CNN/SI Gets 180,000 Subscribers to New NFL E-Newsletter

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Nearly two months into the NFL season, CNN/Sports Illustrated last week reported that nearly 180,000 online football fans have subscribed to receive its new e-mail newsletter, Pro Football Extra.


CNN/SI representatives said the company hopes the HTML newsletter, launched at the beginning of the football season, will help build the company's subscriber base.


E2 Communications, an application service provider of e-mail marketing solutions, developed and maintains the newsletter for CNN/SI, a joint venture based in Atlanta and New York.


Online football fans can register for the newsletter at CNN/SI's Web site, www.cnnsi.com. Pro Football Extra, delivered every Thursday to the user's inbox, contains football content written by Sports Illustrated's beat reporters.


CNN/SI is planning to launch an e-commerce promotion as part of the e-newsletter in the near future, said Andy Mitchell, director of marketing at cnnsi.com. The company is collecting small pieces of marketing data, such as a user's favorite football team, in order to offer users more targeted products.


CNN/SI does not, however, collect personal information for its marketing campaigns, Mitchell said.


The football-focused newsletter marks the second time the two companies have worked together on an e-mail campaign. In March, CNN/SI sent Golf Plus Extra each week to a reported 151,000 online golf fans.


CNN/SI representatives reported plans to launch a similar e-mail newsletter for basketball fans at the start of the NBA season, which begins Oct. 31. In April, the representatives said, the company plans to launch a baseball-focused e-mail newsletter as well.


It has not been determined yet whether CNN/SI will use e2's e-mail marketing services for its basketball and baseball e-mail newsletters, Mitchell said.


Mike Kiyosaki, senior vice president of sales and marketing at e2, Dallas, said Pro Football Extra contains hyperlinks that help drive users to the CNN/SI Web site, thereby increasing the company's click-through rates. Also, in a viral marketing scheme, e2 set up links that enable users to refer a friend to receive the e-mail newsletter.


The referral plan, however, holds no "tangible benefits" for users who refer the newsletter, Kiyosaki said.


"One of the questions we asked ourselves was, 'How do we grow the subscription base of this readership and drive them back to the Web site?' " Kiyosaki said. "The referral program allows [CNN/SI] to grow their database, and we provide the application for them."


One of the main goals of the campaign, Mitchell said, is to generate traffic to CNN/SI's Web site.


"The newsletter points to a number of different content pieces on the site," Mitchell said. "And we're seeing click-through rates from the newsletter that are significantly higher than we do on any of our other promotions, like banners or buttons on the Web site."


Pro Football Extra is scheduled to run through the end of the football season in February, at which time it will be delivered monthly, Kiyosaki said.
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