Anyone who loves auto racing lives for the days when the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) race cars fire up the tracks at Daytona Beach, Talladega, and other racetracks around the United States. But as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in spring 2020, the thrill of live racing gave way to empty stands and idle engines.
But NASCAR didn’t want fans to lose interest in live racing. To keep at-home fans jazzed about NASCAR as well as up to date on future plans to resume racing around the country, NASCAR created the iRacing Pro Invitational Series, with virtual cars raced on virtual tracks by real NASCAR drivers like Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kyle Busch. NASCAR teamed up with Braze to spread the word about the virtual competitions, using Braze rich push notifications to drive traffic to the NASCAR app.
Engaging With Fans to Raise Awareness of Thrilling Virtual Auto Races
Without live races for fans to tune into, NASCAR feared people would drift away to other forms of entertainment—and therefore, when racing came back, fans would be out of the habit of watching. NASCAR rapidly launched the iRacing Pro Invitational Series, which featured NASCAR drivers competing on a virtual Talladega Superspeedway for fans to view from home.
NASCAR’s next step was to pull in fans and raise awareness of the virtual races. The organization was concerned that virtual racing might be a tough sell to fans, but NASCAR hoped that with strong messaging, fans could be convinced to give virtual racing a try.
NASCAR had previously used push campaigns mainly to deliver race highlights. With help from Braze, NASCAR used rich push notifications to promote the virtual races. One message included a letter from NASCAR president Steve Phelps, thanking fans for their support and understanding; other messages featured images of NASCAR stars and alerted fans to upcoming races.
“When we temporarily replaced live racing with virtual events, we had to win over fans who were missing their favorite form of entertainment,” says Pat DeCola, Manager, Digital Editorial at NASCAR. “By using Braze and rich push notifications, we won their attention. We’re using the same strategy to keep fans up to date on the comeback of live racing events.”
NASCAR Results: Increase in iOS Open Rates, 40% Conversion Rate
By delivering attention-getting push notifications that attracted users with images, NASCAR successfully reached racing fans who were encouraged to stick with a new form of the sport. NASCAR saw an Android open rate of 9% and an iOS open rate of 4%, significantly outpacing industry standards; iOS open rates increased between February and April. NASCAR also saw a conversion rate of 40%
Consumers receive many messages from brands, entertainers, and sports teams, all chiming in for a sliver of attention and awareness. Push messages used to be relatively modest—just plain text. But today, marketers have more tools at their disposal to give these messages some extra dazzle, like images, animated GIFs, and even audio and video. NASCAR found adding images and GIFs helped cut through the clutter to make an impression on users.
To learn more about creating engaging push notifications, download our “Push Notification Guide.”