Thoughts On Email Marketing | Performance Racing Industry
Thoughts On Email Marketing
By John Kilroy on September 17, 2015

If there is one racing industry topic we should all be discussing, and sharing our best strategies, it is email marketing. Back in the primitive days before the internet, PRI magazine editorial profiles of the best racing retailers always contained a few paragraphs on their practices of collecting postal addresses for prospects and customers. It was no coincidence that the best collectors of customer contact information were also the best retailers of racing products. Technology has progressed, and now the email address is the marketing gold once represented by postal addresses.

Last year, the PRI Trade Show moved to a new registration process where we asked for an individual email address for every registrant. We promised to keep the email address confidential only to PRI, and we have done that. This summer, largely due to the change in registration last year, the number of racing industry members receiving PRI email messages has grown by 50%. Previously, we would promote attendance for the Show to just the owners of racing industry organizations. Now, we are working to promote the value of the PRI Trade Show to essentially everyone in the racing industry who has influence in the purchase of racing parts. If marketing is pictured as a megaphone, then our megaphone just grew from handheld to one bolted to a truck. (I should also mention here that print advertising still does the 'heavy lifting' in attendance development for the PRI Show, beginning with PRI magazine and including 30 other racing publications).

Developing the email list on a regular basis is important, but two other key elements are timing and content. For email marketing to function at a maximum level, you must also focus on the open rate. Bombard people with emails with content that lacks urgency or interest, and you will be shutting off the valve to this valuable pipeline. The e-newsletter is an effective way to batch messages, while also serving to strengthen the connection with customers by proving to be a valued source of information. PRI publishes one e-newsletter per month until about six months before the PRI Trade Show, when we add another e-newsletter per month that is strictly about the Show. The open rate remains strongly above 20%—far above accepted standards—and we cherish that fact, and feel great responsibility with every e-newsletter to deserve the interest and attention of industry folks.

We certainly don't know everything about email marketing at PRI. It is a subject on our 'to do' list when we participate in educational events for professionals in the business of trade shows. We have regular conversations with our marketing cousins on the SEMA side. And it's a conversation we'll have with racing industry marketers, too, at various gatherings, including the PRI Trade Show.

PRI currently uses Constant Contact for its email service. It's a big help in managing the email list, such as allowing individuals to opt out of being contacted in the future. It's fairly easy to design an interesting e-newsletter using Constant Contact, and then get an instant measurement of how effective the e-newsletter was in communicating its message.

If effective email marketing strategies interest you as much as they do me, then I'd like to invite you to join me in attending a seminar on Friday morning at the PRI Trade Show about email marketing, presented by Erin Bemis, a represented of Constant Contact. The seminar begins at 8 a.m., and is offered by PRI at no charge.

It's an exciting, changing area of marketing right now, with some severe penalties if you don't get it right. For the most part, email marketing today seems to begin with the measure of respect with which you hold the recipients. Give them their due when it comes to respect, and you should do fine.

About the Author
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John Kilroy is the Publisher of Performance Racing Industry magazine.
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