It’s a busy season for sports marketers; European professional soccer (football) is back on the pitch, while North America’s MLS is entering the final six weeks of the 2015 season.
As sports fans ramp up for another exciting season, the industry’s top sports marketers and media executives are meeting in New York City to attend #Portada15, a two-day conference where attendees discuss the latest trends and insights in sports marketing engagement.
Here sports marketers gather to discuss content marketing, networking opportunities, social media strategies, and their collective impact on multicultural sports media. If you’re not attending #Portada 15 don’t worry, we’ve outlined 3 important tips that help you engage with your sports fans.
Sports Fans Love to Share Content
The modern sports experience isn’t confined to the stadium. Nearly half of all sports fans prefer to follow their teams digitally, and frequently use their laptops or smartphones to search for sports-related content during a game.
In this digital sports sphere, marketers are developing clever ways to engage with modern fans. Infographics, videos, and even webinars allow curators to break down relevant statistics using clever designs or animations. These creative visuals liven up player, team, and league stats, and encourage sports fans to share great visual content across social channels (like Instagram).
Profiles of star players, lists that compare the best goals scored within a season, and even video recaps of game highlights are also widely distributed across social media. The experience is no longer just about watching a game or cheering for a team throughout a season. Today sports fans embrace a lifestyle and engage with content providers that best cater to this lifestyle. A good sports marketer will use content to tell engaging stories, and establish a community of like-minded followers who live for the latest highlights.
Sports Fans Love To Engage On Mobile
Mobile marketing is taking the world by storm. Aaron Strout of Marketing Land researched the rise of mobile marketing and identified 3.65 billion unique mobile users around the world. In regards to sports fans, a Nielsen Report from 2012 indicated that 60% of mobile and tablet owners consumed sports related content on their devices at least once a day.
Marketers who follow these trends shouldn’t be too baffled by the numbers. Generations Y and Z are targeted by most content marketers, and it’s safe to assume that the majority of Millennials own at least one mobile or tablet device. Marketers can best engage with this new generation of sports fans by providing mobile-friendly content and using great storytelling.
This strategy is similar to the way B2B marketers use compelling content to navigate people through the customer lifecycle. As people move through the lifecycle, they transform from prospects into suspects, suspects into customers, and finally customers into advocates.
Sports Marketers Believe In Social Media
Whenever there is news about your favourite sports team or updated scores from a big game, one of the first places those updates are shared is on social media. Sports marketers recognize how much activity occurs on these channels, and create social media strategies encouraging fans to engage with the game through freshly shared content.
Sports digital marketing experts participated in a live chat where they shared tips and insights on how to increase engagement with fans. One of the experts referenced the strategy executed by Red Bull. The energy drink company was able to build a lifestyle brand by providing their users with original extreme sports content, and using social media to engage with this network of fans. The implication for sports marketers was to adopt a similar strategy for their own marketing campaigns.
Another expert made the distinction between the types of fans that engage with sports content and the prospective customers that B2B marketers seek. The point was that sports fans are very emotional, and passionately interact with organic content shared by fellow fans. They’re already engaged. In contrast, prospective customers sought by B2B marketers don’t have the passion and loyalty that sports fans come to the table with. Fans are willing to participate with great content through shares, likes, or comments, and will choose organic content over any TV or digital advertising.
Sports marketing differs from other forms of B2B or B2C marketing because sports fans are already engaged with their favourite teams (the product/brand in other marketing departments).
Sports marketers should therefore develop social media strategies that resemble plans implemented by other marketers, but with some minor adjustments. Fans are already aware of the product (in this case their favourite team) and are very interested in any updates related to the team. The challenge for sports marketers is to craft unique content that maintains that interest and encourages engagement rather than what B2B marketers refer to as upper-funnel content that is primarily curated to increase awareness.
Though we can expect new ideas to come out of #Portada15, don’t wait around for the top marketers to pass along those updates. Instead, use what you already know to construct your sports marketing campaigns and optimize them later with fresh ideas.
If you’re eager to implement new ideas, download our sports marketing guide for great tips to optimize your plans.