In most business models, the end goal for marketing teams is to produce quality leads that drive sales. And while that’s certainly true in the world of sports, getting to that endpoint is a bit more complicated.
Winning in Sports Marketing Requires a Big Picture Approach
For sports teams, ticket sales are only one piece of the bigger picture. At the end of the day, sports marketers are really trying to sell fans an experience — one that includes watching a game, showing support with team gear and developing an emotional attachment to all things team-related — and there are numerous types of engagements that factor into selling this overall experience and keeping the excitement alive well after the season is over.
And the challenges don’t stop with creating and selling this experience to fans, as sports marketers must also consider how sponsorships, media coverage and community interactions play into the larger equation.
Marketing Automation is Up for the Challenge
So when it comes to successful sports marketing, how do you do it all? How do you build a prosperous fan base, create a memorable fan experience that extends beyond the stadium and keep fans engaged after the season is over? And how do you balance all of that with the need to attract sponsors, cultivate media relationships and drive community outreach? Keeping track of all of these relationships and nurturing them over time is no easy feat, but a marketing automation platform proves it’s up to the challenge by helping in four key areas:
Building a Prosperous Fan Base
More than anything else, fans are the heart of any successful sports organization. Sure, fans are the ones who buy tickets to games and purchase team merchandise, but they’re also the ones whose passion for and involvement in the team paves the way for sponsorships and media coverage. As a result, properly engaging with fans to build a prosperous base is critical. Of course winning helps quite a bit, but you can create an incredible fan experience and build a strong network of revenue-producing fans even without a win in sight (look no further than Philadelphia, whose major league teams are equally known for their passionate fans and their inability to clinch major championship titles).
Specifically, marketing automation can help boost fan engagement by allowing you to:
- Create an omnichannel fan experience that connects digital and in-person interactions (e.g. by creating an immersive, second-screen experience for fans watching the game both at the stadium and at home)
- Personalize engagements and drive conversions by tracking fan behavior, sentiment and preferences across multiple channels (e.g. by identifying the best times to send offers to specific fan segments, such as those who just attended a winning game)
- Measure the success of fan outreach campaigns and track share of voice online
- Develop more meaningful, two-way relationships with fans by communicating with them in real-time
In general, the more you can engage with fans and deepen their connection to the team, the more likely they are to purchase tickets and merchandise and even create their own content that can help attract other fans and third party sponsors.
Cultivating Valuable Sponsor Relationships
Sponsors represent a unique set of customers for sports organizations, as their loyalty is not only influenced by traditional factors within the customer experience, but also by the team’s fan base. For example, the more channels on which fans engage with the team, the more opportunities you have to expand sponsorship activities. Furthermore, the more you know about your fan base, the more targeted (and likely successful) campaign offers you can present to sponsors.
Marketing automation can help achieve these goals and improve relationships with sponsors by:
- Allowing for more seamless relationship nurturing through an integration with your CRM program
- Providing more transparency and accuracy around your fan base, including:
- Measurement of joint marketing campaigns
- Details on fan segments to provide more specific direction for targeted sponsorship activities
Treating Media Contacts Like Customers
While the media isn’t necessarily a customer in the sense that they’ll make purchases, sports marketers need to nurture media relationships just like customer relationships in order to ensure the best possible coverage for the team and its sponsors.
In this case, marketing automation can help you develop a closer relationship with the media by:
- Providing more relevant, personalized information to media contacts based on their coverage angle
- Identifying the most valuable media contacts based on factors like amount of coverage and downstream results of a story (e.g. did a cover piece on a player result in more ticket or merchandise sales?)
- Understanding what type of information and which channels of engagement work best for each media outlet
Supercharging Community Outreach
Sports teams typically become closely intertwined with a city’s culture and identity. Although a team’s presence within a city is often enough on its own to help build a fanbase, secure sponsors and obtain local media coverage, the right community outreach efforts can supercharge the results.
Once again, marketing automation can help improve community outreach by making it easy to:
- Better understand fan profiles to host events and support causes that matter most to the fans and the community at large (which in turn deepens fan attachment to the team)
- Close the loop between how team-hosted events and player appearances affect fan engagement and purchases, sponsorships and media coverage
Stay at the Top of Your Game with Marketing Automation
From creating a memorable fan experience that boosts loyalty and ticket sales to helping nurture relationships with sponsors, media contacts and the larger community, marketing automation has proven itself the all-star player no sports marketing team can live without.