Digital CRM is the New Ticket Sales

About Neil Horowitz

I am a Manager of Social and Digital Marketing in the professional sports industry and have an active interest in all facets of the field. I have a bi-weekly podcast that interviews leaders in the space in the pro sports industry - the Digital and Social Media Sports podcast available on iTunes or at my website - DSMSports.net

The most eye-popping statistic shared at this year’s National Sports Forum (February 9-11, Dallas) came from Associate Athletic Director and Chief Marketing Officer at the University of South Carolina, Eric Nichols (@ericnichols):

A $38,000 digital media budget realized $922,000 in track-able ticket sales.

That number is astounding to be sure, but the point isn’t so much the level of success, but that taking shots in the dark in digital should be a thing of the past. Data is the new & reigning king in making marketing, sales, and activation as efficient and effective as possible. Companies like the Property Consulting Group who executed the digital CRM campaign for South Carolina are the wave of the future and the now.

Where do you start?

Before investing in some expensive data mining software or hiring an agency, the first thing to do is commit to integrating social, digital, partnerships, & sales. This means insights and ideas are shared across channels and inform best practices:

  1. Is the sales staff ready for a new marketing campaign and the messaging coming from the team to its fans?
  2. Does the marketing team know what questions, concerns, and suggestions are coming from sales leads and fans?
  3. Are sales and leads acquired tracked by source so the value of digital dollars spent can be assessed?
  4. Are analytics from social media content used to optimize messaging, campaigns, and calls?

Integration = Sharing

“We’ve gotten better at incubating ideas for web and social media that sales can use in the future,” said Ali Towle, San Francisco 49ers Director of Marketing. A similar sentiment came from Jeff Meyer, Senior Vice President of Event Marketing and Sales for Feld Entertainment. “Our marketing and sales people are one and the same in our organization.”

That sounds all well and good, in an abstract kind of way. But, as is the common refrain in sports, it all comes down to execution. And execution begins with one simple concept: sharing. Sharing data, that is. We may be tired of hearing it, but as long as it’s true we must keep reminding ourselves to eliminate “silos” within our departments.

Understanding what drives sales, what works in marketing, what could be useful for partnerships – all of this data, and the insights drawn from it, should be consistently shared.

Start small and build

We can easily be overwhelmed with the amount of data available. Start with those on your team with the talent and willingness to share and collaborate to reach a common goal. Then begin to utilize big data to get more nuanced with:

  • specific marketing campaigns
  • targeted sales programs
  • sales lead scoring
  • customer relationship management
  • web and email marketing analytics
  • equipping partnerships with data to sell and renew clients

Every action a fan takes to interact with the team is a signal of intent, an insight about their personality, desires, lifestyle, activities, or opinions. The interaction with the customer is where it all starts.

You have a choice: lead or lose

Leaders in the field of sports recognize that mass marketing campaigns and ticket reps pounding out calls to single-game buyers lists from 2009 are old-school.

As David Peart, Senior Vice President of the Pittsburgh Penguins, shared, “There will be a digital transformation. In the next five years,  we see marketing as primarily digital and social media and ticket sales relying more heavily upon CRM and analytics, as we interact with fans on a 1-to-1 basis where they are and in the way they want to be reached.”

Those clinging to the status quo will be left hanging by a thread. Those who see the future of digital and big data have already begun the transformation. Where will you be?


 Cover photo courtesy of the Digital Traffic Squad.