Tampa Bay Lightning Go Digital To Rejoice A Championship Season With Followers

Because the Nationwide Hockey League’s Tampa Bay Lightning gained the Stanley Cup championship on September 28, Travis Pelleymounter, who leads season-ticket gross sales for the Lightning, was already fascinated about subsequent season.

Amid the enjoyment of the franchise’s first championship in 16 years, Pelleymounter and his colleagues in gross sales and advertising and marketing confronted an enormous skilled problem: How do they promote 2021 season tickets and join with the workforce’s passionate followers with a lot uncertainty attributable to COVID-19?

A championship workforce stuffed with enjoyable, common gamers is the best present for anybody promoting season tickets. However that is 2020. The NHL playoffs befell with no followers in attendance, at two cities in Canada the place the gamers quarantined in a “bubble” towards coronavirus. So Pelleymounter confronted an influence play stuffed with questions from followers: What number of video games will NHL groups play subsequent season? On which dates? What number of followers will be capable of attend?

“Proper now, I’ve to say, ‘I don’t know’ for all three of these for the primary time in my profession,” he says.

‘Stanley Simply Received Right here’

What the workforce can provide, Pelleymounter says, is “communication and contingencies.”

Emails are a basis of that technique, and it takes a complete workforce effort to ship them in a method that followers admire. Mixing creativity with sensible expertise, the gross sales, advertising and marketing, and knowledge analytics groups work collectively to make sure they ship solely related messages, utilizing Oracle Eloqua Advertising and marketing Automation, a part of Oracle Cloud Buyer Expertise (CX) functions.

For instance, quickly after the Stanley Cup finals, the workforce despatched an e mail aimed solely at individuals who had indicated they weren’t renewing their upcoming season tickets or had put their season ticket cost plan on maintain.

The e-mail requested them: “Stanley simply bought right here. The place are you going?”

The message was opened by 40% of recipients and led to some key ticket renewals. Pelleymounter estimates at the very least $160,000 in income is attributable, at the very least partly, to that marketing campaign, which boosted the renewal price amongst that group by a few share factors.

On the identical time that the Lightning relied extra on e mail communications, the speed at which followers unsubscribed from emails declined. That’s as a result of every e mail went to a smaller variety of individuals, focused to their pursuits.

“You’d assume all the season ticket holders would fall into one bucket, however they don’t,” says Christina Kori, the Lightning’s digital advertising and marketing supervisor.


The group now connects repeatedly with round 200,000 followers, purposefully down from a listing of 500,000 prior to now. However e mail open charges are actually sometimes 40%, up from about 12% earlier than this new focus.

The Human Contact

Tampa, Florida, might not be the everyday hockey market, however the Lightning’s fan base is “extremely loyal and dedicated to the workforce,” Kori says. The Lightning’s use of Oracle Eloqua helps it hold a powerful human connection to these followers.

Pelleymounter believes each season ticket holder must be paired with just one workforce gross sales rep, in order that they’ve a person to contact for questions reminiscent of the way to transfer their seat location or change what number of video games they purchase. The workforce used Oracle Eloqua’s automation to make sure that every e mail to a season-ticket holder contains the correct rep for that fan.

Pelleymounter admits he frightened when the workforce determined to ship a “drip” of e mail messages—a number of one after one other—to followers that weren’t renewing their season tickets. “I first thought, ‘Oh, I’m going to get calls, saying we’re spamming them.’ I haven’t gotten a single one,” he says.

The workforce is definitely sending fewer emails in complete. Kori credit a change in mindset: Focus much less on the amount of emails despatched and extra on getting the correct responses primarily based on focused messages. Culturally, the sports activities world is wired for large crowds, since attendance and viewership drive the enterprise, so the concept sending fewer messages general would possibly work higher initially precipitated “numerous heartburn,” she says.

“Having eyeballs on issues has at all times been crucial in sports activities,” Kori says. “What we’ve got present in advertising and marketing is that simply because we’re getting eyeballs doesn’t imply they’re taking the motion we hope they’ll.”

The Lightning surveyed season ticket holders to grasp their greatest considerations. The highest ones included well being and security, variety of video games, worth, and common uncertainty, and people components have guided the workforce’s communications.

A Few Nice Saves

The Lightning group now has a lot religion in its digital advertising and marketing that it has stopped sending a bodily follow-up letter to individuals canceling their season tickets. It sends that alert by e mail—with the identical “drip” strategy, reminiscent of saying their tickets will probably be canceled in 48 hours, then one saying in 24 hours, after which one saying their tickets have been canceled—so name immediately if that’s incorrect. “These messages led to some actually vital saves,” Pelleymounter says.


That’s why I work in sports activities. I believe it pulls individuals collectively.

Travis Pelleymounter, vice chairman of ticket gross sales and repair, Tampa Bay Lightning

Going digital took religion within the expertise in addition to the technique. “If you happen to ask what Oracle did, it’s one thing we might be extraordinarily assured in,” Pelleymounter says. “Now I do know that if we section out, and we message intelligently, we’re going to get engagement.”

Executing on this technique additionally has introduced with it a brand new method of working, with fixed brainstorming throughout the gross sales, advertising and marketing, and analytics teams. “It helped the tradition of our group, and I don’t say that calmly,” Pelleymounter says. “We’re so linked and collaborative with our digital advertising and marketing workforce now.”

Successful by teamwork—that’s one thing the entire Lightning membership discovered quite a bit about in 2020. On the ice, the membership set a file for the most additional time minutes within the Stanley Cup playoffs by a champion. Within the again workplace, the workforce discovered the way to make new digital connections to rejoice a historic season with followers and assist rally a metropolis throughout a time of angst and uncertainty.

“That’s why I work in sports activities,” Pelleymounter says. “I believe it pulls individuals collectively.”


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