Baseball players, parents, and even persons within the baseball world are bombarded daily with emails from college coaches, showcase promoters, travel teams, pitching velocity “gurus”, batting gurus, skills camps, and baseball product sales. My household generally receives 30 to 35 baseball emails each day. That’s because baseball, at all levels, is now a business. You can go on-line and find the best coaches to develop your 10 year old into the superstar you know he is – but it’s going to cost you a pretty penny. And, when there’s money involved there’s going to be competition amongst baseball service providers to get their cut. Thus, the business side of baseball has embraced the use of email service providers (ESP).
What exactly is an ESP and how does it work?
The term email service provider (ESP) means very little to most daily email users. However, when you want to use email as a marketing tool, you quickly learn that the use of an ESP can be the most cost effective method to reach the mass market.
An example of an ESP that most are familiar with, at least by name, are providers such as Constant Contact or Mail Chimp. A list of ESP providers can be found here: http://www.emailvendorselection.com/email-service-provider-list/
Basically an ESP provides a platform for managing and segmenting your contact lists, building email templates, and sending and tracking your campaigns on a large scale. By using an ESP a baseball marketer can efficiently reach consumers, obtain engagement information, and force action by driving consumer traffic to a specific website.
So how exactly should a baseball marketer go about selecting an ESP?
When making this choice you need to consider the following:
Choose a private IP address or one with very few users. The IP address indicates where the email came from and your ESP should not force you to share your IP address with too many customers, as your company might receive spam complaints and may no longer be able to send emails
An ESP should provide specific results to users that are easy to understand. They should report back on deliverability, click-through rates, how frequently people engage with the email etc.
The ESP should always meet the CAN SPAM Act and make it easy for users to unsubscribe.
When selecting a pricing plan, always consider what best suits your marketing needs.
Find out whether the ESP offers a variety of complementary services, such as a marketing strategy and creative consulting services.
Try out the email providers using a free trial first.
Don’t sign contracts longer than a month, in case it is the wrong one.
What Is The CAN-SPAM ACT?
The CAN-SPAM Act is the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act. The CAN-SPAM Act went into effect January 1, 2004, and it intended to make most spam illegal and ultimately less attractive to spammers. The law is specific about requirements to send commercial email and empowers the federal government to enforce the law. The penalties can include a substantive fine and/or imprisonment for up to 5 years. The law also includes a private right of action clause for internet service providers (but not for individuals) to sue a sender regarding the receipt of prohibited messages.
The CAN-SPAM Act applies to any person or business entity that initiates or sends a commercial e-mail message to a business or individual consumer (regardless of whether the message is unsolicited). Most ESP’s terms and conditions require that your email target list be permission-based, which means that you already comply with the unsolicited email requirements stated in the law. This means that your target email recipient has Opted-In to receiving emails from you. This is the most over looked component seen by baseball email marketing. You have to ask yourself, “did this person give me permission to email them?” To ensure that your emails are compliant:
A commercial e-mail message is defined as any e-mail that has a “primary purpose of . . . commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service (including content on an Internet website operated for a commercial purpose).
Complying with the CAN-SPAM Act is crucial, as the failure to do so may lead to regulatory scrutiny, steep fines of up to $16,000 per violation, and significant public relations and reputational consequences.
How to effectively use an ESP
Once you’ve chosen an ESP you need to make sure that it performs certain functions.
Enough cannot be said about content marketing in an email. You have to create email content that provides a benefit to, and promotes action by, the recipient. Give the recipient important information, deals, and incentives that create a follow through action, such as going to your website or on-line store. Indeed, the email content needs to promote and incentivize a follow through action by the recipient to take immediate action.
In creating an effective email don’t be afraid to use pictures to enhance its appearance. But, remember that pictures do not always convert (appear) when the email is initially opened. Avoid using color backgrounds in the section containing the text as this can make it difficult to read the content.
Additionally, every email should be personalized to the recipient. ESPs also allow you to personalize the email so that it recipient’s name appears anywhere you want in the email. This function should always be used so the recipient feels like you are speaking directly to them. For example:
“Paul”, will be more receptive to the email as it is addressed to him personally. As apposed to simply sending a generic:
Finally, spend some time drafting the content of the marketing email. Make sure you use grammar check, and spell check, in creating the draft. Many individuals in the baseball world, although educated, are not know for their communicative and writing skills, so it may be advisable to have assistance from someone who can write compelling copy. You are the message that you send – so take time in creating that message.