Most NBA team apps functioned like a journalistic website on a smaller screen. That wasn’t good enough for the HEAT organization. Not only were they looking to create the premier mobile app in the league, they wanted it to be personalized, scalable and highly data-driven.
Beyond their love of their team, HEAT fans have very different interests. Some like stats. Others like sharing pictures. As a result, fans needed to be able to control and customize the app experience. In addition, the app had to collect key data to help the HEAT better understand and serve their fans.
Lastly, the app needed to revolutionize ticketing and concession purchases by offering a truly paperless and cashless experience.
To start, we implemented a beautiful full-frame design with a strong graphic look—a far cry from the standard journalistic aesthetic. Our approach included sleek full-color backgrounds, bold type and clean iconography.
Then, to capture each fan’s interests, we introduced “fan types” to allow users to self-identify as stat lovers, social media junkies or somewhere in between. Using location and time data to determine where users were and whether it was a game day or the offseason, we then served up real-time, tailored content in a personalized HEAT stream. While invisible to the fan, this built-in tech logic made the app feel intuitive, relevant and seamless.
But that wasn’t all. Immediately after launch, we began tracking every action within the app to monitor what was being viewed, shared and purchased. (Previously, the team was only able to see ticket purchases and game attendance data.) That allowed us to fine-tune and further customize the content, so that we could match each fan’s interests to a T.
Finally, we rolled out paperless ticketing and cashless payments to deliver unprecedented efficiency. Paperless tickets make life easier for fans by making it faster to enter the arena and harder to misplace or forget your tickets. For the HEAT, they reduce the operational costs associated with mailing tickets and manning gates.
Mobile payments also offer dual benefits, allowing fans to purchase concessions quickly and get back to their seats sooner while also boosting concession sales overall. That’s because mobile wallet users on average spend more money per capita.
In the first two months after launch, Miami HEAT app users…
And these numbers continued to trend upward over time.
Naturally, this incredible level of engagement led to more ad placements, sponsorship opportunities and exclusive content. And in turn, that translated into the HEAT posting the highest mobile revenue figures in the league. In fact, they earned more than every other NBA team combined.
Remarkably, the team’s championship-level revenue is projected to keep growing. As of the 2017-2018 basketball season, all Miami HEAT season ticket holders will enter American Airlines Arena using mobile tickets while 90% of concessions will be purchased via in-app mobile payments.