Sports teams want to engage every fan in every way, whether it be watching a game online, on broadcast, or in the stadium or following their favorite teams and players on social channels. To do this, data has become critical to teams for understanding who fans are and how to best convert and delight them wherever they might be.
In our new series, we’re going to experts around the world who are using fan data in new and unique ways to enhance the sports experience top to bottom.
PHOENIX SUNS HIGHLIGHTS
This Week’s Expert
This week, we spoke with Blake Lewkowitz, Senior Marketing Manager of Revenue of the Phoenix Suns. Blake has been with the Suns since September 2016. His focus is partnering with the Suns’ analytics and partnerships team to make sure they drive as much revenue as they possibly can. He’s always looking for ways to acquire more qualified leads and drive marketing processes from a revenue-generating perspective.
In his own words, here’s how Blake and his team use data to better understand their fans and help drive revenue.
What types of lead generating campaigns do you run and which are most impactful?
The majority of our MVPaudience campaigns are “enter-to-win” campaigns where we usually give away specific seats. If we do an enter-to-win campaign using seats, it’s more likely those who enter will buy or be a part of a conversation for buying tickets in the future. We’ve done enter-to-win campaigns with jerseys, but seat campaigns generally convert into more qualified leads. From an informational campaign perspective, we recently tried a generic campaign asking, “Are you interested in becoming a season ticket member?” There was no enter to win—just a traditional hand raising campaign. They obviously don’t drive the same amount of entries, but those are higher-quality leads.
Once a lead is generated through a campaign, how and when does it get into the hands of your sales team?
For enter-to-win campaigns, we’ll pass those leads to sales on weekly or bi-weekly basis. Most of the time we run a single campaign for the duration of 1-1.5 weeks and then just send one data dump to sales at the end. However, there are some occasions when we would hold leads back for a brief period of time before passing them along to sales. An example would be the campaigns run for the Laker’s game. We did an enter-to-win for VIP seats. After we picked a winner, those who didn’t ticket win got a bounceback for 20% off per ticket. Rather than hitting them right away with a sales call, we wanted to continue them down the funnel for single-game buyers, giving them a discount and trying to convert them there. Those who didn’t convert were then passed onto sales.
What’s your tagging process in Salesforce?
We classify each MVPaudience campaign as its own “event” in our CRM. We keep them very isolated. We don’t do monthly data dumps. If it came from a Lakers enter-to-win campaign, it will be loaded in as MVPaudience-Lakers-Enter-to-Win.
How do you leverage first-party data for email marketing campaigns?
I’ll use MVPaudience segments to build custom email segments. If I’m building a single game message regarding the Lakers, I can look up brand affinities in the platform that have LA or Lakers ties in order to provide to our email team. Then, we can build that custom campaign. Also, we will do something similar with our Sunday Fun Day campaign. If you bought a ticket to any of our Sunday home games, a kid under 12 can come to the game for free. When we launch that campaign, I was able to pull family affinities and demographics from MVPaudience for those segments.
How has leveraging ticketing data helped you make smarter marketing decisions?
Our single game ticket messaging directs straight to our Ticketmaster page, which can be challenging if cart abandonments take place. Before MVPaudience, if we had a cart abandonment, we didn’t actually know who it was. With the way Ticketmaster is set up, it won’t autofill your information unless you’re logged in somewhere else. Rather than sending people directly to Ticketmaster page, we can send them to an MVPaudience activation, get their data and then have a little more control over the messaging we are giving them.
Another example would be how NBA All-Star voting is structured. Since NBA voting for All-Stars is all through their platform and they get that the user’s information, we used MVPaudience and built a pixel that went in between the two, so people could opt-in and provide us with their data before they voted. It gave us another opportunity to collect data in unique way that we couldn’t previously.
All-Star Acquisition Campaign
With a simple campaign activation that led to the All-Star voting site, the Phoenix Suns had 2,235 fans complete the activation (57% net new) and 1,865 supplied their email address in an optional form.
How do you collect data through in-game activations?
One key initiatives we started this year was providing sales reps who are manning a sales booth with their own custom MVPaudience activation link. Then, they can seamlessly sign up leads, which will get tagged in our CRM, and we can run reports on it. We use that pretty religiously both in-game and at community events as a way to get name, email and also all the tags and brand affinities that come along with Facebook.
What are some of the ways you’re involving partners in your campaigns?
We’re still a little new at that. We leverage the insights from the platform when needed. When we have partner who asks, we will use MVPaudience campaigns to help generate submissions on their behalf. In addition, we can use our audience data for new partnership pitches to help them understand who we see as our “fan.” We are able to look at the 500,000+ people through our MVPaudience database and help them understand who we are looking at when it comes to our audience and see who their favorite athlete or brand is.
You’ve ran a lot of activations over the past few years. Is there anything that has stood out as surprising to you?
What’s been surprising and exciting is amount of net news that come in with each campaign. Every campaign we’re doing—like the Dos Equis Lakers campaign that had 2,820 completed with 990 net new— has always exceeded expectations from a net new growth standpoint. You anticipate an oversaturation of the market with some of these campaigns and the amount of campaigns we’ve run, but we haven’t seen that yet.
What are you planning to focus on in 2019?
We are going to put a heavy emphasis on merch in 2019. We’ve done a great job over past 4 years collecting data—now it’s time to make sure we’re capitalizing on how to use it most effectively. We are looking to drive very segmented offers and utilize our current database of people who purchase tickets. We want to make sure we understand who bought tickets—what do they look like and how can we educate our paid media or ticket sales teams on marketing/selling to this specific profile.
We want to be able to dive into our frame of: what do our season ticket holders look like? What do our single game buyers look like? We want to be able to say, “Here’s the people that look exactly like that and haven’t bought yet.” How will we attack that market? That’s top priority…almost doing a quasi Facebook match without having to do a Facebook campaign.
From enter-to-win or informational acquisition campaigns, the Phoenix Suns have generated an increasing number of net new profiles in 2018. With their growing database of 500,000+ fans, there are so many opportunities for the organization to make this data actionable, and we can’t wait to see what they do next.