Decision-making processes in sport, on and off the field of play, are now firmly rooted in data. That applies equally to fan engagement too, where, as we've established , customer data can be collected through a variety of digital tools. But how can sports organisations maximise the commercial value from that data and use it to deepen fans' levels of engagement? GlobalSportsJobs asked some of our partners who are innovating in this area.
Customer data is the holy grail for sports marketers in the digital age; the only sound basis for communicating with fans (and potential new fans) in a bespoke, personalised way to offer them the information, products and services they want.
But once that data has been garnered successfully, via surveys, quizzes, digital and personal interactions, how can organisations wring the full potential from it?
The first stage is segmentation; essentially, analysing your fan database and chopping it up into actionable categories based on each fan's personal details (such as age, gender or location), attitudes or behaviours. By digging into each person's 'Fan DNA' and separating them into these clusters, it makes it easier to connect and communicate with them in the most targeted and profitable way.
Few know this better than Nielsen Sports , the independent, trusted advisors in sports intelligence and measurement, who through 'Fan DNA' have conducted detailed fan interviews in the UK, USA, Germany, Mexico, Japan, Malaysia, China and Australia. Their research has identified seven clearly differentiated behavioural segments who would all typically respond in different ways to sponsorship messages.
They identified the 'connection fan' as the sweet spot for sport sponsors. They are characterised as the slightly less avid fan who respond most positively to brands promoting friendship, family and community – the millions of parents who take their children to play sport, perhaps, or friends who meet in the pub to watch sport for leisure.
The 'game expert' segment demands statistical and tactical information, while 'trend positives' tend to respond strongly to celebrity endorsements or highly visual campaigns. Armed with this sort of information, sports organisations can begin to filter the way they interact with each fan 'segment' to achieve the best possible results from each group.
Operating in the same sphere are another GlobalSportsJobs partner, Futures Sport and Entertainment , who use data, technology and analytics to advise the world's most famous clubs, federations and sponsors.
One of many such partnerships saw them perform a fan segmentation exercise on behalf of a major rugby league club . Using demographical, behavioural and attitudinal fan data, they were able to cluster them into five segments. Ultimately this will enhance the club's approach to customer relationship management (CRM) and will inform strategic decision making, as well as enabling sponsors to tailor their communication with specific segments depending on their personalities, preferences and passions.
Everton Football Club have embraced personalisation as a key component of their award-winning fan engagement strategy . Online personalisation tools allow the club to provide a bespoke version of the evertonfc.com website, personalised ticket information and even to cross-promote content on EvertonTV based on each user's profile and onsite behaviour.
As Everton's head of engagement Scott McLeod tells GlobalSportsJobs, the approach all stems from its sculpted reputation as "The People's Club". "It's a strategy that has fans and community at the heart of what we do," he states. This is structured around four pillars, the most important of which is "being informed". That fuels the other three, which are "being a club" (in its interactions with fans), "being easy to buy from" and "being memorable on match days". Offering a personalised service is key to all these pillars, and data is the key driver behind that.
Overall, it's clear that using customer data to segment fans into target groups and offer a more personalised form of fan engagement can reap huge benefits. Sports clubs and federations are recognising the immense value that partnerships with specialist data and analytics services can bring, deepening knowledge of their fanbase and opening up a new world of engagement possibilities.
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