10 Back-of-the-Net Ideas to Score Big on Digital this World Cup Season

Justin Tyrrell, our Head of Key Accounts – and dotMailer’s de facto Football Guru – has pulled off a few nutmegs in his time. However, today he’s kicking off with some top ideas for how marketers can take advantage of the impending International tournament season. 

Football (next to American ‘Football’) is one of the world’s most valuable marketing channels. FIFA’s World Cup is literally the single biggest marketing free-for-all known to mankind. 3.2 billion people watched the last 2010 World Cup – that’s nearly half the entire planet’s population if you haven’t been keeping score. In the UK alone, it’s estimated that around £2.5 billion with be spent directly attributable to World Cup-related activities and promotions.

So how can you avoid sitting on the bench and grab a piece of the action with your digital and email marketing campaigns? Here are our top ten tactics to get you on the winning team, this season. (yes, I will be shoehorning in as many football-related puns as possible)

1 – Get Your Kit On

First and foremost, your marketing materials need to look the part. It’s a given that visual imagery contextualises your message. Create a kit for your messaging which may include country flag-themed banners, colour schemes and imagery.

The site ‘Colours Of Football’, has the strips for every team competing in this year’s tournament – this is a great resource to figure out colour hex codes and pallets to tailor your schemes. Be sure not to use trademarked logos or brand names – more on the ramifications of this later in this blog.


Usual design considerations still apply: ensure you’ve a solid, relevant hero image above the fold, ensure your header copy reflects the content in your email body, and make sure you’re using a mobile responsive theme.

2 – It’s a Game of Several Halves

Depending upon your business, you can tie in a promotion related to a winning team. A great example of this is what International Pizza brand, Papa John’s, do in America – if your local sports teams do well (baseball, NFL, basketball, etc), the brand automatically sends you a discount code via email. Of course, this has its risks, i.e. if you’re a New York Giants fan, and the New York Jets win – but hey, cheap pizza.

Click to Enlarge Papa Johns US Promotional Email

Click to Enlarge
Papa Johns US Promotional Email

There are 64 games in total that are played in the World Cup. Depending on your theme, you could potentially run 64 different promotional email campaigns, each with a tailored discount voucher code.

This would involve setting up an automated email marketing program – a set of email campaigns that fire, depending on scheduled date, user behaviour or an external event. Check out our blogs on program automation and how to reengage your customers for an idea of how these work.

3 – Be a Team Player

Continuing with the automated campaign theme, you might want to run a much longer promotion where you invite your customers to enrol in a competition, and pick their favourite team – rewarding a win with a promotional offer. This isn’t too far off an incentivised Fantasy Football league – just without the heavy lifting involved.

This would be a great touch-point for brands to enrich or refresh the information they have on their customers through a webform. Check out our last blog for ideas on how to deploy them.

4 – Mark your Man, Score a Surprise Goal

In the age of the short attention spans, you can curl in a few last minute conversions with short, intense discount periods. The majority of the games this year will be played around 9PM GMT / 5PM ET. This provides most of the western hemisphere with great flash sales opportunities for party supplies: barbecue equipment, selected food and refreshment – use your email marketing and social tools to push that messaging out. Make use of your scheduling tools to reach your audience at the right time.

If your brand has a bricks-and-mortar presence as well as a contemporary eCommerce platform, such as Magento, harness the insight gained from your single-customer view to fuel footfall. If you already know your customers’ average order values and product buying habits, segment the ‘big-shop’ family customers from the millennials – offer in-store discounts on relevant products that they’re most likely to buy, through tailored mobile-device coupons. A recent study by Business Insider has seen the use of mobile coupons in the US surge in recent years, and expects the number of smartphone users to redeem to hit 47.1 million.

5 – Stay on your Feet

It’s a very different game to what it was four years ago. In 2010, Nokia was still the Man of the Match, with nearly 50% of the international market share with its Symbian smartphones. Twitter had only just launched its mobile app on iOS and only a handful of brands had native-designed eCommerce apps. In the UK mobile transactions accounted for a relatively small £660 million, compared to £91 billion today.

You get the picture – to stay on the ball, your campaign needs to be mobile. We’ve got quite a few blogs on how to optimise your digital marketing campaigns for mobile devices, but during the World Cup you may want to make a few additional considerations, such as ensuring your landing pages and checkout sites can cope with load issues at peak time. Touch and swipe-friendly interfaces are a must.

6 – Time your Shots

Given that online traffic to retail sites drop to almost nothing during the actual games, you’ll want to avoid running World Cup-related promotions – either via email sends or real-time social – at those times, especially during the quarter-finals and beyond.

You’ll hear a lot about many brands employing a ‘second-screen’ experience to shop their wares, but this could be a dummy shot for your brand. If your buying/marketing experience involves taking the user’s attention away from the game for anything longer than a few seconds, you’re unlikely to convert. This is especially true for email marketing – not to sound like I’m talking ourselves into an own goal, but you need to pay special attention to when you’re sending and when your audience is most likely to be engaging with their devices.

Stay on top of your site and eCommerce analytics in the run up to your campaign launch – know your audience.

7 – Throw a Surprise Back Heel

One of our creative partners, Moveable Ink, offers an amazing product as part of their agileEMAIL platform – live web content, inserted dynamically into email. What this means, is that a marketer is able to insert an image that can update and reload, every time that the email is opened.

Applying this to your World Cup-themed campaign, you could insert a block of real-time updated match scores, a countdown clock to a specific match or a photo of the latest dramatic send-off – all within the same message.  If you’d like to find out more, get in touch!

8 – Keep Your Head in the Game

Remember England’s loss to Germany in the 2010 World Cup? Painful I know, for most of our readers. However, UK eyewear chain Specsavers, launched a print campaign that was timely, relevant and a great reaction to the game result. This was in the days when Twitter was nowhere as big as it is now, and of course ‘pre-Oreos moment’.

"Ref wuz blind!" Specsavers’ 2010 Print ad, pre-Oreos

“Ref wuz blind!”
Specsavers’ 2010 Print ad, pre-Oreos

9 – Avoid the Penalty Box

You’ll hear this one a lot – don’t get stung by FIFA’s brand guidelines. After many UK businesses were hit by the Olympic Commission’s tough copyright enforcement rulings, don’t let the same thing happen to you. Anything from logo use to your marketing copy could be fair game for legal action. Cloudigy Law, a cloud-based Tech law firm recently wrote a great blog on World Cup trademark infringement, which is definitely worth a read.

10 – Don’t Make Assumptions about your Audience

Don’t assume all the women in your marketing list have no emotional connection to football. There are a lot of us guys out there too, who really just don’t care for the sport. Coming from the other angle, you shouldn’t naturally assume that all the women on your marketing list don’t like football.

If you don’t have enough data to make an informed decision as to what content to send your customers and potentials, just ask them. Data collection can take many effective forms. We recently published two blogs on webforms – one on design, and one on deciding what to ask. However, you could also use ‘behaviour events’ to trigger an email program. Find out more in the video below:

Marketing Automation from dotMailer on Vimeo.

If this blog has given you some great ideas to score big, but you don’t have anyone on the bench or the extra time, team up with the skilled professionals in the dotMailer Managed Services team to add an extra striker to your squad.  Give us a call today to organise your pre-game debrief: info@dotmailer.com | (UK) 0845 337 9170 | (US) 1-212-971-9408

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