Data and basketball imagery

Data Slam Dunk

Changing up the sports marketing game leads to record-breaking results.


From sixty-inch flat screens to tablets with live streaming, technology allows sports fans to be a part of the game without stepping through the stadium gates. It also pulls fans away from the home arenas and stadiums of the teams they follow.

Competing with technology means reinventing the fan experience. To keep filling their home court seats at Moda Center, the NBA Portland Trail Blazers knew they had to see each fan as more than a blur in the spirited crowd. Success required connecting with fans on a personal level.

The key to this personalized interaction? Data.

Between ticket and merchandise sales, concession consumption, and web search history, fans left behind a treasure trove of information.

Having seasons of fan data was a win. But it was also a loss. The valuable information was stored in disconnected systems, and without a way to clearly analyze and present the data, it was just numbers.

The answer to getting fans off their couches and into Moda Center’s seats was figuring out how to connect the separate systems and combine the data to create fan profiles. That’s when the Trail Blazers drafted SSB.

A business intelligence and data development solutions leader, SSB provided the Trail Blazers’ management with a solution they were looking for. Built on Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Azure, it pulls data from the separate systems into a central source.

Now, everything is analyzed and accessible through one location with big results.


The SSB process to boosting fan game attendance

During the 2014-15 season the Trail Blazers sold out 37 of 41 regular season games and averaged 100.5 percent of seating capacity, a franchise record. Their outstanding performance was achieved by utilizing the specialized fan profiles.

Management can view trends in real time and group individual fans based on specific preferences. Instead of using a standard call list, the Trail Blazers’ sales team reaches out to fans about the games and special events they know the fans will be interested in.

"We’ve learned more about our fans in the last two years than we had known in the previous 20.”

- Vincent Ircandia, Senior VP Business Operations, Portland Trail Blazers

The fan profiles can help predict which fans will not renew their season tickets. This allows management to check in with the fans about their experience and address any concerns before renewals are due. As a result of catering to these relationships, the Trail Blazers retained 95 percent of their season ticket holders—3rd best in the NBA.

They blazed the trail, but it didn’t take long for others to notice their success.

Since the Trail Blazers first partnered with SSB in 2009, an additional 24 college and professional sports teams have followed their lead. Even with the new competition, Portland remains one of the top teams in the NBA.

With the help of SSB, management continues to find new ways to view Trail Blazers fans as more than faces in a crowd. And in return, fans are choosing their seats at the Moda Center over big screens and comfy couches, game after game.

What will your story be?

Then get ready—because the right technology has the power to change everything.