Audience Engagement is the Name of the Game

Fans follow your games on TV, come to stadiums (when they can), read about your club in the papers or online. But how much do you really know about them? Actually, more than you think. The real question is how can you benefit from this knowledge.

Your sports club has a core of loyal, faithful fans, with some of them following you for generations. And that’s great. But if you want to expand this audience, to get more people to come to your games, you need to learn more about them, and be able to fully understand them. You need to find out what makes their hearts tick, what makes them come to a game on a rainy Sunday afternoon and cheer their lungs out.

The answers to some of these questions lay in the data, which you have in abundance these days. Let’s start from your club’s website. Thousands of fans visit it frequently, looking for the latest news about their favorite club and athletes. By analyzing how they engage with the content on your website, what they look for and spend time on, you can uncover untapped segments, new target groups you can reach out to expand your audience.

Or you can learn how to communicate better with the existing fan base through your club’s profiles on social media. Analyzing this two-way communication can help you a lot in understanding how your fans think, what makes their day, and what you can provide for them as content that will make their day even better. These are only a few pieces of the large media puzzle, with your club in its center.

Get All Your Data in One Place

The problem with all of this data is that it is scattered around, in separate systems, different formats, isolated reports… And to understand the combined effect of all your audience engagements, you need to collect all of this data in a single place. Sure, you can collect it one by one, by downloading CSV or XLS files and combining them manually, but the year is 2021, you really need to stop using computers as oversized calculators.

Let’s differentiate the types of information you have at hand. One important engagement dataset comes from owned platforms: your website, your social media profiles, your YouTube channel, but also your ticket sales, attendance at stadiums and sports halls, even snacks sales at these venues. This data shows you how large your current fan base is, and how they are interacting with your club.

Some of these channels have a paid component – many sports clubs pay for ads on Google and Facebook, or sometimes advertise important games in local newspapers, on TV or video streaming platforms. Through the first dataset, you’ve gained a deeper understanding of the audience. With this dataset you can understand the return on your investments in promotion on certain channels, which increases ticket sales revenue, but also the sales of hot dogs and beer during the game.

Looking at these information in isolation can lead to wrong conclusions. That is why it is essential that you combine it all into a single database, a centralized data storage from which you will be able to derive thoughtful insights.

How Data Becomes Insights?

Data on its own means little. Sure, you find out how many tickets you’ve sold for yesterday’s game, or how many people saw your club’s sponsor ad on the court’s floor, but to move one step further you need to set it in context with all other datasets. This is the way how you activate the data, and move from isolated data points to creative, business-focused insights.

You can also utilize the potential of modern computing technologies to go even further. Everybody is talking about AI these days, but there are only a few of those who really explain how you can use it for your benefit. So let’s try to correct this.

The amount of data which is available to businesses today is almost unfathomable. A single person would have lots of trouble in even understanding the scope, let alone analyzing these mountains of data into detail. This is where AI comes to the rescue. Using different techniques, such as machine learning, it sifts through the data and identifies errors, outliers, anomalies, and trends, making it easier for you to identify the things that matter the most to your business and act upon these insights.

A Practical Example of the Power of Data

Now let’s look at a practical, real-life example. Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment (HBSE), a US sports and entertainment company standing behind names like NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and NHL’s New Jersey Devils, has been intensively using data to unlock new business opportunities. This was especially important during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, when sports venues were closed and the communication with the fan base was limited to online channels.

Through analyzing engagement data from their YouTube and Instagram channels, the team’s social media team was able to maximize the effect of the “behind the scenes” content they were creating during games played without the audience. And for games that had an audience, they were able to correlate the attendance and club merchandise sales with the weather conditions on that specific day. Insights like these allow HBSE to anticipate attendance at future games, and potentially invest in advertising the games with more potential to maximize positive effects, both for the club, but also for their sponsors and other partners.

At the core of these insights lay the multi-channel data collected and processed by the Adverity platform. “We used to spend more than 10 hours a week extracting data – that’s 10 hours we can now spend extracting value from it instead,” explains Braden Moore, Senior Director of Data and Analytics at HBSE, and adds: “Thanks to our ability to expand the data we bring to stakeholders, we’ve been able to ramp up on our social strategies, to understand when and what to post, and maximize engagement.”

By doing this, the team at HBSE is not only strengthening the connections with the fan base, but is also creating new opportunities for their partners to interact with the audience too. By combining these two parallel engagement streams, they are making a synergetic effect of all of the club’s activities. “Adverity allows us to keep driving the business forward, instead of spending time on juggling data,” concludes Braden.

And don’t for a moment think that this is not something you could implement in your club’s strategy. Start from the basics, use the data to understand your audience, your current engagement with them, and the return on your marketing investments. From that, you can slowly move your way into the more complex, multi-layered opportunities to expand your audience and club’s revenue streams. In tough times like these, this looks like a basis of a good, future-proof plan for your sports business. And sometimes that’s all you need to stay in the game.

To learn more or to book a demo, click here

For more details on how the Philadelphia 76ers used Adverity to get the most out of their data and enhance their business in the times of the pandemic, read the complete case study.

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