A major university’s impressive email marketing playbook


The University of Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletics Department, home of the Golden Gophers, has a seriously impressive email marketing playbook.

No one knows that better than Ayodele Taylor-Dixon, Senior Associate Athletic Director. “When I first got here,” he said, “We weren’t getting the data we needed to be smart about our email strategy. Emma is one way of obtaining that data.”

Using Emma’s robust analytics, their team has been able to use data to inform every choice they make about their email campaigns – and they’re getting championship-level results because of it!


Playing up with elite email design

Let’s face it: Marketers in the university space have a reputation for… well, not always producing the best-designed emails.

But by using data to inform their design choices, the Gopher Athletics Department has been able to find exactly the right mix for their audience. For instance, their weekly #FleckFriday newsletter (named for head football coach P.J. Fleck) regularly scores incredible results, averaging a 45% open rate and 25% click rate!

Their secret? Mobile optimization, focused campaigns, and a ton of video content, which has proved itself to be an especially appealing medium for their fans. Here’s an example of what their #FleckFriday newsletters look like:


Sure, it’s long and contains a ton of information – but it’s easily scannable and draws your attention to one central piece of content.


Other smart strategies in their playbook

  1. Thanking their most loyal fans

What better way to show your appreciation for your fans’ loyalty than sending a straightforward, simple “thank you?” Showing a little gratitude helps sustain engagement – especially when the probability of selling to an existing customer (like a season ticket holder) is 60-70% (Marketing Metrics).

And with this straightforward, focused CTA? The path of action couldn’t be clearer.


2. Asking for audience feedback

If you want to improve the fan experience, simply ASK your season ticket holders what they want. You’ll get the feedback you need, and your fans will feel heard and valued. This email provides an easy way for the biggest Gopher fans to sound off and share their feedback.



The Emma tools that get them there


Metric for iPhone

Ayodele uses Metric, our free app for iPhone and Android, to stay on top of how their emails are doing.

“It’s nice to not have to be at my desk to be able to check in on our email performance,” he said. “Metric enables you to be nimble with your marketing and see how you’re doing no matter where you are."


A/B Content Testing

He also mentioned his team members love the A/B Content Testing feature. They often use it to experiment with their Gopher Weekly newsletter, whether they’re testing out different design elements or CTA placement.

By testing their header image, for instance, they discovered that simply including a play button on the image increased click rates.



The University of Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletics continually proves that university emails truly can hold up to the biggest brands out there, and we couldn’t be more proud of the amazing work they’re doing!

To hear all the latest and greatest from the Golden Gophers, sign up for their email list.


About the Author

McKenzie Gregory is a senior content manager on Emma’s marketing team. A Nashville native, she can be found covering all things email on the Emma blog, debating hyphenation rules, and watching obscene amounts of Netflix without a trace of shame.

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