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How to: Smarter Social Ads for Pro Sports Teams – Detroit Red Wings Edition

How Smarter Digital Marketing Can Change the Game for the Red Wings

How to: Smarter Social Ads for Pro Sports Teams – Detroit Red Wings Edition

First I want to say, rest in peace to Mike Ilitch. As a child I can’t explain how much joy he brought me watching the Wings as a kid. Seeing Yzerman, Fedorov, Konstantinov, and all the other great talent hr brought to Detroit is something I will never forget. As a hockey player, it made it even more special.

But, For Real

Now for the nitty-gritty: Red Wings didn’t just have issues on the ice this season. From the looks of it, they’re falling behind on the latest online marketing technologies, too. Online marketing is key to maximizing revenue for sports teams, yet many are still behind the times. Teams like the Red Wings are leaving millions of dollars on the table by not embracing new marketing technology, which, to us over at Marketing Supply, is mind-boggling.

What’s the Deal with the NHL?

Any web page that intends to sell something needs a Facebook pixel. As it turns out, neither the Red Wings nor the NHL are utilizing Facebook pixels on any of their most important pages.

This means that the Red Wings are missing an opportunity to achieve at least 4 business-critical goals: gather customer data and sell more season tickets, merchandise and suites.

To paint a better picture, I’m going to breakdown how the Red Wings are missing some major opportunities for revenue growth. Later, I’ll explain how they can (and should) use key online marketing technologies to increase revenue on ticket, merchandise, and suite sales, as well as gather indispensible customer data.

The Colossal Mistake: NHL Edition

This could be the second biggest mistake the NHL is making following the destined to fail Vegas Knights expansion team.  https://www.nhl.com/redwings – From the get-go, there are major issues with this property that limits the sales of Red Wings-specific tickets and products.

As the NHL, I understand why they would want to own this property at the top of the funnel: It gives them more control over the content, data, and brand. In theory, this is nice. In truth, it’s likely going to hurt them in the long run.

With the current setup, the Red Wings’ own marketing team isn’t able to understand who’s hitting that page or what their behavior is. They lack the ability to build retargeting and lookalike audiences in Facebook—which in turn prohibits them from getting an idea of who their customers are and how they behave on-page.

Ultimately, the goal here for the NHL is to get fans to purchase products from the Red Wings. If they leave, the next best thing is that they come back to make a purchase, right?

Enter: Facebook Pixel 

There’s nothing we can do about all those millions lost, but there is something to be done about making up for it (and then some). The way we do that is by a little, yet powerful, tool called a Facebook pixel.

A Facebook pixel is a snippet of code that’s placed within the code of an existing website. The pixel facilitates the dropping of a cookie onto the users’ web browser to essentially remember, or “store,” that audience and everything they do on the site.

The Solution

What the NHL should do is allow every team in the NHL to add their own Facebook pixel (and other marketing tools) on their sub-folder to collect relevant data on their fans. With that data, the NHL could then retarget ads for merchandise, suites, and season tickets. The result: increased revenue and exposure for both the league and the team.

Yet Another Mistake: The Red Wings Edition

http://littlecaesarsarenaticketplans.com/. – Now this is where it gets pretty interesting.

If I want to inquire about purchasing Red Wings season tickets or suites, I need to navigate to this site (which is owned by the Red Wings). It’s safe to say that most users of the site are super fans and have a strong intent to purchase a big-ticket item. This makes data gathering, like demographic and psychographic data, all the more important.

However, the Facebook pixel helper shows that there is no pixel installed on the page. As we well know, this is a huge hole in their sales efforts. This simple technology would allow them to retarget a fan with custom-tailored ads–ones that they actually want to see–on Facebook and Instagram.

Why Sports Teams Should Implement a Facebook Pixel to Increase Revenue

Now I want to talk in more detail about the benefits of using ad-retargeting technology. Re-targeting ads are great because they target a previous site user with an ad that serves as a reminder to head back and make a purchase.

A smart way to get started with retargeting sports fans is to create Facebook and Instagram, and you’re about to find out how and why it works.

1. Gather Customer Data

As an example, the Red Wings can begin to generate audience traffic from everyone who visits the Red Wings page. By looking at the Audience Insights tab on the Red Wings’ Facebook Adverts Manager, their marketing team will have an idea of who has visited said page.

This includes a wealth of invaluable information, including demographics and psychographics. Plus, Facebook owns Instagram, so all of the data gathered from Facebook Ads Manager is in sync with Instagram.

2. Sell More Season Tickets

As the off-season progresses and the Wings are looking to push its season and single ticket plans, they can serve a targeted ad to anyone who has ever visited the site. Even fans need a little reminder, and by using the audience it’s generating, the Wings can easily stir up interest.

3. Sell More Merchandise

If someone is interested in purchasing Red Wings season tickets, they’re also probably interested in buying Wings merch. The no-brainer move here is to target anyone who has visited this page with ads specifically for merchandise, on Facebook and Instagram. These ads would undoubtedly increase those merchandise sales and revenue.

4. Sell More Suites

If someone is looking for season tickets, they likely have deep pockets. More often than not, these same people are business owners. And business owners are generally more apt to buy a suite at a professional sports game than those who aren’t.

With that said, a Facebook pixel would allow the Wings to use the audience they generated from their web traffic, to those specific people with ads to purchase suites and season tickets.

What’s more, is that they can create what’s called a Lookalike Audience in Facebook Ads Manager. Lookalike audiences enable advertisers to target even more people similar to those who’ve already expressed interest.

Pretty cool, huh.

2 Huge Website Flaws that Limit Sports Teams’ Revenue Growth

We did a lot of digging on these teams’ websites, and we found some major flaws that limit their marketing potential. Let’s take a look at a couple of examples.

A person interested in buying season tickets from the Pistons and the Red Wings would go to this page (littlecaesarsarenaticketplans.com), and there are 2 glaring faults in particular, right from the get-go.

1. Poor Navigation

When I select “Red Wings” or “Pistons,” the site uses a hash bang for navigation (see how Gawker learned the hard way why hash bangs are bad news).

The big issue with a hash bang navigation is that whomever is running marketing for the Red Wings is not able to generate a Facebook or Google audience based on the traffic coming to a these pages:

2. No Call-to-Action

There isn’t a single, clear call-to-action to purchase tickets from the site, which—more than anything—is a hit to overall user experience. Time is precious, and if people can’t find what they’re looking for, they’ll get frustrated. The end result of their frustration is leaving the site entirely.

The Test

I decided to put myself in the shoes of a corporate customer who previously visited NHL.com/redwings for suite purchasing. Then, I went through the motions.

I started by locating and clicking the “Tickets” tab at the top of the homepage (I was honestly surprised they didn’t have a “Purchase” button above the fold), and was redirected.

I was surprised again to not see a “Purchase” button. But, I found the next best option, thinking that the “Fox Theatre Suites” button would finally let me purchase tickets.

Wrong again.

The “Fox Theatre Suites” button lead me here:

Yet again, it appeared to just be an informational page with no option to purchase. I did manage to find a phone number and email address to a salesperson. In this day and age, this shouldn’t be a requirement for purchasing.

These experiences made me wonder just how many potential customers they lost; not out of disinterest, but out of poor user experience. As a site user, it just feels like a dead end.

As attention spans are getting shorter, it’s essential that these teams make the purchasing experience as quick and simple as possible. There’s no room for ambiguity when it comes to a call-to-action.

Don’t Skimp Out on Modern Marketing Technologies

We have no doubt that implementing even a few of these powerful marketing tools to the associated websites could help increase revenue for season tickets, suites, and merchandise.

And we don’t have any doubts because we’ve utilized these exact practices with our clients and churned out huge success in revenue growth.

At Marketing Supply Company, our goal is to make impactful changes that actually solve problems—problems exactly like the ones I discussed above.

I’ll leave you with this Bieber photo of an ill-fitting Red Wings hat that is reminiscent of the way my hometown heroes run their digital marketing. Also, does his shirt say DONG?

Your business could be next. Contact Marketing Supply today for innovative, results-driven revenue growth.

Shane Bliemaster

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