A Pizza World Cup Action

Pizza Express has kicked off the World Cup emailing fest by inviting me to miss the soccer – sorry, football – barrage. My only recent experience with the game of football is participating in the office sweepstakes and randomly selecting a team that’s not an odd-on favourite to win, so I was pleased to see a company targeting football lovers and haters at the same time. (See image below)


The email’s 2-for-1 deal on main courses is valid for pizza lovers who want to enjoy a slice of the first ever World Cup on African soil in their own home, as well as those like me, who would prefer to embrace their “football widow” status, grab some friends and go out to a Pizza Express restaurant while our partners watch the games.

The email succeeds by telling me that evening matches kick-off at 7:30pm so I should either be on my sofa with a takeaway pizza or get on the phone to book a table to escape the football. The email creative makes a good case for eating pizza, but it might have been even stronger by telling me what channel the games are on. As all games are being broadcast during UK prime time on the main BBC or ITV channels dependent on the match, I’d like to know whether my TV viewing will be enhanced or diminished by the games.

The email also includes basic social media sharing elements and invites people to ‘retweet’ the offer on Twitter or ‘share’ it with their friends on Facebook. However, the design incorporates divided boxes at the bottom, making it somewhat hard to understand at a glance where to click to access the ‘retweet’, ‘share’ and ’email a friend’ options.

The World Cup is a great opportunity to promote your social media presence and this lack of clarity on sharing the offer is a detractor for this campaign. Also, referencing football specific, game-related content on brands’ social media sites would really help to give such specific offers greater context. For example, perhaps Pizza Express could reference a survey they have on their Facebook page asking subscribers if they plan to watch all the games or avoid most of them; start a fan discussion about how England played against the US in their first World Cup game (not very well, I’m told by my football fanatic partner) or just feature useful updates about upcoming games, player injuries or scores. This would have made the email creative stand out from the norm of the standard social media button inclusion we’re starting to see many marketers deploy in their campaigns.

One of the big omissions in this voucher offer is information about which teams are playing – leaving me wondering what match the email was talking about. Football fans will probably know what games are showing on what evenings, but others may not, and this offer was clearly aimed at both. With 64 games being played over the course of the tournament, and with three matches being played most days, it would have been a good idea to specify which match the offer was targeted to. For example, I might be more likely to stay at home and order takeaway pizza for a game in which Uruguay – my sweepstakes selection – is playing, just for the novelty factor. Messages need to be clear and relevant when targeting an event as specific and all-encompassing as the World Cup.

International tournaments like the World Cup are a great chance to launch a month-long series of emails that concentrate on the event and connect with subscribers who are either actively involved or passively avoiding the matches. The right message really depends on your brand and your subscribers, but it’s a safe bet to assume that if your brand caters to mostly women, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to suggest great ways they can spend their time out of the house and away from the games – like shopping!

Having said that, although the World Cup allows you to target football fans and non-football fans alike, there is certainly going to be World Cup overkill across all marketing channels, and some people will not want to hear anything about the football at all. Additionally, brands should not assume that subscribers won’t notice an influx of extra email. If you plan to send World Cup email campaigns in addition to your regular email stream, provide subscribers with the option to opt-out of them. Better yet, promote the campaign and entice subscribers to actively elect to sign-up, rather than sending the messages to everyone on your file. While these campaigns can certainly drive additional revenue and engagement if done right, they can also lead to overall fatigue with the email program and increased unsubscribes or complaints. Pizza Express could’ve done better by including a specific opt-out from World Cup related emails, as well as the general opt-out.

Moreover, it’s a good idea to segment the data used for the campaign. Of course, more men than women are likely to be interested in football-related messages, but more importantly UK brands must be very wary of sending any messages that might be interpreted as pro-England to customers in Scotland or Wales. I understand they won’t appreciate it.

When planning your email campaign, it’s important to consider England’s involvement in the competition. The World Cup evokes strong passion and confidence across the country, so tapping into that is great. By all means plan your email creatives for England doing well, but be equally prepared for the team going out in the first round.

Timing is pretty crucial too. Strangely, the Pizza Express offer began four days before the World Cup started and expired the day after England’s opening match. The email was sent to me the day after the offer began, costing Pizza Express one day of subscribers’ potential business. With a limited time offer, in this case lasting only one week, sending the email the day the offer begins is crucial.

Arguably, the main downfall of the Pizza Express email is that it forces me to fill in my contact details in order to get the voucher, even though they already have my personal information as I was asked to provide it to become an email subscriber. This creates an extra step for the subscriber and raises the hurdle to act on the offer. When subscribers click on the voucher link, it is standard best practice to be taken to a landing page with the voucher bar code that they can print out. If Pizza Express insists upon collecting my details again, they might have considered customising the voucher to include my name and local restaurant locations based on the postcode I provided. They could also have included a brief explanation on the landing page as to why they were collecting this information.

In summary, the first World Cup marketing email that got delivered to my inbox was good, but just came without all the toppings I’d like.

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