Marketing Lessons from the NBA's Golden State Warriors

I had the distinct pleasure of spending time with Kenny Lauer, the vice president of marketing and digital for the world-champion Golden State Warriors. Not only were they the best team in the league this year, they are also seen as leaders when it comes to the digital marketing and fan experience.
Finding the Right Content and Right Channel to Drive Sales
There are two revenue pillars for the Warriors; ticket sales and merchandise. They worked on optimizing social channels to be able to support conversions — purchase tickets or merchandise. So, they did A/B testing to understand what works well. And they started with Facebook because of the success they’ve had there.
They A/B tested to see what video content worked best. The conversion to merchandise or the conversion to tickets? And they saw over double the amount of conversion in Facebook video for merchandise compared to tickets.
Focusing on tickets, they A/B tested between what works best for the thumbnail, a picture or an ad. And they found that a picture worked really well. So now they knew when doing tickets to use a picture as a thumbnail.
From a content perspective when selling tickets, they have two primary categories, hype and storytelling. A picture of Steph Curry hitting a three pointer or Kevin Durant doing a dunk or fans surrounded by some hyped music; that’s called hype. Storytelling would be like a deep dive into how a player got somewhere; or someone’s college experience, or what they’re doing in the community. And what they found was that hype proved out to be best for selling tickets.
Website vs. Mobile
The goal of GSW’s website is to develop their fans, and to understand the right mix of storytelling and selling. And they’re focused on what the click path is and understanding exactly how their fans are interacting with the site.
The main purpose for their app is for fans to have access to the team anytime, anywhere. Right now they are largely repurposing their Web content. But in the future they plan on migrating their mobile app to unique content, and to be a robust tool for local fans to use at any time.
Being Unique
GSW is creating a storytelling ecosystem. They say you can go to ESPN or other sports sites and get content around what happened on the court, but you can’t get the rest of the story. What are the Warriors like with community? What do the Warriors look like in fashion? What about behind the scenes? So they’re looking to build connections for their fans to deepen their level of engagement. So when you watch the basketball game all of a sudden they’re more invested.
The Future
The Warriors are looking at a bunch of different technologies. They were one of the first teams to build a Google Glass app so that fans could actually have an augmented experience with Google Glass. And they were leaders in using iBeacons to drive certain behavior based on their proximity.
They’re also looking at different ways to integrate their app into the fan experience, so even if you’re not at the game there’s ways that you could feel like you are.
Even if you aren’t a championship NBA team, there are many lessons you can take from what the Warriors are doing. They are using mobile, social and other technologies to create better experiences for their fans, and collapse the distance between them and their fan base. Which is how they define marketing in the age of the modern consumer.

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