Need to move 3,500 tickets in 30 days? Consult the Boston Celtics’ email playbook

Top marketers presenting their case studies at the MarketingSherpa Email Summit in Miami last week included Matt Griffin of the Boston Celtics.

Though the Eastern Conference-leading Celtics probably don’t have this problem right now, the team found itself looking at quite a few empty seats at least once in the not too distant past. Matt’s straight-forward mission: Get ‘em filled.

First, Matt understands his audience. He knows he has a die-hard fan base. He’s analyzed their emotional purchasing behavior, and he knows they have a tendency to impulse buy. He also knows his team has a broad demographic appeal.

Phase one of his strategy? A targeted email campaign to customers who had previously bought blocks of tickets, especially colleges (target those of the players) and families (throw in hot dogs and T-shirts and make it a package deal), and offer customers who had opted-in to get emails from the team site a ½ off ticket.

Phase Two: An email campaign to previous ticket buyers, carefully tracking click-throughs on the offer. If they didn’t convert right away, they got a phone call. “Phone calls after the fact are gold for us,” said Griffin.

Fast-forward to the tip-off: Seats were full, the Celtics won (and thanked the fans), and that brought on Phase Three of Matt’s plan: Follow up with everyone who bought a ticket, or a block of tickets, and offer them a six-game package.

Results? Their approach is an NBA best practice, getting twice the returns of standard email campaigns with their “three-point conversion,” and the Celtics are one of the top ticket selling teams, even in years they aren’t leading the league.

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According to Matt, the Celtics aren’t about just putting on a professional basketball game: “What we really do is create an experience.”

Their approach to email marketing isn’t bad, either.

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