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CSEC’s Digital Transformation and Capitalizing on Customer Data Tech

  • CSEC's marketing director gives his insight into monetizing customer insights.
  • A strategy change was needed to account for economic changes in Alberta.
NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Dallas Stars at Calgary Flames
Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

For fans of Calgary sports, the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC) owns and operates all of their favorite teams. CSEC houses the city’s three largest professional teams: the Calgary Flames (NHL), Calgary Stampeders (CFL),  and Calgary Roughnecks (NLL) as well as the city’s major junior hockey team, the Calgary Hitmen (WHL). 

CSEC Director of Marketing Ryan Popowich came to the company in 2016 and currently oversees the marketing strategy across all four properties. Through his background in monetizing customer insights, Popowich has come to believe in how data leads to stronger return on advertising spend, particularly when it comes to digital.

“CSEC brought me on to help them accelerate in terms of what to do digitally from a marketing perspective,” Popowich recalled. “One of the things we immediately identified was how to leverage and monetize our data better. They had been collecting massive amounts of customer insight and data, but it was siloed and it was all over the place. So it was a bit crazy. Once we spent a couple of seasons building the infrastructure and how to execute, we then were in a place to go look for someone who could help us manage our data. StellarAlgo came to us and it was a perfect match from the beginning.”

For roughly the past year, StellarAlgo has been working with Popowich and all four CSEC properties to better strategize and execute sales and marketing campaigns based on customer data like demographics and marketing touch points that influence fans’ engagement levels, avidity, and likelihood to purchase. Lee Schmold of StellarAlgo’s customer success team has been heavily involved in this process.

“I think it all started with really digging into their understanding of the Calgary market and how it was changing,” Schmold told Front Office Sports. “COVID was just one factor, but the economy was already in the throes of major change which affected the market that  represents a big chunk of Calgary’s discretionary spend. It’s become even more important for the four properties under CSEC’s banner to further tailor their engagement efforts to the emerging market segments.”

Going even beyond the Calgary market, Ryan leveraged data to better understand the strong showing the Flames have from travelling fans. With data providing solid evidence of this trend, the CSEC marketing team is now digging into this data for its other properties in order to better align each property with the dynamic Calgary market. 

Any time there are factors affecting a market’s economy, sports franchises are bound to feel those effects. For CSEC, and the Flames in particular, they recognized that many of their most loyal, entrenched customer base were likely affected by these changes. Monitoring changes in each property’s  customer base quickly became a key priority for their data initiatives and something that Ryan and his team are finding answers to in their StellarAlgo platform.

“Once we had the insights better, then we’re allowed to do a little bit more nuanced executions within our campaign structures for each of our individual teams,” Popowich added. “That’s proving to be quite beneficial. It helps us make our dollars count.”

Given the global economic circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, sports organizations need to be more intentional with their advertising spend than ever. CSEC will continue to plan for several possible scenarios of how North American sports can move forward using the data insights gained from investing in customer data technology and making Calgary sports feel special.

“Calgary is a passionate market for all of the CSEC properties,” Schmold concluded. “You get great fan engagement and that’s something that Ryan Popowich and his marketing team very carefully cultivate. They’re dialed into how to nurture that loyal fan base, keep them engaged, and recognize leading and trailing indicators with regards to their engagement levels and how to influence those. Calgary is well-served by its four properties and the CSEC team is doing a great job of leveraging data to tailor fan engagement. They achieve this in a way that best utilizes the strengths of the teams under its banner while responding to the challenges of a market driven by a dynamic economic landscape.”

Learn more about StellarAlgo

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