Can you stabilise your sports marketing efforts to future-proof traffic with the restriction of events around the world? ActiveWin offers our expertise in this difficult business climate.
1. Keep Calm and Carry On
What you do now can have a strong ripple effect on increasing your chances of success in the future when we return to life as we knew it before Covid-19 wreaked havoc around the world.
For instance, the Cheltenham Festival is one of the biggest events of the year and although it made it across the line before UK sports events were cancelled, it is very likely it will return next year if current self-isolation and safety guidelines are adhered to.
It seems like a lifetime ago that everyone at the iGB LAC (London Affiliate Conference) was talking about the upcoming Cheltenham festival, but no one could anticipate what was to come. Sports marketing was turned upside down within a few short weeks.
The ultimate aim is always to be as proactive as possible across the board; the sooner you start planning the better. This also affords you extra time when the day arrives, to deal with ongoing work. In fact, we are currently implementing a new ‘real-time marketing’ team, whose efforts will be directed towards these ad hoc tasks.
This pre-emptive approach can be applied in the short-term as well; it helps build anticipation and quickly identify audiences to re-target.
Customers are, therefore, more likely to stick with us, rather than be persuaded by an equally competitive offer. As the saying goes, ‘the early bird gets the worm’.
2. Content is King
Another saying we hear a lot in our industry is ‘content is king’: it’s certainly true from our experience – our SEO and content team are constantly looking at the best ways to produce work that isn’t just of high-quality but that ranks well now and in the future when sports returns.
We spoke to Michelle Hole from our media buying team about their approach when drawing up bespoke advertising campaigns. Her advice was short and sweet, quite literally:
“When it comes to copy, keep things concise; we have found that shorter, image-driven campaigns and content-led videos have achieved much stronger brand metrics.”Michelle Hole
There is a lot of sense in this analysis: we live in an age of constant and chronic content, especially with the immediacy of social media and the instant access we have through streaming services and the explosive growth of e-sports to fill the gap that live events have left for many people.
3. If Not TV, Then VOD
Speaking of visually driven campaigns, when it comes to publicly broadcasted events, the holy grail is usually TV spots. However, as you might expect, TV advertising is one of the most expensive options you can pursue, so what are some alternatives that you can look to explore, hopefully, at a lower cost?
From our research, we’ve found that VOD (video-on-demand) is the next best thing after TV spots in terms of exposure and impressions. Once again, a good deal of our branding is communicated through short, image, and video-driven content, which can be published through a number of channels.
Social media is also wrapped up in this, with our PPC team placing a big focus on app campaigns—Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat—as well as Apple search ads, which performed very well against competitors last year.
Moreover, integrating your social channels into your overall sports marketing strategy is highly effective; we have seen this trend a lot in recent years, with the likes of Vine and now the advent of TikTok – the aim is not just to grab an audience’s attention, but to make whatever they’re consuming digestible.
Lastly, it is crucial that you carefully review your VOD demographics when deciding on the frequency and the type of content you want to run. For example, ITV has a racing-friendly audience, with the majority of Cheltenham’s races being broadcast through that channel, so we allocate our budget accordingly ahead of the big day.
4. Retention is as Important as Acquisition
Whilst acquisitions are great, it’s going to be tough during the lockdown across the globe. Simply trying to push the most attractive welcome offer isn’t always going to work, especially with dwindling events available. Sports marketers have to be nimble and react quickly to maintain their business.
Instead, we favour players with a better ROI (return on investment) who are more likely to stick around for longer. This is one of the main tasks for our CRM team, which is broken up into three teams: active players, on-board, and reactivation – all of which are equally important customer bases when it comes to retention.
Fortunately, our systems allow us to drill down into the data at a pretty granular level, helping us to assess player behaviour and identify those who promise a longer lifespan.
Using this data, our CRM team create what we like to call ‘channel plans’, which look to schedule all relevant communications across various platforms, whether that be on-site, SMS, email, social, and so on.
With big sports marketing events on hold, turn lemons into lemonade with the opportunity to up and cross-sell customers to virtual sports. Similarly, customers who only bet on horse-racing events in countries that currently have no restrictions.
5. Set Yourself Dynamic Targets.
Finally, linked to this day-to-day analysis of the customer lifecycle is the development of a contingency sports marketing strategy. Keywords are VERY expensive, so rather than simply spending all our budget bidding on them, we try to find other ways of getting ahead of the competition.
These channel plans cover various different objectives and KPIs, but the main goal for sports marketing is always to extend the customer reach, retaining general interest and, hopefully, up and cross-selling them into different markets (like e-sports, virtual sports, casino, or bingo).
Once again, we analyse our performance in previous years to ascertain these crucial touchpoints. Another phrase comes to mind: ‘work smarter, not harder.
Contact us here at ActiveWin to see how we can help you plan for future success.