From the moment Max Strus dropped that 3-pointer in the closing moments of the 2023 play-in game versus the Chicago Bulls, there was a special energy building within the Miami Heat, throughout the organization and its dedicated fans. When they entered the NBA Playoffs as the 8th seed, however, nobody predicted they would eliminate the 1st-seed Milwaukee Bucks, defeat the Knicks, and take the Boston Celtics to 7 games before claiming the Eastern Conference Championship. While the Heat ultimately lost in the NBA Finals to the Denver Nuggets, they rode the wave of an “improbable run” to the Finals as the support and excitement for the team continued to grow.
Behind the scenes, the Miami Heat’s online store was on fire (pun intended), and the team was able to dynamically adjust their marketing strategies to capitalize on their moment in the spotlight. As a result, the Miami Heat Store experienced the highest-grossing 45-day run in its history, which surpassed records set throughout past championship seasons, the Big 3 Era, and even the 2020 NBA Finals.
As one of the hottest professional sports stories of 2023, it was critical for the Miami Heat to have a clear, unified source of truth for their performance marketing team. But, similar to most success stories, it didn’t happen overnight. To set the stage for this story, we have to go back to the beginning. Not to when basketball was invented (by a Canadian, by the way… James Naismith, represent), but rather to when the Heat were looking for solutions to their marketing woes following the pandemic and privacy updates to iOS 14.5.
Back in the 2018-2019 season, merch was flying off the shelves for the Miami Heat. The excitement attached to Dwyane Wade’s final season, in combination with Vice Nights jerseys, propelled the expansion of the Heat’s Ecommerce business.
But then… the pandemic happened. If you don’t recall, back in early March 2020, the NBA was the first of the professional leagues to postpone its season. For a business that is intricately tied to on-court performance, the marketing team had to get creative to maintain their business vitality. Once the NBA resumed play in the Bubble, the Heat advanced all the way to the NBA Finals, and the marketing team was able to see great success connecting with its fans as the team nearly won it all. Sales were at a record high (for now…), and things were looking great for the Miami Heat both on and off the court.
But then iOS 14.5 happened. Changes to iOS 14.5 meant that the Miami Heat lost attribution clarity. They were running ads, but it was unclear where their sales were coming from. With the hype from the NBA Bubble in full swing, the team knew it wasn’t time to be shy with ad spend. But after having the foot on the gas pedal for a long while, they realized they needed more context, clarity, and precision to execute their marketing plan.
With Triple Whale, the Miami Heat were able to understand their attribution again, and gauge the effectiveness of their campaigns. With Triple Whale’s unified platform, the single source of truth provided them with a full-court view of the entire operation, which enabled leadership to be confident about the stability of their growth, to encourage continued and increased investment in marketing efforts.
Since Triple Whale offered a detailed breakdown of data, it was simpler for the team to delve into specific events, such as a particular player’s performance or merchandise availability. With an in-depth analysis, the Heat were able to understand product performance and preference across various marketing channels and customer cohorts.
In the regular season, the Miami Heat used a lifecycle marketing funnel approach, utilizing insights from Triple Whale to encourage third, fourth, and fifth purchases. They increased their customer lifetime value and optimized customer retention, too. Additionally, with Triple Pixel data, they could employ specific promotions based on what resonated with the audience. The granular data Triple Whale provided also enabled them to adapt media buying strategies throughout the season, with the ability to lean into or pull away from player-focused strategies based on player availability, performance, and what went down on the court.
“To have that full visibility of all the data that matters - the business health data associated with our ECommerce opportunity - is critical. It’s armed us with so much more value and context that we can bring to the table…Having an unbiased source has been huge for us.” - Matthew Strelitz, Director of Performance Marketing, Miami Heat
To have that data ready to analyze in the regular season was very useful and necessary, but having clear data during an exciting, unexpected playoff run? That, sir, is paramount.
When the Miami Heat eliminated the New York Knicks in the Eastern Conference Finals, they became the first 8th-seed to reach the NBA Finals since the 98-99 Knicks. If there’s something that everyone can get behind, even as a casual fan, it’s an underdog. With a successful and unexpected run, there were more eyes than ever on the Miami Heat, and it was a great time to employ some new strategies.
In the high-stakes playoff environment, every game’s outcome specifically dictated the next marketing move. Where traditional platform attribution data was too slow to give any real information, Triple Whale’s real-time and reliable data simply stole the show. By making instant adjustments based on live game outcomes, the Heat capitalized on their opportunities and maximized their return on investment. If they’d waited for traditional platform attribution data to catch up, the window of opportunity would have been lost.
With more attention on the team than the regular season, there was a prime opportunity to reach new customers. By investigating the granular metrics Triple Whale provides for new customers, the Heat were able to aggressively prospect new fans with confidence. The real-time data allowed the Heat to convert the playoff fervor into a larger, engaged fanbase.
Since a fan is more likely to make an emotion-driven purchase during the excitement of the playoffs, the Miami Heat intensified their post-purchase upsell strategies to maximize that revenue. They used Triple Whale to understand which additional products might interest specific cohorts of customers the most, and targeted their upsell efforts accordingly.
During a time of intense interest, increased visibility, and playoff hype, the additional source of truth Triple Whale provided was a very useful addition to the Heat’s marketing plan. The 275% increase in revenue the Miami Heat Store was able to generate compared to the 45 days prior was an undeniable marketing win for the whole organization.
While Heat culture is real, so is Triple Whale (culture). Backed by Triple Whale’s real data, the Heat were able to convert the playoff hype into profit.
“This year’s NBA Finals run was uncharted territory for us as a performance marketing team, and Triple Whale played a central role in how we navigated those times. Triple Whale empowered us to confidently (and profitably) scale ad spend to record-level heights and generate record-level retail growth during this unique and highly opportunistic 45-day Playoff run.” - Matthew Strelitz, Director of Performance Marketing
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