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

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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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