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The Challenge

Update DICK’S Sporting Goods emails to prepare for more personalized content and become ADA-compliant.

The Outcome

A built-from-scratch email codebase that was deemed best-in-class by our email service provider, was able to meet the needs for personalized content and met WCAG2.0 AA compliance.

My role on this project

As the Email COE Creative Manager, my role was to communicate the requirements to the team, initiate the effort of the team to research, evaluate, and develop a solution, and provide guidance and coaching on developing the final product. I also acted as the project manager to make sure milestones were hit and communicated progress and value to executive leadership.

DICK’S Sporting Goods (DSG) marketing emails prior to 2019 were built using image-based methods. While this made it easy for designers to create emails quickly, it left the business unable to personalize the millions of emails being served to customers each year and was a less than ideal customer experience across devices, too.

The DSG Email Center of Excellence team was tasked with coming up with a way to build emails in a way that accomplished four goals:

  1. Find a way to build emails that would open the door for personalization.
  2. Provide a customer experience that worked well across both mobile and desktop, while achieving ADA-compliance.
  3. Allow designers creating the emails to produce at the same rate of production.
  4. Implement a solution that would not require any stoppage of email marketing.

After months of research and looking at ways to either purchase or develop a solution, the result was Project Phoenix. This codebase was written and developed by the Email Center of Excellence that provided a way to accomplish all four goals. The emails went from image-based to live-text. Moving to live-text emails we were able to provide a way to personalize the content. It also moved our email marketing to meet WCAG2.0 AA compliance. And it also provided a way for us to avoid service interruption by flipping a proverbial switch on delivering image-based emails to live-text emails overnight.

The biggest challenge was getting designers up to speed on how to develop emails differently. During the course of writing the codebase, we took on training efforts to get designers familiar with how to write code and help troubleshoot and issues. The training acted as a test-and-learn platform for improving the codebase to meet the needs of our users: the designers.

Anatomy of Phoenix
Along with developing the codebase, the team was responsible for educating designers on how to use it.

Once rollout was complete, the Email Center of Excellence continued to make iterative improvements on a 2-week cycle.

One major accomplishment for this codebase took place during an audit by our email service provider in preparation for sending more personalized emails. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive. The ESP said what they reviewed was the best codebase they had seen from any of their clients. We were positioned to take on any future personalization the organization wanted to pursue.

Sample email with code

Project Phoenix is the name of the codebase written and developed by the Email Center of Excellence at DICK’S Sporting Goods.

ClientDICK'S Sporting GoodsYear2018-2019CategoryProduct Design, Development, UX
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