The Challenges

The Vancouver Giants are a major junior ice hockey team playing in the Western Hockey League. Inaugurated in 2001–02, the Giants have won one President’s Cup in 2006 and one Memorial Cup in 2007 in their 13-season history. The team had seen a strong return on word-of-mouth to drive ticket purchasing but felt now was the time to push forward with a comprehensive marketing effort focusing heavily on digital – a plan that relied on deep brand exposure and trackable results.

Uniquely qualified to develop, execute, measure, and refine a multi-faceted marketing program for the Giants, Momentum Marketing was tasked with the challenge.

Consultation with the internal sales and marketing team unearthed five key challenges:
 

  1. Email marketing to new ticket purchasers, seasons ticket holders, and single ticket purchasers had become stagnant and sporadic. What customer segments would be targeted and was there data available to substantiate the reignited email marketing efforts?
  2. Digital marketing campaigns were relegated to banner placements – customer segmentation was required to more effectively target the core ticket buying audience, specifically on the platforms where they reside. Which platforms would best target these core purchasers?
  3. Marketing efforts required retooling to bring the brand in line with its original core value as a family entertainment offering. How would the team position itself against other family offerings in the marketplace, specifically offerings that fall outside of sports entertainment?
  4. Digital marketing efforts saw large CTR (click through ratio), however online tickets sales did not match the scale of CTRs. What obstacles were potential online purchasers facing that were preventing them from converting to a sale?
  5. Sponsorship packages needed to be updated and validated with audience engagement analytics. What is the reach of sponsor initiatives? How could the team provide even more return for its advertising and agency partners?
 

The Solutions

1. Email Marketing

The Giants have the enviable position of having direct access to purchaser data through a close relationship with the ticket vendor. This access provides deep insight into not only the ticket purchaser but also provides customer insight into purchasing patterns and demographics.

Accessible customer data was gathered from all available touchpoints and segmented to provide outreach to key segments:

  • frequent single ticket purchasers
  • season ticket holders
  • lapsed season ticket holders
  • single ticket purchasers

Outreach commenced well before the beginning of pre-season to remind customers of the upcoming season and surveying was implemented to validate the “family experience” as the core offering most sought by attendees.

In addition, the team and its marketing staff attend numerous pre-season community events – each event a high traffic opportunity where a CASL compliant data collection regime was implemented to further broaden outreach via email marketing.

Results:

  • An average open rate for all sends of 30%+
  • Scheduled email sends based around the teams home game schedule provide a consistent touchpoint, driving ticket sales and heavy brand awareness.
  • Analysis of statistical information to ensure cost effective, optimized paid campaigning took full advantage of the allocated budget.
  • A direct connection with Seasons Ticket holders, providing a consistent 45%+ open rate with the teams most important customer.
 

2. Digital Campaigns

Past online marketing efforts we sporadic and required a focused effort to drive brand message to the core purchaser – family’s looking for strong entertainment value. This focus was directed at geographic corridors where purchasers were most apt to reside, specifically within driving or transit commuting distance of the arena.

Heavy emphasis was directed at Facebook as it was determined early on that the core of Giants fans, sports fans and those seeking ‘family value’ entertainment offerings were receptive to offers within this high value social channel. Data collected from paid Facebook campaigning was used to validate paid placement decisions on a myriad of online properties including:

  • Vancouver Is Awesome
  • Vancity Buzz
  • Business In Vancouver
  • PostMedia online properties (Vancouver Sun & Province)

Content Marketing

Introduction to the product offering and its value required long-form content initiatives that provided insight into the product, driving decision makers to make the Vancouver Giants a consideration in their household entertainment budget. Publications were chosen based on their subscriber base to ensure the right message was being disseminated to the correct audience.

Advertorial content was placed within a select group of publications, including Business In Vancouver, Vancouver is Awesome and Vancity Buzz.

These platforms delivered exceptional return when weighed against the cost and provided key insights. Prospects introduced to the offering in this manner were apt to take action and click thru ratios delivered exceptional results.

Results:

  • 7+ million brand impressions
  • average click thru ratio on Facebook (0.65%)
 

3. The Marketing Message

Marketing efforts required retooling to bring the brand in line with its original core value as a family entertainment offering. Assessing the landscape of ‘family entertainment’ was a key driver in positioning the Giants as a contender in the competitive ‘family entertainment’ arena. This required expanding who was viewed as a direct competitor in the marketplace and bringing the family aspect, both from a cost and entertainment perspective, back into the marketing message.

Results:

  • re-establishing the team in the marketplace as a family entertainment offering
  • competitive analysis that substantiated the belief that market competitors fell outside of sports entertainment
 

4. A Broken Purchase Path

Digital marketing efforts saw large CTR (click through ratio), however online tickets sales did not match the scale of CTRs. This challenge was specifically evident with individuals clicking through from paid Facebook placement, who were abandoning their purchase upon arrival at the ticket vendor website.

Analysis of data provided by Facebook indicated that the majority of potential purchasers were abandoning their purchase at the same point, a barrier that was preventing the ticket sale.

Working in conjunction with the ticket vendor measures were taken to shorten and clarify the purchase path to better facilitate a more fluid purchase experience.

Results:

  • an improved purchase path saw a 30% uptake in click thru’s converting to ticket sales
 

5. Sponsorship

The sponsorship program based many of its values on gross impressions against estimates for attendance. Many of the mediums were traditional and no longer delivering the measurable results demanded by marketing and sponsors today. Sales efforts connected with marketing to refresh the sponsorship package and create new ROI for sponsors reflecting digital deliverables.

Sponsorship value tiers were created to demonstrate tangible valuation based on sponsorship spending levels. Customized promotions were designed to push through to fans in weekly newsletters.

Results:

Momentum provided a sponsorship audit for Title sponsor TELUS and premium sponsor Hyundai Canada.

TELUS audit deliverables:

  • TSN SportsNet television valuation
  • Media valuation, print, radio, television
  • Digital impressions, Facebook, Newsletters
  • Pacific Coliseum Brand valuation
  • Total valuation $650,000+

Hyundai Canada audit deliverables:

  • Brand exposure
  • Major event valuation
  • Digital impressions, Facebook, Newsletters
  • Digital impressions, Facebook, Twitter, Newsletters
  • Hooky Day media valuation
  • Media, radio, print, television Total valuation $150,000+