How did sports enthusiasts get their dose of sports before the dawn of social media? Of course in the old-fashioned way – watch it on TV, listen to it on the radio or read about it in newspapers, discuss it with neighbors and friends or by being a player yourself. But now, with the advent of digital media (esp. social media) the entire ball game has changed.
Digital technology has transformed the way fans and athletes discover, experience, participate, and share their love for sports. And you know what’s common between digital media and sports? It is the ability to reach out to a wide range of audience at the same time.
How does the sports scenario in India look like?
Before we look at the ways digital marketing has shaped the sports industry, let’s understand the sports scenario in India. The global sports sector is estimated to be worth between $480-620 billion. India is yet to recognise sport in the economic sector but with the establishment of leagues like the Indian Premiere League, Hockey India League, Indian Super League, etc. a new identity of sports has cropped up.
India is slowly turning from a single sport nation to a multi-sport one with emphasis also given on other sports like Hockey, Kabaddi, Football, Badminton, Boxing and others, alongside cricket. On the economic front, the sports industry in India provides employment to more than 500,000 people and it will open up more employment opportunities in the years to come. We can thus conclude that the Sports industry in India is growing steadily and the long-term growth prospects looks promising.
What’s the scope of digital marketing in sports?
The huge success of leagues like Indian Premiere League (IPL), Indian Super League (ISL), Pro Kabaddi League etc. is one of the main reasons for the exponential growth of sports in India. Looking at its success, businesses are now looking at sports as a potential to grow their brands and with the onset of digital media, marketers are contemplating using digital marketing in sports industry. With more than 323 million of Indian population using internet, the future of digital marketing in the sports industry sure looks attractive.
Digital Marketing exploits a variety of online channels to connect advertisers and fans. Digital media is increasingly becoming the second screen after traditional broadcast, during live events. As mentioned above, both digital media and sports have the ability to capture a large number of audience at the same time. Hence, sports digital marketing campaigns are now gaining a lot of momentum and shaping the sports industry in ways discussed below.
5 ways digital marketing is shaping the sports industry
- Sport lovers engage a lot in social media
It was found that 83% of fans, while watching sports on TV, check social media and 63% use social media while watching a game at the stadium. What companies are doing is, they are coming up with creative ways to engage sports lovers. A lot of sports brands can be seen using Twitter and Facebook to promote themselves. Social Media is bridging the gap between an average sports lover and his desire of watching the game that he can’t afford to watch live, maybe due to finance or geography constraints. This is made possible in the form of live updates, exclusive content, contests, and promotion of events. Consequently, it can generate a lot of traffic on the site and used to promote products and this is how sports marketing through social media can be achieved.
Blogging can be a great way by which clubs and teams can showcase their human side by allowing supporters and fans to write about their endeavors. They can also engage with some bloggers, who are also sports fans, by sharing the latest happenings of the club, who will then get it out to their community of followers. This will garner more online coverage and help in the promotion of the brand.
- Search Engine Optimization in Sports
To elevate exposure and generate additional traffic to websites, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can help significantly and hence, is gaining importance in sports digital marketing campaigns. SEOs can also be utilized to improve rankings in search engine results’ pages.
- Brand management
The manipulation of search listings, so that only positive listings appear in search results, is one of the features of brand management. This can work well for any sports team or brand who is trying to create a positive reputation online.
- Content and Video Marketing
This form of marketing is used to build brand awareness, increase website traffic as well as keep fans, followers, and potential customers interested and engaged. One good example is Wimbledon’s YouTube channel. They are known to keep their followers up-to-date with relevant, unique and engaging content.
One must also remember that for a digital marketing strategy to achieve success in the field of sports, focus should be on the below 3 things:
- Technology and content innovation
Whether you’re using the power of technology or content to reach out to your fans, innovation is the key. One great example of technological innovation was seen in the first season of the Indian Super League when its Facebook cover was updated automatically with the change in score. When it comes to innovating with content, the Mauka Campaign, with its custom emoticons during the 2015 Cricket World Cup, is considered as one of the best sports digital marketing campaigns in India.
- Be data-driven
The use of digital platforms generates a lot of user data which can be leveraged in making informed decisions. Tweak your UI, creative, strategy, etc. as per what the data tells you but without getting lost in the ocean of information.
- Engage on a real-time basis
When it comes to sports, for any campaign to work, it has to be real-time. Sport is all about the moment and for you to be able to engage and connect with your audience, you need to be real-time. Whether it is live scores, stats or user interactions, you need to sail along with your end user.
The above social media tips for sports industry will be crucial for a successful digital marketing campaign.
The deployment of digital marketing strategies in the sports industry will produce a lot of sports digital marketing jobs in India. Positions like Digital Marketing Manager in sports, Sports Managers, SEO Executive, etc. can be taken up by candidates well-versed in sports management and digital marketing.