Case Study: E-mail pitch helps NFL go long in battle against breast cancer

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The national football League's support of breast cancer awareness month in October showed the organization is more than a bunch of sweaty guys pushing one another around on Sundays. The NFL dedicated Oct. 24 as its Breast Cancer Awareness Day, and an e-mail effort was a crucial element in the league's pledge to donate $5 to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation for every page view of a special breast cancer page on

Although the NFL traditionally has relied heavily on public service announcements for goodwill campaigns, it added e-mail to the breast cancer fund-raising effort. E-mail marketing company eDialog, Lexington, Mass., sent a message about the campaign to the 550,000 fans registered to get a weekly eNewsletter from eDialog. The message, which explained the cancer effort but didn't offer any football information, included a call to action for recipients to click on a link to reach the NFL for Her section of, containing breast cancer news and information.

More than 22,000 people clicked through from the e-mail to enable an NFL donation, a 4% response rate. The response level surprised the NFL, which expected 10,000 click-throughs and set a limit on its donation of $50,000.

"We had no idea that the newsletter was going to have such an effect," said Lauren Pasquale, NFL manager-programming development, new media. She said NFL for Her normally gets an average of 7,000 users a day.

Ms. Pasquale attributed the high e-mail response to the simplicity of the message and the ease with which people could react, vs. a PSA or in-stadium ad that requires remembering or writing down the URL to use later. "It was easy," she said. "It was packaged in a small paragraph, and the link was right there."

The NFL's "most loyal customers are subscribers to the e-mail [newsletter]," said eDialog President-CEO John Rizzie. "The objective of this e-mail was not selling; it was to add value to the relationship."

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