How Basketball Teams Drive Fan Engagement
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How Basketball Teams Drive Fan Engagement

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Ever wondered how basketball teams engage their fans digitally? This guide will break it down and offer ideas for other teams to build a loyal fan base using marketing automation.

Ever wondered how basketball teams engage their fans digitally? This guide will break it down and offer ideas for other teams to build a loyal fan base using marketing automation.

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How Basketball Teams Drive Fan Engagement How Basketball Teams Drive Fan Engagement Document Transcript

  • How Basketball Teams Drive Engagement and Put More Fans In The Seats
  • How Basketball Teams Drive Engagement and Put More Fans In The Seats Your star player just hit a clutch jumper from the corner with two seconds left to win the game. Fans are going crazy. Players are celebrating. In that moment, things could not be better. But as the thrill of victory fades and fans start to head home, the very important job of engaging fans continues. Do you want to know which fans were at a game for the first time? Curious on who bought a t-shirt at halftime? Intrigued by how quickly a fan decides to purchase a ticket to the next game? If your job is to drive fan engagement and put more butts in the seats, of course you are. Imagine if you had the inside scoop on what each and every one of your fans was thinking when it came to your team? When you have direct access to user behaviours (web, email, social and many more), the dream can quickly become a reality. User data gives you the power to 1 engage with fans one-on-one, allowing your marketing team to create a unique, personable communication experience across all touch points. The end result – A loyal fan that feels valued by the organization and ready to buy tickets, buy shirts, share opinions and do their absolute best to be a brand ambassador for seasons to come. As an owner or the person running the day-to-day operations of a basketball team, there are several ways to not only manage the data you already have, but innovative ways to gather more as you grow your fan base. Here is the winning formula to add to your playbook.
  • Overview: Drive Engagement = Put Fans in the Seats Phase 1 – Build Your Roster 1 Updating User Databases Maintain updated information on fans including preferences, demographics and behavioural data. 2 Real-time Data Collection at Games Collect new user information at the actual event or game. If they come in the door, you want to know about them. Phase 2 – Touching the Bases 3 Welcome Program/Clubs Engage new fans right away so they feel like part of the team as soon as they interact. 4 Nurturing Users Educate, inform and grow your users into loyal super fans. 5 Ordering Notices Create an ongoing dialogue with fans after they make a purchase to show your appreciation. 6 Transactional Emails Manage thousands of ticket orders while still personalizing the experience for fans. Phase 3 – The Big Show 7 Game Day When it comes to nurturing the fan, game day is where it all happens. Make the experience from start to finish a great one. 8 In-Game Engagement Tap into a fan’s excitement during the game with opinion or contest driven engagement. Phase 4 – Pre and Post Game 9 Sales Cycle Messages Segment your campaigns and produce content based on the stage of the relationship with the fan. 10 Fan-Requested Content Allow fans to request different types of content that automatically gets sent to them. 11 Drive Merchandise Sales Create an air of exclusiveness using discounts on merchandise triggered by different campaigns. 12 Whatever You Can Dream Manage thousands of ticket orders while still personalizing the experience for fans. 2
  • DELIVER an unexpected game day experience, while driving revenue and fan LOYALTY Phase One – Building The Roster 1. Updating User Databases The customer database is the heart of any modern-day marketing program. You need to regularly breathe new life into your contact lists by providing updated preference, demographic and behavioural information. Automation can help achieve this by facilitating the process of learning about each and every one of your die hard fans and potential new fans. Since a basketball team can have hundreds of thousands of different people dealing their businesses every year, it is critical to quickly understand each of those buyer types. Are they a season ticket holder or a dedicated fan? Do they live out of town? Are they already active with your team on social media, or do they prefer a more direct approach when consuming information? By collecting, updating and enriching this gigantic amount of data, you can begin to better target your marketing efforts towards your fans. Better targeting leads to better engagement, which leads to a bigger bottom line for your basketball franchise. 4 You can use a basic email campaign to encourage or incentify fans to update their records, leading them to a form. Here they can update their information and provide additional preferences and demographic details. To ensure that as many users as possible keep their data updated, try tying this to an incentive of some kind. This encourages people to give you the most reliable data because if they win, they want to be able to be reached. For example: Enter for your chance to win tickets to sit in the Fan Zone for next week’s game if you update your information on file. Having the most updated and pertinent information for each user within your CRM solution is the first step to a highly engaged and successful marketing campaign.
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  • 2. Real-time Data Collection at Games The big stage for your data collection is at the actual For everyone is has ever been to a live sporting event, game. Every time your arena hosts an event, there are the atmosphere, the larger than life feel and the buzz in thousands of people who enter your doors. You need to the air really amplifies a fan to engage and have fun. take advantage of that proximity. So how can you begin to gain a grasp of who each and Some are regular visitors such as season ticket holders, every person is while they are in this state of fandimowhile some acquired tickets from a friend or bought nium? their tickets online and our entering the building for the first time. By sending staff decked out in official team gear to collect real-time demographic and preference data in the stands. Tablets and Smartphones are a God send for this as a live web form can be offered on the spot. A word of caution however is to plan when you do this. Before the game and during quarter breaks are best. Try not to disturb the sports fan during live action on the court. For the best results, ask a variety of questions: • How often do you come to games? • Who is your favorite player? • Where do you usually buy your tickets? • Are you local or from out of town? • How close do you live to the arena? Once you have built up a decent amount of actionable data, you can use this information to build out specific marketing campaigns and what mode of communication will work best. This can include mobile messages, voice messages, email newsletters or even fax messages. These extra steps can be a powerful way to increase sales. 6
  • Phase Two – Touching the Bases 3. Welcome Programs/Clubs This is a staple for your basketball team when it comes to welcoming new fans into the fold. This is one of the first impressions your staff will make, so make it count. You want to make them feel welcome and valued right away. This includes sending a personalized, automated welcome email to quickly engage fans, one-time ticket buyers and new season ticket holders by educating them about upcoming events, asking them to tell you more about themselves, or providing resources and helpful information personalized to their interests. Really, as long as you engage the fan right away, you can add a multitude of content types and follow-up information depending on what you are looking to achieve with your marketing at that time. The most basic forms could include introducing a contact at the team and social media outlets to interact with the team. To take this idea to the next level, the forward thinking teams are moving beyond welcome messages to activation programs that guide the prospect or new customer through the process of getting the most out of their visit to your arena. From the time they wake up on game day, until the time they go to bed, you have the ability to feed them content and leverage their loyalty to your team. This can be anything from offering parking tips, sharing team fun facts, where to go to download the official team app and of course, how to take advantage of special ticket packages. 7
  • 4. Nurturing Users Use nurturing programs to educate, inform and basically grow your own super fan. are not ready to spend their extra money on what may be seen as a luxury. If your goal is to increase sky box ticket sales, or increase season ticket purchases, nurture programs are ideal. They are more of a long term play, but in the end, can have a huge impact on your overall fan engagement and more importantly, growing revenue. A friend gave them tickets and they just wanted a fun night out. But by reminding them of the fun they had, the odds are much greater they will want to buy their own tickets and come out again. Nurturing programs enable you to educate your fans who are not ready to engage a sales resource and gently guide these potential buyers through the purchase process by delivering relevant content such as articles, event invitations, countdowns to big games, and so much more. Basketball fans love to be part of something big, so by providing them with exclusive content at no cost to them, they will start to feel like part of the actual team and eventually move towards buying in. With marketing automation technology, you can set up programs that gradually help you collect data, build the relationship and are responsive to prospect interests and behaviours. If you think of any new fan to your team, they are possibly still learning the sport, the team, the players and Easily build nurture campaigns that route potential ticket buyers down different paths based on whether they opened an email, replied to a text, engaged with your content and/or shared it with their social networks. Facebook and Twitter are huge resources for basketball teams as passionate fans let loose on how they feel (good or bad). Let automation software monitor every action a user takes when it comes to engaging with your team’s content and have the appropriate trigger waiting. This hooks a fan, makes them feel valued and will make it more likely they act in the moment and buy. Robust automation platforms also offer further integrations that enhance sales and marketing alignment. These types of systems give sales visibility into a fan’s behaviours whether it be website visits, app downloads, link clicks, form submissions, or video plays. This information is invaluable for salespeople who can use it to have more effective conversations with prospects, and enable sales to drop contacts into a nurture program. To sum it up, nurturing programs using automation takes the basic process of becoming connected with an individual fan and their habits to a mass scale of hundreds of thousands or even millions of fans – automatically. 8
  • 5. Ordering Notices Now this phase of marketing is pretty common. A fan orders something online and gets a notification right away whether it be by email, text or even a tweet. Basketball teams, especially professional ones, have a lot of ticketing options, offer dozens of services and have large sales teams. That is a lot of moving parts to manage, not to mention, track, optimize and analyze. Moving to a more automated ordering process will be beneficial for all involved. Automation can enable you to free up valuable sales resources that can be reallocated to encouraging up sells or focusing on corporate ticketing. reminders, notifications to fans for added tickets to team events that were previously sold out, ticket upgrades and more. This process enables your team to create an ongoing dialogue with customers and fans without creating additional work for your sales team. Now isn’t that what innovation is all about? And of course, there is the added bonus of automation taking care of sending the thank you confirmation which fans have all come to expect when ordering. You can also use automation for season ticket renewal 9
  • 6. Transactional Emails The Chicago Bulls top the NBA averaging almost 22,000 fans for every home game. That is a lot of tickets being bought online, over the phone and at the box office. Now not every team will have crowds of that size but you can only imagine the resources it takes to manage ticket purchases. With tens of thousands of ticket orders each season coming through your website that require order status receipts, updates, and shipping notices or confirmations, it is critical that you have a transactional email plan. In this age of instant gratification, it is unacceptable to wait days or hours to get a transactional confirmation. Customers want it as soon as possible. Actually, they expect the email or notification seconds after a purchase. It is like getting a receipt at the grocery store. You want proof of purchase, especially when you just bought four tickets to the biggest game of the year and tickets are going to sell out at any moment. This means delivery is the single most important aspect of a transactional email. A robust marketing 10 automation platform enables you to set up your system so the transaction triggers these emails immediately. A well-branded transactional message sent immediately is great for business, branding and engagement. But don’t stop there when it comes to your basketball team. Think big. Go beyond the basic transaction or receipt information and provide additional content that provides value. This might include game tips, answers to frequently asked questions, arena rules and policies, or tips on how to add to the game day experience. Every team will have its own personal spin on what content will engage and nurture fans. Even a funny video campaign can do the trick. This stage of the process is also a good place to invite recipients to connect with you socially via Pinterest, Instagram LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook. While transactional content should make up the bulk of these messages, you can also use these emails to cross-sell or up sell other products and services.
  • Phase Three – The Big Show 7. The Actual Game or Event When growing your basketball audience, the actual games are of course a critical part of the nurturing process. As a marketer for a sports team, you live for game days and the giant opportunities that await. While the team is grabbing rebounds, running a full court press and putting points on the board, your staff is managing the entire engagement process with automated marketing tools. From the initial invite to post-event message, automation enables you to easily respond to how your fans interact with your communications and events. For example, you might use a marketing automation platform to set up three messaging options for an event as follows: • Invitation: Initial invite encourages recipient to buy tickets to Saturday night’s game, followed by messages depending on whether they opened but didn’t click (reminder), clicked but didn’t purchase (reminder with alternate resources) or actually purchased tickets for the game (move to confirmation track). • Confirmation: Send game details, parking reminders, traffic notices and reminder pre-event, then follow up afterwards based on the results of the game (thank you note, survey, related resources and/or invite to set up a call with a sales rep to discuss season ticket or ticket package options). These messages could easily be set up to automatically be sent via email or SMS or even on social media which could help bring in new fans and have them share it with their friends. Remember each fan gives you access to their friends and contacts. Everyone wants to be part of a big event. You need to tap into that feeling on the ideal mode of communication for that particular customer. 11
  • 8. In-Game Engagement For a few hours, each person attending a basketball game, turns into a fan of something. It could be what is happening on the court, the entertainment or even other fans. They all are part of the experience. While at the game fans stop thinking about work, bills, family problems and even what will happen later that day. It is all about the team at that moment. Fans are just begging to be entertained and to feel like they got their moneys worth. This is where marketing automation can work wonders and the concept is pretty simple. Engage with fans during the game using contests, polls or even special offers for future events. Whatever you want depending on your goals. Let the team take care of entertaining with their play on the court, while your staff enhances it with their own full court press. 12 Integrate the arena scoreboard to feature live voting on anything from who will score next to will the score reach a certain number. Many arenas offer free pizza coupons if the team reaches 100 points. If you have fans information on file, you can send the coupon right to their phone instead of physically handing them out as fans leave. People have their phones in their hands anyways, so keep them from losing interest in the game and keep their attention on your team. The same can be used for contests. For example, after the third quarter of the game, post a short code for everyone to text to in order to enter. You not only grab their user information, you engage and nurture your overall fan base. - Text JERSEY before the start of the fourth quarter for a chance to win an official team jersey.
  • Phase Four – Pre and Post Game 9. Sales Cycle Messages Different types of messages don’t fit all types of situations or times of days. You don’t want a phone call at 7 am from your favorite team about your ticket purchase from the night before. So it should be pretty easy to understand that buyers crave different content at different times in the buying cycle or at different points in your season. Consider segmenting your campaigns by stage of the relationship, specifically tuning different email, voice or SMS messages and offers based on both explicit and implicit indicators of your customer’s readiness to purchase. What this means is messaging might change throughout a customer lifecycle as follows. • Interested Phase: Welcome messages, share exciting content and videos, provide a countdown to the start of season or next game • Engaged Phase: Reminders of upcoming events, targeted content based on website page visits, pricing and ticket comparisons, testimonials • Lapsed Phase: Online surveys to gain a better understanding of the buyer’s needs, incentives to revisit website or attend upcoming events, promotions to encourage re- engagement, ticket renewal promotions and incentives By listening, monitoring and studying buyer cues and delivering the right content at the right time for each prospect, you will nurture more relevant dialogues and build stronger connections. 13
  • 10. Drive Merchandise Sales Even the largest and most lucrative basketball teams on the planet want more fans. That’s more people buying tickets and merchandise. That’s more people connecting family and friends to the team brand. That is more sales and future sales going into the company pockets. Outside of ticket sales to the actual game, merchandise is another part of the equation that a team has to focus on. Merchandise is free marketing once purchased. Fans showing off your gear are growing the brand and engaging other fans all on their own. With automation, a great way to drive sales on merchandise is to use mobile coupons at the venue of the game. Create a fan club where members get exclusive 14 deals on merchandise or other team related products. Users can indicate they are attending the next game via a form on the fan club website and from there a mobile message containing a coupon code can be triggered for game time. The exclusive discount would be open for the duration of the event, driving people into the store or you could even open it up to online shopping for those not able to attend. Either way, team merchandise is a great way to engage fans and nurture the sales process. A person who gets a great deal on a shirt today, could end up being a season ticket holder tomorrow.
  • 11. Fan Requested Content If you really want to put the fan in control of how they digest your content (and your important touchpoints), set up a system where they can request what they want via a mobile message. To do this you set up a mobile alerts program where fans choose what they want to receive using keywords. This trigger effect plays on the on demand world we are living in when it comes to TV shows, music and other forms of media. This could include directions to the arena by texting “ARENA” or other important information a fan could want before leaving the house. tion. Instead of calling the box office to see if there are tickets remaining for the game, a fan can text “TICKETS” and get an instant message saying tickets still available, call us now to buy. You could have a number of possibilities set up ahead of time that a fan can interact with automatically. This can also work in unison with your customer support team for ticket sales and other team informa- 15
  • 12. Whatever You Can Dream Yes, that’s right. There are so many possibilities when it comes to engaging with fans using automatic communication tools and pre-set triggers. When you factor in an existing API and robust marketing automation software that offers online, offline, mobile and social streams of communication, the possibilities are almost limitless. 16
  • Start Engaging Fans Today Ultimately, by understanding your basketball fans, you will create more targeted engagement tactics to move fans up your season ticket sales funnel. By understanding what motivates fans from casual to hardcore, you are more likely to convert your single game attendees into valuable season ticket holders. This in the end is the game-winning solution that every team owner or operator dreams of. For hardcore fans, the season is 365 days long. And for today’s fans, it’s 24/7, too. With the growth of web and mobile channels, delivering a consistent, engaging fan experience has never been more challenging. bringing innovative, personalized experiences into the arena, as well, to deliver an unprecedented game day experience, while driving revenue and fan loyalty. Even if you only implement one of the above strategies, you will be on your way to filling the arena with loyal fans who can’t wait to hear from you again and again. Ready to start? Contact SimplyCast to discuss your wildest dreams and requirements to put more fans in the seats, grow your overall reach and of course growing your revenue. But today’s best run teams are not only finding new and exciting ways to connect with their fans. They’re www.simplycast.com | 1.866.323.6572 ext.1 twitter.com/simplycast facebook.com/simplycast 17