E-Mail Focus: The Art of Creative Writing 101

A little showmanship can do wonders

Marketers often view e-mail as a one-size-fits-all proposition, regardless of the product or service being touted.  But not in the entertainment world. In fact, music, film, and TV execs are far more eager to experiment with e-mail than their more staid counterparts in other industries. From initiatives to promote CDs to cable subscriptions, marketing pros are harnessing e-mail in innovative ways.

Build anticipation. Unlike the typical 'one and done' e-mail campaigns, Special Ops Media crafted a six-phase sequential effort to spur industry editors to start talking up the Norah Jones CD, Not Too Late, prior to its release.

E-mails included links to different weekly content, including video podcasts, audio streams, and cover art. "With an online publicity outreach, you're nervous about sending information too frequently," says Jason Klein, president and co-founder of Special Ops. "Rather than hitting someone over the head all at once, we wanted to build anticipation, so we started rolling out in mid-November and continued through to the street date."

The result: More than 85 different features or exposures were recorded. Even better: The album debuted at No. 1, selling over 400,000 copies its first week.

Keep them reading. Production house The Entity employed an e-mail-based "tell your friends" viral campaign to spread the word about indie film The Boys' and Girls' Guide to Getting Down.

Starting with a list of under 10,000 names, the Entity offered incentives to those willing to help grow the list. People registering at earned points for every 25 friends they persuaded to sign up.

The 'from' line of the e-mail automatically populated with the sender's name, and video clips from the film could be attached. Participants got e-mails to remind them when they were close to a point level (and a prize), letting the filmmaker keep its brand in contact with its customer base without overselling.

Get flashy. Suppose you're watching a movie and, just at the good part, your dog crosses his legs and whines at the door. What do you do? If you subscribed to Showtime's on demand service, you wouldn't miss a thing. You'd be able to pause the film, or even rewind, giving your pooch time to do his deed.

 That was Showtime's message in its "Duke the Dog" e-mail campaign, distributed to multiple systems operators, who in turn distributed it to their customer base.

Created with IQ Interactive's Flash-based Showmail, the "Click to take Duke out before it's too late" e-mail promoted sign-ups by hyping the ease of on-demand. Unlike typical e-mails that use a text line as a hotlink, recipients of the Showtime e-mail clicked on an animated fire hydrant to go to the landing page.

The graphic elements drove click-through rates to four times higher than anything Showtime had done in the past.

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