Poke MAIL? How Good Ol' Email Marketing Can Make Pokemon Go Further

The Summer of 2016 is the Summer of Pokémon Go. And if you haven’t played it, you’ve certainly have seen someone else playing it—hunched back, fixated on a mobile device, oblivious to the world around them. Like more than 25 million of their peers, they are using the augmented reality app Pokémon Go to find Pokémon and “collect ‘em all.” (And it’s not just kids—recent SurveyMonkey research found that 63% of users in the U.S. are female, and the average persona is a 25-year-old, white woman with a college degree making $90,000/year.)

(If you have chosen to live a Thoreau-esque life of simplicity, here’s Wikipedia’s one-sentence overview: “In the game, players use a mobile device's GPS capability to locate, capture, battle, and train virtual creatures, called Pokémon, who appear on the screen as if they were in the same real-world location as the player.”)

While some say the game’s popularity is waning, it’s still huge—in a month, Pokémon Go became the biggest mobile application in the U.S., surpassing Candy Crush Saga and Twitter, spending more time chasing Pokémon then perusing Facebook.

Before Pokémon Go Is “Pokémon Gone” … Enter Marketers

Brands desperately want in on the action, to somehow get in on the phenomenon. Yet the game offers no “official” in-app advertising.

That hasn’t stopped marketers, many of whom have found creative solutions to reach Pokémon hunters: ridesharing service Fasten offered $5 trips to Pokémon hotspots; Stonyfield Yogurt devised a strategy to serve Pokémon related ads into other apps typically used in conjunction with the virtual reality game, like weather or messaging. Within minutes of visiting a PokéStop, when users check the weather or messages, they see “Time to catch a Stonyfield,” with a link to the brand’s store locator.

Bars, museums, and even churches are getting into the game, promoting their locations as PokéStops. Real estate agents are even using it to attract homebuyers.

It’s Inevitable: PokéAds

Developers will soon launch sponsored locations (this has already happened in Japan with McDonald’s), allowing brands to pay for placement of Pokémon to attract players. This is likely the first of many opportunities for brands to connect themselves to Pokémon Go, particularly as they search for both their favorite eatery and their nearest PokéStop.

Most will use their own branded apps, or Twitter and Facebook. Many will overlook a huge asset: databases of opted-in e-mail recipients. Good old email has been the marketers’ friend for years, and with new solutions that offer dynamic, rich media capabilities, it is the ideal means to engage with your customers playing the game — right as they are doing so.

The days of static, text-based “spray and pray” marketing emails are numbered. Dynamic content within email isn’t a “nice-to-have,’ It’s expected, and in short, a great way to “collect ‘em all” with messages that are as exciting and dynamic as your app:

  1. A countdown timer: counting until the Pokémon arrives, building excitement and buzz.
  2. A scrolling banner: displaying the Pokémon that will be available at each site, based on the user’s location.
  3. A map: showing users how to find your brand’s nearest outlet which dynamically adjusts based on their location.
  4. Weather: so users will know how to be prepared on launch day. Do they need an umbrella?
  5. Tools to easily share information with a friend: giving users a chance to earn more Pokémon just for sharing the news with a friend of a fellow player.
  6. Social media + e-mail = incredible relevance:  Utilize Facebook and Twitter, with the messages, content and even look-and-feel (as possible) alongside these email campaigns. This reaches a further goldmine of opted-in consumers.
  7. Location-based check-ins provide greater detail for relevant emails. When a customer checks in at a PokéStop, it provides you with valuable information — their location. Use that check-in to allow them to opt in for special email offers, such as discounts at local retailers, etc.

Does Pokémania have staying power, or will it be “so 2016” next year? Well, it’s not going away any time soon. And brands are in a perfect position to leverage their existing opt-in email subscriber list (and add to it) to capitalize on the opportunity — even more so as developers officially welcome advertisers into the fold.

Your database is filled with consumers who have already raised their hands and said, “market to me!” with relevant location information.  And, with the number of Pokémon players closing in on some of the industry’s most downloaded apps — not games, but apps like Google Maps — it’s likely that a very large percentage of subscribers are already playing the game, making “PokéMAIL” — particularly dynamic mail with contextual, rich elements and localized capabilities—a big win for digital marketers.

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