Do you know what the biggest mistake sports organizations make is? From small clubs to big ones such as FC Barcelona, this mistake is indeed a common one. Well, many sports organizations actually make the mistake of not converting their followers into contacts in their database. Recently, FC Barcelona’s sponsorship deal valuation with Spotify exemplified this exact issue. Out of more than 350 million social media followers, Barcelona only had less than 3 million contacts. So, of course, the sponsorship they got, in the end, was lower than it could have been. This proves the point we are trying to make – you need to grow your contact database.
What about your sports organization? How many contacts do you have in your contact database versus your number of social media followers?
We are pretty sure that you don’t need any convincing on the importance of growing your contact database.
Before we dive right in...
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Why it’s important to grow your contact database
Do you want to know who to focus your marketing efforts on – where to reach them, when, and how?
What about when you have season tickets to sell? Do you want to be able to target the right fans and sell out at each game?
Do you want your merchandise to fly off the shelves and sell out every time you have a special promotion?
And just like FC Barcelona, do you want to get high sponsorship deals from amazing brands?
Then you need to grow your contact database.
You need to grow your contact database to:
- deliver hyper-personalized supporter experiences
- segment and target your supporters better
- sell more tickets and merchandise
- boost your sponsorship value
Something to bear in mind
Growing your contact database is only step 1 of the bigger overarching goal of creating a world-class supporter experience. Better supporter experience leads to better business, so this goal we are speaking of is indeed a goal that you should have if you don’t already.
After you grow your contact database, the next steps are:
- data collection,
- and acting on the insights you get from this process.
Unlike growing your contact database, there are no 7 ways to collect, analyze and act on your data to get results fast. But rather, there is only one way to do this process and do it right. And that is by using a Sports Customer Data Platform. So once you finish this blog post, we recommend you read “Why sports organizations need a CDP to grow and thrive”. The blog post will give you your next plan of action towards growing and thriving through creating world-class supporter experiences.
What is the difference between followers and contacts?
There are several differences between followers and fans. But here are the main ones:
- Followers are “unregistered” while contacts are “registered“. This simply means that contacts are supporters that have given you consent to use their names, contact, and other personal information. While followers have not given you their consent. Have you read our first-party data strategy blog post? That will explain to you the importance of having contacts and not just followers.
- You can initiate contact with your “contacts” and target them with your organization’s products while you cannot do the same with followers. You have to wait for followers to reach out to you first. And without consent, you can’t really then respond to followers in a meaningful way. They must first become contacts in order for you to do so.
- Contacts by default show that they are more interested in engaging with your organization than followers. In a world where data is the currency, giving consent to a sports organization to access and use your personal data is a huge sign of commitment.
Please note that we are not saying that having a lot of followers is meaningless. We are just simply saying that you need to convert them into contacts to reap maximum benefits.
The key to growing your contact database
The main thing you have to bear in mind in your efforts to grow your contact database is that your followers have to give you consent to use their names, contacts, and other personal information. So the key here is to get them to sign up for something on your profile where they have to give consent.
When your followers sign up for whatever it is you are offering them, they essentially give you permission to contact them. Now, of course, they can opt-in or out of your marketing emails. However, if you play your cards right (you will learn how shortly) you will soon have more opt-ins than outs.
So, give your potential contacts something exciting enough for them to want to give up their personal information.
And without further ado…
…here are 7 easy ways to grow your contact database fast
Please note that all these examples are doable no matter the size of your organization.
The first way you can grow your contact database fast is to do giveaways. This does not need to be anything expensive. It could for instance be an experience. Or an offer for your supporters where they get a chance to win autographed kits. Another giveaway example is offering your supporters the opportunity to meet their favorite player from your team. The key to knowing what to offer in your giveaway is understanding what your followers like.
All you need to do is set up the rules for the giveaway. For example, sign up and share with your friend to be eligible to win…
So, your supporters will have to sign up for the giveaway. They would have to do this anyway so they can get contacted if they win. So as you can see, this can be a natural part of the process. Getting people to sign up to receive something from you is something you should boldly and not timidly do.
Another amazing way you can grow your contact database is to run competitions. Honestly, the sky is the limit here. To give you a few ideas, you could for instance have a “strike a pose” competition. This means that you ask your followers to send in a photo of themselves with your merch for example. You could also have a “send a video” contest. And you can achieve this by simply asking your followers to send in a video of themselves doing something fun and creative. That something can be doing a hat trick, dribbling a ball, doing a slam dunk, and so on.
The only two requirements would be:
- the ones set for the competition
- and them giving you their contact in exchange.
There is so much room for many out-of-the-box ideas. What’s more, you can also use this as an opportunity to promote your brand, brand values, assets, etc.
How to make this even more powerful with a sports CDP
- Take data from the CDP and create segments based on the group you want to target.
- Create lookalike audiences based on these segments that you target in SoMe channels.
- Connect your SoMe campaigns tool and target lookalike audiences in these channels.
Email marketing and campaigns
Did you know that studies show that most consumers, sports fans being no different, prefer to get emails from their favorite brands at least once a week?
Not only that, but a combined 63% prefer to hear from brands at least weekly or more often. So understanding that your organization is a brand that fans want to hear from is very important.
Examples of clever marketing campaigns
- Are you making changes in your sports organization? Maybe you have new management, new values, player, or coach. Why not create a campaign around this? Ask people to sign up to learn about the changes you are making.
- Do you want to sell more merchandise? Why not have limited-edition merchandise? And then create a “private”/ “member” only email campaign to get more contacts. Or, at the very least, get contacts of those who are willing to be part of a “member” only segment. They can prove to be high lifetime value supporters.
- Have you lost fans or are you on the verge of losing them for whatever reason? Club/player scandals, ineffective marketing, whatever the case – why not run a reactivation marketing campaign where you address this? You can run a promotion that’s open to a specific segment of your followers. For example, giving discount codes to one-time ticket purchasers to get them to buy a second ticket.
- Do you want to sell more season tickets or just tickets in general? Why not have a buy 4 get 1 free email campaign? Or get a free ticket for your friend campaign. It does not necessarily have to be exactly what we are describing but you catch our drift, right?
- Maybe you have a list of unresponsive fans. Why not create an email marketing campaign where you ask them to update their preferences because you want to give them a better experience. Everyone loves feeling special. We bet your fans would feel special if you did this.
We say the sky is the limit a lot. But that’s because the sky really is the limit when it comes to email marketing.
The powerful results of email marketing
Email marketing, when done right and with the right tools, produces powerful results. We know this first hand. AIK, one of our customers, generated 6 figures from one marketing campaign. The key to their success? The sports Customer Data Platform (CDP). See, when creating an email marketing campaign, you don’t want to grope around in the dark trying to find gold, so as to say. Meaning that you want to have as much knowledge and understanding about your supporters as possible. This will help you get results, fast! And how can you get this knowledge? By using a sports CDP.
A sports CDP’s main function is to collect, store and unify data. It collects all this data from different sources, both online and offline. But it doesn’t just stop there. Two other main functions of a CDP are to analyze data, giving you insights that you can then act on to power all your decision-making. Effectively, helping you know your supporters like the back of your hand. And when you know your supporters, the magic begins to happen. Read the case of AIK below.
Growing your contact database should not be limited to supporters only. Did you know that you can grow your contact database to include potential sponsors as well? This is where gated content comes in. Do you have:
- Case studies on specific insights in your sports organization?
- Have you gone data-driven and now have even more data on the performance of your sports organization off the field?
- Do you have white papers on certain issues your organization is passionate about?
Then why not “gate” this content so you can have contacts of the people who are interested enough in your club to exchange their contacts for this information. By gating, we mean that you require a sign-up in exchange for the content. Thus, effectively growing your contact database.
Potential sponsors and partners are typically interested in this type of content. But do you know who else is interested in such information?
Once you have these contacts you can put them into “high-value supporters” and “potential sponsor” segments with specific conditions and attributes. More on this later.
Sign-ups on your own platforms
In one of our earlier blog posts, we discussed the importance of using an Over the Top streaming service (OTT). In addition to the benefits discussed there, you can additionally use this as a way of growing your contact database. Your supporters will have to sign up to use your platform thus giving you consent over their personal data. And, in turn, effectively becoming part of your contact database.
Other platforms you can own and require sign-ups for include apps, waitlists for premiers, matches, exclusive content, etc. So if you want to grow your contact database, it is important that you offer something exciting to your fans on your own platforms in exchange for their consent.
Subscriptions work in a similar vein to sign-ups on your own platforms we discussed above. Do you have a newsletter or a blog? Are you maybe a bigger organization with a digital newsroom or do you offer regular public relations communications? Then why not create a subscription call to action? Something along the lines of, “subscribe to our newsletter and never miss a thing we do ever again”.
Subscriptions are however not limited to just written communications. Remember the OTT platform and apps we discussed in the previous section? Well, you can offer subscriptions there too. “Subscribe to get exclusive interview content with your favorite players”, for example, is a brilliant way to get your followers’ contact information. Not only that but again, you are able to identify the supporters who are willing to commit more and more to your organization.
Offer discounts and vouchers
Last but certainly not least on our list of 7 easy ways to grow your contact database is a golden oldie. Everyone loves discounts and vouchers, especially nowadays where “entertainment” is becoming more expensive and sports tickets are becoming more and more expensive. So why not offer your followers discount codes if they sign up for something on your website or any other platforms you own?
We understand that this is maybe something that might not be ideal for organizations that aren’t raking in money. However, you can use discounts as incentives instead of just flat out offering them. For example, for every 4th purchase of a jersey, you get a 50% discount on the 5th. You can crunch the numbers with your finance department and see what you can afford and work with that.
Vouchers are a great way of getting your supporters to act fast. And what’s better than just increasing your revenue? Increasing your revenue, fast. So why not offer your supporters vouchers for a limited period. For example, you could say, anyone who subscribes to our newsletter, can get a food voucher for our next game.
The advantage sports organizations have over other organizations
Do you know what advantage sports organizations have over other organizations is?
Sport is an emotional experience.
It is bigger than merely exchanging an experience for money. It is about community, belonging, and identity. So naturally, sports fans are more willing to listen to what you have to say. This is a far cry from other industries such as the retail industry. Of course, retail customers are just as emotional as sports fans, but the connection does not go as deep. Because retail is transactional. And whoever provides the best deal or content is the one that normally wins. Whereas in sports, your fans are more likely to give you a second chance to activate them.
Now of course this is changing. Especially when it comes to the younger demographic, gen Z, which is less loyal than its older peers. But that is why it is crucial that you learn now how to grow your contact database instead of delaying the process. So remember:
Think outside the box. Get to know what your followers respond to the most on your social media and use that as a guide to creating the best campaign to grow your contact database.
Not all of these methods will work the best for your organization. Not because they are not good methods, but because every organization’s audience is different. You might find more success with competition than with an email campaign. Or vice versa. But you will never know unless you try. And if you try once and don’t get the results, don’t give up. Instead, evaluate what worked and what you can improve for next time. Then adjust and try again. Because at the end of the day, a little perseverance and testing go a long way.
You need to grow your contact database. There are no questions about it. It is great to have a sizeable following on social media. But it is even greater to have a good number of contacts in your contact database. For those of you who are thinking, “we don’t even have a good social media following”, to begin with…
Then here’s a quick list of how to grow your social media followers:
- Create great content and promote it on your social media channels. Examples of great content include; blog posts, podcasts, videos, etc.
- Focus on storytelling. People love stories. So focus on telling the authentic story of your sports organization.
- Interact with the few followers that you already have and encourage supporter-generated content by using hashtags, for example.
- Allow your players and athletes to be your brand ambassadors so people can put faces to your team.
- Have strong brand values and communicate them.
- Be consistent and long-sighted. Don’t be discouraged if your growth is slow. Stay consistent and over time you will get the right results.
So, now you know how to both attract more followers to your social media and grow your contact database from those followers. And as you grow your contact database, you’ll need to have a system where you can store and unify all of your supporter data. This is where the Sports CDP comes in. Not only will it help you secure high-value sponsorship deals, but also increase other revenue streams.
What steps are you going to implement to either grow your social media following or your contact database? Leave a comment below.
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