HubSpot onboarding & integration for NBA’s San Antonio Spurs

You don’t have to be a fan of the team or even the sport of basketball to know the reputation of the San Antonio Spurs as one of the most storied, consistent franchises in the NBA. To build and maintain this kind of reputation, you have to constantly be on the lookout for ways to improve. After years of using Eloqua, the Marketing team at the Spurs were ready to make a change to a platform that would better help them communicate with their fans and intelligently report on those communications. Enter, HubSpot.

What they needed:

  1. To communicate more efficiently and effectively with their fans
  2. To cross-sell and upsell across their brands
  3. To be able to accurately report on customer communications and feedback

How they got there:

  1. Created customized, no-code templates for the Marketing team to clone
  2. Set up three different Business Units
  3. Created a real-time integration to pull in Ticketmaster ticketing data

Pre-game

Joining the league in 1976 as an expansion team, the Spurs had to navigate the challenges of establishing themselves in a league dominated by teams in the biggest markets with the deepest pockets.

Not even fifty years later, the Spurs boast five NBA Championships, thirteen players in the Hall of Fame, the winningest coach in league history, and just this summer drafted one of the most exciting prospects to ever enter the NBA in Victor Wembanyama.

With the 2023-2024 season set to kick off a new era of ball in San Antonio, the organization had one last move to make… they needed to make sure they could talk to their fans about their new superstar and upcoming games.

This was a big decision to make, especially ahead of one of the most anticipated years in franchise history, with the team expecting an influx of fans (and attendance) from around the globe courtesy of their first overall pick out of France. Just like Wemby, the Spurs needed HubSpot to be a game changer. Our project broke out into two separate but very much connected parts, a custom integration and a complete migration from Eloqua to HubSpot’s Marketing Hub Enterprise.


Layup line

Integration

One of the things that separates Engaging.io from the rest of HubSpot’s partners is our integration experience. We developed a real time integration to pull Ticketmaster ticketing data into the Spurs’ HubSpot portal, we then use this data to help trigger pre and post event communications (stay tuned), plus drive upsell and cross-sell communication opportunities. We set it up so ticketing status properties would be refreshed on a regular basis to help drive relevant communications at predetermined points in time to Spurs’ fans. This is something that Eloqua was not able to do and had become a major pain point and time expenditure for the Spurs’ staff. In Eloqua, the Spurs were relying on manual extracts and loads for all of their email sends – being able to automate this process took pressure off the IT team and gave the Marketing team the ability to fully self-serve.

Business Units

The Spurs are part of something bigger – and we aren’t talking about the NBA. The Spurs are just one of the entities under Spurs Sports & Entertainment, along with the Austin Spurs (G-League affiliate of the San Antonio Spurs) and San Antonio FC (USFL soccer team). And then there’s the Frost Bank Center, which is the arena where the Spurs play. We were able to keep the San Antonio and Austin Spurs together, but we broke out San Antonio FC and the Frost Bank Center into their own Business Units, for a total of three. The same marketing team manages customer communication for both the San Antonio and Austin Spurs, San Antonio FC, and every other event hosted at the Frost Bank Center, from rock concerts to comedy shows. What’s the benefit of having different Business Units for each of those three? Each different Business Unit can run branded campaigns for different audiences, manage communication preferences between brands, and report on each brand’s performance separately.

 

Tip-off

Emails & Campaigns

What else do we mean when we say the Spurs’ Marketing team now has the ability to fully self-serve? No coding required! In HubSpot, the Spurs are able to create their email templates via drag and drop and then clone them with another click instead of having to start from scratch every time. We set up a handful of templates to get the them started, taught the Marketing team how to do the same, and they’ve been running with emails ever since:


 

We set up the Spurs’ HubSpot portal so that each event has an event code. In HubSpot, most assets, including emails and workflows, can be cloned. Since we set up their initial templates, all the Marketing team has to do is update the event code and the corresponding assets are ready to go. Updating an individual campaign was something that would take a user hours, even days, to do in Eloqua. Now, they’re able to have pre-game, game-day, and post event messaging setup in a matter of minutes! With the assets created, it was time to map out their processes and optimize them in HubSpot:


 

Lists

The Spurs play 41 home games per year at the Frost Bank Center. The Frost Bank Center’s capacity is 19,000 people. Over the course of a season, that could be 779,000 different people showing up to see Wemby. Is it likely that there are 779,000 different people going to Spurs game this year? No. Is it more likely that there’s a mix of a few die-hard Spurs fans going to every game, some more casual fans going to just a couple of games, and a few out-of-towners that are lucky to catch just one game? Very much so. Is it important that the right fans are getting the right game-day messages at the right time? Even more so.

With the help of the real time integration to pull Ticketmaster ticketing information, we created List logic that uses the Deal Name, Event Date, and Event Name to make sure the right list of fans is getting the right email, for the right game, at the right time:


 

Feedback Surveys

The Spurs are always looking for ways to improve, and no, we’re not talking about the draft or free agency. We set up automated, custom coded feedback surveys in HubSpot for the Spurs to hear what their fans loved and what could maybe use a little coaching up. How were we able to do this? How were we able to make sure that only the fans that actually attended got the survey? What if someone had tickets to the game but couldn’t go because their dog got sick as they were on their way out the door? Again, we were able to use the Ticketmaster ticketing information from the real time integration. That’s right, we were able to control who receives the feedback survey based on whether or not their ticket was scanned at the Frost Bank Center and then feed that information back into the Spurs’ homegrown reporting system.

Speaking of Reporting

With HubSpot’s native integrations and campaign tools, the Spurs no longer need to export data from various sources to pull together a Frankenstein-esque customer report in a BI tool. They can now see what Marketing activity is leading to new contacts and Deals (Ticket Sales). This is a game changer for the Spurs! They can check on all of their email sends, landing pages and form submissions using reports that are native to HubSpot and are set up to be able to create their own customized reports as they become more confident and familiar with HubSpot.


Post-game presser

Slam dunk! Anything that the Spurs were already doing in Eloqua, they can now do more efficiently in HubSpot, and they have a bunch of new tools at their disposal to boot. They have easily cloneable assets to run all their campaigns across their different brands. They can report on all customer interactions from the same system, instead of cobbling together reports. They can segment their database with lists and surveys unlike ever before. They can do it all – just like Wemby.

Check this out if you’re interested in learning more about the HubSpot vs. Eloqua match up.

"Honestly, we had a huge project to complete in a very small amount of time, but I felt confident the entire time with Engaging. The expert team at Engaging has really changed our Marketing playing field, going above and beyond at every step of the way. I can’t wait to work with them again, and I can’t recommend them highly enough."

Anne-Marie Prince
Associate Manager Marketing Automation

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