The sports sector is entirely reliant on its fans. They play a massive role in making the team, a player, a brand a true success. No industry has such intense and loyal fans as sports.
Never has there been a better time to be a sports fan than now. With new technology changing the way we experience and view sports, there are many ground level changes that are enhancing the way brands, broadcasters, and teams engage with sports fans.
Also interesting to read: Rise of smart textile and its impact on athlete performance
Now that both in-person and broadcasted live events to sports gamification – are all in themselves a large sector of the globe, there is a vast scope for brands to generate revenue from sales of tickets, AR/VR events, merchandise, food & beverages, venues, and much more. With so many avenues for sports fans today to explore, what keeps them loyal is how as a brand you engage with them. Here are the top 5 ways in which you can help enhance your fan’s experience and increase their engagement:
1 Fan engagement goes beyond the event
The key is to stay connected with your fans throughout – even if there is no event, as much as before and after. While social media is one great way to interact with your fans consistently, here are some other options:
A. Fan engagement app: Apps today are a crucial part of your engagement process. Encouraging fans to interact with your brand via their mobile should be a key factor for brands. This can be done by offering them online gaming on the app, online trivia and other event-based and athlete-based content.
B. Feedback: Ask for feedback from your fans via social media platforms. Ask them to engage with you by writing easy-to-answer multiple-choice questions that offer data points in the form of feedback.
C. Online fan clubs: Fan clubs from the start have been a great hit; they allow fans to stay connected and find common grounds for interaction and like-minded fans that share the same excitement for games and events.
D. YouTube: Give your fans a behind the scenes access; this offers them a personal connection with the club and its players. FC Barcelona is an excellent example of the same.
Also interesting to read: Indian sports that can develop into professional leagues
2 Build Reward based loyalty systems
One of the top few priorities of a sports brand based on fans is to build a reward and loyalty-based system for ticket holders, members and return visitors. In this regard, it is vital to factor in all kinds of visitors, so you reap the most benefits from their return.
From season ticket holders to all return visitors – they should be offered some exclusive perks that help to enhance their overall fan experience and encourages their engagement with your brand. Here are some great ways to do the same:
A. Access to early ticket bookings, seat selection, merchandise access, free parking to free wifi at the stadium.
B. Loyalty points: One of the most common ways adopted across sectors is offering loyalty points. This can be implemented for fans based on the number of times they visit the venue, buy merchandise, F&B and more items/ services. These points can act as credit they can use for future purchases.
C. Membership programs: A great way to capture information about your most loyal fans is to build an exclusive membership program. This program can offer priority booking services, guaranteed premium seats, whole food and beverage packages to many more interactive opportunities to the fans.
D. VIP sections: A great example of this is to offer season ticket holders access to VIP areas and activities that are otherwise restricted to other guests.
Also interesting to read: How is India empowering its sports talent?
3 Personalize communication
AI has enabled us to learn how each customer’s communication can be personalized. This helps brands get to know their fans, further building unique and personalized communication.
We already know that sports fans are usually more diverse than we imagine. Targeting each one might result in reaching no one. Here is how you can get your fans to help enhance their engagement:
A. Fan segment: Segregate your fans based on how you will target them based on your marketing plans. This can be based on their demographic – area they live in, age group, number of times they visit your website or venue and many other elements. The more you have segmented data – the better your communication can be built to target the specific crowd.
B. Modes of communication: When you have different fan segments, you can analyse who responds best to which mode of communication. A specific age group may be more receptive to videos on Tiktok or Instagram, while another would prefer email communication. Knowing when, where and how to target your audience is crucial for them to purchase or engage with your brand.
Also interesting to read: Indian medal winners at Commonwealth Games, 2022
4 Build interactive – immersive experiences, engage with technology
Sports today have many tech-based advancements that need to be adopted for the best performance and fan engagement results. From data collection via optimal tracking and wearables – that offer fans insight into teams and athlete performance to VR headsets that are building unique immersive experiences like never before – interactive experiences via the help of tech is a great way to engage your fans.
Data collection: When a large amount of data is collected on athletes’ performance, fans that play online games like fantasy football to fantasy cricket and more – can build their teams based on relevant – real-time data. This is a unique way to keep your fans engaged on your platform.
B Virtual Reality: Using 360-degree tech, fans can enjoy the whole atmosphere of sporting events, even from the comfort of their homes. All they need is a VR headset and an internet connection. VR is fast gaining traction in the sports world and is sure to become an intelligent way for fans to engage with their favourite sports.
5 Connected stadiums
Intelligent stadiums are on the rise. From accessible high-speed Wi-Fi access to checking how long the F&B line is, everything is happening in real time now.
-The Levi’s Stadium, home to the San Francisco 49ers – allows fans to use their phone to scan their tickets, locate their seats and even order food to their hearts. They can even use the app to watch instant replays and plant the fastest route back to their homes.
– Etihad Stadium in Melbourne has installed luxury leather smart seats in a few areas with built-in tablets to watch HD replays, access Fox Sports, and view a live scoreboard feed. The big screen in this stadium allows fans to tweet their photos and messages to be shown on the big screen.
We can understand from almost all points how crucial technology is to engage with fans and how it is being used more and more in sports across services to improve the fan experience and assist with maintaining and growing clubs and leagues. Many stakeholders are investing millions to help make this happen, and sports fans are sure to reap the benefits. Suppose your goal is to improve fan engagement. In that case, tech is one sure-shot investment you must make, along with a long-term marketing strategy that encompasses tech, sales, future events, and all aspects of the business.
Also interesting to read: Who is the world’s top-paid athletes?