So, are you a Level 5 Pokémon trainer yet? Got a Pikachu or Ninetales in your Pokédex yet? Is that a Mankey floating around the breakroom right now! Gotta catch ’em all!
Sound like a new language? Maybe, if you aren’t among the 60 million people who installed the mobile game sensation of the summer (75-million+ downloads total).
Pokémon GO turns your phone into an augmented-reality Pokémon playground, which has rekindled excitement for the game so many gamers grew up with. Pokémon GO turned all those Pokémon fans from passive viewers to active participants and got them out of their bedrooms and basements into the fresh air for healthy walks and socializing with other Poké-players.
Email marketers could learn a few tricks from Pokémon GO – and vice versa, judging from our own experience with the game so far. Here’s our list so far, and we welcome you to add to it (see the comments section at end):
What successful email marketers can teach Pokémon GO
The big lesson: Use the email address the game (and its developers, Niantic Labs and The Pokémon Company) requires to play to boost engagement, enjoyment and trust. Here are five suggestions:
1.) Help players keep tabs on their progress
Pokémon is all about leveling up in the game and evolving characters. Regular emails help casual players stay engaged in the game as do suggestions for advancing.
2.) Incorporate geolocation to suggest places players can visit
Pokémon uses GPS and virtual street maps with actual locations. Because players have to allow the game to access their locations, Pokémon should use that data to suggest nearby places to visit. Speaking of which …
3.) Send safety, etiquette and security reminders
It’s all fun and games until a horde of players trample your lawn chasing the wily Meowth. The game has several in-app reminders, but email can remind users not to behave like Team Rocket.
4.) Upsell in-app purchases
The game is free to play, but players can spend real money to buy tokens (Pokécoins) that convert into virtual merchandise like extra Pokéballs and lucky eggs.
5.) Promote (and explain) game updates
Although the game is barely a month old, Niantic has already rolled out one big update that enraged many game users because it disabled some popular hacks and features. A well-timed email could have explained the update in more depth than a simple in-app sentence.
What Pokémon GO can teach email marketers
Conversely, marketers can take a page or two from the Poke-phenomenon:
1.) Go deep on product information
The game provides detailed data on each Pocket Monster (that’s where “Pokémon” comes from), which players study, memorize and use to advance in the game. Devote an email to detailed information on a high-ticket/high-consideration item to move customers closer to buying.
2.) Help customers set preferences
Each Pokémon player can create and customize an avatar with just a few taps and swipes. Promoting and simplifying email preference centers can encourage more customers to use them and create more valuable email experiences.
3.) Match messages to the customer journey
Your customer’s relationship with your brand and the Pokémon game are both journeys. The game uses location and user behavior to help players take their next steps. In email, track behavior and trigger messages at key points to keep customers on the path.
4.) Build trust with a welcome message
Pokémon/Niantic sends a detailed welcome message that confirms Trainer Club membership, tells newbies what to do next and gives parents directions for permitting access to a child’s account. Your welcome message also should say more than “You’re subscribed.” Add content that spurs new customers to go back to your website and buy something, set preferences or take other positive actions.
5.) Connect other channels to email
This is actually a memo to both Pokémon and marketers. Go where your customers are talking about you. Several Pokémon GO fan pages on Facebook have more than 1 million likes; a closed group has 123,000+ members. On the official page? Crickets. For email marketers, cross-pollinate on social media for greater reach and list acquisition. Share email content in social posts, and guide email subscribers to your social pages.
Next step: Get the game (available for iOS and Android), and play with it. (It’s research for work, boss!) See how the game could inspire you to level up your email game.