The year 2020 was earmarked as a festival of live sporting action, with unprecedented digital coverage for fans inside the stadium and at home. Unfortunately, the Tokyo Olympic Games, Berlin Marathon, Wimbledon, and soccer leagues, to name just a few, have all succumbed to the COVID-19 pandemic — postponed or canceled.
However, although game day has always been preeminent in fan’s minds, in the digital era, the real battleground is the period between games and seasons, and how sports teams can create a deeper, digital relationship with its fan base.
To create a relationship that goes beyond game day, sports teams need to connect with fans on the right channels, at the right time. And although much time is spent scrolling social media feeds, this is a channel primarily for news and connecting with other, and rival fans — email remains the chosen medium, in both terms of favor, engagement, and, comparatively, ticket and product sales.
77% of fans have made a purchase from their team directly as a result of an email they received
Connecting with privacy-conscious fans
As the fallout from high-profile privacy scandals rumbles on, sports fans are more cognizant than ever of the value of their data, resulting in a stark rise in ad-blocking technology adoption and fans regularly deleting cookies from their browsers.
Where privacy was once an afterthought in most sports club’s go-to-market strategy, it is now as vital a differentiator as price, product, and fan experience. For sports marketers that have relied on third-party data sets and cookie tracking to power its marketing initiatives, this time of digital disruption is quite the headache.
However, for those sports marketers committed to forging honest relationships, and adopting a fully-fledged privacy-first strategy, the rewards are limitless. They will have the ability to collect the marketing opt-ins and psychographic data points needed to beat their rivals in the digital arena as well as on the field of play.
55% of fans will share psychographic data points like purchase motivations and product feedback with sports brands
Marketing to fans In the value exchange economy
It is possible for sports marketers to know what their fans intend to do or purchase in the future when they collect data that is intentionally and proactively shared directly by the fan. This is called zero-party data, and it can be collected by leveraging data-gathering interactive experiences.
Interactive experiences can be configured to live in any digital space; from social stories to ad units, web pages to mobile apps. These engaging experiences can be anything from sweepstakes to polls, countdown reveals to fully-fledged microsites; the key is that they incorporate data capture mechanics that can progressively profile your fans so you can deliver better content, offers, and personalization to them.
To collect the opt-ins and preference data required to build true and lasting connections with fans that withstand any season hiatus, fans need to be entertained, engaged, and receive something in return for their attention and data.
50% of fans want incentives like coupons, loyalty points or exclusive access in return for their data
The value exchange economy is where sports marketers offer fans something in return for their attention, engagement, and preference data. And it doesn’t always have to be a discount or huge prize; exclusive content, social kudos, personalized recommendations, and loyalty points can also be the catalyst for the collection of marketing opt-ins and self-reported data.
To learn more, and see examples for world-renowned sports teams that are delivering engaging interactive experiences in return for fans’ opt-ins and preference data, download this campaign guide.