Tim Beard is the managing director for APAC at Silverbullet, with over 25 years’ experience helping organisations implement and manage digital technologies. In this piece, he explains why now is the perfect time for sports clubs to become data-smart and kickstart success…
Associating sports club success with data may at first sound too techy. But the reality is, data is a goldmine for the sporting industry to unlock better ways to connect and engage with fans and members. So if you want your sporting club to succeed and ‘bounce back’ after the pandemic lockdown, it’s time to develop a data strategy to allow your organisation to reach its full potential.
Re-engaging with fans post-pandemic
Sporting clubs and associations, like many businesses right now, are struggling to survive. Many had to cancel seasons, and others are reopening in a season of uncertainty. With a large revenue hole, there’s now the wide recognition of the dire need to reach out to fans, re-engage them and keep them coming back. The challenge though, is most clubs lack the ability to reach out to them in a meaningful and personalised way.
Fan loyalty in Australia is second to none. Aussies avidly watch and attend games and want to interact with clubs and players. However, most clubs are struggling to capture data on these fans and their behaviours, and what data they do have is either not used or too ‘piecemeal’ to be effective.
Without understanding the individual fan and their current level of engagement, clubs battle to take them on a journey from the periphery of the sport, to becoming passionate (high value). A large, highly engaged fan base also increases the number of sponsors wanting to invest.
Chief Commercial Officer at Melbourne Storm, Nick Haslam, says clubs have traditionally relied on TV-driven metrics to sell sponsorships, so they’ve been a little slow on the uptake of data and analytics to move to a more personalised connection with fans to drive revenue.
“Moving forward, we see data and analytics as pivotal to the growth of our business. We see significant value in using data to grow consumer revenue by engaging existing ticket holders to spend more with us, through things like merchandising and memberships, by better understanding their journeys,” he said.
So given the collection and use of this data can make all the difference to sporting clubs, how can clubs and organisations kickstart becoming more data-smart?
Develop experiences to capture your fan’s data
Every fan action is an opportunity for marketers to gather insightful data about them. There is a wealth of information such as demographics, membership duration, sporting heroes, participation rates at games, merchandise purchases and more. But the key to gaining access to this data is the right ‘value exchange’ coupled with the right technology.
Clubs should be actively developing new and exclusive experiences and content to gather data, and then use that data to deepen understanding of their audience and build programs to amplify engagement. There are many ways to go about this. For example, a club might want to hold an exclusive competition, where fans willingly share their details for a chance to win. Apps are also becoming an increasingly popular way of harnessing fan data in exchange for exclusive experiences and content.
Creating super fans – data driving fan engagement
Collecting data is only the first part of the strategy. Using data to understand the fans and where they are on their individual engagement journey is the key to maximising their lifetime value. The data collected provides signals and insights which the club can use to ‘nudge’ the fan from one stage to the next – moving them towards becoming passionate, high value, ‘super fans’.
This data can also be used to unlock deeper insights, such as how members and fans like to get involved, what content they consume, their demographics, or why they cease membership. Profiling with the power of data can also enable clubs to test and learn about how to best approach fans in the most relevant way.
All this information can be used to deliver personalised marketing messaging across multiple channels. Once a rhythm is established, it’s easier to scale marketing efforts – and this is where clubs will achieve return on data investment. Remember, the deeper you go, the more value you’ll get.
Maximising the data playing field beyond marketing
Beyond marketing and communicating to fans, data has a couple of other key advantages for clubs. At a time when corporate sponsorship is difficult to obtain as businesses contract spending, data collection presents a superpowered value case for corporate sponsorship.
Powering member-only offers, increasing relevance between the sponsor and the member, and providing rich data insights become the value-add to sponsors and members – all goes to the heart of ensuring sustainable success for the sporting industry now, and for the future.
Key tips to getting your club back on track:
- Treat every interaction as an opportunity to collect data and learn. Leverage your website, apps, email program, events, games, social presence and content. Start by visualising your fan engagement from a bird’s eye view. Our comprehensive fan engagement poster will give you a clear starting point.
- Expand your marketing channels beyond traditional media to reach a modern, digital savvy and diverse audience. This has the added benefit of giving sponsors a richer insight into their customers and a more effective channel to market.
- Technology plays a critical role in enabling data collection and profiling. Speak to an expert about how to quickly deploy the right mix of Customer Data Platform, Digital Marketing Platform, and Data Insight platform. It is likely that you already have access to some of these and a professional can help you drive more value from them, or that access can be arranged at a budget to suit and it doesn’t have to be a long and complicated process.
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