Team players

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Team players
Team players

For some Americans, the foot­ball season defines their social lives, as friends gather around TV sets to watch their favorite teams attempt to reach the Super Bowl.

For e-commerce retailer Second Act, which almost exclusively sells high-definition large screen televi­sions, the football season defines its business calendar as one of the busiest times of the year. Many of its prospective customers are avid sports fans looking to upgrade to the picture quality of an HDTV.

Second Act specializes in closeout, overstock, open box and factory refur­bished merchandise coupled with factory warranties on all products. This past fall, the company wanted to increase its Web site visits from exist­ing customers as well as acquire new customers and e-mail addresses.

E-mail helped build community

However, instead of launching a sales-driven e-mail campaign, Sec­ond Act worked with e-mail service provider Silverpop to develop a brand-building program focused on fantasy football, using a “pick ‘em” format, in which players choose which teams they think will win each week throughout the season.

“We have very loyal customers, but people don't often buy multiple big screen TVs, so we wanted to give them a reason to come to our site and interact with the brand even if they weren't in the market to buy a TV,” says Mark Redetzke, COO of Second Act. “Football is important to many of our customers and we wanted to give them a fun experience.”

Second Act invited customers on its master e-mail list to join the fantasy league. Participants who opted in were sent an e-mail with a link to a landing page that listed the week's games and let players select the teams they thought would win. The person who selected the most winning picks at the end of the season received a television. Those who participated were also directed to Second Act's blog on the fantasy football season.

The campaign proved fruitful. During the 17-week promotion, 1,000 customers participated in the game. Every week, the company added about 100 new players. Of the e-mails that were opened, 65% clicked through back to the Second Act Web site from the e-mail. Every blog post received about eight to 10 responses from engaged customers, adding up to about 150 total posts.

“We are proving that even though you are using e-mail, you don't have to hit people over the head with a ‘salesy' kind of pitch,” says Elaine O'Gorman, Silverpop's VP of strat­egy. “This is a wonderful message for e-mail marketers who sometimes only use e-mail to really push sales. I think that Second Act's customers saw this as a service, rather than just a marketing message.”

The promotion also helped Second Act build its in-house e-mail list. The company's existing list of 5,000 was collected through a sign-up form on its site and at the point of purchase.

“E-mail is our main form of com­municating with our customer base and is a way to generate incremental sales without having to spend money on the acquisition of new customers,” Redetzke says. The firm attributes 2,000 additional e-mail addresses to the fantasy football campaign.

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