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Digital Transformation in Sports & The Fan Experience

Digital innovation is key and the difference between a good fan experience and a great one.

Shachar Shamir

Digital transformation is a must. Not only for sports, but for all sectors. This has always been the case, even pre-COVID19. When you look at some of our favorite platforms and services, like Uber, Airbnb, and Facebook, you notice a trending pattern. Uber owns no vehicles, Airbnb owns no real real-estate, and Facebook is one of the world’s most popular media companies but creates no original content. Digital is everywhere and continues to lead the way in almost every aspect of our day-to-day lives. 

This is why the sports industry must continue on with its digital transformation. Going digital, within the sports industry especially, brings immense value to all sides of the playing field. When a digital strategy is transformed into a more engaging one, you have the ability to enhance the fan experience, increase value for your sponsors, and generate new revenue streams.  

The OG digital transformation 

When you look at the very beginning of the sports industry’s digital transformation you can measure it from the launch of their website, to their many social media accounts, a dedicated App and more. This transformation truly allowed for the globalization of the team and/or league. Fans from all over the world were now able to follow along and receive updates and news in real-time. Now if you look at team or leagues social channels, and websites, you’ll find that many of them are available in various languages, to customize the experience for each type of fan and cater to their native language. Adding that personal touch.  

Fast forward a few years and you are able to see the domination the sports industry has when it comes to social media, and social media engagement. In fact, sports teams have the second highest engagement rates across Facebook because sports fans and their followers are engaged by nature. They’re hungry for team content, updates, and news. It is something they actively seek out and look forward to rather than just engaging with an update on their news feed. 

To build from Social, teams have started operating similar to that of an Ad-Tech or E-Commerce organization. Using various CRM software systems to collect and analyze their fans data and information to better improve upon their experience.

From the success the industry has seen with a quick look at just the amount of attention their social posts garner, it is impossible to talk about the digital transformation of the industry and not pair it with the fan experience. Fans are demanding more personalized experiences. So now, in 2020, you are able to see new types of positions within the higher-ups of the sports industry, like Head of Fan Experience, Chief of Digital, VP of Fan Engagement, Chief Innovation Officer and more.

These innovative organizations understand that today, digital strategies need to be more than just the number of followers, likes, comments, and shares. And that the fan experience is something that continues to happen way beyond game-day. 

What does it look like?

Let’s get into some real examples here where the process and hassle of returning or exchanging tickets was transformed into a digital one. 

Werder Bremen

Werder Bremen of the Bundesliga knew that when their season was postponed and then later set to be played without fans in attendance, they had to think fast on how they could remedy the situation, in a way that was most beneficial for the fan. With Pico, they built and launched a new feature for their ticket-holding fans, that provided an automated way of assisting fans throughout the process.

Fans were able to access the digital activation via the team’s website, and in just a few minutes, were able to identify what kind of ticket holder they are, receive their current balance and decide if they want to waive the balance and donate to charity or receive a full refund. And the results spoke for themselves here. Over 90% of Bremen fans that have used this solution have rated the process as “very good” or “good”.

This digital transformation of a process we are all so used to, created a fast and seamless way for Bremen to connect the dots between their ticket holders and their preferences. 

Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL wanted to help out their local community and fans during these especially trying times. They launched a special voting activation that called on their fans to vote for a new t-shirt design. However, the t-shirts were unique in their own way and so was the activation.

The t-shirt with the most votes was actually made available within both their physical and online stores and promoted wellness routines with slogans such as “Wash Your Hands” and “Bigger Than Football”. However, their main initiative from the activation was to raise funds for Winnipeg Harvest, a local not-for-profit organization that is dedicated to helping the hungry. All proceeds from the sale of the winning design were donated. Over 50+ t-shirts were sold.

With a digital transformation comes with it the opportunity to lead in both innovation and value for every aspect of the fan experience. At a time when fans cannot actively be in the stadium, it is extremely prevalent. If you want to learn more on what it means to transform your digital strategies, schedule a demo here. Until then, stay safe. Stay connected. And Get Personal (while maintaining social distancing). 

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