Sporting club fans used to be loyal to their team to the end. The passion they felt for a team may have been passed down the generations, from parent to child. Geography, limited disposable income, and only a few TV channels could lock fans into a club for life. However, today’s digital and highly connected world has put an end to this era. Numerous TV channels, online coverage, and the charisma of sports stars can easily pull once loyal fans away to teams anywhere in the country, continent, or world.
For a sporting club and brand, taking fan loyalty for granted can be disastrous for your reputation and revenues from ticket sales and merchandise. What was once certain now needs careful nurturing with a focus on building engagement.
So, what should you be doing in a continually changing landscape to engage sports fans, protect your interests, and increase your revenue and profit streams?
All fan interactions have value and can drive metrics such as ticket and merchandise sales upward. Loyalty marketing and strategic management of experiences must focus on onsite and offsite match day and non-match day experiences, with internet-driven digital technologies enabling this.
How To Drive Match Day Loyalty Marketing For Sporting Clubs
1. Bringing the live-action closer to your fans
Not every fan will be at the event in person, but the fans can break those geographical barriers bypassing the excitement, thrill, and atmosphere onto those not physically there. To do this, you need to make the experience shareable.
Social media is one of the most potent and impactful mediums for sharing the event, starting conversations, and even creating a buzz within the arena itself. Enabling and facilitating this fan-driven voice might mean providing a smartphone app that lets supporters connect easily with social media or offering a free and fast internet connection.
Whether the fan is watching the game in-person or on TV, an internet-connected device offers a second screen, where they could view the onboard cameras of a race car or close-ups and replays of every rugby scrum, football goal, cricket LBW, or hockey foul.
2. Enhancing the live experience
The live experience encompasses everything from the moment the fan arrives at the venue until they leave after the game. As a result, collaborations with event partners and ancillary service providers can have lucrative effects. For example, leveraging discounts on pre-game food or drinks encourages fans to get to the venue earlier, driving merchandise sales by up to 90% – Forbes.
Operational efficiencies can add value and further enhance the experience. For example, you could allow hungry fans the opportunity to order or pay for food using mobile or contactless payment. By doing this, they can stay in their seat and never miss even a second of the action, all while you simultaneously avoid the risks of fans bailing out of long beverage queues.
How To Drive Non-Match Day Loyalty Marketing For Sporting Clubs
1. Fan apps and team websites
A fan app or team website should be where a supporter turns for everything from squad announcements, statistics, and video archives. An app and website can also be a hub for merchandise sales, so creating a solid relationship between the fan and the digital platform is an excellent strategy to increase revenue.
Asking for feedback from fans about the website and app design can shape future interactions and increase engagement, trust, team attachment, and involvement while driving their revenue-generating potential. Communication should always be or appear to be two-way, a role that can be fulfilled through a blend of real people, AI, and machine learning technologies. You can entice participation and boost your value proposition with loyalty rewards and opportunities for fan engagement with team players or coaches.
2. Gather and act on data
Gathering and storing data is key to understanding your audience and will allow you to tailor targeted offers to meet their preferences and behaviours. For instance, when a fan who drives to your event arrives, they are likely to be far more interested in soft drinks than alcoholic beverages.
Past purchase data can help you understand patterns and ensure you are not wasting resources and the ear of your fan by marketing an already purchased product when you could be promoting another. For example, consider what you could do with customer data identifying that a particular supporter is a fan of a specific team member or personality. Your marketing campaigns and engagement efforts would undoubtedly pay more significant dividends with this sort of insight.
Data can inform your ticket pricing strategies and, introducing incentives that benefit the fan is a superb way to acknowledge, thank, and reward them.
Whatever approach you take towards improving loyalty marketing for sporting clubs, you should always offer value to the fan and make them feel as though they are a deeper part of something special. By gaining maximum fan loyalty and allegiance, consumption behaviours and attitudes change. Fans see future expenditure as supporting their team, not just exchanging their hard-earned money for expensive merchandise.