Sports teams are tackling fan engagement with tech from your marketing stack

Sports teams are tackling fan engagement with tech from your marketing stack

In today’s always-on, multichannel world, the sports industry looks to marketing technology to communicate a cohesive message to fans. Rapid digital innovation has given way to numerous applications and strategic alliances between sports and tech, with email uniting every channel.

The sports industry is one of the biggest players in the entertainment market, with an estimated global value of more than $1.5tn. Its potential for influence is staggering: according to a recent report from Crowdynews, over 86% of US adults identify as sports fans, with 24% describing their passion as “intense”. The same study measured the number of football fans globally at four billion – more than half the world’s population.

An industry with such scope and magnitude requires a robust engagement strategy to satisfy its audience. Today’s consumer demands a deeper, more immersive sports experience. You need only note the explosion of Esports – whose 215 million audience members are expected to generate revenues of $1.1bn in 2019 – to see this trend in action. And with a global following driving the need for 24/7 access to the fandom, marketers face the challenge of delivering an exceptional consumer experience worldwide.

Tech engages fans long after the final whistle

The 2017 sports industry experience is inextricable from digital innovation as clubs and teams invest in new and exciting ways for fans to engage anytime, anywhere. From pocket betting to batting stats, live streams to live tracking, fans can get closer to the action than ever before.

Bringing data insight into your marketing strategy requires the right tools, and the industry’s approach to tech adoption has been swift and comprehensive. The NFL has perfected the ‘connected stadium’, with larger venues now offering 700-plus wireless access points so fans can access social media, complete food-and-drink orders and engage with adverts. More recently, a collaboration between the Tour de France and Dimension Data saw riders fitted with a tracking device to provide spectators with location data via a dedicated mobile app. Havas Media has since reported a 30% year-on-year growth in investment in sports tech startups; teaming up with innovators allows marketers to better win, serve and retain spectators.

Sports fans are 67% more likely to use Twitter to enhance their viewing experience

Outside of the tech venture space, the bond between sport and social is ever strengthening. Twitter and Facebook are awash with live stats, analysis and reactions on game day as displaced spectators engage in the spirit of the fandom. According to Nielsen, the American football season generates 43% of weekly US Facebook activity and 33% of weekly Twitter activity. This social sharing has allowed sports marketers to track engagement metrics at key points, facilitating better targeting.

And if social domination isn’t enough to quench the thirst of the fandom, the rise in content distribution from sports bodies and individuals provides a further touchpoint for devotees. Uninterrupted, The Player’s Tribune and Unscriptd are just a few of the many athlete-owned online platforms where fans can access content driven by their heroes.

Email brings all these channels together

Each app and channel introduction creates the potential for sports organizations to unwillingly dilute their brand. Add to that the varying degrees of engagement from one fan to the next, and the possibility of losing customers on the journey to conversion increases. Sports bodies now face the challenge of communicating a consistent, multichannel brand message that every fan can access. It should also be noted that not every club has the budget of a Premier League giant in its corner.

To achieve the best value for digital investment, marketers across the field have placed email at the forefront of fan engagement. While not every sports follower is a prolific Twitter user, it’s almost impossible to engage in the digital world without an active email address. By pulling highly engaging rich media from websites and social channels into their campaigns, sports marketers are providing unified experiences and boosting ROI from their costlier content. The reporting functionality of email service providers means sports marketers are able to track opens, clicks and conversions from every contact around the globe.

If you’re a sports marketer and want to know more about how email is shaping the industry, the free guide at the address below is your matchday program for the season ahead. See winning campaigns from global teams such as the NBA, England Rugby and West Ham United, and learn how they use email to foster community, communicate crucial news, drive merchandise sales and nurture brand loyalty.

Download the free white paper, Focus on Sport, here.

Ellen Hart is editor, Marketing News, Dotmailer

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