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The Power of Mobile Marketing for Sports Teams

Mobile marketing is a very powerful tool for sports teams and organizations. It allows them to engage and interact, on a personal level, with their customers (fans), both at the stadium and throughout the season. Additionally, it is a communication medium that is ideal for the sports fan demographic, which is trending young, educated, and tech savvy.

While these statements are nothing new, the challenge is how to use this knowledge and effectively utilize mobile marketing for strategic purposes.

Vibes Media,  a leading Chicago-based mobile marketing company,  provides two recent examples of successful mobile sports marketing campaigns. Vibes has 400+ clients, including an array of top brands and sports teams, amongst which are the NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB.

The first campaign is for Vibes’ work with the Chicago Bulls Basketball Team. Vibes developed  a campaign that enables the Bulls’ fans to receive self-driven updates, scores and player statistics on their mobile phones. The live scores originate from the NBA’s dynamic game feed and are sent via SMS messages to fans who text ‘SCORE’ to BULLS. Additionally, fans who are interested in real-time statistics for a particular player can receive a live stat update by texting the player’s last name to BULLS.

According to Jack Philbin, Vibes co-founder and president:

We’ve recently seen an explosion in SMS text messaging, as industry experts predict that over 2 trillion messages will be sent in the US in 2011. As a result, more brands are taking advantage of mobile to connect with consumers because your mobile phone is your most personal device, and it gives users information immediately.”

For the Bulls, who have had SMS as a key component in their digital marketing platform for the last three years, the results have been impressive. In just a short space of time, the campaign has attracted 4,000 unique users as fans have taken up the opportunity to stay connected to the team.

The second example is Vibes’ campaign with the National Hockey League’s Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins are fairly active in the mobile space and have a free mobile app service  for the iPhone, Blackberry and Android devices.  They have also been steadily growing a mobile Pens Mobile Club database for the last 5 years. The database now has 93,606 opted-in fans, who have opted-in by texting the keyword ‘PENS’ to a short code. When signed up, these fans get communications directly from the Penguins, including commercial offers and team news. The Penguins utilize their own content and create engaging messages, which they deliver using Vibes’ web-based, self-serve platform. These messages keep their fans engaged and the team top of mind.

On April 4, the Penguins ran a text-to-win contest. The mobile communication, which was sent to the entire database, asked consumers to reply ‘FAN’ for a chance to win two tickets to the team’s final regular-season game, as well as an autographed helmet. The results were staggering. The contest generated 55,196 unique entries – 59% of its mobile database.

Jeremy Zimmer, director of new media for the Pittsburgh Penguins, was quoted in Mobile Marketer on April 6th as saying:

We do a lot of mobile contesting. Our strategy for [April 4th’s text to win] was simply to engage our fans, entertain them with an instant win contest and demonstrate value to their membership.”

These two examples illustrate the power of mobile marketing. It allows a sports team (or any other organization) to transform a scattered and unstructured fan base into a centralized mobile database that can be activated to increase the reach of the brand and offer added value to fans.

Mobile marketing, utilizing regular communication and unique content, is a highly effective way to continually maintain engagement with your fans.

Photo by Kevan


14 Responses to The Power of Mobile Marketing for Sports Teams

  1. dmfreedom April 13, 2011 at 11:54 am #

    Good to see people ‘getting it’ after so long. I remember a time, not so long ago, when the phrase mobile marketing in America meant sticking a billboard on the back of a truck and driving it around the streets.

    Also good to see that techniques like ‘text to win’ which have been around for over a decade still gives a good return. It’s easy to forget that SMS is available to nearly 100% of phone owners, and gives the 70% that don’t have smartphones a way to engage.

  2. Mobile Sports Fan December 11, 2012 at 4:59 pm #

    You are right. The more connected the fan is to his team, the more loyal he will be thru good times and bad.

    Great information in this article, Chris.

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