Creative thinking that delivers results

17 Jun

Delivering a superior online experience: The Montreal Canadiens

Category: Online marketing

One of the many strengths of the internet is its ability to connect people easily and quickly around the world. The rapid growth of social media and its prevalence in many of our lives is a testament to this. While many businesses have jumped on this digital bandwagon, some struggle to differentiate themselves online.

That’s what makes the work the Montreal Canadiens have done over the past 12-24 months even more significant and impactful.

A strong brand and passionate fan base

Many would agree that the fans of the Canadiens are among the most enthusiastic in all of sports, particularly in North America. Some of it has to do with the long and storied history of the franchise, its many successes over the years with 24 Stanley Cup championships, but much of it has to do with the passion Montrealers have always demonstrated towards the team.

A 2014 survey showed that the Canadiens are truly “Canada’s team”, with 23% of Canadians stating the Habs were their favourite hockey team. By comparison, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks were a distant second with 12% support apiece.

Defining a superior fan experience

It would be easy for Canadiens management to be a little complacent when it comes to this level of support. What they’ve delivered recently would suggest otherwise. What they've created (with considerable effort and insightfulness) is a comprehensive online fan experience that literally connects Habs fans across the globe.

This past season, the Canadiens launched two fan-centric initiatives designed to connect with, engage and ultimately reward fans for their love of all things Habs. Club 1909 (commemorating the first season of the franchise) was one of these. It encouraged fans to sign up for this free online service that enabled fans to earn points they could convert into Canadiens memorabilia and swag. In exchange, members had to connect with, mention and share content published online by the team.

The other was called The 7th Player. It offers fans the ability to earn a series of badges and levels for visiting the team’s website, watching videos, participating in contests and so. You earn points and ‘pucks’ as you participate. The accumulated points help you move from one level to the next while the pucks can be exchanged for exclusive contests that offer autographed Habs memorabilia and more.

Social media par excellence

While these fan-centric initiatives might be enough to impress most hockey fans, the Canadiens go far beyond this with an outstanding website that provides lots of information on the current team while also honouring the team’s rich history built around and its great teams, players and coaches.

But it’s on social media where the Habs marketing team really shines. With a strong presence on virtually every important social media platform – including Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest and Snapchat, they do an outstanding job of connecting with their fans where they are online and sharing timely and interesting news and information about the team. They also do a great job of engaging with their fans, solidifying the bond between fans and the club.

Lessons Learned

So what can we all learn from this comprehensive example of harnessing the power of the digital world to deliver an outstanding customer/fan experience? I think the word comprehensive says it all! If you want to truly deliver an outstanding customer experience, you can’t simply provide great service to your clients or deliver an attractive and highly informative website and assume that will suffice.

Instead, you need to analyze where your customers are and do your best to allocate the necessary resources to communicate and connect with them over these channels. While not every business has resources comparable to the Canadiens marketing department, this doesn’t mean you can’t be successful with your digital marketing efforts.

Smaller companies simply need to more carefully assess what would deliver the biggest bang for their digital marketing buck and then concentrate their efforts strictly on those activities. For example, focusing your efforts on doing a great job with one or two social media services is one sensible approach. Another would be to create a succinct yet informative website that does an excellent job of providing useful and relevant content that speaks directly to your ideal target audience.

Delivering a superior online experience for your customers need not be impossible or expensive. Prioritize your efforts based on what will have the biggest impact on your clients and ‘wow’ them the most. If you need help devising your online marketing efforts, we can help. Contact us today, we’d be happy to meet with you and assess how you can optimize your online marketing activities.