Content Marketing Strategy
Auto racing league American Le Mans Series (ALMS) came to McMurry seeking a new marketing direction and strategy. The Series is a niche league with a limited event schedule compared to sports like NASCAR, NFL, MLB and NBA. Despite this position, the Series competes for the same fans and sponsors as the majors, and it asked McMurry to grow the size and engagement of its fan base and, correspondingly, the value that could be delivered to its current and prospective sponsors.
Utilizing a mix of industry insights, secondary research and primary interviews, McMurry articulated a marketing evolution for the Series, from its print-based, brand-oriented roots into digitally-motivated, response-driven efforts, and from marketing only to race fans to a broader audience that included tangential markets such as automotive brand fanatics.
The campaign components included digital advertising and contests to lure fence-sitters and new fans, online content and episodic videos to keep fans interested between race events and to improve natural search rankings, social media to leverage sharing, and customer relationship management to monitor fan behavior and trigger relevant, personalized communications.
Central to the effort was a reinvented website for the Series. In addition to being a campaign hub that converted visitors into customers, the site positioned the Series as a genuine media outlet with original Series programming, by aggregating content from partner brands and race drivers, outside bloggers, fan-submitted content and the ability for consumers to personalize pages around preferences.
Following the first race of the 2011 Series, ALMS saw three times more television viewers than in any race the year prior, while website traffic showed an immediate 141 percent increase. More stunning, the live Internet version of the race on ESPN3.com made history as the most watched auto racing event for ESPN3, beating out the previous viewership record by
The incredible success continued. By the end of the first season together, McMurry’s marketing strategy and savvy creative drove 36 million impressions and helped increase TV viewership and fan attendance by 47 percent and 11 percent, respectively. Traffic to the Series website grew 38 percent, and 81 percent of the increase came from visitors who were entirely new to the site.
Online success was partly fueled by successful search marketing. For the first time ever ALMS was ranking on page one of popular search engines, ahead of other bigger racing leagues and for terms that didn’t include the Series name. Further, the fan database—complete with emails for inexpensive remarketing—nearly tripled from 70,000 to more than 190,000 and, for the first time in Series history, became a valuable, marketable asset to sponsors.