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Nov 14, 2019
Customer journeys are becoming the hot new buzzword in Sports & Entertainment as organizations look to understand how their customers interact with their organization across multiple channels and systems. Analytics departments are shifting more of their focus towards marketing needs related to campaign attribution, marketing effort ROI, and customer journeys. But what is a customer journey and why is it becoming one of the more talked about trends among industry professionals?
In simple terms, a customer journey is the steps that a customer (or fan) goes through before making a purchase or taking some sort of action. Journeys can be created for any type of action – from ticket or merchandise sales, to making a donation to your organization’s charitable foundation, to something as simple as signing up for an email. Journeys also have various levels of complexity depending on the amount of time a customer needs before making a decision. For example, low risk actions like signing up for a team’s newsletter would have significantly less steps in a typical customer journey than an action like purchasing season tickets, which is a much larger investment of both time and money.
Let’s take purchasing a single-game ticket as an example. Marketing departments are getting more sophisticated in how they message to their fans in order to give them more personalized experiences (we’ve talked about this before – our segmentation blog is a good place to start if you want a refresher). The next step for both analytics and marketing professionals is understanding optimal paths to conversion and how customers segment into the different ways they accomplish the task of buying single game tickets. Or better yet, where their fans typically drop off in the customer journey, which can provide valuable information into barriers to purchase and how to fix them.
Let’s use an example: the below image is a potential customer journey pattern a fan who typically attends 1-2 games per season:
From analyzing this data, we may also uncover that 20% of our customers who follow this journey drop off after clicking on the Facebook ad. This information gives us a great starting point to dig in and try to understand why this particular step is so detrimental to our fans’ journeys. This is also a great place for analytics teams to use these insights and their institutional knowledge to dig deeper. Once they understand the makeup of the customers who churn, they may try retargeting the 20% of customers who churn with new incentives or messaging or even incentivized surveys to collect data on why they churned.
A few questions you could ask yourself are: Are we sending fans to the wrong landing page? Does the link connected to the ad make it difficult for fans to purchase tickets? Is there a promo code that’s expired?
Uncovering these paths isn’t easy though and requires resources and technical capabilities to de-anonymize and then stitch together each fan’s journey, to then identify patterns and trends. In order to accomplish this successfully at scale, organizations are turning to tools like CDPs with powerful machine learning engines to automate this process and its insights. Analytics teams are then using this enriched data to further investigate drop offs and help marketing optimize paths. Marketing teams are seriously benefiting from this knowledge to help inform campaign strategies and touchpoint tactics as well as refining personas.
Understanding customer journeys and collecting this data is an important step to understanding your fans. It’s vital since studies show that out of 26 unhappy customers, only 1 will complain – the rest will go somewhere else. How many prospective fans are you losing right now because of a potential gap in their journeys?
So, who does it well? It’s not hard to guess the names of some of the world’s most customer-obsessed brands – Netflix, Amazon, and Disney are easy ones to name but others such as Dollar Shave Club, Harley Davidson, and Zappos are also hyper-focused on customer satisfaction and connectedness. These companies not only listen intently to their customers, but they also take advantage of data and technology to offer some of the most personalized experiences on the planet. And it all stems from being experts in their customers’ journeys.
The first thing organizations can do to begin understanding fan journeys is to ensure that they’re tracking those fan interactions. There’s a lot of things yours fans are doing in relation to your brand and it’s important to begin capturing those breadcrumbs that they’re leaving you. Fans won’t tell you outright all the steps they went through before deciding to take some sort of action (like purchasing a ticket) and they likely aren’t even fully aware of it them themselves. It’s up to organizations to stitch together those small and large touchpoints over a period of time in order to get a holistic view of all those interactions that need to happen before a conversion is made.
Customer experience is no longer just about touchpoints. It’s about how a customer interacts with your brand all along their journey. This type of thinking requires an internal shift in an organization to move past thinking about interactions as standalone pieces and to begin thinking about how journeys intersect departments (from sales to marketing to digital media to community engagement). Organizations that master this shift will experience increased customer satisfaction from more personalized experiences as well as measurable returns.