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My Top 5 Takeaways from SEAT 2015

There are all kinds of ways to judge the quality of a conference, from the venue, food, number of attendees, to the keynote presenters. Being a huge fan of all things social and the CSO at Zoomph, I come across different types of events, but this past week when I was at the Super Bowl of Sports Conferences: Sports & Entertainment Alliance in Technology (SEAT), I discovered a new metric to judge events – The Embrace of Data.

This year, SEAT provided members an opportunity to speak and address the biggest concerns within #SportsBiz, with one common theme in mind –

The embrace of data and technology to provide unparalleled fan experiences.

Annual conferences typically are all about drawing loyal attendees. But, SEAT is different. Year after year, it has consistently provided value in a way that has convinced professional sports organizations to make it their go-to destination for collaboration. SEAT provides a perfect platform to discuss opportunities, strategies and insights around using social media, technology and marketing.

I put together these five highlights based on my recent attendance at SEAT – curated from my notes, conversations with speakers, and data provided by Zoomph. Feel free to check out the conversation on #SEAT2015 yourself and let me know if I missed anything.

1. Actionable Data: Data with Purpose


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Do not just collect data for the sake of collecting data. Understand why we are collecting data and the actionable purpose behind it. Kara Hutchinson, Director of Strategic Marketing at the Boston Celtics, asks us to rethink how we embrace the abundance of technologies and access of data, to find ways we can organize audience data with clear actionable goals. Golden State Warriors VP of Digital Marketing, Kenny Lauer, said it best, “For marketing, you need to know the exact behavior you want to drive, then you design what’s needed to deliver.”


2. Collaboration

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“Someone here has had your problem, will have your problem, and can solve your problem.” Sean Callanan, the man who needs no introduction in digital sports, so eloquently explained the need for collaboration within the sports community to help organizations work together. This requires understanding when to engage with your fans, and organizing the entire experience. On the ‘Monetizing an Immersive Fan Experience’ keynote panel, Steve Reese, CIO of the Phoenix Suns, addressed how critical it is to getting these collaborations right, in regards to bombarding fans with beacon notifications, he said “if you screw up once, you’re done.”  And that is absolutely right.

Zoomph, in collaboration with Venuetize, eMbience, TriplePlay and Samsung orchestrated a digital experience for people that downloaded the SEAT mobile app by eMbience on Android and iOS devices. This enabled people within the proximity of the beacons and Samsung displays, to interact with the Zoomph Twitter Polls on their phones and make instant updates by tweeting responses reflected on TriplePlay’s digital signage.

The quote that can best sum this balance and organization between technologies and collaboration belongs to Shannon Miller SVP at IBM“Experiences don’t just happen; they have to be orchestrated.”


3. Technology Integrated Into Every Department of Your Organization

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“No matter your role in #SportsBiz we are all technologists discovering new innovations and revenue streams.” Founder and CEO of SEAT, Christine Stoffel, addressed the importance of bringing in business sponsorship to meet your organization’s bottom line, while providing fans the ultimate experience.

Today, we are seeing organizations at different stages of technological integration, from early stages; to the technology-devoted starting to apply a fan-centric approach to work with social and technology. The optimal situation is having social and technology weaved into your organization, a great example is what VenueNext has done with Levi’s Stadium.  Not only are they providing in-seat food delivery and merchandise through the Levi’s Stadium mobile app, but are also making ambitious goals of going paperless in 2016. There needs to be a technology native adoption and embracement within organizations from sales, marketing, partnerships, IT, customer service and PR to work with businesses and drive sponsorships.


4. CRM & Social Integration

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No surprise, the Integration of CRM & Social Data keynote was a packed house. Discussions of combining CRM data with social data to enhance customer profiles, by learning the customer’s interests, sentiment and to create better ad targeting for more effective digital and sales campaigns. A key principle is understanding the comprehensive data of the customer journey to enrich data profiles. “The ultimate trick of CRM and social data is speaking to millions of people as individually as possible.” Richard Clarke, Digital Content Specialist at the Colorado Rapids, notes the importance of targeted messaging with relevance to help draw action from your audience.

Fiona Green, Co-Founder and Director of Winners CRM, captured the dilemma with social data perfectly in her quote, “Social media is often defined by owned, paid and earned but it is really, loaned, paid and earned.” The Zoomph team had the pleasure of working with Fiona and Winner’s CRM on a project that focused on fan affinity towards brands and personalities that not only tracked fan engagement towards their relevant experience but also understood what other distractions prevailed to help map a customer journey that was optimized and targeted to increase attention, loyalty and engagement.


5. Engaging the Savvy Fan

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Fans are always on. How can we make sure our marketing reaches them at the right time and right place? Shane Harmon of Westpac stadium was able to paint the perfect picture with this quote, “We are not developing digital strategies, but we are dealing strategies for a digital world.”  Organizations are tackling the problem head on by story telling and leveraging social experiences. Russell Scibetti captured a quote from Kenny Lauder, “The game is the narrative. Then you create content around the story for fans to dive deeper and engage in different ways.” This is going to require teams to integrate the fans into the story telling. Rich Campbell captured that the biggest shift in-venue is fans as content producers. Fans upload more data than they download while at the games.

At Zoomph, we have been working with people like Mike Hutchinson, VP of Marketing at the Washington Capitals, to go beyond user generated content. And, seeing the industry embrace this change by telling stories from stadiums to a fan’s home, only strengthens fan experiences across leagues!

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