Data-Driven Fandom: The New Age of Marketing in Sports and Entertainment

FanThreeSixty November 15, 2018

Over the years, data-driven marketing has made its way into being a crucial part of business growth and strategy. Being a data-driven marketer means developing strategies supported by insights and knowledge gathered from customer data (think engagements, behaviors and attributes) to predict future behaviors. This allows marketers to tailor communications and connect with their customers in hyper-personalized ways, enhancing the overall experience.

So why is it important for sports marketers to be data driven?
In today’s world, data is the currency of our economy. It’s changing the way marketers target, engage and drive fan engagement, not just during the season, but also pre-season and postseason; after all, we are fans year round. By leveraging insights gleaned from fan data, teams can develop hyper-personalized experiences both in-the-venue and out-of-the-venue that better capture the fan along their unique journey while transforming fan data into revenue 365 days a year.

Personalized Fan Engagement
With the advancement of technology, sports teams have the ability to reach their fans on any channel at any time. The challenge, though, is that, it’s easy to get lost with competing advertisements that fans encounter daily from hundreds of brands they follow. Eventually, viewers filter out brands and messages that don’t connect with them personally or that don’t reflect their distinct behaviors or lifestage. For example, as a Patriots fan living in Kansas City, the Chiefs should know not to target me; I’m not a fan. But I still receive ads and promotions for tickets. I instantly filter them out. This challenges marketers to develop personalized content that speaks to individual interests, and they get there by transforming their fan data into insights that reveal who their fans really are.

The benefits of personalizing content is rewarding. For instance, data allows marketers to create customized messages for a specific audience which can increase revenue. In fact, 83 percent of marketers exceeded their revenue goals in 2017 because they used personalization techniques.

When marketing to fans, segment audiences using common preferences and attributes to develop customized messages and offers. Research from Marketbridge show that 95 percent of buyers prefer content to be provided throughout the buying process. The use of personalized content helps to create a unique experience for the fan and leaves them with a positive impression of the team.

The Fan Journey
Creating relationships with fans takes much more than delivering personalized communications. There has to be a distinct journey defined for each segment or audience type that includes multiple touchpoints and mini-experiences in order to connect with them throughout the entire year. Customer journey mapping provides organizations with insight beyond the transaction. What are they doing for away games? How do they follow the team during the off-season? Using a data-driven fan journey, teams will be able to see the entire lifecycle, uncovering both why and how fans are influenced during their distinct journey.


So, What is a Fan Journey?
A fan journey is like a customer journey, but designed for the sports and entertainment industry. It is the process a fan takes from becoming aware of a team’s brand and deciding to purchase something from the team to then buying again, and again. Along the journey, you can better understand the specific messages, unique offers or campaigns – the touchpoints – that influence how they move from a casual spectator into a super fan.

In order to map a fan journey, teams not only need access to fan data, but they must be able to act on it, creating custom personas distinct to the team. Nurturing the fan in a personalized way as they move along the journey can help generate 56 percent more cross and up-sell revenue, which is why it’s so important for teams to understand the fan journey. With a sophisticated data platform, teams can capture affinities, engagement and preferences about fans as they move through a customized journey.

Using data, sports marketers can predict the behavior of their fans to connect with them when it matters most: their moments of passion. Teams can then guide fans through a customized journey to increase fan value while creating memorable experiences that drive repeat visits and revenue.

Transform Data into Revenue
Today it’s easy for teams to associate revenue growth from purchases such as ticketing, concessions, merchandise and sponsorships. What’s difficult is quantifying fan data captured from marketing efforts into revenue. Sports organizations aren’t the only ones having difficulty quantifying marketing ROI. Digital Banking Report showed that 50 percent of financial institutions reported a struggle with quantifying the results and impact of marketing.

The bigger question for sports teams is not how marketing affects the bottom line; it’s about understanding how marketing can affect the lifetime value of fans. The lifetime value of a fan measures the profit your team makes from each fan. By knowing how much fans are spending over time, sports marketers can align marketing strategies and budgets to acquire fans and convert them into repeat purchasers, thus increasing their lifetime value. The ability to track fan lifetime value can be daunting, but it’s possible by having a solution that can attribute purchases over time to a unique fan profile.

Without access to campaign performance data, marketers will be left without a clear direction when developing a new strategy. Unification of demographic, behavioral and purchasing data will help marketers develop hyper-targeted communications and smarter fan journeys. Knowing who your fans are at the individual level and having the insights to predict their behaviors makes it easier to deliver a delightful experience for fans while maximizing their value.

Everyday, we at FanThreeSixty work with our clients to transform the way they act on their fan data, leading them to actionable insights that create remarkable experiences. Our proprietary technology platform, solutions and data services help teams build lasting fan experiences and lifelong relationships through connectivity, exclusivity, community and utility. If you’re ready to unlock the value of your data to create fandom that lasts forever, contact us today.


FanThreeSixty is passionate about helping organizations grow revenue, elevate fan experience, and become more efficient.

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