How a CDP Helped U.S. Soccer Create a Unified Customer Experience
The objectives of U.S. Soccer are simple—grow the game, grow the fanbase, and win. The non-profit organization governing soccer in all its forms in the United States has charted the course for the game for over 100 years.
And its marketing team is focused on helping the organization meet its goals by improving decision making, creating user connections, and driving revenue.
Recently at MarTech Fall Conference 2021, Ross Moses, Senior Director, Analytics and Insights at U.S. Soccer, gave an online presentation titled “Creating a Unified Customer Experience with CDPs: U.S. Soccer Case Study.” You can watch the entire presentation or read the summary below.
How to Boost Customer Engagement—and Make Fans Love it
In 2018, U.S. Soccer’s digital infrastructure was outdated. The website was old, and there was no mobile app. Data preparation and data hygiene were performed manually. Even though 80% of traffic came from mobile devices, there was no mobile-first experience.
The organization sought to create a 360-degree, single customer view (SCV) of its customers. U.S. Soccer wanted to leverage business intelligence for more effective feedback loops with fans and create more personalized customer experiences. They wanted to deploy single sign-on (SSO) to create a unique identifier for each fan, providing a seamless experience across all channels. The unique identifier allows U.S. Soccer to associate customer engagement data to an SCV, rather than multiple profiles.
In addition, U.S. soccer needed an infrastructure that scales, using automation to provide customer personalization. The infrastructure needed to provide automated tracking of customers’ account status (e.g., active, lapsed, renewal date, upgrade amount, etc.). A digital hub was also needed, so users could manage their own accounts.
CDP Drives Digital Transformation
Ross Moses and his team began the digital revamp in 2018 and launched it in 2019. They swapped out a prior CDP for Treasure Data, launching a redesigned website, a new mobile app, and a rebranded loyalty program. The Treasure Data CDP served as the foundation of the digital transformation.
One of U.S. Soccer’s tenets is “Be Early”—an imperative to recognize behavioral shifts early as a rapid imitator, rather than being a first-mover. According to Moses, “Traditional CRM could solve certain challenges, but we needed a solution such as a CDP that could better ingest data from multiple sources and could automate campaigns.”
CDPs Help Create Network Effects with Engaged Customers
In soccer, a “cap” tracks how many international matches a player has participated in. U.S. Soccer developed a feature in its new mobile app to award “caps” to fans. Geofencing technology detects each time a fan attends a match, sending a trigger that gives the fan a cap with an in-app notification.
In addition to the use of caps, which is exclusive to the U.S. Soccer app, the organization created a number of gamification elements, including points and rewards. In the near future, U.S. Soccer plans to roll out a leaderboard feature, where fans can track their progress relative to all other fans. From a marketing perspective: gamification is critical to the business of soccer, because it creates network effects. “As more people come into the tent, it becomes more valuable.” Of course, as Moses puts it, “Having 100,000 fans is nice, but how about millions?”
How CDPs Enhance Customer Experience of the Game—with Personalized CX
Treasure Data CDP is the engine underlying the new app. It tracks users’ points, along with their history of transactions and customer engagements. Activity is also tabulated in Treasure Data, then reflected in users’ profiles. In addition, the CDP tracks redemption of loyalty points as well, which are then reflected in U.S. Soccer’s customer loyalty system.
CDP’s Identity Management and SCV Capabilities Drive Customer Engagement
U.S. Soccer’s identity management is based on having a single unique identifier for each customer. Even if that identifier is an email address to start with, it gives U.S. Soccer a way to associate other activity and behaviors with a user. The company can then begin to build a full SCV of its customers.
Customer Loyalty Enabled by a CDP
In the Treasure Data Customer Data Platform (CDP), U.S. Soccer makes use of two features: Unified Customer Views and Composite Profiles. This helps Moses’ team create audience segments to target personalized offers in specific advertising channels. For a match in Nashville, Tennessee, a segment could include everyone in a 150- to 200-mile radius of the stadium, excluding those who already purchased a ticket.
For example, a campaign might start with an email offer. Those who opened the email and clicked a link could be put into a sequence of social media posts. With a real-time data loop, customers fall in and out of the segment dynamically. If users convert, they fall out of the segment, so U.S. Soccer doesn’t spend more on them.
Automated and Personalized CX Builds Customer Loyalty
U.S. Soccer built automated and personalized email sequences for its “U.S. Soccer Insiders” customer loyalty program. Members receive different messages based on the customer loyalty tier they’re in. Once the segments are created in Treasure Data, Moses’ team can instrument step-by-step email journeys with each segment.
Conditional branching and if-then rules are instrumental in U.S. Soccer’s marketing platform. Based on a response to one action, the rule determines whether to follow up with an SMS push notification or put users into a search campaign. These journeys help create personalized experiences at scale for customer loyalty program members.
CDPs Help U.S. Soccer Integrate Third-party Platforms
Treasure Data helps Moses and team seamlessly integrate their CDP with downstream providers. They’re currently using Salesforce Marketing as their marketing platform, with plans to migrate to Braze. Treasure Data has a built-in integration with Braze, along with many other third-party platforms. According to Moses, if an integration is not available off-the-shelf, it’s easy to create a custom integration in Treasure Data, building a pipeline of data that is delivered in a batch or a stream.
Solution: CDP-enabled Business Intelligence
U.S. Soccer analyzes data in its CDP to make strategic decisions on where the team should travel. The decisions are not always based on where their customers reside. Instead, U.S. Soccer might look at an opposing team and determine how long it’s been since they last played at that team’s venue.
Recently, U.S. Soccer played a match in Austin, Texas. It was the first time the team played in that market, and it took place in a brand new stadium. Conversions from loyalty program members in that area surged. This provided U.S. Soccer with feedback that growth opportunities reside in new markets and can occur when they go outside their regular rotation of venues.
CDP Dashboards Are Crucial in Understanding Trends and Demand
U.S. Soccer created a Lifetime Value dashboard in Treasure Data, which displayed the average annual spend of loyalty program members by tier. Placing a dollar value on each tier helps inform U.S. Soccer’s advertising spend.
For example, if a new customer is worth $20, U.S. Soccer can spend $19 to acquire that customer and still have $1 left over in profit. Before deploying Treasure Data, the organization couldn’t assign dollar values to customer tiers, which meant that they were running blind with the profitability of their advertising spend.
Another report created in Treasure Data is the Insiders Renewals Report:
This dashboard shows the renewal rate and churn rate for a given month. In the past, the organization had a 20-30% renewal rate. By making improvements to the loyalty program, U.S. Soccer has been able to increase the renewal rate to 90%.
In addition, this dashboard layers in predictive analytics provided by Treasure Data. It lists specific customers’ renewal dates, along with their churn probability and renewal probability. Marketing can use these predictive analytics to create special offers to customers at risk of churning. They can also provide messaging that explains the value proposition of remaining in the loyalty program.
Future Vision: More Gamification, More Personalized CX and Targeted Offers
Going forward, U.S. Soccer plans to further its use of the Treasure Data CDP to fulfill its vision of a 360-degree SCV of customers:
- More gamification features will be added to the mobile app, including a leaderboard and a rewards marketplace. In addition, a new feature for “debating the starting 11” is planned for the app.
- Enhancements to the in-stadium experience: in-seat ordering, dynamic wayfinding, and personalized offers.
- More sophisticated, data-driven personalization.
- Deploying Master Data Management (MDM) for governance, with the Treasure Data CDP as the holder of the master data.