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and Put More Fans In The Seats
How Basketball Teams
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
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
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
engage with fans one-on-one, allowing your
marketing team to create a unique, personable communication experience across all
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
Here is the winning formula to add to your
Overview: Drive Engagement =
Put Fans in the Seats
Phase 1 – Build Your Roster
Updating User Databases
Maintain updated information on fans including preferences, demographics and behavioural data.
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
Phase 2 – Touching the Bases
Engage new fans right away so they feel like part of the team as soon as they interact.
Educate, inform and grow your users into loyal super fans.
Create an ongoing dialogue with fans after they make a purchase to show your appreciation.
Manage thousands of ticket orders while still personalizing the experience for fans.
Phase 3 – The Big Show
When it comes to nurturing the fan, game day is where it all happens. Make the experience from start
to finish a great one.
Tap into a fan’s excitement during the game with opinion or contest driven engagement.
Phase 4 – Pre and Post Game
Sales Cycle Messages
Segment your campaigns and produce content based on the stage of the relationship with the fan.
Allow fans to request different types of content that automatically gets sent to them.
Drive Merchandise Sales
Create an air of exclusiveness using discounts on merchandise triggered by different campaigns.
Whatever You Can Dream
Manage thousands of ticket orders while still personalizing the experience for fans.
an unexpected game day experience,
while driving revenue and fan
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
and get an
instant message saying
call us now
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-
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
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