March Madness: How to Flip User Engagement into Easy Money

10 billion dollars

That's how much money was bet in various forms on the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament last year. Better known as ‘March Madness,' this is the one time of the year that everyone in your life turns into a gambling degenerate. Your grandmother, husband, step-son, sister, they're all filling out $10 brackets with dreams of a decent cash prize and eternal glory. They're picking winners and losers based on regional bias, deep dive research, and sometimes just by mascot, throwing cash around like an addict fresh out of rehab.Ironically, in years past all of these friendly wagers have been technically illegal. That's right, your coworkers, friends and family they're all criminals. Well they were until sports gambling was legalized in May 2018. This leads many experts to think that this year's number is likely to eclipse 10 billion. There's no question then that March Madness is big business. Heck, corporations have been fighting a losing battle against it for years due to the billions of dollars in lost employee productivity. But that's not your concern. For you, this means a lot of engaged users demanding real time updates. How do you leverage this one month of the year where the public loses their collective mind over 10 guys, a ball and a bunch of colleges they have never heard of?

The Big Dance

In the past, the majority of brackets were filled out with a pen and paper. The local newspaper would include one for you to fill out. Maybe some enterprising person would head to the library and print out a bunch. One person would collect all the cash and then manually score every bracket in the pool. How quaint!Obviously in the past few years March Madness betting has moved almost exclusively online. Dealing with an industry in the tens of billions you can imagine the dozens and dozens of sports apps, payment platforms and gambling services that want in on the action. But it doesn't stop there. Think about every adjacent industry that is occupying the fringes. March Madness captures the collective monoculture which is a rarity in 2019. Every brand is trying to hook their sail to it and capitalize.The “March Madness” moniker comes primarily from the first Thursday and Friday of the tournament. At any given time there can be up to four games playing simultaneously, each winner and loser massively impacting the results of the tournament. No one can risk leaving the couch for fear of missing out. This presents an interesting opportunity for brands. Effectively, there is a captive audience. This is why people are willing to pay $9 for popcorn at a movie theater, $11 for a beer at a ski lodge. If you as a brand knew that a large portion of the population would be committing a substantial amount of time to a singular activity, how could you use that to your advantage? Enter TeleSign.

The Sweet 16

On demand apps can use TeleSign's Communications APIs (SMS and Voice) to push out promotional messages. “30% off alcohol delivery services during the game. Don't worry about a beer run, we'll bring the party to you.”Or what about the hundreds of food and grocery delivery services? “Did you not order enough chicken wings for overtime? No sweat, we'll be right over with reinforcements.” No time in history have users enjoyed so much power from the comfort of their couch.Millennials are already ordering more delivery services on a daily basis. One could make the assumption that when they were further incentivized to do so, marketing directly toward them would be a slam dunk.

The Elite Eight

Through SMS and Voice APIs TeleSign could help a platform keep users engaged on the sporting front as well. Users could receive an SMS every time their bracket won a game, every time they lost a game, every time a game was tied late in the second half. “Quick FLIP TO TRUTV!”If a user's pick won late on a buzzer beating shot, a service could push a voice call to them with the immortal words of Dick Vitale. “Oh, Oh, ARE YOU SERIOUS? It's Unbelievable baby!!!!”The point is, this tournament is supposed to be fun, quick messages to keep a user immediately up to date on their progress could be an interesting little wrinkle that would help an app stand out in a sea of mediocrity.Speaking of standing out, is there anything more exciting in sports than talking a little smack? After a big win use our SMS platform to connect users over private P2P messaging. “Purdue fails to reach the Final Four again, better luck next year BoilerFan89!!!”And although shooting your buddy a friendly jab about the outcome of the game is just for laughs, it should be stated that some of these pots can get quite large, TeleSign can help keep these brackets secure as well. By using phone numbers as a trust anchor, we can activate 2FA just to make sure a user's picks or more importantly their winnings, don't fall into the wrong hands.

The Final Four

March Madness will eventually end, most people won't win any money, and a bunch of people in their 20s will leave Vegas broke and hungover. Life will go on.However…Your app/service that used TeleSign to blast out messages during March Madness can still engage users year-round. Trying to drive sign-ups for fantasy sports? Want a user to check out your newsletter? Is your brand holding a cool raffle? Once you've had your base opt in, you can send SMS and Voice messages to your users about anything you could dream of…and that right there, is the real jackpot.

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