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Newsjacking for Email Marketers

David Meerman Scott, author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR, coined the term “newsjacking.” He defines it as “the process by which you inject your ideas or angles into breaking news, in real-time, in order to generate media coverage for yourself or your business.”

For email marketers, newsjacking is really about tying in your email campaigns to current events. When you do so, you’re relating to your subscribers by connecting with what’s top of mind for them at any given time.

Following are a few examples – and a few caveats – about using newsjacking for email campaigns. What’s interesting about the examples below is that while they all target a female audience, not all of the events they tie into are strictly for women. In fact, March Madness skews toward a male audience.

One of my recent favorites, from Benefit cosmetics, tied in to the presidential inauguration. The subject line (perfect for this company with its cheeky tone of voice) was “Hail to the Cheek!” and the headline paid it off with “Take the Oath of Beauty to the Office!” The beauty of this campaign (pun intended) is that it stays clear of any political affiliations but perfectly ties in the event with its product offerings.

Email Newsjacking Example

Presidential elections are also a great time to capitalize on American pride. Companies with products made in America can use the opportunity to promote that fact in their emails and other marketing materials.

If you’re a high-end fashion retailer in New York, it’s a no-brainer to tie in your email marketing with New York Fashion Week. That’s just what Barneys New York did, with this campaign featuring The Window, its “insider fashion access” blog.

Email Newsjacking Example

It pays to keep up with pop culture and trends, as evidenced by the Sephora email below. Every year, Pantone announces the color of the year. For 2013, its emerald, and Sephora designed a colorfully provocative email to promote its own emerald palette of products. Companies selling home décor items should follow Sephora’s lead.

Email Newsjacking Example

At this time of year, the phrase “March Madness” is often overused. However, Woman Within puts a slightly different spin on it with its Markdown Madness sale. With prices 50% off or more, the promotion lives up to its name.

Here’s the caveat: Beware of copyright infringement when using the name of an event. March Madness®, for instance is a trademark of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). While you might slip under the radar unless you’re promoting a sporting event or selling products related to college basketball, it’s better to play it safe and check with legal counsel before proceeding. A good place to start is with this government site. And if your creative team comes up with an exceptionally good name for your own business, you might want to consider protecting it with a trademark.

Email Newsjacking Example

La Roche-Posay offered free shipping on International Women’s Day, an event that’s perfect for its mostly-female audience. The banner at the bottom of the email shared a simple yet effective sentiment: Celebrating with you the achievements of women past, present and future.

Email Newsjacking Example

The key takeaway for newsjacking email campaigns

These emails go beyond just slapping a few keywords into a subject line or headline and calling it a day. After all, anyone can offer a Red, White and Blue sale. But taking the extra effort to truly tie in a newsworthy event to your brand and your products will make your emails stand out from all the other candidates in the inbox.

About the Author: Scott Hardigree is the Founder of Indiemark and Editor of Email Critic. Connect with him everywhere here.

Scott Hardigree
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