Pacers sports & entertainment is a trailblazer

Pacers Sports & Entertainment scores big with its global fan base.

1,000 employees
Salesforce customer since 2015


increase in email engagement


Pacers Sports & Entertainment uses digital to champion its global NBA brand.

The National Basketball Association has grown into a global phenomenon in recent years, with NBA broadcasts reaching more than 200 countries. The NBA currently staffs a dozen international offices and runs seven player academies on four continents. "I believe we can be the #1 sport in the world," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has said.

In the spirit of that vision, the Indiana Pacers has deployed Salesforce to enrich and personalize digital interactions with every Pacers fan on the planet. The objective is to create the “Ultimate Indiana Pacers Fan Experience” for every fan of the team, no matter where that fan may be.

Pacers Sports & Entertainment is a Trailblazer in customer engagement.

With 1.1 million followers on Twitter and 3.2 million fans on Facebook, the Pacers’ fan base extends far beyond the 18,000 seats in the Pacers’ home court. The Pacers’ parent company, Pacers Sports & Entertainment (PS&E), has expanded its use of Marketing Cloud, Service Cloud, and Tableau CRM to engage with Pacers fans before, during, and after games via email and social media channels.

"With Salesforce, we're bringing digital to the forefront of the fan experience,” said Rick Fuson, President and Chief Operating Officer of PS&E. “We’re using innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence to better engage with our fans when and how they want, with content that is highly personalized to them."


Personalized messaging yields revenue results.

As recently as 2016, the Pacers marketing team might spend hours building a single email list from disparate spreadsheets. Now, with Marketing Cloud, the team automates audience segmentation based each season-ticket subscriber’s engagement history across multiple touchpoints. Journey Builder, Marketing Cloud’s marketing orchestration and automation engine, enables the Pacers’ digital team to send highly personalized emails to anyone who engages with the brand.

“Journey Builder has been particularly huge for us,” said Derek Throneburg, VP of Customer Insight and Engagement. “It changed our process, and as we’ve mastered the functionality, the segmentation has had huge impacts for our revenue.” With Customer 360 Audiences, Social Studio, and Ad Studio, the PS&E digital team is able to more precisely engage fans with relevant content, information, and special offers across social media and digital advertising.

“We have transitioned a little bit from simply looking at email as the primary outbound messaging to really looking at the hub of ways that we can reach our customers and fans,” said Alana Galardo, Associate Director of Consumer Engagement. “A campaign for us that might have once been just email may now be a combination of email and social posts.”


Smart email scoring boosts engagement results.

PS&E uses Einstein to engage new fans on social media, personalize email content leading up to games, and push real-time offers during games through the Pacers mobile app.

Einstein Engagement Scoring for email has created a steady 20% increase in engagement through personalized messaging, while allowing quicker turnaround time on sending emails. Through Einstein, the Pacers’ marketing team can be more strategic in developing new relevant content, based on email behavior. They’ve enjoyed an incremental increase in the size of their loyalist category of fans and a significant drop in the number of dormant accounts.

“Einstein Engagement Scoring is an incredibly powerful tool,” said Throneburg, He noted that a recent email surveyed accounts Einstein had scored as dormant for the type of information they would like to get from the Pacers. With an open rate of over 10%, the survey responses have yielded valuable new insights about the kinds of email subscribers want to receive. “Now we can start to personalize and customize that content,” Throneburg said. “We’re weaving that into our creative strategy, we’re weaving it into our email strategy, and then that will start to spill over across other channels, as well.”


Discover insights, predict outcomes, and find recommendations with Tableau CRM.

Customer engagement meets fans wherever they are, in real time.

PS&E is also increasing its use of Service Cloud, in conjunction with Marketing Cloud, to transform customer experiences. For example, if a fan tweets about an issue while attending a game, a customer service representative will be notified who can resolve the issue right at the fan’s seat in the Pacers’ home arena, Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Salesforce integration allows digital marketers using Marketing Cloud to benefit from Pacers’ ticket sales data stored on Service Cloud. “We use Service Cloud as kind of our database of record. It’s been incredibly valuable,” said Throneburg.

With the recent addition of MuleSoft AnyPoint Platform, the marketing team will be able to pull together data from ticket systems, food and beverage systems, and mobile app behavior. “All of these things are living in their own silos,” said Throneburg. “We’re working with MuleSoft now to help connect the dots on some of those pieces that will allow us to take essentially every field of data, make it actionable, and help drive our business forward.”

PS&E’s holdings also include the Indiana Fever of the Women’s Basketball League, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA G League, Pacers Gaming of the NBA 2K League, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, and the Pacers Foundation. Future plans include implementing the same digital experiences through Salesforce across this entire portfolio of teams and brands. Said Throneburg, “We are able to drive marketing engagement with our fans by using Salesforce to bring to life all our ideas, thoughts, and strategies.”


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