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Palace Sports & Entertainment

Marketo is helping us better identify our fans and communicate with them.

palace sports and entertainment photo of mike donnay vp brand networks palace sports and entertainment Mike Donnay
VP, Brand Networks Palace Sports and Entertainment
Palace Sports & Entertainment


  • Year-over-year ticket sales increase by 30%
  • Renewal rates increase by 90%
  • Year-over-year eMarketing revenue increase by 132%



The move to Marketo helps the Detroit Pistons and Palace Sports & Entertainment deepen fan engagement 

Forget about anything resembling an off season at Palace Sports & Entertainment (PS&E). Owned by Tom Gores and Platinum Equity, PS&E comprises The Detroit Pistons, The Palace of Auburn Hills arena, DTE Energy Music Theatre, and the operating contract for Meadow Brook Music Festival. The organization packs a busy schedule that includes an 82-game basketball season and more than 100 summer concert events. Facing stepped-up competition for entertainment dollars, PS&E needed a tech upgrade to deepen its consumer interaction and glean better insights into the fan-buying journey. PS&E’s deployment of Marketo’s consumer engagement platform supplied the consumer-oriented marketing infrastructure that helped foster fan loyalty, and acquire and manage new potential ticket holders throughout the purchase cycle. 


  • Consumer insight: Gain a more granular understanding of the fan’s buying journey and nurture communications for an extended purchase cycle
  • Revenue growth: Boost ticket sales, increase share of consumers’ entertainment dollars
  • Personalization: Create end-to-end experiences based on consumers’ interest and preferences 



Getting Clear Customer Insights

PS&E operates in a crowded market for entertainment in Michigan that’s home to several major professional and collegiate sports franchises. With a new indoor arena planned for downtown Detroit, it is facing yet more competition. That’s why PS&E packs as much entertainment as possible into events—to give consumers as much value for their dollars as possible.

"With the completion of a three-year, $40-million renovation of The Palace of Auburn, we’re providing our fans one of the most innovative, technologically advanced facilities in the country and the best game-day experience possible.”

However, the company’s previous emarketing platform was unfortunately not as advanced. PS&E eMarketing Manager Jason Scott described it as archaic. Nor was it tightly integrated with PS&E’s CRM system, so it was virtually impossible to efficiently identify potential new ticket holders. Prior to selecting Marketo, PS&E relied primarily on paper forms.

"You can imagine the administrative nightmares relying on paper forms would cause, where you have 300 contacts scribbled on a piece of paper and somebody has to try to decipher that.”

What’s more, the company’s batch-and-blast email campaigns lacked sophistication. Not only was the quality and value of the information poor, but PS&E also received little insight into how fans wanted to interact with their brands.

Mike wanted a solution to help them understand consumers as individuals and tailor content in ways that would allow the company to build deepen relationships with its fan base. So PS&E turned to Marketo—attracted in part by a shared philosophy about how to develop life-long consumer relationships. 




Personalizing at Scale

PS&E sells approximately 3.5 million tickets annually, and Marketo was the only platform PS&E identified that could enable personalized messaging to consumers at that scale without adding resources. Scaling is essential because not every person who buys a ticket signs up for season tickets.

With personalization at scale, PS&E can cultivate relationships and learn more about consumer behavior. For instance, marketers can track individual fan patterns closely, understanding which game tickets consumers bought, which concerts they attended—even track views on the website. They can also tailor future communications by leveraging social networking data to identify a fan’s favorite player or artist and invite the fan to a specific game or concert. Additionally, marketers have set up strategies, such as automated birthday campaigns, to help drive merchandise sales and enhance the value of being a fan.

"Over the past two seasons, we’ve exceeded 90% renewal rate—the best, in terms of renewals, ever in the history of Palace Sports & Entertainment. I attribute that to the work that we’re doing with Marketo."

PS&E uses Marketo to carry out ongoing campaigns to nurture potential season ticket holders before they’re ready to have a conversation with PS&E’s sales team. Marketo also automates timely communications when plans are almost up for renewal. They also offer reward programs to ticket holders, further personalizing and enriching the experience for the attendees.

The PS&E team keeps members engaged during the Pistons’ off-season by hosting member events. Marketo is critical to automating the communication flows from the invitation and the RSVP, to the “Thanks for attending” email, and the “Sorry we missed you, here’s a recap” email.

"Just think about the quality and value of the data we’re getting, it’s so much better now, and it all feeds into the ecosystem that we’ve created here with our CRM.”

Using Marketo to segment communications to different fan lifestyles, PS&E now has a way to engage more personally with ticket holders at the right time and identify specific indicators to measure if a fan is a likely candidate to buy season tickets."

The results tell the story: since moving to Marketo, PS&E has racked up a 132% increase in year-over-year eMarketing revenue.