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Miami Dolphins drives 300pc increase in mobile subscribers via segmented messaging

The Miami Dolphins increased its mobile subscriber base by more than 300 percent during the past year thanks in part to a new strategy of letting users choose which kinds of messages they want to receive. 

Initially, the opt-in database was positioned as more of a general list, with individual campaigns going out to everyone on the list. However, in the past year the Miami Dolphins have been focusing more on creating segmented text clubs.

?A lot of people want something personal that goes to their device in a timely manner,? said Brad Dolian, vice president of client services at CommerceTel, San Diego. ?They want to receive this information when it becomes available.

?Some teams look at mobile as a sponsorship tool,? he said. ?However, there is a direct benefit to teams by building a database and having another way of reaching fans in a way that they want.

Multifaceted mobile marketing
The Miami Dolphins began working with CommerceTel two years ago with the idea of building a mobile database as quickly as possible and adding another medium for reaching fans. The Dolphins uses CommerceTel?s Web-based campaign management and reporting platform to create and execute its mobile marketing strategy.

The team also uses mobile marketing to support its sponsorship from AT&T.

During the 2011-2012 season, the Dolphins executed a variety of mobile messaging campaigns including quarterly in-game score updates, transactions, injury alerts and player autograph appearances.

For example, on the Finsiders radio show, fans asked questions directly to the studio hosts and guests via text messages and shared comments with each other via a game-day ticker on the site.

Additionally, text-to-win promotions were used to encourage fan interaction and drive mobile subscriptions.

In addition to being able to sign up to receive general news about the team, fans can now select to only receive scores after each quarter or to hear news from the cheerleaders. Season ticket holders can also sign up for messaging specific to them such as news about VIP events.

Every mobile messaging campaign generated subscriber growth in the past year, with the Miami Dolphins? mobile news alerts campaign growing by 370 percent.

?There has been growth across the segments with more scope and breadth,? Mr. Dolian said.

Cross-platform strategy
With many corporate partners buying tickets in bulk and then handing them out to employees and other guests, the team uses the opt-in program to help it identify who is in the stands.

?Mobile helps identify who is in the stands so we can turn them into a season ticket holder,? said Michael Falato, senior vice president of sales and business development at CommerceTel.

?Mobile is a platform for the team to increase value for fans and for their sponsors,? he said.

The team also leveraged its social media presence with a mobile Web opt-in page integrated into its Facebook page and Web site. The team used the Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders Facebook page and SMS to send informational blasts to its fans.

The cross-platform strategy included giving fans the opportunity to opt-in to receive text messaging on the team Web site, on its Facebook page and via Twitter. The opt-in program was also promoted on the Finsiders radio show.

?Mobile is not going to work by itself,? Mr. Dolian said. ?The Miami Dolphins did a good job of integrating their mobile efforts across other platforms.

?They did a really good job of promoting it and when you give fans the opportunity to opt-in to receive text messaging they are going to respond,? he said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York