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Jun 22, 2021
It’s no secret that Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) and its properties, including the NHL’s LA Kings, are innovative and forward-thinking when it comes to connecting with fans and customers* by using data, behavioral trends, and predictive insights to create a personalized and meaningful fan experience. At the head of that leading-edge approach is Aaron LeValley, AEG’s senior vice president of business operations & strategy. Aaron, his team, and the LA Kings have been working collaboratively with StellarAlgo over the last 12-14 months to test and evolve a new premium feature in our Customer Data Platform (CDP) – the Customer Journey Explorer.
Designed to help users understand and visualize the many paths to conversion that different segments of fans are most likely to take, the Customer Journey Explorer evaluates whether your campaign flows are having the anticipated impact on fan behavior and highlights other channels outside your campaign flows that are resulting in conversion. The Customer Journey Explorer educates organizations on the natural steps their fans take during their conversion journey so you can connect with fans in the way that fits them best.
“We’ve always approached our relationship with StellarAlgo with a really collaborative mindset. We push ourselves to be authentic and meaningful in how we talk to our fans and StellarAlgo has that same vision, which is why we continue to expand our relationship with them,” said Aaron LeValley. “The Customer Journey Explorer has been a labor of love that we are so thrilled to have helped develop. It started as an idea and has grown into a really valuable feature within our CDP.”
As a StellarAlgo partner since 2017, this isn’t the first time the LA Kings have worked in collaboration with us to dig deeper into what their fan data is telling them about their customer journeys. A 2020 exploration into how the LA Kings use data to better understand their customers was featured as a case study in the second edition (published in 2021) of Fiona Green’s industry bestseller, ‘Winning With Data in the Business of Sports: CRM and Analysis‘ (pages 208-15). Today, the Kings – and almost a dozen other major league teams – are using the new Customer Journey Explorer premium feature to help develop and enhance their customer-centric strategy, thanks in large part to the data, insights, and experience of the LA Kings and their ongoing mission to better understand, map, and glean insights from the customer journeys of their fans.
As an all-important tool in their tech stack, the Kings’ CDP is becoming the central repository of their fan data and machine learning-powered insights to action on their fan-focused business use cases. The StellarAlgo CDP is the central hub the Kings use to help them better understand their fans (both over time and across multiple systems), to monitor and identify behavioral trends and attribution patterns, and to action on those insights via the creation of targeted segments that they push to various activation channels like email, digital ad platforms, and CRM.
As a large organization, we have a lot of information at our fingertips, but that means getting information to our business users can sometimes be hard. Our StellarAlgo CDP is becoming the central location to get the valuable insights we need to grow and engage our Kings fanbase. There’s a reason we are continuing to grow our partnership with StellarAlgo and it’s because our CDP makes it so easy to see, understand, and then execute on valuable information.
SVP Business Operations & Strategy, Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG)
Despite the continued shutdowns over the 2020 holiday season due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the LA Kings were hopeful that – with increasing numbers of the public being successfully vaccinated and a set start date for the NHL’s shortened 2021 season set – they would be able to once again welcome fans to in-person games at some point during the season. This set the stage for the perfect opportunity to incorporate the functionality of the Customer Journey Explorer into their Holiday Pack campaign to optimize their seasonal sales and marketing efforts.
As is their standard process, the LA Kings created and saved their targeted segments in their CDP using the Cohort Builder and Cohort Analyzer to track and measure results. Aaron and his team set a goal to sell 300 Holiday Packs – a flexible ticket bundle that could be redeemed before the end of the announced 2021-22 NHL season – and to use the Customer Journey Explorer to capture valuable learnings about fans’ digital behaviors and the natural steps they take to convert.
First, the Kings determined the fan segments they wanted to target as part of the Holiday Pack campaign. After reviewing past campaign results and identifying key segments that had made similar types of purchases, the Kings built and saved eight (8) distinct cohorts using the Cohort Builder, including a cohort made up of in-market buyers who had purchased tickets to one (1) game in the past three (3) seasons, and another comprising Holiday Pack buyers from the prior three (3) seasons. The team decided to use the same creative and copy for each of these eight cohorts in order to set controls for comparison and learning purposes. As an industry best practice, saving these cohorts in their CDP enabled the Kings to measure attribution and behavioral trends using the Cohort Analyzer and the Customer Product Migration report.
After building and saving these eight cohorts in their CDP, the Kings exported these lists for activation to either Marketo, Facebook Ads Manager (using the lookalike audience finder in conjunction with their targeted cohorts), or Microsoft Dynamics CRM. The Kings also used the Marketo Munchkin pixel and Google Analytics to track web traffic and uncover further insights. As the campaign progressed, the Kings consistently excluded fans as they converted so they would be removed from the ongoing holiday campaign and no longer receive advertising for a product they’d already purchased. Sales reps also worked their assigned call lists, ensuring activity and purchase results were appropriately tracked.
Lastly, fans who were not part of any of these eight pre-built cohorts, but who had visited the Kings’ ticketing page on at least two (2) separate occasions, received an automated email about the Holiday Pack offer. If they opened and clicked that email, they were assigned to a sales rep and added to the call campaign.
Tracking attribution and cohort performance is an automated, nightly process for every saved cohort within your CDP. The Cohort Analyzer tracks important metrics such as revenue generated, including revenue generated by specific products based on true ticket sales from ticketing systems; customer conversion rate; first- and last-touch conversion; amalgamates email and digital campaign results like clicks, sends and opens; and more. As part of this process, the Cohort Analyzer monitored and surfaced results to the Kings daily, helping Aaron and his team to identify their best-performing segments.
Using the Customer Journey Explorer premium feature enabled the Kings to visually track opens and clicks on email marketing campaigns, to track website visits to specific pages, and to identify the most common paths to conversion in a singular location. The Kings reviewed these insights on a biweekly basis and made tweaks or changes where necessary to ensure ongoing, overall campaign success.
The Customer Journey Explorer provided the Kings the flexibility they needed to become hyper-focused on any one of their activation channels or to compare them all holistically, based on their needs in the moment. Web traffic insights (both known and anonymous) provided via the Marketo Munchkin pixel and Google Analytics, uncovered some particularly interesting findings: first, and probably most importantly for the sales team, they surfaced 182 actionable leads that came from repeating page visits to the Holiday Pack landing page. Second, they found that the majority of web traffic to the Holiday Pack landing page was driven by the LA Kings Insider website and Facebook (both visits to the LA Kings Facebook page and targeted Facebook advertising) drove most of the overall web traffic to the Holiday Pack page, with the Marketo Munchkin pixel recording a 1% conversion.
In the end, the Kings not only surpassed their 300 package goal, they successfully re-engaged past ticket buyers and identified and monetized new fans. At the end of the month-long campaign, 57% of all Holiday Pack buyers were brand new customers, helping the Kings grow their overall known fan universe. Of their previous buyers who went on to purchase a Holiday Pack, 67% spoke with a sales rep, with those in the high-spending mini-plan and multi-purchase buyer categories most likely to purchase.
Of the total number of fans who’d previously purchased, 25% were considered win-backs (fans who had purchased for previous seasons but then lapsed prior to the pandemic); of those win-backs, 10% were considered to have a high Lifetime Value (LTV). Overall, the Kings’ Holiday Pack buyers skewed to bringing out the biggest spenders (29% top-tier customers) with the average lifetime spend over $500 more than the average lifetime spend across all Kings customers. Those high spenders also converted at a rate 2X higher than any other level of lifetime monetary spend.
Finally, even several months following the conclusion of the Holiday Pack campaign, 72% of buyers continued to engage with the Kings’ marketing campaigns, with 80% of top spenders continuing to interact in a meaningful way with Kings’ content, demonstrating that the Kings’ efforts to truly personalize their outreach is working and opening up opportunities for additional engagement and premium package promotions.
The insights gleaned from the Kings’ Holiday Pack campaign prove just how valuable connecting the dots in a fan’s journey truly are. Not only did the LA Kings exceed their goal of 300 packages sold, but the overall fan behavior learnings provide valuable insights into the most effective ways to engage and connect with these fan segments in the future. Aaron sums it up by saying:
“We learned a lot about our fans and the channels that different segments respond to best. One of the most interesting findings was how our previous customers were excited for Kings hockey despite being unable to host fans, and which types of customers had a higher propensity for our Holiday Packs. As an organization, I think our institutional knowledge helped us develop strong segments of fans from the beginning but we definitely learned a lot about the lifetime value of some of these customers too. These new learnings will no doubt carry us through to future campaigns and we’re looking forward to seeing what we learn next.”
* There’s a subtle but significant distinction between ‘fans’ and ‘customers’ when it comes to monitoring behavior, tracking the journey to conversion, and developing engaging content. To learn more, and to explore the commercial impact of these two broad segments, check out this analysis we did in October 2020 involving more than 80 major league sports organizations.