Stripers Hit a Home Run with Factoreal

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The Gwinnett Stripers, the Triple-A Minor League affiliate of Major League Baseball’s Atlanta Braves, has the benefit and challenge of being in a county with 1 million residents but headquartered only about 35 miles away from where the Braves play, says Kyle Kamberbeek, the team’s marketing manager.

The Stripers play at Coolray Field in Lawrenceville, Ga.

“Our biggest issue in being in a suburb of Atlanta is name recognition,” Kamberbeek explains. “When people here think of professional baseball, they think of the Atlanta Braves. They’ve had very good teams. But we wanted to make sure that people knew that there was another level of baseball in the area that offers a family-friendly venue and a more affordable option.”

The Stripers made the first effort to distinguish themselves from the Atlanta Braves in 2018, when they changed their name from the Gwinnett Braves to the Gwinnett Stripers. But the name change didn’t provide the significant boost in attendance or merchandise sales that executives had hoped for. Team executives knew they had to do something else to generate interest in the team and increase sales.

Though the team is the Braves’ Triple-A affiliate, it is owned by Diamond Baseball Holdings, which owns 14 Minor League teams, including clubs affiliated with the Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals, New York Yankees, and San Francisco Giants. The team also owns three other teams affiliated with the Braves, including the Mississippi Braves (Double-A), the Rome Braves (High-A), and the Augusta GreenJackets (Single-A). The organization was formed in 2021, the same year that the Atlanta Braves won the World Series.

“Our new executive group came in and made sure that they were really focused on making sure that we were making an impact on the community and that we were keeping people aware of us,” Kamberbeek says. “We really needed to have a different strategy, and one of the facets of that was an email restart. We had a previous email [engine] that quite frankly wasn’t very good.”

So Stripers executives started looking for another email solution and selected Factoreal. The first use was in 2020. The team’s season didn’t happen that year because of COVID-19 lockdowns, but they did hold some socially distanced events at their stadium.

The first real use of Factoreal was for the 2021 season. “We realized that we were no longer fresh on people’s minds,” Kamberbeek says.

Focusing on email was better than focusing on social media, Kamberbeek adds, because a large part of the target audience wasn’t active on social media.

Email also enabled the Stripers to provide fans with the team’s newsletter. The newsletters are dynamic, with up-to-date content, including a schedule of upcoming games and promotions. The team also provides fans with resources that have nothing to do with baseball, such as a local job fair, so it was important that its email program could push out this information in a timely manner, something that other media options didn’t provide, according to Kamberbeek.

The changeover to Factoreal was relatively simple; a server had to be reconfigured for planned email blasts for the newsletter and other promotional messages. A few other technical changes were required, but the entire process took only a few days.

With improved technology from Factoreal, the Stripers saw a significant boost in customer engagement. The email click-through rate increased to more than 30 percent, far above the industry average of about 20 percent to 25 percent, according to Kamberbeek. The number of newsletter recipients increased about 50 percent, going from 8,000 to 12,000.

Though the emails and newsletters promote everything from sales of season tickets to team merchandise, such as jerseys, hats, and key chains, the prime focus has been on promoting single-game ticket sales, according to Kamberbeek. Those sales have increased by 30 percent.

Heading into the 2023 season, Kamberbeek expects to focus more on targeting and re-targeting fans who have come to previous promotional events. For example, if someone attended a previous game with a bobblehead giveaway, that fan will be targeted for the next bobblehead giveaway. 

The Payoff

Since adopting Factoreal, the Gwinnett Stripers have seen the following results:

  • email click-through rate increased to more than 30 percent;
  • single-game ticket sales increased by 30 percent; and
  • the number of email newsletter recipients grew by 50 percent.

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