Email Hot Cars: NASCAR Soups Up Its Personalization Engine

Stock-car racing took off in the 1940s when fans went to local tracks to see daredevil drivers compete in souped-up jalopies. Skeptics laughed. But stock-car racing has evolved into the top motor sport in the U.S. The tracks are bigger, the cars more sophisticated — and the emails sent to enthusiasts more personalized. 

That is largely thanks to NASCAR, the stock-car racing sanctioning body. 

NASCAR has been sending hundreds of millions of emails annually — for years. The majority are promotional, although triggered emails also yield high engagement.  

But NASCAR wanted to better personalize its email. So it left the big marketing cloud it was working with and turned to Sailthru. 

There were speedy improvements, as with the uptick in NASCAR’s birthday emails. NASCAR had long sent birthday messages featuring discount offers and a static image.  

Sailthru tested the static pictures against a “peel to reveal”  emails that turned the promotion into a tactile experience that resembled opening a gift, using Sailthru’s LiveClicker technology.  

The result? There was a 94% leap in conversions, a 308% jump in revenue, a 161% boost in site visits and 406% more orders YoY.  

In general, NASCAR has consistently pulled open rates of around 16%. But its automated post-purchase upsell journeys now get opens in the 40% range, with CTO’s above 20%. 

Sailthru provides a single lifetime view of each customer, allowing NASCAR to deliver personalized messages based on the person’s preferences. And, the company’s Lifecycle Optimizer helps NASCAR build automated journeys and triggered messaging.  

Overall, the pandemic did not affect the email program per se. But some races ran without live attendance. Then NASCAR started allowing the fans back, but with precautions, such as reduced capacity grandstands, mask requirements and temperature checks. 

As with large emailers, NASCAR faces challenges, such as adhering to data best practices and privacy standards and adjusting to changes in the major platforms. 

Then there’s the need to scale up. NASCAR added a number of tracks by acquiring International Speedway Corp, and now owns the entire experience at those tracks. It also works with tracks it does not own.  

All this has created complexities around personalization and attribution. And it requires good data segmentation and coordination.  

What’s next?

“We want to make sure we’re communicating with new fans differently than fans who have attended for several years in a row,” says Donald Baal, senior director of digital marketing at NASCAR. “Additionally, we want to get better at cross-promotions.  

For example, we ask ourselves: Should we be trying to sell someone who purchased a ticket in Daytona tickets to an event a few hours down the road in Miami?’  

NASCAR is also focused on “expanding automation and our Lifecycle Optimizer campaigns to keep fans engaged throughout the entire season,” Baal continues. “When someone plays NASCAR Fantasy, we can identify their nearest track and send them a related promotion.”

Baal add: “When someone purchases a ticket and scanner at the race track, we want to make sure they can have a similar experience the next weekend from their living room, so we offer them a discount on our second-screen experiences.”

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