Drive Fan Engagement with Marketing Automation

The formula is simple: engagement equals sales. Think you’re just a face in a crowd of 82,500 at MetLife Stadium while watching a New York Giants game? Think again! You may be surprised at the lengthy amount of information an organization is gathering about you. Are you proactive or a procrastinator when it comes to buying tickets for a game? Do you wait until the end of the second quarter to grab a beer? Do you consistently leave before a game is over?

There are several ways to not only manage data already collected, but innovative ways to gather even more. In this case, there’s nothing wrong with being greedy. In four phases and 12 steps, SimplyCast recommends the following methods to drive engagement and put more fans in seats:

Homeofthe12thManHow do you expect to communicate with fans if you don’t have the right contact information?! Make it a priority to regularly update the user databases. Focus on always maintaining the basics: names, mailing addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses. Ask them their preferences. Do they prefer to get a message through text message over email? Ask them how many games they want to attend. A prize may have to be offered as an incentive to encourage fans to take the time to confirm their information.

When spectators visit a stadium/arena, take advantage of real-time data collection. Representatives can mingle with fans and gather basic and more detailed information, like “How often do you come to games?” and “Where do you usually buy tickets?”

Make fans feel welcomed and valued right from the start. It is as easy as sending a personalized welcome email. Nurture users by asking them to subscribe to a weekly digital newsletter for information about upcoming events, exclusives, fan clubs, how to purchase tickets, and links to news stories. Track the links they click and interact with them through social media.

When an order is placed, send a notification right away. Let consumers know you received their request and appreciate their business. In your emails, include information about parking, stadium rules, when gates will open, and frequently asked questions. This would also be a good time to integrate Facebook or Twitter and encourage fans to share that they are attending a particular game/event.

A few days before the game, send a reminder email. On game day, post informational and exciting messages on social media. Engage with fans by asking them to send pictures of themselves. The Nashville Predators use #PredsPride. Ask spectators to text in their votes for the player of the game.

Not all fans need to receive the same communications; there are different sales cycles. The Interested Phase is welcome messages and counting down the start of the new season or upcoming games. The Engaged Phase is a reminder for upcoming events and targeted content based on a user’s history. The Lapsed Phase includes surveys to gain insight, incentives to re-visit a website, and promotions to re-engage.

12245750054_5a3d3025e1_oMerchandise with a team logo or name is a free, walking billboard. Use mobile coupons and special email promotions to drive sales. Let the fans have some say in what information they wish to receive. Some people want details about parking, last-minute tickets, or a reminder to wear white for a White Out.

The possibilities of how to engage fans are endless. If you think you have a brilliant idea, give it a shot. Understand your fans and start engaging them today.

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Get A Grip On Elusive Fans

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There are 7.125 billion people in world, yet sport organizations are finding their biggest challenge is happening off the field. It’s attracting, engaging, and retaining elusive fans.

The National Football League, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, and every other governing body are looking for new ways to attract and engage spectators.

7142709055_434d38d505_zThe two biggest issues: time and money.

Americans only have an average of five hours a day for leisure, according to an American Time Use Survey published last year. If someone wanted to attend a sporting event, they have to take the time to contemplate going, buy their tickets, drive to the stadium, find parking, watch the game, wait in traffic to get out of the stadium, and then drive home. More than likely, they’ve already used more than their five hours at the end of the trip.

Folks don’t have to go to a game to have a good time. There are so many other activities that come to mind: watching a movie (either at home or the theater), going to a concert, going shopping, going hiking, or even catching up on sleep.

Can you tell we live in a competitive environment? Let’s pretend no other leisure activities exist besides sports. There are still soMicrosoft_Mediaroom_Guide_Web many options to choose from on a Saturday: 20 college football games airing on TV, tennis and golf tournaments, racing, six soccer matches, high school events, and at least five other competitions.

Technology has changed how individuals consume sports. They no longer have to sit in a stadium, at a bar, or at home to watch a match up. A guy can be out with his wife and daughter at the mall and watch the game on his smartphone. There is even an option to get live updates through apps.

People know their time is valuable. That’s probably why so many of us don’t bother going to games or even watching them on TV. We just want to see the highlights — show the top three plays and the score and we’ve seen the whole game. Everyone at work is only going to be talking about the big moves, right?

Sports_fans_in_rainFans’ expectations are so much higher than they’ve ever been. No one wants to sit in the rain, the cold, or the heat. No one wants to sit on an uncomfortable bleacher that doesn’t have armrests or back support. No one wants to eat just popcorn and hot dogs — they want sushi and vodka.

We haven’t even talked about the money! When one considers going to a game, they have to be willing to take on an investment. They will need to pay for gas to get there/get home, parking, the actual tickets, food and drinks, and probably some team merchandise. A lot of people gripe about the cost of seeing a movie being sky-high, but it’s a bargain when compared to going to a game!

Some other characteristics that define the elusive fan consist of commercialism, individualism, and changes in family structure and behavior.

It’s hard for sport organizations to understand what channels people are using, and it’s even harder to construct the right message.3286023692_e2440cd688_z Generations Y and Z are perhaps the most elusive. If organizations think they have a problem now, the people born ten years from now with be even more elusive.

These brands really need to focus on what people want, when they want it, and where they want it. Organizations have to tell folks why they need to go to/watch sporting events. What’s in it for me? They need to look for innovative ways to create exclusive experiences. Overall, brands must be strong, communicate with fans, and know what’s expected in order to be successful.

You Can’t Go Home If You Don’t Have a Home

It’s only a matter of time before the National Football League establishes a team in London, however they’ll first need a place to call home.

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Wembley Stadium

The NFL has been under contract since 2007 to play its International Series at Wembley Stadium through 2016, but it’s never too early to start planning ahead.

According to the Sports Business Journal, league officials have started exploring other venues. Chris Parsons, NFL senior vice president of international, confirmed it to the reporter:

Clearly Wembley gives us some great options. At the same time, Wembley also has England [soccer] games going on during the weeks we play. That is a challenge for us if we want to play more games, how we actually fit into the schedule.”

Even if the NFL didn’t have to work around soccer games at Wembley, it would be great if the league could continue playing sold-out games there, but that’s just not a reality.

We are constantly looking at where we can play, what options we might have. We would be stupid not to.”

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Wembley Stadium

Wembley is built for about 90,000 spectators, yet there are only about 84,000 available seats once you consider the space needed for the teams and broadcasting equipment.

Filling 84,000 seats for eight home games will never happen, as SBJ reports:

The average capacity at NFL teams’ venues last season was about 71,000.”

Wembley has nearly 2,000 more seats than MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. There’s no way a new franchise can expect to play in what could be the biggest NFL stadium.

The only reason the league can sell-out the venue now is because there are only a couple games a year, which creates more of a demand and carries a “can’t miss” vibe. The league will see if it adds four games in 2015 and possible five games in 2016, the demand may not be quite as high.

If the league wants to make this London franchise successful, it has to avoid empty seats.

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Olympic Stadium

Olympic Stadium is a possible alternative. It will reopen in 2016 after a lengthy renovation with around 54,000 seats. There is talk that it will have retractable bleachers near the field to accommodate football and soccer games.

London mayor Boris Johnson was in talks with league officials about Olympic Stadium just two years ago.

The talks were exploratory and we are at an early stage but the signs are encouraging.”

There’s even word of plans to build a soccer-football specific 58,000-seat venue to open in 2017.

Some suggest the NFL stay put in Wembley. Terry Byrne, a marketer, says:

The problem with playing in the home of an EPL team is that fans of other soccer clubs might not want to go to that venue even to watch American football.”

Either way, the NFL is going to have to find the perfect venue and step on some toes along the way. There aren’t many options, so finding the right one will be tough and will either make or break whether a team calls London home. Good luck, guys!