NTRA Tries to Get Back on Track With E-Mail Marketing

To combat horse racing's waning attendance, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association is planning e-mail campaigns on behalf of several member tracks across the country next year.

The NTRA is moving forward with the program after seeing positive results from two test campaigns earlier this year. The campaigns were conducted for the Arlington International Race Course in Chicago on Labor Day weekend and the Del Mar in San Diego the following week.

The Arlington campaign, dubbed America's Day at the Races, consisted of a mailing to 100,000 consumers. Lists were compiled from companies including VentureDirect Worldwide, Gamesville.com and PostMasterDirect. The NTRA also provided a 3,500-person house list.

The goal of the campaign was to draw new fans to the track as well as to build the NTRA's database.

The e-mail messaging asked recipients to click through to complete a survey. The bait was a certificate with a barcode redeemable at the track for entry into a $5,000 sweepstakes. They also received a free $5 bet, parking, admission to the track and a free racing program.

The average click-through rate from the purchased lists was 5.6 percent. Of those who clicked through, nearly 32 percent completed the survey. Twenty-eight percent of the house list clicked through, and 82 percent completed the survey.

Of the recipients from both lists who completed the survey, 90 percent opted in for additional mailings. This boosted the NTRA database by 2,300 names.

“We increased the house files by good numbers of percentages. We're going to continue to work the house files,” said John Rizzi, CEO of E-Dialog Inc., Lexington, MA, the precision e-mail marketing services provider that created the campaign.

As far as meeting its goal of drawing people to the track, 570 showed up as a result of the campaign. Sixty percent of these people were new to the track and were not previously on the house list.

A similar campaign was run for the Del Mar. Of the 60,000 people to whom E-Dialog mailed using rented lists, 2.7 percent clicked through. Of this group, 54.7 percent completed a sign-up form and 86 percent opted in for additional messages. The NTRA gained an additional 768 names through the promotion, and 150 people went to the track.

“The real mystery was being that the profile of the race fan is an older individual, they may or may not have e-mail. Will we be able to target horseracing through this medium? Clearly the results have shown that you can,” Rizzi said.

As a result, NTRA, Lexington, KY, will be “continuing to roll out to more and more tracks” in the spring, according to Rizzi.

The NTRA is a broad-based coalition of thoroughbred interests, including racetracks, owners, breeders, organizations, trainers, jockeys, veterinarians and sales companies. Other E-Dialog clients include Staples.com, Motorola and Charles Schwab.

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