Identifying fans is one of the biggest challenges sports teams face today. Although teams might have a general idea of who’s in their stadium, they still don’t have enough valuable information to truly understand the distinct affinities and behaviors of their fan base. If effectively captured, fan data can provide actionable insights that drive marketing, sales, engagement and revenue growth strategies.
Data collection is not the issue; rather, it’s gathering the best set of data points that enable internal sports teams to improve conversation quality with fans, increase overall engagement and drive revenue. In order to achieve these outcomes, you need to know which data is valuable. We’ve broken down four of the most useful pieces of information you should know about your fans.
Knowing Your Fans
Get started on the right foot by capturing the basic information that’ll help you identify individual fans. These data points are the most essential pieces in order to build a unique profile that sets every single fan apart from each other.
1. Demographic Information
Always start by gathering the basic information such as name, age, address/zip code, marital status and household size. It’s more important than you may think; simply knowing a person’s name is a great place to start when creating a fan profile because it allows for more personalized communications (i.e. think about emails that start Hello John vs. the generic Hello).
The next bits of information, age and address/zip code, help separate two people with the same name. John Smith, age 25, is vastly different than John Smith, age 55. They are in two different life stages and have vastly different mindsets, and by separating them, you can have better conversations with both. If by chance you have two John Smiths of the same age, address/zip code can help differentiate them.
By knowing a person’s marital status and household size, you can infer their priorities in life and use this information for smarter sales targeting. If someone has three children, you can promote family ticket or event packages rather than options best suited for single young professionals.
2. Contact Information
Being able to contact your fan base is equally just as important as knowing who they are.
When capturing demographic information, you always want to identify how to contact your fans, or you wouldn’t be able to engage with your fans outside of the venue.
With a fan’s email address, phone number or home address, you can start contacting them with various marketing communications, offers and promotions. This ignites a feedback loop: The information you get back on their engagement will help to create a more complete fan profile which will ultimately drive targeted marketing and sales efforts.
Social media information offers a more direct, fan-friendly form of communication. With 30% of fans active on Twitter and 45% on Facebook, people interact with social media more than email, phone calls or physical mail. Having a way to connect with fans on their preferred medium provides a new level of personal engagement. It lets you see how fans are engaging with your brand and which messages are sticking. You can also gain an understanding of other affinities and interests based on their additional brand engagements.
Knowing Your Fan’s Affinities & Behavior
Demographic information is the foundation in building data-rich fan profiles. Once captured, teams should implement strategies to collect a fan’s affinities and behaviors unique to that individual. When aggregated with demographic data, this information leads to insights that fuel hyper-personalized sales and marketing efforts, as well as drives smarter business decisions.
Understanding fan affinities will give your team the opportunity to create emotional connections with your brand. Among the vast amount of fan affinities, here are a few that will help drive your organization’s marketing and sales strategies: brand engagements on social media, food/beverage preferences, favorite player(s) and game day experiences.
Sponsorships are incredibly important to an organization, and knowing which brands fans interact with allows for more focused sponsor targeting. This data provides marketing teams with the opportunity to promote sponsorship offers to specific fans, ultimately helping you increase fan engagement and revenue.
Player affinity is an important data point to capture because you can leverage specific players to drive merchandise sales. Fans who have a favorite athlete are more prone to have a strong emotional connection with the team and are most likely to purchase items featuring that player. The New England Patriots, for instance, markets Tom Brady to help drive everything from jersey sales to socks. In the 2015-2016 NFL season, Brady hauled in $20 million in total merchandise sales—that’s just his cut. This example demonstrates the potential revenue-generating ability of knowing your fan’s favorite player(s).
Aside from knowing what fans like, it’s also important to know a fan’s behavior in terms of attendance and spending habits.
Attendance data includes which games a fan attends, how often they attend and if they’re re-selling or sharing their tickets. If you’re able to gather this information, you can use it to drive sales programs. For instance, if your sales team had insights on fans who attend a certain number of games but are not Season Ticket Members, they can launch a sales campaign to push membership sales or game packages, thus increasing revenue.
Once you know who is in the stadium, it’s important to know what they’re buying and when. This is best exemplified by Soldier Field. After one year of collecting data, the team was able to determine the perfect timing, placement and products for a new grill stand rather than relying on intuition to make a decision. This maximized the effectiveness of the grill stand and gave it the best chance to generate a profit. Like Soldier Field, sports teams can use purchasing behavior to increase concessions and merchandise sales, pushing offers at the most optimal time.
With a near-infinite number of things to know about your fans, it’s important not to lose sight of the end game: to have more meaningful, personalized conversations with fans, increase engagement and drive revenue. The key is to determine the best data to collect for your organization. By collecting and utilizing demographics, contact information, affinities and behavior, you can better engage your fans, create custom experiences and improve your bottom line.
At FanThreeSixty, we help sports and entertainment organizations identify and engage fans by gathering data such as demographics, contact information, affinities and behavior. In doing so, we help organizations transform that data into actionable insights to improve the fan experience and maximize revenue. We can help you do the same. Subscribe to our blog if you'd like to get the latest updates about fan engagement.