Now is the perfect time to be a fan of the Indiana Pacers. (Bandwagon fans welcome.) The team is not only in the top third of their conference with whispers of playoff possibilities, but they’re also making major improvements to their full fan experience.

As with most improvements, however, the Pacers’ digital marketing success came with plenty of challenges. After approaching obstacles in their email marketing program with a keen eye for detail — and data — the result is a compelling customer experience that would turn any Pacers fan into a diehard fanatic.


Here’s how the team did it.

Disorganized customer data leads to marketing challenges

According to Salesforce’s State of Marketing report, only 28% of marketers say they are completely satisfied with their ability to create a shared, single view of customers across business units. The Pacers’ digital team was in the same boat. Its data sets simply didn’t provide a clear understanding of each unique customer, especially when it came to sending emails.

As recently as 2016, the team would spend up to six hours building a single email list from disparate spreadsheets. Even after all of that manual work to “personalize” one email, a courtside season ticket holder would often receive the same email message as any other season ticket buyer. On top of that, they weren’t always able to track accurate metrics, such as email opens and clicks.

The Pacers’ digital team decided it was time for a change in their email tactics.


The Pacers reevaluate their game plan and revamp emails

The Pacers’ digital team members started by doing what its NBA squad would do during a timeout in the final seconds of overtime: they drew up a play.

They started by defining their email marketing process.

  • What are the steps?

  • How does each step work?

  • Who is involved in each step?

  • Are there inefficiencies at any steps (i.e., unnecessary manual work)?

  • If so, can we automate any tasks?

  • What data do we have available?

  • How can we use that data to more effectively engage fans?

The team ultimately discovered that they could make huge improvements in how they collected, organized, and activated customer data. An email program that was once built on whether someone purchased a ticket, now centered on a subscriber’s engagement history across multiple touchpoints, not just a single transaction.

By intelligently segmenting their audience based on engagement and using features in Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud, such as Journey Builder, the Pacers’ digital team could send personalized emails to anyone who engaged with the brand. A courtside season ticket holder would receive one email, while an international fan would receive a completely different one.


The full fan experience goes cross-channel

With an improved email process — up and running — complete with new A/B testing capabilities; the Pacers’ digital team realized they could also expand the fan experience beyond dynamic email content to other channels. The same engagement data that powers personalized emails can also be used to reach fans on social media with targeted ads.

On the horizon, the Pacers plan to leverage Marketing CloudService Cloud, and MuleSoft to pull together ticket systems, food and beverage systems, mobile app behavior, and more to understand their fanbase even better. Marketing Cloud to send the right message in the right moment as they expand into new digital channels, Service Cloud to optimize the customer experience and share information internally, and Mulesoft to sit at the center, to bridge their different data systems. For fans, that means a more connected and engaging experience lies ahead.

See how other sports teams and broadcasters convert customers to loyal fans and maximize audience engagement using Salesforce Marketing Cloud.