The pandemic made it clear how critical digital channels are for maintaining fan engagement, especially while in-person attendance at sporting events was restricted. As teams begin to welcome larger crowds into their venues, it will be important for them to strike a balance between digital and in-person touchpoints and find opportunities where both can come together to deliver exceptional fan experiences.
Here are ten ways teams can leverage digital marketing to drive continued fan loyalty and improve their future in-person experiences:
1. Up-level the ticket purchasing process
Personalization in the ticket purchasing process can be powerful. Providing website visitors with personalized offers based on their browsing history or past purchases can lead to cross selling or upselling opportunities. We’ve also seen abandoned cart experiences improve conversion rates, moving casual browsers to ticket purchasers.
2. Communicate with ticket holders before, during, and after the game
Dynamic emails open up a whole world of opportunity when it comes to delivering timely messages to your fans. You can use a fan’s seat number to dynamically populate which entrance they should use when they arrive at the venue, or update portions of the email content based on real-time event information, like the game score or time until the end of a quarter, period, or intermission.
3. Maintain engagement in the off-season
The end of the season doesn’t mean you need to stop reaching out to your fans. Off-season campaigns, sent via email or SMS, can be powerful in keeping fans connected with the team. Let them know about roster changes, local events the team is participating in, or promote ticket sales before the new season starts up again.
4. Manage sign ups for in-person events
Digital promotion and registration for in-person experiences can be a great way to manage attendance, especially when capacity limits come into play. Promoting, managing registration, and handling pre and post-event communications through a platform like Salesforce Marketing Cloud make managing events like player meet-and-greets, happy hours for season ticket holders, or other fan experiences significantly easier.
5. Collect fan input through online surveys
As teams and venues begin expanding crowd sizes or welcoming fans back for the first time, proactively engaging fans about processes or protocols they’d like to see (or avoid) to feel safe returning for future events will make that transition smoother. Surveys can also be valuable in collecting post-event feedback to track sentiment and resolve any issues that may come to light. In both cases, the key is acting on the data you collect, to show your fans you’re listening to their input.
6. Arm your in-venue teams with relevant data
Data capture is important. Capturing the right data is critical to delivering personalized experiences. Building a 360-degree view of the fan allows your employees to understand fan’s preferences for the types of events they like to attend (are they sports fans or do they come for other events too), who they often attend with (like their family or groups of friends), where they like to sit (do they move all over or do they have a preferred section), and how early and often they tend to make ticket purchases (do they buy ahead or are they last-minute buyers). All of this makes it easier for teams to get fans to the venue and engage with them while they’re onsite.
7. Make experiences mobile-first for employees
Let’s take that one step further. Every fan can feel like an MVP when your employees have mobile access to this data to provide personalized experiences. Making it easy for your employees to access valuable data, like scan data, seat information, food and beverage preferences, and their last visit allows for meaningful moments to take place between employees and attendees.
8. Promote community involvement
Teams do so much outside of their regular season schedule. Keeping your fans up to date about events and volunteer opportunities in the community, and driving fan involvement in those activities allows teams to not only engage with their fans in other ways, but also promotes bigger impact to the organizations and foundations the teams partner with in the community.
9. Give fans “behind the scenes” access
Everyone loves exclusive access or a behind the scenes peek at events, players, and experiences they wouldn’t have access to otherwise. The rise in OTT (over the top) content and platforms gives teams the ability to create content and deliver it to fans digitally to build deeper bonds between fans, players, and teams.
10. Get the most out of partnerships
Partnerships are critical to teams and venues. Teams can expand their reach and the reach of their partners through targeted, cross-sell opportunities on club-owned media properties. Teams can also collaborate with partners to better understand aggregated trends and audience interests based on how fans engage with the team and partners individually, as well as in combination.
Want to learn more about how marketers can level up their digital experiences to engage with fans and turn casual attendees into fanatics? Check out Cognizant® Fan DX, the formula marketers need to digitize the fan experience. Fan DX centralizes key business processes and experiences into an integrated platform that allows for highly engaging employee and fan engagement and hyper-personalization across sales, sponsorships, marketing, service, venue operations, and more.