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From Good to Great: How to be an Elite Email Marketer

Rockhouse Partners, a Nashville‑based marketing agency, takes email to another level. Here's how they do it.

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How does a pretty-good marketer become a really great one? What separates the 90% who can create perfectly fine email campaigns from the 10% who consistently succeed?

Take Rockhouse Partners, for example — a Nashville-based marketing agency that creates email campaigns for event properties.

Rockhouse helps its clients in several ways: strategic planning, online advertising, social media, SEO, website optimization, and more. But email is by far the most profitable marketing channel for Rockhouse’s clients — including NASCAR, Churchill Downs, The Music City Bowl, and 100 other concert and event venues.

In this issue and the three to follow, we’ll pull back the curtain on how Rockhouse takes email marketing to another level.

The story of Rockhouse

Shortly after founding Rockhouse Partners with 2 others in 2009, Joe Kustelski visited Mailchimp in Atlanta. He was looking for the right email marketing solution — a tool his team could use to create campaigns that would consistently sell out events for Rockhouse’s clients. Two years and countless successful email campaigns later, Kustelski and his partners sold Rockhouse to the web-based ticket service provider Etix.

Rockhouse’s core competencies are strategy, data analysis, and measurement. But according to Amanda Severs, Rockhouse’s current director of client services, Mailchimp is the agency’s secret weapon.

“It’s easy to create mobile-optimized, concise, and compelling templates that are highly focused on conversions,” she explains.

"Personalizing emails not just by names, but according to their past purchasing behaviors, for example, gets you a much higher engagement rate."

Aiming high in a high-stakes market

Rockhouse lives in a fiercely competitive world — one where there’s no hiding from a failed marketing effort. If a client’s event fails to sell out, revenue is left on the table.

Email marketing is Rockhouse’s marketing weapon of choice, but being properly armed is only half the battle. To be effective with email, one must know how to use it. According to Severs, it starts with mastering 3 basic categories: segmentation, personalization, and marketing automation. Typically, new Rockhouse clients are in need of help with all three.

“They’re often sending very similar types of campaigns to their entire list on a regular basis,” Severs says. “You want to be able to craft content that’s relevant to your recipients. Smart segmentation lets you do that.”

Personalization is equally important to reaching prospects in a powerful and relevant way. One way this is accomplished with Mailchimp is merge tags.

“Personalizing emails not just by names, but according to their past purchasing behaviors, for example, gets you a much higher engagement rate,” Severs says.

And putting some fairly simple automation practices in place can tip the scales dramatically in your favor. “Just sending an automated welcome email to new subscribers can lead to significantly large revenue increases,” she says.

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