Why sports sponsorship needs to prove it can convert fans to customers and 6 steps to get started
For brands that invest in sports sponsorship, particularly those with Direct-to-consumer (D2C) business models, an untapped opportunity exists to combine brand-building as an objective with the generation and use of first party data.
Sponsorship has long-since been a tactic for brand building marketers. With a strong presence across media channels, a good sponsorship deal can provide a way to increase your brand awareness in multiple territories at great speed. However, connecting that awareness to measurable sales or acquisition is an elusive outcome for many.
However, in today’s challenging economic times, leadership teams are questioning costs. It has become essential to squeeze every drop of value from all strategic investments made.
We know that consumers increasingly “tune out” advertising. Learned immunity, and in some cases, deliberate avoidance. Let’s face it, most brands don’t matter in the slightest to a sports fan and you need to engage with them on a deeper level to get your message across one way or the other. Even after exposure, other brands quickly wash over yours unless you follow up.
You’ve already got a great digital marketing channel for lead-gen and acquisition. But can it get better? Those with D2C business models have the most to gain because they need both awareness and data. The cost of acquisition (CAC) versus lifetime value (LTV) is a leadership obsession. The cash flowing out to social networks and Google is often eye watering. By extracting extra value from sponsorship, you could be getting more bang for your buck and bringing overall acquisition costs down.
“But we don’t own the data, they do”
The sports organisation owns the fans, right? Wrong. You’ll find the broadcaster thinks the fan is “theirs” too. Or if they’re watching it on an OTT platform. They all consider that fan to be a form of property.
But fans aren’t ‘ownable’, they’re just people like us. We all share data with multiple parties in the food chain, usually willingly — if they give back. None need to somehow own us. With careful planning there are ways to cooperate and share without doing anything subversive.
Vodafone engage football fans and drive airtime offers and lead generation
"Sponsorship should be a platform that generates both fan engagement and high quality audience data — an asset that provides reusable fuel to sales and marketing. It should drive opted-in data capture, conversion and then revenue well beyond the term of the deal." - Tom McDonnell - Monterosa's CEO
Here are 6 steps to get started
Step 1 - Plan all Fan Engagement around three core steps
Create your ideas, content and activation around firstly getting people to do something, then exchanging value with them in return for a sign-up, or some form of anonymous data, then figure out which product or action you want to promote, sell or communicate.
Step 2 - Create ideas that have participation which matters
Design ideas, games and other concepts that really matter to fans. Involve them in having to DO something, not just watch something. Using gamification techniques, rewards, or making fans feel like they’re having an impact — these are just some of the motivations to engage.
Step 3 - Build compelling CTAs into all messaging and leave no dead-ends
Remember, you want to drive conversions using fan engagement. Wherever the media or integration allows for it, send fans to participate in rewarding activities, within a digital environment you have co-control over. That means using social to drive to your environment, it means adding CTAs and click-throughs, it means never leaving dead-ends.
In the example below, the English Premier League promote the regular Player of The Month award by sending fans to the EA Sports website, where voting takes place. The continued journey lands drives sign-up and usage of their Ultimate Team game. They are building brand and driving acquisition and re-activation, and at any time can change the journey towards the business priorities.
Step 4 - Build clear lines of data control into your deal at the start or at renewal.
Build compelling CTAs into all messaging and leave no activity without a goal. Where possible, and with adequate consents, do a deal with the media owner to share captured data within their environment, under fair and clear terms to the audience.
You’ve almost certainly watched a Twitter video embedded into a news site or app. In doing so, you consented to Twitter using your usage data.
It is possible to satisfy all parties and create a way to carefully segregate data and for your brand to benefit within a consent-driven environment.
The example below illustrates how Sky Bet’s partnership with ITV embeds the ITV7 Free Prediction game into the broadcaster’s official racing app. The process is signposted as “Login / Register and enter using your Sky Bet account”.
Sky Bet integrate with ITV Racing
The key for both parties in deals of this nature is to tackle the data discussion at the inception point of the deal, or at renewal stage, and make sure the user journey makes sense.
Step 5 - Connect captured data to your CRM or Customer Data Platform (CDP)
The type of data you can collect varies. You might go straight for personal data via competition / contest forms, and you may want to use preferences to personalise communications.
- VIP Status Products or Offers: You might reward those who come back frequently by giving them a special status tag in your ecommerce platform, unlocking discounts or special limited edition products.
- Personalise Emails: If someone votes on a certain player multiple times you might assume they’re a big fan of that player. Maybe you can offer them the chance to win one of those signed jerseys you’ve been offered.
- Relevant Offers: Or simply by knowing a user was present during a winning game, you might offer them a unique way to relive the joy with a special offer.
Whether you use the full Salesforce stack, Adobe Marketing Cloud, Hubspot or a hybrid set of systems, there is always a way to sync or pipe audience data into your systems, with necessary consents flagged. To do this at scale you need to ensure all your fan engagement activity is unified and sending its data to one place, otherwise it gets messy. Monterosa / Interaction Cloud is one way to achieve that in a single platform.
Consolidate then pipe data into your CRM or CDP
Step 6 - Communicate & Sell!
In 2021, we don’t mind being sold to if the product fits the moment and you don’t rudely interrupt. At the right time, drive conversion with offers or product suggestions within the user journey.
With compelling creative, reliable tech and a data data pipeline that delivers to your existing stack, you’ll see a flow of additional value from your sponsorship investments and an asset that pays out well beyond the end of the deal.
In our world, some further reading might help illustrate:
- EA Sports — turning voters into customers with Premier League, La Liga and Bundesliga
- Goodwood Speed Week — creating a virtual event with VIP access for Mastercard customers
- Vodafone — engaging and converting world cup fans in the Middle East (okay this isn’t official sponsorship but still relevant)
Monterosa / Interaction Cloud is a Real-Time Engagement Platform that provides a way to power all your fan engagement, giving you a way to create compelling interactive ideas for massive audiences across every one of your sponsorships in all territories.