Nuts & Bolts - Case Study: Portland Blazes Ticket Sale Trail
The Portland Trail Blazers needed to change their Web marketing game. During 2012-2013—the same season the NBA team had a 33-49 record—the franchise had no paid digital marketing presence.
“We began working with Sq1 in time for the 2013-2014 season, when we knew we needed to completely re-shape our marketing strategy,” says Dewayne Hankins, VP of marketing and digital for the Portland Trail Blazers, about working with the Dallas-based digital marketing agency. “Much of our marketing dollars were spent on traditional mediums, and I came into the role in April 2013 with a frustrating lack of knowledge about our fans’ consumption habits and how well our media spend was actually working. I did know that our fan base was old by NBA standards. If we were going to capture the attention of a younger demographic, we were going to have to go digital.”
Attracting 25- to 39-year-old fans means higher customer lifetime values, Hankins explains. Plus, single-game ticket buyers are most likely to become season ticket holders, he says. (There are four other options offered on NBA.com/blazers/tickets besides single and season ticketing.)
So go digital they did. Using a fan-centric campaign featuring video, mobile, paid search, display and retargeting ads, the Trail Blazers worked to create a simple, linear process for prospects to become customers. Testing the site as they went to optimize for conversions, the Trail Blazers changed navigation, redesigned the single-game ticket landing page and enabled seat selection.
Hankins says the franchise tested action button colors, vertical vs. horizontal submenus, when to say “Buy Now” vs. “Find Tickets,” when to let fans select seats, how to list prices (ascending vs. descending), and whether to offer a direct purchase link.
He adds that with the new data, the Trail Blazers could retarget fans with ads “based on several different criteria, including day of [the] week, opponent, player-specific messaging and even ticket packages.”
Now when fans go to choose single-game tickets, they see a landing page with horizontal buttons for each game. The buttons display who the opponents will be on what date; provide a breakdown of the ticket prices at the 100-, 200- and 300-row levels, starting “as low as”; and allow users to click through to “Find Tickets.” Also, the franchise stopped discounting single-game tickets below what season ticket holders pay. “[It] certainly wasn’t yielding us higher gate receipts,” Hankins says. The next landing page allows fans to select their seats. After they select a game and pick a seat, they can “Buy Tickets,” which they did.
“Our first full season going digital and working with Sq1, we set a franchise record for revenue from single-game ticket sales,” Hankins says.
Also, 35 percent of single-game ticket buyers were new to the franchise’s database, and Web traffic increased 300 percent year-over-year. It didn’t hurt that the Trail Blazers also won 54 games in the Western Conference that season.
So the Trail Blazers upped their game. Now Hankins wants to up conversion on the main channel fans use to view content marketing—mobile devices.