Why Sports and Mobile are a Championship Combination

Whether you’re watching the game in a bar with a hundred other shouting fans, on the couch in the comfort of your own home, or doing your best Spike Lee impression while sitting courtside at the United Center jeering LeBron, there’s one constant: your cell phone. In fact, 91% of U.S. citizens have their mobile device within reach 24/7. While it comes as no surprise that people like to be near their phones at all times, a recent study discovered that two-screen viewing has officially taken hold as more than half (52%) of adult cell phone users now use their devices for diversion, engagement or to connect with other people while watching TV. This number is even higher (74%) for smartphone users. For these reasons and more, sports and mobile devices were made for each other.

In-venue mobile campaigns have long been an incredibly effective way for professional sports teams to strengthen their relationship with fans through engagement and incentives. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t like to see their text or picture on the big screen in front of 15,000 fellow fans? Whether it’s a text-2-screen, a vote for the player with the best facial hair, or a text-2-win for a free jersey or seat upgrade, fan/team interactions are just a text message away.

Not only are these engagements fun for the fans, but they present incredible opportunities to cultivate loyalty. Teams can reward fans with prizes, by displaying their texts and pictures on the big screen, or just by responding via text. Savvy teams have also taken these interactions one step further as an opportunity to drive fans to their website, increase retail as well as ticket sales, and promote their alert lists. The effectiveness of sending a fan a direct link to the team’s website for more content or a coupon code for a discount to the team’s store cannot be overstated. Fans that go out of their way to interact with teams are even more likely to be receptive to additional offers such as these. Additionally, since these fans are participating in these campaigns in the stadium, teams can customize offers by location to maximize effectiveness. What could be better than knowing you’re sending an offer to avid consumer in an exact location?

Sports events, more than any other television programming, are best viewed live. With this ideal live nature of sports viewing, communication among fans and friends as well as staying on top of every game’s latest breaking information is integral to the fan experience. When I was younger I remember watching nearly every Bulls game on television with my father. During the breaks between quarters, he would grab the landline phone and call up a friend to say something along the lines of “Did you see that?!” or “I can’t take the stress!”

Nowadays, mobile devices are tailor-made to suit these communication needs in far more comprehensive ways. I guess the apple doesn’t fall from the tree, because I inevitably find myself doing the exact same thing as my father.  Except instead of calling one or two friends, I end up engaging in conversations with far more people through texting, Tweeting, and posting to Facebook as the games progress. I stay on top of all the action by opting-in to various alert lists to receive breaking news, score, fantasy, and injury alerts. Sure, there’s still the occasional phone call, but with these methods I’m able to communicate with far more than just one or two friends.

This new and extensive communication system allows viewers to sound off on every facet of the game, making normally casual viewing more interactive.  Alex Campbell, co-founder/Chief Innovation Officer at Vibes Media, explains the value of enhancing the Olympics viewer’s experience saying, “It looks like most of the mobile options are all about getting deeper into storylines on the athletes and events. This is a great use of mobile – especially on a tablet. While I’m sure there will still be feel-good stories during the primetime broadcast, now I can actually research athletes and events on my own while watching that particular athlete compete live on my TV.”

These abilities for marketers to make the viewing experience more interactive, allowing for more of a lean-forward mentality, highlights the newest and most innovative ways mobile devices are perfect for sports. Moreover, the chances that viewers will stay tuned in longer only increases when the viewing experience is better.

Seen on the Mobile Scene: Home Decorating with Houzz!

For all of you who have recently moved (congrats on the new place!), you know how much work goes into the actual moving process.

The packing, schlepping of boxes, unpacking of said boxes, and then after you collapse from sheer exhaustion, the never-ending decorating decisions that need to be made.

- What color to paint the walls
- Granite vs. soapstone vs. marble vs. concrete
- What type of industrial pendant light fixture to pick for your kitchen (Please don’t let it be too “luxe rustic”) what does that even mean?!?
- Most importantly: are you a settee or a sectional?

Bottom line: The list of how-to’s can quickly pile up and sometimes, you just need a little help and advice.

Well fear no more! There is a great little app that I discovered over the past few months that has been making my new home decorating experience fun and a whole lot easier—What’s the name of this life-saving app, you ask? Houzz.

The Houzz app is kind of like having your own Sabrina Sota right in your pocket.

When I was first trying to decide what color to paint the master bedroom it was great to go into the app and choose from the various “ideabooks” that other design newbies and professionals alike had posted to rate paint colors, provide tips, tricks and more.

I quickly added this picture to my “ideabook,” which is my own little scrapbook of images and items that I like and want to refer back to, then I went to “professionals” and read more about the designer that had created this particular look and checked out his website.  I also like that you can choose to view ideabooks by metro area and see what others in the Chicagoland area are doing.


Thinking about how I wanted to arrange my living room and what type of coffee table I may want, I came across this image with pre-tagged items to let me know where it was from. Just click on the tag icon on the bottom footer of the app, view the item details and even go direct to their e-commerce site to purchase—how cool is that?

There is so much more about Houzz I can’t possibly describe it all, so check it out for yourself! But, one more thing for all you DIY’ers out there – I loved this flower pot shelf for the backyard and I’m not a real do-it-yourself type, but even I can follow these straight-forward tips and instructions on how to build this flowerpot shelf on the cheap. They give you all the materials you’ll need, and literally walk you through step-by-step on how to measure, cut, paint and hang. Genius! So, fellow decorators – download away!

Seen on the Mobile Scene: QR Codes, Golf Courses & Sweeps, Oh My!

Flipping through a magazine a few weeks ago, I saw the ad below with a QR code staring back at me. I’m always interested in the user experience when a QR code is involved because, honestly, they’re either done well or they’re not. In the case of the Wisconsin Golf Sweeps, I’m still on the fence…

The QR code is placed in the beautiful background of a golf course. The juxtaposition allows it to stand out, which is a good thing. It sure made me notice it. It’s front and center, so I’m on board with the placement.

Next I noticed the ad gives you three different ways to enter this sweeps. I get it. I really do. You want to give the user options if they don’t have a smart phone or if they don’t know what a QR code is. However, there’s no focus, which is why I always have an issue with calls to action that give multiple methods of entry in one spot. I believe it’s better to stick with text or go all the way with the QR code (coupled with concise instructions on how to interact with it). It’s almost too much for a user to think about and you probably lose them instantly.

Also, the QR code drives to the website displayed below it. This makes me hope they have some fantastic analytics on the QR code so they can track scans. If you’re going to have multiple entry points, track each to determine each channel’s effectiveness.

Overall, I’ve seen worse mobile calls to action with QR codes. This one works because it’s designed well. I just wish they would have stuck with the QR code the whole way through. Remember that in the world of mobile, simplicity speaks volumes and can make the difference between a great user experience and a confusing one!

The Tin Can Phone Theory and the Power of Mobile Databases

Do you remember playing with tin can phones as a child? I do. It was a pretty simple setup. You would take two tin cans, poke holes in their bases and connect them with a line of string. The result? A direct, super secret line of communication between you and a friend. Back in the day, this was the de-facto way to communicate with your buddy while hiding away in the fort or tree house you just built. There was something really special about being on the other end of a tin can phone. The message you were getting from your friend (or as I liked to call him – “HQ”) was just between you two. An exclusive relationship that no one else could tap into.

Recently, I took a trip to Great Clips to get my hair cut. As I walked in, I saw calls to action all over the store that offered customers the opportunity to text-in GREAT to a shortcode for the chance to win free haircuts for a YEAR. In the past, I’ve been a bit picky about texting-in to contests. I’ve always believed that if I’m going to go ahead and take the first step in establishing a mobile relationship with a brand, I want the prize to be something of high-perceived value. In this case, free haircuts for a year was definitely something worth texting-in for.


After texting-in and sending up a quick prayer to the haircut gods that I’d win this contest, I patiently waited for my bounceback.

I know, not the prettiest looking bounceback that’s ever been sent out, but it’s mostly compliant and was sent back almost immediately. Unfortunately, that’s where the engagement ended. It has been almost two months since I sent this message and I’ve never received an update on the status of the contest. Did I lose? Did I win? For that matter, did anyone win?

This Text-2-Win aside, probably the most disappointing element of this campaign was Great Clips’ missed opportunity to build out a mobile database. So the question is: “Why the focus on a mobile database? Isn’t a cool mobile campaign enough?”

When understanding the power behind building out a mobile database, I want you to think back to the tin can phone analogy. By opting-in and agreeing to future mobile notifications from you and your brand, your subscribers are essentially picking up a tin can phone and encouraging you to start engaging with them. The communications are personal and they feel exclusive, enabling you to literally cast a direct line of communication from your brand, right into the hands of your audience.

No matter the campaign offering or mobile strategy, do your very best to make sure they don’t exist in a silo. Enhance a simple Text-2-Win by presenting campaign participants with the opportunity to opt-in to receive future communications from your brand.

By keeping subscribers in the loop on breaking news, exclusive deals, sales and more, your mobile database is an effective strategy that’s constantly going maintain your brand’s presence in a subscribers pocket, developing a true “tin can phone” relationship – with both sides eagerly holding both ends of the line, waiting for the next message to come through!

Vibes at Summerfest: A Look Behind the Scenes!

Let me begin by saying that my time supporting our client, U.S. Cellular at Summerfest was a blast! I thought it would be fun to put together an on-site video blog of my time at the event. Please click the video below to check out the experience – through my point of view!


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