Observations From A Spartan: Less Email, More Experience

From one marketer to another, let’s talk about email.

I observe lots of what other brands do and how they engage with their customers.  Doing so gives me ideas of what works and maybe what doesn’t.

I look at things from the perspective of a consumer first and a marketer second and try to connect the dots.  

So I want to chat about a specific company I’ve observed a lot lately, and one element of their marketing that could be improved.  Let’s talk about Spartan Races.

First off, I love the Spartan Races.  This is not a criticism.  This is an observation.  I’ve now done two in the last four months and I’m shooting for the Trifecta.  These races are great motivators to get in or stay in shape.  

The company has built a maniacal following of core supporters and surrounded them with a huge “halo” of people who aspire to get involved or venture in and out of the brand over time.  



Spartan Races has built an amazing brand in the last ten years, especially by tapping into the social nature of racing. The experiences are what drives the loyalty, but email appears to be its most important channel for growth — though the company might be overdoing it.

I participated in a “Sprint” race this past weekend and a “Beast” race three months ago.  In the last 30 days I have received no fewer than 34 emails from the Spartan Race folks.  While some were related to my race and others follow-ups from my previous race, most were selling merchandise or pre-pays for future races.  

A quick perusal of the emails shows me I received offers of 30% off, 40% off, and even 50% off.  It’s almost as if some optimization engine got confused and decided to send me every permutation of offers over a 30-day period to see which would work best.

I started drowning out the messaging completely, which most marketers will tell you is the death knell for email marketing.  As soon as you become noise in the eyes of the customer, you’re lost. You’re quickly sliding down toward an unsubscribe and a lost opportunity.  

You can easily wear out an email list of from over-sending.   Your customers want to know what’s going on, but they don’t want to be battered into submission.   You need to find the right balance of informing, selling and respecting your customers’ time.  Your customers want to be engaged with your brand, and they especially want to be engaged when they feel you’re adding value.  

Marketers vary on how often you should be reaching out. Some will say 1x per week, while others will say it should be tied to behavior in order to get more opportunities in your customer’s inbox.  

Communication from a brand should not feel different from communication with a friend or family member.  You wouldn’t want someone calling you or emailing you every day with nothing new to say, but if they reach out with information that’s truly valuable or interesting to you, then it’s OK.  You also wouldn’t want someone calling you every day looking for money — that just gets intrusive and annoying.

As you develop your email marketing strategy, think through the frequency and recency of messaging.  Determine if you’re adding value or simply blitzing your audience with the same message over and over.  You might end up sending less email — but finding the engagement higher and more valuable than if you over-send.

Now back to burpees!

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