Sports, A Fan-Focused Business

Oscar Garcia-Lopez

Increasing attendance, selling hospitality, attracting new fans, delivering a better product… these are challenges that almost all sports entities face daily. There is no doubt about the relevance of these topics, and that all of them impact fan experience.

DIGITAL & TECHNOLOGY

“Sports organizations that lead tomorrow will be the ones talking directly to fans, connecting every day – personalizing the conversation based on data. Organizations retaining twentieth-century models will only decline and disappear.” – Arnud Ruffat, Head of Olympics & Major Events, Atos.
Bringing objective data taken from Deloitte’s Global mobile consumer trends, 2nd edition, the penetration of smartphones in developed and developing economies in 2017 was higher than 80%. Needless to say, this is a growing trend.

However, even if almost everyone agrees on the huge impact that digital and technology is making in today’s world, I disagree when it comes to thinking about digital and technology as an objective. We hear that the main objective for businesses of all sizes is to reach digital competency as a means to survive. Personally, I would not think about it this way. To survive and develop, businesses need to offer, reach and provide consumers and fans what they want, when they want it; and digital becomes a consequence of this. Thanks to digital, the data you can get will allow companies to LISTEN to consumer needs, and REACH them on relevant platforms, at ANY time – the basic ethos of Right Message at Right Time to the Right Person. For me, digital should be considered as a crucial tool for companies to achieve their objectives and not as an objective itself.

When utilising digital and technology in sports, one of the main areas should be to connect and interact with consumers in a more sophisticated way, to offer a better experience. In other words, to boost fan engagement. Once this is achieved, the attraction for sponsors/partners and streaming platforms will grow and in-turn extends the use of digital and technology.

FAN ENGAGEMENT on a non-matchday

According to PwC’s “Football Digital Transformation”, it was in 2013 when digital natives started to outnumber traditional consumers. Meaning the way to connect, reach or interact with the market, changed. Nowadays, fans interact with their club’s multiple times a day throughout different platforms, indicating a desire for information. They are 24/7 always online consumers, with high expectations both in quality and quantity of content.

Fans want to know what the players and staff are doing, such as insights on the club’s financial situation, training content, fashion-trends, travel, fixtures and more. Therefore, connecting and interacting with them becomes crucial. This free source of information gives a holistic view of fan profiles.
With the fan profile, comes the opportunity to generate personalized content and targeted campaigns, catering different content to different platforms.

Mobile Apps carry clout when connecting with fans. Apps offer a smoother operating process, allowing clubs to promote tailored offers, send push notifications, encourage in-app ticketing, and launch initiatives such as “Fan-wall pictures”, quizzes, loyalty rewards or benefits. With tools such as Rover, which is simple and easy to integrate into every app, it is possible to provide engaging sponsorship activations that can enable fans to benefit from club partners.

Engaging fans means keeping them in your ecosystem. When sports entities listen to fans, they can gain relevant insights and sustainably develop the business, optimizing time and economic efforts.

FAN EXPERIENCE on a matchday

To provide an exceptional fan experience, we must think wider than just the match. Fan experience starts with the consumers first touchpoint. We can identify the different stages of this process.

Ticket purchase: This must be an easy and simple stage wherein they can access the information they need in no more than 2-3 clicks. Buying and storing their ticket should be a frictionless process. Ideally, fans would be able to see a 3D map of their view from the selected seat before making their decision.

Getting to the stadium: Key for the fan experience, clubs should ease the journey for fans to travel from home to stadium. Providing an online location-based map, fans get the easiest routes across all transport methods. Once fans arrive, suggest the best spots to enjoy the atmosphere with other fans!

Stadium experience: The entertainment industry is over-crowded. Therefore, we need to deliver beyond our competitors. The match is the main event, but fans want more than just the match. Opening the stadium before the event allows fans to explore, play games, take themed photos, and share them with the club/on their social media, further promoting the stadium.

During the match, most will have a smartphone with them… take advantage of it! Send them offers for F&B with each goal, enable click and collect or seat delivery, send pictures of goal celebrations to screens around the stadium, live stats, a map of the stadium to reach toilets or other facilities, enable “kiss-cam” formats, encourage them to purchase in stadium by rewarding their purchases with loyalty.

Post-event, show gratitude to the fans for their attendance, wishing them a great experience, and encouraging them to return via messaging or in-app notifications. Rewarding loyalty with promotional codes for cheaper merchandising, or the next matches F&B, or other initiatives, drives fan satisfaction.
In the sports industry, the main agent, the one that brings sense to everything is the fan.

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