Nurturing Fans as Teams Prepare for Their Return to Stadiums

August 4, 2020

For the first time in history, sports industry professionals experienced a stoppage in play unrelated to the naturally occurring offseason, or even a players strike, which has left many sales teams wondering how best to nurture their leads. Across our innovative partner teams, the message has been clear: whatever strategy you decide on to communicate with your audience through this time, you cannot forget about your leads. Here are a few ways teams are actively nurturing their most valuable leads to prepare for the return of live events.

Even in a normal season many organizations find themselves with more leads than can be nurtured manually, leaving the risk that some highly valuable fans may fall through the cracks. Right now becomes an opportune time to automate how data points are captured, not only in a data warehouse or other modern data infrastructure, but into activation or audience channels like email marketing systems or customer data platforms. The important thing is to ensure that every data point is able to be connected back to a master customer record.

From the exercise of automating how data points are captured, many teams are identifying missing data from customer records. When enough records are analyzed, a pattern usually emerges of what kind of data is missing – birthdays, home addresses, current email addresses, interests, etc. could all be examples of data points that customer records are missing. At this point, it’s up to teams to decide how to capture this data while still being engaging. One way we’ve seen teams successfully do this is through quiz-like surveys or other gamification methods. They make data capture fun for fans, increasing the completion rate, and do their best to learn as much as they can so that those people flow into the right kind of nurturing campaign. For example, before inviting a fan to a limited capacity event, it would be important to know if this person is even comfortable mingling in a group setting before inviting them (this is personalization at work – more about that in another StellarAlgo blog).

While quantitative data captured through some of the methods mentioned above is undeniable in it’s importance – qualitative or sentiment data needs to be given its own share of importance. The ability to connect these two types of data points can unlock incredible insights into who fans are, how they feel, and what they aspire to. In a Covid context, we see many teams running surveys to understand why fans attend games, how they feel about sports returning, and their personal comfort level to sitting in a stadium seat again. It’s been found that completion rates of these surveys have skyrocketed as more fans seem to want their opinions to be heard. As a result, the teams who run follow up surveys over a period of time are gaining valuable insight into how fans’ sentiments towards returning to venues is changing over time. This allows them to take those insights to better nurture the people who are itching to return, those who require stringent health and safety processes to consider attending a game in the future, and those who just aren’t ready to step foot in a stadium or arena yet. The content and messaging used to nurture these three groups will be very different, making it even more important to understand how your fans feel and how those feelings might be shifting.

Regardless of the way you decide to nurture your fans and automate the capture of data, understanding the attributes that make up your nurturing lists and what’s similar about those who are converting is something that a customer data platform like ours is built to do.

For those looking to start utilizing new data points to generate leads, a notable place to begin is by connecting website forms to your database of customer profiles, or if that is too advanced for your organization, starting with your email marketing system is also a really good first step.

From there, using simple audience segmentation tools, teams can bucket the people who filled out an online form into 2 or 3 groups and run a drip campaign to nurture those leads. Those who stay engaged with the next 3-4 emails can then be sent to your CRM system as a warm lead for your sales team. For organizations with more complex email journeys, applying these same concepts with your current processes will also work.

 

A Lesson From Our Customers

Our customers are thought leaders and innovators in the sports and entertainment industry. When asked about advice they would give to colleagues who may be newer to robust segmentation and nurturing techniques they stress that tracking conversion metrics is not about proving that a specific hypothesis is correct. The key to learning about different segments of your fans and how they behave or interact with you is to test and learn.

For example, if you want to learn more about weekday buyers, track how else they might interact with your team, without trying to prove out a specific answer. In our platform, this usually happens by creating a generic segment of all weekday buyers and then monitoring how they convert in our Cohort Analyzer. Or, to add more sentiment level data to the analysis, couple that with responses from a short post-game survey. Does a pattern emerge for how weekday buyers answer any of your 3-5 questions? That’s how you’ll begin to learn more about different segments and be able to personalize nurturing campaigns directed to them.

 

During this time, your organization should be focused on acquiring new leads, growing your fan universe, and working to nurture fans in a more personalized way. Teams who do these things well and spend time getting to know their fans are the ones who will be best positioned for success when tickets can be sold again. For more information on how we are helping over 50 teams take advantage of this disrupted period to accelerate their data processes and strategy, reach out to us.

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