Today’s guest columnist is Alex Beckman, Founder and CEO of GameOn Technology.
The way sports teams interact with their fans is changing rapidly. For decades, marketers have worked to a fixed schedule built around traditional seasonality: preseason build-up, then big fashionable games, star signings, and the playoffs.
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Plus, it’s all been built around a small group of buyers; half a dozen imaginary personalities meant to capture the psychology and complexities of hundreds of thousands of fans.
However, with the adoption of new technologies such as chat experiences, sports teams are increasingly able to have personalized one-on-one engagements with their fans, and to do so at scale. This breaks with the traditional sports team marketing and seasonality paradigm, allowing teams to respond in real time to all the whims and wishes of their fans.
We’ve seen this evolution at GameOn Technology, through our partnerships with NFL, NBA, and EPL teams, as well as sports personalities like Mike Tyson. Our chat experiences have enabled sports teams to deliver personalized content to fans on their terms. This user data revealed some interesting insights regarding seasonality assumptions.
Starting in the offseason, fan engagements and interactions remain strong, with average engagements only dropping by around 20% to 30% across the board. Of course, the types of commitments fans seek during this time differ from those of the regular season. These include interactive games, content from the previous season, tutorials, and general stats and trivia.
Over the course of a league’s regular season, we see fan ticket requests remaining constant throughout the season, rather than, as you would expect, seeing a surge in the rise. in power from the league opener followed by a long drop as the season progressed. Because team success rates differ throughout a season, we don’t typically see a huge correlation between teams not being playoff-bound and declining engagement rates. Instead, we’re seeing engagement types change, with fans becoming less interested in results and more interested in general content.
As we track a season in the playoffs, usage patterns and intentions contain further surprises. One of our most interesting findings is that retail inquiries have increased during the playoffs, both for teams reaching the playoffs, as well as teams that don’t. Once a team is knocked out of the playoffs, we see retailer inquiries increase even a few weeks after they are knocked out.
Beyond some of these more commercial observations, one of the behavioral patterns we see the most is fans demanding more personalized engagements, especially ones that allow them to be “heard” by their team and celebrate their successes together. It can be something as simple as a fan saying, “Come on [team]”, and the chat experience in return.
So what does all of this mean for sports marketers? Well, for starters, gone are the days when in-game merchandise marketing and pre-game PR efforts were the primary drivers of fan engagement.
With on-demand content becoming increasingly available, teams need to move away from a static content schedule and production cycle, and load in permanent content so it’s available to all fans at the same time. time.
While the preseason is still a massive time for merchandise and ticket sales, our results show that demand can remain relatively constant throughout the season and remain strong even after a team is knocked out of the playoffs. playoffs. This is a latent demand that a more static engagement strategy may struggle to access and capitalize on.
Additionally, the constant fan demand for bespoke content opens up new revenue opportunities for teams. Based on each user’s engagement history, personalized shopping funnels are now a reality, such as promoting specific player shirts or highlighting ticketing promotions the moment a fan queries the programming.
It also provides teams with a continuous content circle, where trend analysis of personalized fan engagements can then inform more static content schedules, such as social media and website planning. We have witnessed this firsthand, with a number of NBA teams we work with adjusting their content plans based on specific engagements they were receiving from fans regarding drafts and betting odds.
We are still at the beginning of the era of personalized content delivery and fan engagement. This is only going to grow, especially given how Gen Z likes to consume sports content – in short bursts on their smartphones at a time that suits them. As the industry progresses down this path, rigid notions of seasonality and fixed marketing campaigns will become increasingly obsolete. Savvy marketers need to find new ways to present themselves to fans at the right time.
In addition to founding GameOn, Beckman is managing partner of the investment fund Elastic Holdings.
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