LA Kings extend hot streak off the ice with analytics-grounded customer intelligence
Hoisting the Stanley Cup into the air before a sold-out crowd in your home arena might be the feeling of a lifetime. Do it twice in three years, and you’re heroes.
That was the experience for the 2014 Los Angeles Kings. Drenched in champagne, the two-time Stanley Cup champions skated off the ice after a dramatic double-overtime victory, the top team in the National Hockey League. The following season, however, wins were harder to come by, and soon the team struggled to get people in the door.
“We thought we were invincible,” says Mike Marsocci, Senior Manager of Data and Analytics for the LA Kings and AEG Sports. “But we realized we couldn’t just rest on our laurels. We needed a new strategy to fill our arena every night.”
Everybody wants the tip of the iceberg, but so much more goes into analytics. Taking the time to build a solid data foundation has set us up to do some really cool things. Mike Marsocci Senior Manager of Data and Analytics LA Kings and AEG Sports
Converting data into insights
The champions turned to SAS® for an advanced analytics platform, bringing a new level of intelligence to the front office. From data management to data discovery and deployment, the club was empowered to convert its data deluge into customer-centricity.
Unlike analytics-friendly baseball, hockey is a free-flowing game where, aside from a few traditional statistical categories, the action is more difficult to translate into numbers. For most clubs, analytics has the biggest impact in the front office.
And the front office is where Marsocci and his team come to life. As fan and operational data streams in, the team uses SAS to digest the data, model it, learn from the model’s results, and ultimately improve the fan experience.
But the insights didn’t come easy. At the outset, Marsocci found a lack of data governance. So he began his tenure by building a data warehouse to integrate the team’s digital assets and act as a springboard for future analytical projects.
“Everybody wants the tip of the iceberg,” Marsocci says, “but so much more goes into analytics. Taking the time to build a solid data foundation has set us up to do some really cool things.”
LA Kings – Facts & Figures
Stanley Cup champions
Netting fans with lead scoring models
Championships are only part of what draws supporters to the Kings. The other part includes targeted marketing efforts driven by SAS Customer Intelligence software.
With the data warehouse in place, Marsocci sought to increase ticket sales by improving sales targeting. He noticed a lack of personalization to sales calls. For example, the organization would market to a student who attended a single game the same as an executive who brings his whole family to multiple games per season.
The Kings now use statistical algorithms to identify the best customers and weigh their marketing efforts accordingly. Ditching the scattershot approach, the front office has developed lead scoring models to bring laser-focused targeting to its sales efforts.
“When we tested it, the campaign was superior to any other,” Marsocci says, who’s scaling up the targeting to include other marketing channels.
With ticket sales increasing, Marsocci turned his attention to improving the in-game experience. Using SAS Visual Analytics, he was able to visualize fan survey responses and come up with several ways to show attendees a better time at the game. “This is definitely one of the coolest parts of my job,” Marsocci says. “For example, one survey showed us people really liked the pregame videos but not the music, so we worked with the game operations team to improve the fan experience.”
Happier fans = higher revenue
SAS Visual Analytics and SAS Visual Statistics also help the Kings forecast and report on team and facility performance. By examining sales and gate revenue for every event, management can update marketing and promotional plans on the spot.
Mobile dashboards give managers immediate insight, allowing them to make data-driven decisions in real time, rather than relying on clunky spreadsheets and the availability of analysts to answer questions.
The result is a better fan experience and increased revenue. Despite a lack of playoff runs since 2014, attendance is holding steady and revenue is up 20 percent.
“Our fans are a passionate and diverse group. SAS helps us be on our best game to deliver a memorable and customized experience for them,” says Kelly Cheeseman, Chief Operating Officer of the LA Kings and AEG Sports.
Keys to winning with analytics
Marsocci, a lifelong analyst, holds strong beliefs on what it takes to build a successful analytics culture. A sound data foundation is critical, he says, but over the years he’s learned that gaining trust and buy-in from nontechnical stakeholders is equally important.
“We want everybody to trust what we’re doing, and that starts with making sure our data and analytics are good,” Marsocci says. “One of the best things about SAS is the ability to check the models and make sure everything is clean before sharing the data.”
He also confers with leaders from the sales and services teams before starting any project, a strategy that he says increases buy-in.
“We want them to feel like they're driving the analytics,” Marsocci says. “By giving them input on projects, the buy-in is exponentially higher. They feel like they're part of the process; therefore they trust the data and want to use it.”