Portland Trail Blazers Customer EngagementVincent Ircandia, Senior Vice President of Business Operations for the Portland Trail Blazers, told Loyalty360 that the NBA franchise has learned more about its customers in the past two years than in the previous, thanks to Marketo, a leading provider of customer engagement marketing software and solutions.

Ircandia explained that the Trail Blazers wants to increase game attendance and build deeper, more personalized relationships with fans. Since implementing the Marketo platform, the Trail Blazers have converted more fans into season ticket-holders and increased overall customer engagement.

Consider the following numbers:

Boosted season ticket renewals by 8% percent (96% renewal rate)

Increased single-game ticket sales by 30%

Improved email open rates by 45%

Prior to using Marketo, the team sent generic communications to its fans. The team's management group needed a system that would help attract people to its arena (Moda Center) for home basketball games as well as concerts, family shows, and other special events.

Team management officials realized they needed technology that would provide a 360-degree view of their fans. After examining different marketing platforms and technologies, the team selected Marketo for its array of features, easy integration with the organization’s sales platform, and intuitive interface. Marketo’s extensive analytics provided the team with the information it needed to align the right message to the right fan at the right time.

While Portland ranks as the 22nd-largest NBA market, the Trail Blazers now are among the league’s leaders in fan attendance.

Loyalty360 caught up with Ircandia to learn more about the Trail Blazer’s thriving partnership with Marketo.

What will this partnership with Marketo do for the Blazers from a customer engagement/customer experience perspective?Portland Trail Blazers

The sports and entertainment business is all about big moments. Marketo is helping us deliver relevant and desired content to our fans at key moments in the customer journey. With Marketo, our email open rates have risen above 40% among Blazers season ticket-holders and above 25% for individual game buyers and concertgoers. We are really proud of these numbers.

Marketo has allowed us to increase engagement and deepen connections with our fans leading to a 96% season ticket-holder retention rate this past season. I honestly think we’ve learned more about our fans in the last two years than we had in the previous 20 and Marketo is a huge part of that.

What are the Blazers’ goals for the partnership?

As a sports and entertainment property, we have an incredibly loyal and dedicated fan base by nature, but there is still tremendous opportunity to expand our reach and deepen our relationships. Nurturing our customers from casual observers into lifelong fans is really what we are after and we measure it very closely.

As a business, we have a unique number of touch points with our fans including ticket sales, corporate partnership sales, food and beverage sales, and retail sales. If we can build engagement and affinity and gather enough data to understand exactly where a fan is in their journey, we can upsell or cross-sell them at the right moment. We hit records in many of these areas this past year and with Marketo’s help we are on our way to build on them this coming year.

Simplicity was one of the major themes at our Loyalty Expo in April in Orlando. How do the Blazers simplify their relationships with customers that ultimately lead to brand loyalty?

One thing we’ve done is re-focus our mobile efforts. Last season we ranked No. 1 in the NBA in terms of traffic share on mobile versus desktop, so we’ve needed to be extremely mindful of how we are serving content on mobile devices.

Our website is mobile responsive now and we will be launching an update to our mobile app this fall that will serve content based on time of day, location, whether it’s an event day or not. Our app used to be more of a content hub but now it is really a functional, interactive way to improve a fan’s experience. Whether you are a casual fan following the Blazers’ Twitter feed while watching at home or ordering food and beverage directly to your seat, our mobile app is customized to enhance your fan experience.

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