Calendar marketing software ECAL is helping professional and amateur sports team connect with their fans via personal digital calendars and is also shedding light on the digital habits of sports fans.

The ECAL platform, which is leveraged by teams like the Chicago Bears, USA Volleyball and more than 28 international soccer teams, enables fans to choose what information they would like to receive from their favorite teams, such as match schedules, events, team and athlete appearances, gear sales and other information. In fact, more than 600,000 fans across the globe use the ECAL dynamic calendar service to connect with their favorite teams. The solution actually provides a unique way for brands to interact with their fans, as it enables them to bypass the inbox where content has a lot of competition, and share events directly with fans via personal calendars.

It is also important to note that ECAL recently revealed the findings of its March Sports Analytics Report, which sheds light on the digital habits of sports lovers. According to the data 73 percent of fans prefer to connect to their favorite teams via desktops, 26 percent prefer mobile devices and the rest prefer Facebook or other methods. Additional data shows that out of the fans who connect via mobile, iPhone is the most popular platform (49 percent), followed by Android (46 percent). Moreover, the data found that fans are interested in connecting via calendars, with the data revealing 70 percent of soccer fans connect via desktop calendars, compared to 67 percent of NHL fans and 73.5 percent of college sports fans. While this data isn’t relevant for all industries, it is important for every industry to know how their audience prefers to connect with their brand.

”The ECAL platform gives us valuable insight into how sports fans prefer to receive events-based communications, what calendar programs they use, who they are, and how they behave within the calendar space,” said Patrick Barrett, Founder and CEO of ECAL. “We see very high levels of engagement from the calendar space (via click-throughs) for generally high value items (such as buying tickets). We also expect to see the continued rise of the mobile device as the primary way to manage your important life schedule.”

 

IT SCIENCE: Duke eCal adds sports schedules directly into the personal calendar of those who sign up. It’s free of charge and dynamic.

At eWEEK, our goal is encapsulated in our tagline: “Stay Ahead of the IT Curve.” We do exactly this for readers by publishing 20 or more articles each business day about relevant IT news and perspectives, innovation, trends, noteworthy ideas from thought leaders and best practices from throughout the realm of IT.

What we also do is to explain how new-gen IT works in the real world on systems old and new. We call these IT Science stories, because they’re about IT in the real world, and science is the real world. With all the innovation in products and services and new companies springing up to deliver them, there are a lot of stories to tell.

Here is one rather timely IT Science use case: How Duke’s athletic department improved engagement with its alumni and fans and sold its television platform at the same time. It’s timely because earlier this week, the Blue Devils won their fifth NCAA men’s basketball championship with a hard-fought 68-63 victory over Wisconsin at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Duke is using a new mobile calendar app called eCal to connect its retail, ticket and television products to alumni and fans. Duke eCal adds sports schedules directly into the personal calendar of those who sign up. It’s free of charge and dynamic, so fans receive updates automatically as they happen.

Users can post notes to Facebook, Twitter or Google+ networks on games they’re watching, invite friends to the game (or to watch it on streaming video), buy apparel or DVDs of past televised events—all using the app, which is available for iOS and Android mobile devices. It’s pretty much an all-in-one engagement app.

The department of athletics had been progressive in using IT tools such as its Website and mobile apps to interact with its many fans in order to keep them informed about game schedules, ticket availability and sales, subscriptions to its video platform, and sales of apparel and other types of retail items.

Eventually, the IT staff in the athletic department found that centralizing all these functions in order to make Duke’s engagement with fans easier to manage was going to be necessary. So they set out to refresh its splintered platform. Here is how they did it.

Objectives: Duke athletics and digital platform provider Neulion selected eCal to engage Duke fans around the Duke sports schedules, with the primary goal to drive use and subscriptions to the Blue Devil Network video platform.

The solution: The Duke eCal is geared to engage fans easily and directly with the BDN video platform. As such, the reminders, messaging and links are all tailored to suit these specific business objectives.

Content: Duke fans can choose their favorite sports schedules, across men’s and women’s sports, as well as for home and away games. They then can select and buy pay-per-view telecasts of those events on demand.

Marketing and promotion: The Duke eCal has been integrated on the Duke Athletics Website, on the home page and with the sports schedules. No launch promotion has taken place yet.

Results thus far this year:

–5,494 subscribers.

–99 percent opt-in rate: Customers consent to receive other marketing communications.

–329,000 calendar impressions: Events content is delivered at the right time in the right place 100 percent of the time.

–Clickthroughs: More than 80 percent of clicks are to Join BDN, the Duke online TV platform.

–Sales: eCal is proving to actively drive new online TV subscription revenue: Value is generated in a deeper fan engagement, superior customer service and alumni connection.

“The Duke eCal looks great and is a simple tool for fans to stay totally connected with Duke sports, wherever they are,” said Ryan Craig, director of digital media at Duke Athletics. “Any schedule changes are delivered straight into their calendar. From a business perspective, we are seeing terrific clickthrough to our online assets, particularly the BDN video platform to drive additional revenue.”