Magazine article CRM Magazine

CRM for Bleacher Creatures: Smaller Franchises Are Leveraging CRM to Increase Their Fan Bases

Magazine article CRM Magazine

CRM for Bleacher Creatures: Smaller Franchises Are Leveraging CRM to Increase Their Fan Bases

Article excerpt

How has CRM improved customer relationships in sports? Some might cite the damage control associated with labor strikes, or the marketing frenzy connected to a playoff run. These situations do tend to get customer service issues attention in major league sports, but CRM is now being adopted by franchises in some of the smaller leagues in an effort to expand their fan bases.

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The recent startup of professional sports leagues like the WNBA and AFL (Arena Football League) has created a new range of teams and sports for fans to choose from. Ensuring that a team's marketability isn't lost among its larger brethren is important if smaller leagues are to grow. This last point is especially true when considering venues like New York and Los Angeles, two cities with multiple franchises and huge fan bases.

Franchises use CRM products mostly for the basics (email distribution, ticket-holder customer databases, and fan clubs and loyalty programs), to keep fans informed of promotions, schedules, and team events. But it's crucial that franchises establish a two-way relationship with their fan base to receive feedback and input. "It's important that franchises pay attention to their fan base to uncover patterns such as purchasing habits," says Chris Forrest, customer service coordinator for the L.A. Sparks. "With that sort of information franchises can start offering their fans more relevant promotions, expanding their fan base at the same time."

Many sports franchises big and small are now recording customer data directly from touch points, including team Web sites, box offices, and, more recently, Ticketmaster, in an effort to communicate with fans directly. "By integrating their data with Ticketmaster, franchises are working with up-to-date, unified data that enables them to adjust their marketing messages faster than retooling a ticket drive on an annual basis," says Chris Charron, an analyst and vice president at Forrester Research. "They're receiving the data to create targeted messages based on their fans' history of interactions with their team instead of relying on a media outlet to send a generic message."

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