The World Cup has begun and it finally seems like excitement in the U.S. is on par with the rest of the world.
This year, a record 31.5 million Americans tuned into the most recent season of the English Premier League, and with U.S. World Cup viewership steadily on the rise (16.9 million Americans watched in 2006 and 24 million Americans in 2010), interest this year is likely to be the highest ever.
Understandably, television advertisers in the U.S. have been quick to jump on this growing audience, raising budgets for soccer events by 43% since the last World Cup to $378 million in 2013 – and it’s time for the rest of the marketing world to catch up.
For email marketers looking to capitalize on football fever and other major sporting events in the future, consider the following during your campaigns. (I’m UK-based, so I’ll use “football” in this column to refer to what the U.S. calls “soccer.”)
Know The Rules Of The Marketing Game
It is vital to follow FIFA’s rules when it comes to using trademarks associated with the event in marketing materials, especially if you are not an official World Cup sponsor.
This is actually something email marketers should consider for any major sporting event, like the Olympics or Super Bowl, as they typically have strict rules concerning official marks such as emblems, slogans and event titles. Often times, these cannot be used in advertisements of any kind, and the World Cup is particularly stringent — even Google isn’t powerful enough to get around them.
Instead, email marketers should incorporate general football- or soccer-related words into subject lines, images and email content. For the World Cup specifically, Brazil and location-related words and images are fair game for your campaigns.
If there is any question as to what is okay and what is not, it’s always best practice to check the official FIFA guidelines before embarking on a full scale campaign.
Throw Out Your Frequency Cap & Make Your Goal To Send More Emails
As Americans begin paying increasing attention to football over the next several weeks, email marketers should also increase the attention they are giving the event in their email campaigns.
The benefit of such a big event is that it provides easy and obvious content for marketers to bulk up their existing email campaigns with or create short-term high frequency mini campaigns.
ESPN will be airing all 64 World Cup matches, and with just an hour in time difference, news of the event will be pretty much inescapable. This also means that customers are likely to be more tolerant of an increasing number of emails related to the subject.
But just increasing the frequency of emails isn’t enough to make an impact during this crowded time. Marketers need to decide what value they can offer subscribers and find a way of incorporating that theme into their campaigns. Whether it’s appealing to diehard fans with match results or enticing newbie fans with discounts on their favorite team’s jerseys, marketers should do what makes sense for their particular brand.
It all comes down to finding the right balance of more emails and content that resonates with football fans to be successful.
Capitalize On Real-Time Events
That being said, the increase in World Cup related emails does mean marketers need to go the extra mile to stand out in subscribers’ inboxes. One of the most effective ways to do this (when it’s done right) is through real-time marketing tactics. And there’s still time, as the tournament goes on until mid-July.
Previously, we’ve seen many brands have success with these kinds of tactics via social media during the Super Bowl. Real-time marketing can be a beneficial email marketing tool as well, provided it is done in a way that logically connects the customer and the event.
Simply offering a discount on a product because it’s the World Cup is not particularly compelling (and won’t stand out among competitors). Pitting fans of two teams recently matched up against each other to vote for which product gets the discount is much more interesting.
With five straight weeks of football, there are bound to be a few moments ripe for a real-time marketing push. Marketers should map out a general plan for how they can most effectively reach customers when those moments happen.
Cut Through The Clutter With The Right Subject Line
Another key way to stand out in a fan’s inbox is to put some strategic thought into the subject line. Subject lines are often the first — and sometimes only — part of an email subscribers see and therefore one of the most crucial elements in any message.
It’s important to identify and employ keywords that will reinforce your brand message while keying in to the soccer theme. Imagination will set you apart here, and I suggest keeping up with the fun of the game and even taking the lead from the Carnival feel of the competition in Brazil, for example.
There are several tools available to email marketers anticipate what makes a compelling, clickable headline and what won’t.
That being said, it’s also important not to overdo it and end up unable to get across the value of the email in the subject line. Email marketers don’t necessarily need to go straight for the shock factor or a good laugh to make an impact. At the end of the day, if there is no reason for subscribers to actually open the email, you won’t be able to deliver on key branding and conversion objectives.
The World Cup is one of the largest sporting events in the world and will inevitably continue to capture the attention of Americans now and in the future. By incorporating email into your marketing strategies you’ll be able to have a complete playbook for a winning campaign.
(Stock image via Shutterstock.com. Used under license.)
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.