowout victory – initial response rates through the roof and the champagne is on ice. Then, you start to coast and a quarter later you are feeling roughed up and the sideline anger is starting to brew. The boss calls an audible and you make some changes to that plan that seemed destined for greatness.

Does it work? Does it matter? Every digital marketer needs more self examination and the ability to run the option and make that split decision and shift strategy on the fly. This versatility and nimbleness, after all, is a chief advantage of e-mail vs. its offline traditional brethren.

Be prepared to be booed: So after your campaign achieves record ROI and gets attention in the C-suite, will you get praise? Maybe, but probably a brand manager or higher up will claim the victory and get the spoils. If an error occurs in the subject line or personalization goes askew, will you get called out in the huddle? You betcha. Be ready and take the good with the bad.

E-mail marketers – what is in your playbook that you want to share?


Simms Jenkins

Simms Jenkins is CEO of BrightWave Marketing, North America's leading email marketing-focused digital agency. The award-winning firm specializes in elevating email marketing and digital messaging programs that drive revenue, cut costs, and build relationships. Jenkins has led BrightWave Marketing in establishing a world-class client list including Affiliated Computer Service (A Xerox Company), Chick-fil-A, Cox Business, Phillips66, Porsche, and Southern Company. The agency was recently ranked among the fastest growing private companies by Inc. Magazine.

Jenkins was awarded the prestigious AMY 2010 Marketer of the Year from the American Marketing Association for being the top agency marketer and the Email Marketer of the Year at the Tech Marketing Awards held by the Technology Association of Georgia. Jenkins is regarded as one of the leading experts in the email marketing industry and is regularly cited by the media as such and called upon by the financial community to provide market insight and consulting.

Jenkins is the author of two definitive and highly regarded books on email marketing; The New Inbox (published in April 2013 by ClickZ/Incisive Media) and The Truth About Email Marketing (published by Pearson's Financial Times Press in 2008). Jenkins is currently the Email Marketing Best Practices Columnist for ClickZ, the largest resource of interactive marketing news and commentary in the world, online or off. His industry articles have been called one of the top 21 information sources for email marketers.

He has been featured in Fortune Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Adweek, Bloomberg TV, Wired Magazine, and scores of other leading publications and media outlets. Jenkins is a regular speaker at major digital industry and general business conferences.

Additionally, Jenkins is the creator of EmailStatCenter.com and SocialStatCenter.com, the leading authorities on email and social media metrics. Prior to founding BrightWave Marketing, Jenkins headed the CRM group at Cox Interactive Media.

Jenkins serves on the eMarketing Association's Board of Advisors among other civic and professional boards. He is also a mentor at Flashpoint, a Georgia Tech-based startup accelerator program. Jenkins is a graduate of Denison University in Granville, Ohio and resides in Atlanta's Buckhead neighborhood with his wife and three children.

Follow and connect with Simms on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, The BrightWave Blog, and his book websites at NewInboxBook.com and SimmsJenkins.com.

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