March Madness: CBSSportsline.com Understands Email Marketing (for the Most Part)

Since moving from Rochester, N.Y., to Durham, N.C., almost three years ago, I’ve gained a new appreciation for the month of March. March Madness in the Triangle (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill) is just that—absolute madness. From the Duke-Carolina rivalry, to the ACC Tournament to the Big Dance, this is truly basketball country.

When the email to join “Bronto’s Online NCAA March Madness Bracket Group” landed in my inbox, I immediately went to CBSSportsline.com to register. CBS Sports made me work a bit to actually register as a new user (not good). Fortunately, as one who spends their day advising clients on best practices, I knew where to look.

Once I clicked on the super-small link “Register Now,” I was redirected to the registration page. I absolutely love this landing page.

1. An appropriate number of fields. Too many scares subscribers away, too few and you get a large list of uninterested subscribers.

2. Tips. Mousing over the lightbulbs provides clear instructions on how to fill out that particular field and/or a brief snippet of why they are asking for it.

3. Opt-in. Yes! Someone did it the “right” way. I say “right” because there is not really a right or wrong way, just a bad/good/better. What I love about this opt-in is that none of the boxes are pre-checked (a true opt-in), there is a brief description of what to expect (content, frequency), and a preview of an example. Brilliant!

That said, this is what happened when I clicked on “Preview an example” for the Product Updates. After hitting refresh three times, it eventually brought me to the intended preview page. I know what you are thinking…temporary hiccup with the connection. I thought the same thing, so I tried it the next day. Same result. (not good).

4. Optional Special Offers. Partner/third party/co-registration emails are always tricky. Personally, I think they have no business in the world of “best practice email marketing,” but I understand why they are used. If you are going to offer them, let subscribers opt-in and keep them separate. Well done.

Once I hit submit, a flurry of emails from CBS Sportsline began to fill my inbox (email #1, email #2). A bit of overkill if you ask me, but I forgive them. Anyway, that’s fodder for another post.

By the way, I’ve got UCLA winning it all in one bracket and Kansas in my other (neither are popular picks in my office).

—DJ Waldow of Bronto Software