Merchandise Marketing Mayhem

Email marketing is critical when it comes to driving e-commerce, and in sports, that’s even more abundantly clear when observing how merchandise marketing for the five main North American league offices is managed. The volume of email I’ve received in the past had always seemed excessive, so I decided to track exactly how many emails I receive from each league store since the start of April. This includes communications from:

  • MLBShop.com
  • MLSStore.com
  • NBAStore.com
    • Note: I signed up for this list on April 7th once I realized I wasn’t already in their database
  • NFLShop.com
  • Shop.NHL.com

Some of these leagues know a bit about me from a couple of past purchases and some have location and preference data around my favorite team and/or players, which allows them to personalize the content of communications and in theory, send me emails at the right time in order to increase the chances of driving more purchases.

However, what I have found with minimal exception is that each online store is essentially an email factory, sending as many emails over the course of month as absolutely possible.

Without identifying which league is which, here is my tracking sheet of how many emails I received per league shop per day from April 7 to April 30:

DATE League 1 League 2 League 3 League 4 League 5
Friday, April 07 1 1 1 1 1
Saturday, April 08 1
Sunday, April 09 1 1 1
Monday, April 10 1 2 1 1
Tuesday, April 11 1 1 1 1 1
Wednesday, April 12 1 1 1
Thursday, April 13 1 2
Friday, April 14 1 1 1 1
Saturday, April 15 1 1 1 1
Sunday, April 16 1
Monday, April 17 1 1 1 1
Tuesday, April 18 1 1
Wednesday, April 19 1 1 1
Thursday, April 20 1 1
Friday, April 21 1 1 1 1 1
Saturday, April 22
Sunday, April 23
Monday, April 24 1 1 1 1 1
Tuesday, April 25 1 1
Wednesday, April 26 1 1 1
Thursday, April 27 1 2 1
Friday, April 28 1 1 1 1 1
Saturday, April 29 1 1
Sunday, April 30 1 1 1
TOTAL 16 7 14 22 15

Now I hope you’ll agree, that’s a LOT of email! I have to imagine that one person receiving 22 emails (actually 25 if I go all the way back to April 1) from the same shop over the course of one month would drive even the most passionate fan to consider opting out.

Here are some other useful facts from this exercise:

  • Over the full month, there were only THREE days out of thirty where I didn’t receive a merchandise email from at least one league.
  • In this same time window, there were five days I received emails from all five leagues, and TEN days where I received email from at least four of the five.
  • There were three times during the month where a league sent me two different emails on the same date, and two of those three were by the same league.
  • The longest stretch of emails on consecutive days from the same league shop was 7 by two different leagues. Two other league shops had stretches of 5 consecutive days, while the fifth league shop never actually sent emails on back-to-back days.
  • The average number of emails per league per day over the month was (referencing the labels above):
    • League 4: 0.83
    • League 1: 0.63
    • League 5: 0.60
    • League 3: 0.54
    • League 2: 0.27
  • Almost like clockwork (pun intended), the overwhelming majority of emails were sent between 9 and 10AM local time. Here is a tweet I shared on from April 21st showing emails from all five league shops in a 40 minute window starting just after 9AM:

Finally, take a look at the logos on the top right of this post and you’ll notice that each league shop is run by the same company, Fanatics. That means all 86 league shop emails I received during the month of April were sent to the same email address by the same company.

Now of course I can only comment on my personal experience. Maybe there is some additional magic going on based on the fact that I do sometimes open these emails (I promise I don’t open all of them) and from my couple of past purchases (two orders from one league and one from another league in the past 12 months). Maybe other fans and consumer receive a much more moderate volume of email than me. However, I have to believe that what I’ve tracked this month would officially qualify as excessive and inefficient, especially in the age of big data and analytics. What do you think?

I plan to keep my tracking sheet going for the next month or two and see if anything changes. I’ll make sure to post another update with any new findings at that time.

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