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Fan Marketing Strategies to Follow in 2021

In 2020 we saw entire industries transform their digital strategies. Here are our takeaways when looking into the future of fan-marketing.
Ariella Torv

In 2020, organizations across all fronts had to take a step back and navigate a new world and way of marketing, amidst a pandemic. And while we have seen quite a successful shift and digital transformation, there are still some persisting challenges for sports teams, leagues, brands and organizations with a digital audience. 

One thing that stayed constant was fan engagement not being the problem for sports teams it was made out to be. The challenge is understanding how to leverage that fan engagement in a way that does more than just drive likes and comments to be able to market more efficiently and achieve business objectives. Here are our biggest takeaways when it comes to fan marketing for 2021:

  1. Get your database in order

    An organized, complete database is one of the more important aspects when it comes to fan marketing as it directly influences and impacts marketing decisions. When your fans make a transactional purchase or action, like buying tickets, merch, signing up for a club membership, or even signing up for a newsletter, they are identifying themselves to your organization through that transaction, allowing you to build a new fan-profile. It’s crucial for your database to be in order so that after that initial transaction, you’re able to re-engage them and eventually re-target them with relevant content and offers. With each campaign you are able to then begin segmenting them off of their unique data points from their transactional history. 

  2. Meet fans where they are

    No one likes to be in the middle of doing something they enjoy and then all of a sudden be asked to leave what they’re doing in order to continue that experience. The same should be said for a digital fan experience. When you ask your audience to leave the channel it’s already on and engaged with to fill out a form, download an app, play this game - you’re creating a drop-off point.

    Instead, meet and keep your fans on the channels they prefer, so that the experience, or the activation feels natural and organic and doesn’t disrupt what they’re doing.

  3. Map your fans journey, including the digital fans

    Right now, a fan's journey - apart from the game - is that, no matter who they are, they all receive the same type of content. Whether it’s blast emails or general updates, they are all receiving the same content with the hopes that they will convert. Important? Yes. But there’s no personalization happening besides a first name greeting in the subject line.

    There’s no real mapped out journey for the engaged, anonymous digital fan, just content engagement.

    We challenge, and ask, what’s the full journey you are providing to all of your fans? How are you learning more about them? How can you learn more about them? With Pico’s solution, you can engage your fans online, on their preferred channel, and continue to provide cool experiences that not only brings them back, but walks them through their own fan journey where you get to know them on a 1:1 level. Our re-engagement capabilities are strategically built and made to perform via our digital activations, that are easy to create and provide a fun experience that the fans want to continue participating in.

    The end results are much more efficient and different than just promoting content for your fans to consume on digital, that might drive high CTRs. With Pico, it’s hyper targeted and personalized.

  4. Identify your digital fans

    Two things we know for sure are that:

    1. Sports teams have some of the highest engagement rates across social media
    2. Digital engagement is anonymous engagement

    On average, 90% of fans on digital platforms are unknown to the teams they love - it’s time for an industry wake up call. Sports teams have two types of fans - Identified Fans and Digital Fans.

    Identified fans are known to the club through a type of transaction, thus leaving a profile on who they are.

    Digital fans exist only within the digital space. The dedicated, engaged fans found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Website visitors and App-users. The problem here is that all of that great digital engagement doesn’t create a record or profile of the fans engaging with your content on a daily basis. Making it nearly impossible to leverage that engagement to achieve business objectives such as: ticket and/or merch sales, new CRM entries, etc. Once you identify those fans, you are able to custom-curate the content and offers shared with them to drive clicks, conversions, and an increased awareness. Identifying your digital fans is crucial to your fans experiences and to your own organization.

  5. Stay fresh

    The internet moves at an incredibly fast pace. Your content needs to do the same. You know your team's identity and your brand’s voice, you have the engagement, but as unlimited content takes over our screens and apps, your content strategy needs to be just as quick, fun, and valuable to your fans. To be able to successfully do that, a content strategy in 2021 needs to have innovation built within it. In the case of digital engagement and achieving business objectives, identifying your digital fans proves to be invaluable. 

  6. Create experiences that matter

    Create experiences that matter to both your fan and to your organization. Provide an experience on the channels your fans prefer and learn more about them through the process to share even more content and offers they truly like and appreciate.

    A creative experience can be the difference between anonymous engagement and driving business value for your organization.

It all comes down to data

Creating an improved, personalized fan experience in 2021 begins with data. Building engagement that does more than likes, comments, and shares, starts with data. Delivering value to your organization that also provides value to your fans, begins with data. As we continue to work on and test new methods and strategies, we encourage you to use this as a guide to influence your strategy and decisions.

If you’d like to start identifying your digital audience to make data-driven fan marketing decisions, contact our team and we’ll be happy to help.

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