As a child, I was a huge fan of Australian Rugby League, and my favorite team has always been the Cronulla Sharks. I feel like the luckiest person in the world to have turned my passion for my childhood sporting team into my job, as I now work on marketing and digital strategies to increase the fan experience at this terrific football club. It’s fun and challenging to see brands you’ve grown up with succeed in marketing and working from the inside to make the team and brand a relatable, engaging experience for customers.
As marketers, we face a constant battle to turn customers into loyal fans. We are tasked with finding new ways to engage customers or supporters and inspiring them on a deeper level to become brand advocates and true fans. This is especially important in sports, media, and retail, but there are lessons to be taken for marketers everywhere.
Here are three ways you can turn your brand’s fair-weather fans into lifelong ambassadors who live and breathe your company, team, or channel.
1. Achieve a Single View of Your Customers
Let’s face it, businesses have a lot of customers—and the majority of companies are out there every day trying to score more. With this massive number of customers comes the need to have a single customer view of each individual, but at scale.
At its base level, having a single customer view means that businesses are able to track customers and their communications across every channel. This holistic approach will drastically improve interactions with customers as well as moving data from useless silos, allowing it to be leveraged to engage with customers.
Having the capacity to monitor website visitors and capture insightful behavioral data, as well as leverage and learn from their transactional data, will give companies the opportunity to create more detailed and multidimensional customer profiles. At the Sharks, we were able to use this type of data to develop content and campaigns tailored to specific fans based on their interests, demographics, and the activities they participate in. We even took into account where fans typically watch games— be that the stadium, at home, or at a sports bar—and delivered personalized, fun content which made every game day feel more exciting than the last.
2. Kick Goals with Personalization
The customer journey is a long one. It doesn’t just begin with someone entering a shop and end with them leaving the store having purchased a product or service.
Customer bases are diverse and encompass a broad range of demographics, geo-location, interests, and activities. Due to the diversity of customers there needs to be an emphasis on personalization of content. Across all platforms, organizations should be striving to translate data into actionable insights as part of a wider personalization strategy.
Customer experience through the customer journey is king, and companies need to ensure the entire customer journey is measured to maximize engagement. The Sharks not only worked to improve the experience of our fans at live games, but we also turned our attention to our loyal members at home. On game days, we use Livestream videos on Facebook featuring players, coaches, and officials, encouraging fans to come to game day. We also increased the number of concession stands from 8 to 13 at our home stadium, meaning shorter lines, so people can get their food and drink faster—small details like that make a huge difference to creating a positive atmosphere. The Sharks’ CEO even personally responds to each fan email!
Leveraging data and taking the time to invest in understanding and creating a dialogue with customers always pays off, as it helps them feel like they are part of a community. Ambassadorship will become their default setting.
3. Evolve and innovate alongside customers
Implementing a technological solution, be it an engagement platform or a marketing automation software is not the whole answer. Constant growth is vital, and businesses should be adding innovative features to their program and always looking to new ways of winning their customer engagement strategy.
Using the Sharks example, after a year of leveraging data to turn customers into loyal fans, a survey conducted in late 2016 revealed the Club is now ranked first amongst all the teams in the National Rugby League (NRL) for overall member satisfaction—a significant increase from previous years. Also, there was a substantial increase in how our members felt recognized by the club, leading the club to be ranked first for digital media communications across the whole football code.
Success is hard earned on the field, and taking fans on that journey through a data-driven and highly customer-focused engagement marketing strategy will ensure they are fans for life. You too can tackle fan engagement head on through a smart and personalized approach, rolled out at scale, delivering benefits not just for fans and customers, but your company as well.
Our engagement strategy has helped us garner more fans and keep the ones we already had happy. What have you done to keep your biggest supporters happy? How have you been able to convert people into fans? I’d love to hear about your tactics in the comments.
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