Fantasy sports are a major attraction for millions of people in this country. Bill Nelson, founder of 3PAK Fantasy Sports, knows this fact very well and launched a company due to its intense popularity and intrinsic customer engagement.

3PAK Fantasy Sports offers a high-end, white label mobile marketing platform that allows retailers to interact with their customers in a new way. Retail customers play 3PAK fantasy football contests for retailer swag prizes−prize redemption drives foot traffic and gameplay drives customer interaction with your brand. Contests are free to the consumer. 3PAK co-brands the contest with the retailer and runs the back end for a fee.

Nelson talked to Loyalty360 about the company and how it drives customer engagement and customer loyalty.

Can you walk us through how 3PAK’s business model works and how it impacts customer engagement and customer loyalty?

Nelson: Experience trumps flat advertising. We advise our partners to go where the people are and be part of their experience. People are already playing fantasy sports, so we made a way for retailers to entice customers to play with them. When you bring the entertainment experience to the customer, they stick around.
The key is making advertising non-intrusive. We white label the game for retailers so they can show their brand/logo, as well as promote specials or specific products every week. Instead of a pop-up ad, the ads are built into the experience through unobtrusive customizable banners.

Customers play for free retail swag or gift cards, and they have to come into the place of business to redeem their prize—that means more foot traffic and, usually, additional spending. If your prize is a free pizza, people are probably going to buy an appetizer or drinks to go with it, and they’ll spend more time at your establishment. This model is a natural extension of other loyalty programs a retailer may have in place.

How did the concept of fantasy sports come up for you as your main vehicle to impact and engage customers?

Nelson: Like a lot of people, I’ve been playing fantasy sports for years. In the past ten years, it’s really taken off, but the problem we found is that it’s not geared to casual sports fans. People told us they’d like to play, but they’re intimidated by the hardcore players and big sites. We solved that problem by making fantasy sports quick and convenient to play, and easy to understand. People love it and because the experience is easy, they’re more willing to share the experience with friends and family.

At 3PAK, how do you drive customer engagement?

Nelson: What customers love about playing 3PAK is that it’s practically real-time. Game scoring and standings are updated every thirty seconds. Customers check their mobile device several times per game and spend three to ten minutes on the site as opposed to fifteen seconds watching a video. That’s a lot of time to have focused advertising in front of your customers, which means retailers stay top of mind. When a player wants the product, the retailer sells, say, a pizza, they’re more likely to go to that restaurant instead of another because they’ve been exposed to the brand multiple times.

What have you learned about your audience since the company launched and what surprised you the most?

Nelson: We’ve found that the key to jumpstarting the entire process is cooperation between us and the retailer. It’s imperative that the retailer market and promote the game. Without that promotion, people don’t know it’s an option or they forget to play.

What are your plans for 2017 and beyond?

Nelson: We are looking forward to providing year-round fantasy sports—NASCAR, Premier League soccer, golf, basketball, hockey, etc. Each of those sports has a large pool of fans and it makes sense to offer our partners the opportunity to use 3PAK as a marketing and loyalty tool throughout the year.

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