At their session at ClickZ Live San Francisco, the Portland Trail Blazers' Dewayne Hankins and Sq1's Gabe Winslow explained how they improved digital ticket sales to achieve a 630 percent return on investment.
The sporting world is always a popular discussion point amongst fans, with people always sharing opinions, both online and off, about the latest games, players, transfers etc. Yet surprisingly, as an industry, the promotion around selling tickets is still very much offline-focused.
Dewayne Hankins, vice president of marketing and digital for the NBA basketball team the Portland Trail Blazers and Gabe Winslow from Sq1 gave a joint presentation at ClickZ Live San Francisco to explain how they tackled this problem in order to deliver a 630 percent return on investment (ROI) through digital.
Before rushing into any digital strategy, it's hugely important to find out more about the user journey:
Once you've figured this out, it's easier to build a clearer strategy on how you can improve the current experience.
As Hankins explained, the plan was simply to "Take the user journey, find out what people want, and make it available as easily as possible for them to achieve that."
In this case, what the fans wanted to see was a straightforward process of being able to purchase tickets to games - and the biggest pain point was users not always being able to find and buy available tickets.
By their own admission, Portland didn't have the best season in the NBA. So there are factors out of marketing's control that influence the demand on people who want to purchase tickets.
Equally, while the goal is to fill seats - it's also to get people interested in the Blazers in a new way - driving increased engagement from fans.
You can only improve what's measured - and in the Trail Blazer's case, before they could move forward they had to prioritize their time and effort toward fixing issues in measurement.
This included implementing e-commerce analytics tracking, which previously wasn't set up, and then setting up cross-domain tracking to make sure the correct source of sales was credited within their attribution model.
The key to improving conversion rate for the Blazers was making it easier to sort and find available tickets on the booking landing page - here is the new version they tested and rolled out:
The key items tested were:
Based on the measurement, Winslow and Hankins found that Monday was the highest selling day each week. While Thursdays were the worst converting days.
As a result, they introduced a discount offer to remove all additional fees on tickets each Thursday, helping to increase conversion rates when the demand was lower.
Another consideration was that third-party ticket marketplace sites have meant that it's easier for fans to buy tickets, but the prices are driven up significantly once a game is sold out. So rather than pricing too low and selling out straight away, the Portland Trail Blazers would rather sell tickets at a slower rate and collect the revenue for themselves, instead of having customers overpay for re-sold tickets via the marketplaces who will end up taking a larger cut of revenue.
With an increasingly high percentage of visits generated via social engagement, ensuring the site was fully responsive was also a hugely important aspect of improving the campaigns performance.
The results were very impressive, most notably seeing:
Winslow and Hankins learned a great deal from the campaign, including:
Based on their results and findings, they can now move forward more strategically, to:
Overall, this was a very successful campaign - with lots of learning on how they can take things even further forward into the next season, especially with more social integration, and hopefully some better results on the court, too!
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Kevin Gibbons is Managing Director of digital marketing agency BlueGlass UK. A highly respected blogger on search engine marketing and social media, Kevin also speaks frequently at leading industry events.
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