Before the 2016 season, the Salem Red Sox had only used Facebook and email blasts to engage fans before, during and after the games. They were constantly seeking new and innovative ways to reach fans, but were limited by budget. To increase fan engagement at the games, the LewisGale Field team regularly held contests, giveaways and special events such as Bark in the Park and Pink in the Park. They were looking for an innovative yet affordable solution to reach fans at any time and any place to keep them notified of these special events and also on the latest game schedule changes due to historically bad weather.
“We understand that technology has evolved so that people regularly stay connected and communicate largely through text in real time.” Said Ryan Shelton, President and GM of the Salem Red Sox. “Not only do we want to adapt to this cultural change, but we want to make the most of it and ultimately use this direct method of communication to increase revenue through ticket sales, merchandising, concessions and general fan enthusiasm.”
Using Blue Calypso’s KIOSentrix® platform, the Salem Red Sox initially launched 2 SMS programs inviting fans to opt-in to receive future messages via text. The “Sox Weather” program was focused on keeping fans updated on the latest schedule changes due to inclement weather and invited fans to text SOXWEATHER to 73095 to opt-in for these types of alerts. The “Free Hot Dog” program used a free hot dog voucher as an incentive to get users to opt in by offering a free hot dog to anyone who did so.
These programs were rolled out simultaneously at the beginning of the season and were promoted using signs, social media, radio and email. This allowed the Salem Red Sox the opportunity to then start repeat marketing to the fans that had opted in. They frequently ran time-based contests and giveaways to get fans excited and encourage ticket sales. The immediacy of SMS alerts would allow fans to take advantage of these time-based promotions creating even more enthusiasm for the team and brand. They also used SMS as a way to keep loyal fans informed with the latest schedules and special events which directly influenced attendance at games by allowing fans to plan accordingly.
Throughout this engagement, Blue Calypso’s platform was able to capture real-time analytics such as reporting and insight on fans’ content interaction, attribution and conversion. This valuable data would aid team management in understanding what types of promotions work and what levels of engagement their fans were willing to commit to so that they could continue to optimize future marketing initiatives.
The average attendance of each game in 2016 was just over 3,000 fans and since deployment, the Salem Red Sox have generated nearly 900 opt-ins. A list of phone numbers of fans that have opted in to receive marketing texts like these can be one of the most valuable assets any sports brand can own as it gives teams direct access to their most loyal fans.
“The 2016 season was the first time the Salem Red Sox had used any form of text engagement system. We felt the campaign was effective in driving incremental ticket sales, particularly when there were last minute specials, weather impacts or a hot prospect on the mound.” Said Ryan Shelton. “We are excited to dive deeper into capabilities and tracking of KIOSentrix in 2017.”
The Salem Red Sox plan to work closely with Blue Calypso in the 2017 season to build on this program’s success. Not only do they plan to increase the level of awareness to attract even more fans to opt-in, but they will be putting more emphasis on the creative and innovative promotions and events that draw in new fans while increasing fan loyalty.
“We have really enjoyed working with the Salem Red Sox to implement their SMS marketing program last season.” Said Vivian Pham, Blue Calypso’s Director of Marketing & Client Services. “We believe that together, we’ve created a meaningful way to increase fan engagement and loyalty. Our team is excited to continue our partnership with the Salem Red Sox look and forward to working with them again for the 2017 season.”