National Hockey League leveraged customer data to gain 1.2M Facebook followers: NCDM 2010

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The National Hockey League has enhanced its marketing initiatives by using customer data in the past three years. The sports organization's more sophisticated use of consumer data to enhance programming experiences has made a difference, according to Perry Cooper, SVP of direct and digital marketing and fan analytics at the NHL, in his December 15 keynote at the NCDM 2010 Conference in Miami.

The NHL wanted to activate fans and corporate partners, improve editorial and video, expand its digital product portfolio, focus on audience development, and apply data to inform and direct programming.

Since then, the NHL has implemented SEO, launched mobile apps for international and domestic fans, and leveraged social networking to drive transactions.

“Today we focus on audience development...and making hockey fans act like hockey fans,” said Cooper, who realized based on the data he'd collected that most hockey fans stop watching once the season ends or their favorite team is eliminated from playoff contention. “No one has ever canceled their Super Bowl party because their favorite team wasn't in it.”

The NHL targeted four key digital areas for improvement based on the analytics and data it gathered by studying online fan behavior. The company sought to effectively use exclusive video content, boost international consumption, use its central fan database to drive and sustain direct transactional relationships, and maximize Facebook for targeted marketing.

“We're collecting all the information to determine lifetime value models,” Cooper said. “Fans who do more are worth more. But you have to drive that behavior.”

Today, the NHL has more than 1.2 million Facebook fans, an audience that makes up the NHL's largest referring source behind Google.

“The information never stops coming,” Cooper said. “You've got to listen to it, program it, and react to it. You've got to do it again and again and again.”

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