Today I received a fresh email promotion from MLS promoting First Kick 2011. The first 2,000 fans to clickthrough and pledge to watch the MLS First Kick presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods tonight on ESPN would receive a free t-shirt. No details were provided regarding the size, design, or delivery of the t-shirt, but I have to assume they will be related to either MLS First Kick 2011 and /or MLS sponsor, Dick’s Sporting Goods. Nevertheless, based on the time it took the pledge to load on my computer, I am guessing that the promotion worked.
I thought this was an innovative way to help soccer grow in the United States, but from an email marketing perspective, I noticed several opportunities for improvement that we can all learn from.
First the good….
- The first thing that caught my eye about this email is that it was delivered from Landon Donovan. I recently watched a webinar about the Science of Email Marketing which suggested using celebrity names in the from field. As quickly as this will become tacky, I have to admit that it piqued my interest.
- I also thought that the subject line, “Score a free MLS t-shirt”, was well done. It was short and clear, while making me just curious enough to find out how to earn the freebie.
- Once inside the email, the first thing I noticed was the replicated navigation from the MLS website. It is always a plus when brands have a consistent look and feel across all channels, and the design immediately put me at ease that this was not a phishing scam despite being “sent from Landon Donovan” – wink wink. Studies show that there is a positive correlation between the number of links in an email and the number of clickthroughs it will receive. Header navigation is a safe way to add relevant linked content.
- Lastly, the email had two text buttons, with one above the fold. This was a very wordy email, which I will get to in the next section, so having a button above the fold was imperative.
Now the bad….
- I am personally a fan of viewing emails as web pages. I have enough email building experience to know that it is impossible to have a design look identical across all email providers, and I like to see exactly how the email was intended to look. Unfortunately, this email did not have an option to view as a web page, which is also why I had to include the screenshot above rather than linking to the entire page.
- Another noticeable exclusion from this campaign was MLS’s physical mailing address. CAN-SPAM clearly dictates that in addition to providing an easy OPT-OUT link, emailers must provide a business address. I am surprised that an organization the size of MLS was not in compliance with CAN-SPAM with this particular email.
- I understand the approach of this email being a letter-style directly from Landon Donovan, but this email did run a little long. There were some good brand-building points in the copy related to the growth of soccer in the United States, but at times, I felt the call-to-action got lost in the messaging.
Finally, the ugly….
- Just a couple of design hiccups here, with the first being that there is no padding around the main image. Again, this may have looked different / better in different email providers, but I will never know because there was no view as a webpage option.
- Another common no-no that this email possesses, is non-compliance with Facebook and Twitter usage restrictions. Although impossible to enforce, Facebook and Twitter do have restrictions on how their names and logos can be used, and it appears that in this case, MLS just made something up. It is possible that an exception was granted to MLS, but this is extremely unlikely.
All and all, this was a great promotion in support of MLS First Kick 2011. Just like the league itself, you can expect some growing pains in their online sports marketing efforts. I am looking forward to an intriguing MLS season, as well as seeing how MLS follows through with this promotion.