5 Ways to Turn Casual Fans Into Superfans Through Data
Personalizing the fan journey and providing value builds a lasting relationship.
Sept 15, 2022. 6 min read
Sports brands are no stranger to the quest of capturing fans’ attention. It’s an ever-evolving process, from a traditional in-game promotion like bobblehead night to more sophisticated, digital methods.
The push for innovation to reach fans today centers around developing a complete picture of them to curate hyperpersonalized experiences, maximize engagement, and build a lasting relationship.
Take, for example, someone new to a city. On a whim, they buy a ticket to check out the local baseball team. How do you turn that casual fan into a devoted superfan with a connection to the team that lasts a lifetime?
Creating a superfan is about passion and loyalty; that can benefit or it can backfire. Building loyalty hinges on personalizing the fan experiences, creating better connections, and adding more value. Here are five ways to turn a casual fan into a superfan — and keep them that way.
The journey begins when a fan buys a ticket for the first time. That simple transaction provides baseline data points such as demographics, location, and affinity. This is the beginning of a more sophisticated, personalized relationship that brands can use to mine better insights along the journey.
Personalization and loyalty can get even stronger through a team app, which rewards fans for their engagement. When fans can’t attend games in person, it’s also their hub for streaming live, locally televised games.
“If [a fan] gets the feeling that he’s no longer regarded as a fan but instead as a customer, we’ll have a problem,” said Hans-Joachim Watzke, CEO of Borussia Dortmund, one of Germany’s top soccer clubs.
We are talking about passion, after all, not their pocketbook – loyalty not logic.
Fans don’t consider themselves consumers, and a brand should view that relationship through the same lens. There is often no competitor; they either engage or pull away. Don’t take them for granted. Fans’ passion and loyalty can be beneficial, but they can also backfire if taken advantage of.
Teams can leverage personalization to listen to concerns, anticipate needs, and ask fans for input. This can be something as simple as voting for the man of the match to something as impactful as input in front-office decisions.
A mobile app makes it easier for fans to attend games with information on where to park or the closest concession stand. It can further personalize the game-day experience based on where the fan sits, and help with buying last-minute tickets or booking travel for road games.
A digital experience platform lets fans make purchases through the app for discounts and loyalty points that can be redeemed for team merchandise, like signed jerseys or experiences such as kids running onto the field with the players at the start of a game.
The app can change a fan from a one-time ticket purchaser to a season ticket holder.
Don’t underestimate the power of emotions in forging real bonds between teams and fans.
Say, for example, the first-time fan uses the team’s app to view a highlight video of its star player. The data collected in the app builds a unified picture of that fan, and from there, serves up more personalized content, encourages future ticket purchases, builds custom newsletters, and creates targeted ads.
Now, the fans aren’t only using the app on game days to find the best place to park. They're also using it during the week to get statistical analysis and watch player stories and video highlights. The more engaged fans are, the more they’re rewarded.
A single view of a fan means anticipating the fan’s needs through unifying customer data from the app, ticket sales systems, team websites, and customer service systems. It’s how teams and leagues can deliver on all five bullet points and reflect fans’ passion. Loyal fans expect teams to treat them like regulars. Teams achieve this not only by serving them the content they want and expect, but also by using the complete picture to provide a personalized experience outside of the app.
Fan services should be able to address a fan by name and deliver a personalized service experience, customized content, and better customer service.
Learn how Orlando City SC increased fan engagement and revenue with a customized app.
Major League Soccer’s Orlando City SC has seen an increase in ticket sales and revenue since launching its app in partnership with Salesforce. Revenue from concession stands alone has increased by more than 14%. The club has generated more than $1.5 million in revenue a year from app users.
Since the app’s launch, fan adoption has increased from 7,000 to 22,000 unique users. On game days, 62% of registered fans use the app. On days when there isn’t a game, 36% of registered fans still log in to check out team statistics, read news stories, or claim rewards.
Personalizing every interaction with the fan is the path to maximizing engagement and satisfaction and increasing lifetime value. Building that relationship over the long term is the most effective way to turn a casual fan into a superfan.