A strong social media strategy helped the Boston Celtics increase its e-mail marketing database by 20%.
Matt Griffin, senior director, sales and marketing operations for the team, told attendees at DMA: 2010 in San Francisco earlier this week that a strong e-mail file is essential to the Celtics’ marketing efforts. Nearly almost all ticket purchases are made online, and 85% of those purchases are made in response to an e-mail offer.
In the summer of 2008, as the Celtics were coming off a storybook season that culminated in winning the National Basketball Association championship, Griffin admitted that it would have been very easy to sit back and enjoy the win. But fortunes change quickly in sports—the prior season, the team had lost 18 straight games. So he knew it was essential to prepare for both the best and worst of times, and work to engage the fan base.
In the past, the Celtics had a communications strategy that lacked cohesiveness across channels and was pretty much “one size fits all,” he said.
Because of the high e-mail ticket sales rate, Griffin said the team’s success equation is pretty basic: audience + relevancy = clickthroughs. And clickthroughs = sales. The end goal was an engaging fan lifecycle communications program.
After a fan receives an initial e-mail offer and places a ticket order, the next step is to send them a thank you e-mail. Then a few days before the game, the pregame campaign begins. Depending on what information the Celtics has on the fan, they might send travel tips for those coming into Boston from outer areas. Or, if this is a high value customer with children, they might receive an invitation to have their child go to the “High Five Tunnel” where they can high five players as they run out onto the court at the start of a game.
The day of the game, the fan might receive an e-mail asking them about their communications preferences. During the game, they might get messaging inviting them to play in real time contests.
After the game, fans receive a satisfaction survey, followed by perhaps another ticket offer. Newsletter campaigns and loyalty efforts are ongoing.
The summer of 2008 was a crucial time for the team, Griffin noted. There was an unparalleled level of interest in the team. Many first time fans were following the team, and many casual fans had ramped up allegiance. And many fans who had been “hibernating” since the 1980s heyday of Larry Bird and Kevin McHale were suddenly avidly watching games again.
The Celtics had to have a strong value proposition in its marketing efforts. Social media was interesting, but Griffin said he wasn’t sure if Facebook was worthy of the team’s marketing resources. To gauge interest, ticket buyers were surveyed. Of the 15,000 who responded, 75% of them were on Facebook. And 85% of those fans visited the social network every day, many for an hour a day.
This led the Celtics to create an app for Facebook called “Three Point Play,” where points could be earned by fans they could apply towards prizes.
The app was free to play, but fans had to fill out a simple registration form offering up their e-mail address, the state they were from, their date of birth and whether they wanted to opt in for communications from the team. A refer-a-friend option was also built in. The app and the Celtics fan page—which now has 1.6 million fans—resulted in a 20% increase in the size of the database. Facebook is now the number one source for new e-mail opt-ins for the team.
Your company may not have a brand as recognizable as the Boston Celtics, but the use of social media networks like Facebook and LinkedIn can have positive results for you as well. If you would like more information about how you can use social media to boost your sales, contact us on 804-968-5131 or connect with us on Facebook.