Sports is one of the largest industries on the planet. There are millions of engaged sports fans who are the foundation of a lucrative global market. According to Statista, sports marketing revenue totalled $76 billion in 2013, and is projected to surpass $90 billion in 2017.
This summer is a very impressive time of year for sports, sports fans, and sports marketers. The 2016 UEFA European Championship (or Euro 2016) came to a conclusion on July 10th with Portugal as the victorious squad over host nation France. The 2016 Summer Olympics will begin on August 5 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Publishers and marketers will broadcast the pinnacle of athleticism to millions of global fans until the tournament concludes on August 21.
These two events reach massive audiences who are inclined to
- spend money on merchandise that supports their favorite athletes
- engage with entertaining content highlighting the most impactful moments of the tournaments.
For brands and marketers, this is an optimal time to increase brand recognition and acquire a larger share of the passionate sports market.
How can content marketers capitalize on this opportunity? We’ve outlined a 5 steps to help your marketing team create interesting content experiences so you can engage with an eager market.
Step 1: Plan
The first step is to establish a plan for your campaign. Any effective content marketing strategy begins by outlining business objectives, key personas, targeted messaging, and how to manage the impact of the content. A solid content marketing strategy helps teams remain on track throughout the duration of the campaign.
- Establish an overarching goal for your campaign, and
- Create or curate content throughout the timeline of the event
- Ensure all content relates back to the primary objective of the campaign
According to CMI, teams with documented content marketing plans are far more likely to consider themselves effective at marketing. An established plan streamlines workflows and allows teams to more effectively collaborate on creating new content experiences.
Step 2: Tap Into Social Media
Second on the list is to incorporate the power of social media into your plan. Social media is an enormous part of our lives, and sports fans are plugged into experiences across many social platforms. According to
Stanford Business School, “70% of fans bring a mobile device to the stadium or arena and expect to use it during the game.”
Technology and social media have transformed the in-game experience for sports fans. Fans that attend games use their smartphones to capture game-breaking moments and highlights. Those moments are then uploaded to their social channels.
Marketing teams can tap into these fan experiences and empower their own social channels. Sports marketers thrive by building online communities and forums where fans can upload in-game experiences for others to view or comment on. The brands can then repurpose these pieces of content for new campaigns and increase their social networks with newer fans.
Some brands are very effective at incorporating user generated content into your broader marketing strategy. For example, Snapchat’s Live Stories feature allows event attendees to publish videos in a “live story” experience that can be shared with any Snapchat user around the globe. The content is then repurposed by Snapchat to promote their brand as a popular channel for users to share content.
Step 3: Be Informative
When it comes to sports, fans love to be informed. Sports knowledge is an indispensable part of every fan’s arsenal, and discussions often become a competition in itself about how much fans know about their chosen topic.
A content marketer should provide excellent and accurate analysis of any given sport on a regular basis. Many brands are even updating their networks in real time format, recognizing that the engaged sports fan constantly craves new information.
Fans that are interested in franchise players are often interested in the stories that help shape said players. This is why marketers should maintain updated and accurate player profiles at any mention of a player within the content. Popular topics may include:
- Where did the player attend school
- How many points do they score in an average season
- Did they make any significant contributions to improve the quality of the sport
Richard Deitsch, an established author at Sports Illustrated, offered unique advice for a compelling sports marketing guide. He encourages content marketers to provide information they are unable to learn from television or sportscasters.
“Preparation and experience are important, but even more important is understanding additive value to the reader. I’m speaking from a sports-centric perspective. Tell me things I cannot see on television.”
Step 4: Be Entertaining
Entertainment is a critical asset when it comes to building engaging content experiences for fans. You have to give people a reason to view your content and keep coming back for more.
The Football League recognized a need to inject humor and lightheartedness into their content to
improve the content experience for fans. Marc Cooper, Head of Audience and Content for The Football League, summarized the process as a tactic that all sports marketers should follow.
“We wanted to change the tone of our websites: away from single-event press releases to an on-going, more fun experience for fans, enabling the clubs to engage in fan interaction and drive audiences to the sites.”
Cooper believes marketers should create content that brings out the fan in everyone. This means
building a lifestyle around your brand using sports as the common theme. Connect yourself as the publisher with the fans as the readers or watchers by inserting humorous comments, images, or videos whenever possible. This will help you build bridges with your audience and open up opportunities for feedback or shared dialogue.
Sometimes entertainment means interaction and encouraging fans to contribute to your content experience. Many marketers publish quizzes to encourage interaction and participation. Fans love to feel like part of a larger community and quizzes help people provide their opinions among like-minded enthusiasts.
Step 5: Track What Resonates
Measurement is a key part of any content experience, especially during a finite period of time like a tournament or an event. Marketers need to know what types of content are making an impact and avoid diverting resources away from content that is effective.
Monitor the activity on your social accounts and within your content hubs to identify what content has the most impact on the audience. Ensure all new content is fresh and contains up-to-date information. This allows fans to receive the most value by engaging with your brand. Stay active, and remember that the game is always on.