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Sunday, June 16, 2024

How The Pandemic Will Shape Sports Fans

  • Ticket sales leads acquired from e-commerce channels have seen 147.6% growth since the pandemic hit.
  • Sports teams must make it easy for fans to buy and level up experiences.
Feb 28, 2020; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; A Vegas Golden Knights fan bats the glass during the third period of a game between the Golden Knights and the Buffalo Sabres at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the sports industry on its head and the changes are just getting started. Recent events will cause an acceleration of many trends and behaviors that were already occurring, but at levels now that were not previously expected until 2025. 

Here’s what sports marketers, ticket sales representatives, and other sports industry professionals should expect from fans as a result of the pandemic.

The Pandemic Will Cause Further Dispersion in Fan Engagement 

It will be more important than ever to have the ability to understand how fans are interacting with your brand. Some fans will have more pent-up demand to see their favorite teams live while some will be less comfortable than ever in venues or will initially prefer to stay home and consume content. But who’s who and how will those feelings change over time? Having a single customer view that is accessible to everyone in an organization will be a requirement, not a luxury anymore. Teams must be able to understand, identify, and personalize outreaches for these fans in order to keep them and are beginning to invest in new tools that help them better activate on these insights.

Fans Will Become More Reliant On and Active in Digital Channels, At Least in the Short Term

Web traffic, e-commerce, and other digital channels have seen huge growth since March. Leads acquired from e-commerce channels have seen 147.6% growth since the pandemic hit. Even when live events return, these digital engagement points will remain essential to understanding how best to connect with fans. Teams who excel will use digital touch points to better focus their creative activations within the right channels in order to retain and grow revenues. This doesn’t mean traditional ticket sales methods will go away, but in order to maximize revenues, teams will need to have a strong command of their digital ecosystems. 

Using a customer data platform to combine online and offline sources to enhance the knowledge of a fan’s likeliness to engage in different types of content based on their historical interactions will make for a stronger digital engagement strategy.

There Will Be a Flight to Value and Quality

The pandemic is having a major economic impact on the spending habits of both fans and sponsors which means we’ll see fans be more selective about how and where they invest their discretionary dollars. As a result, sports teams must make it easy for fans to buy and level up experiences so that they are considered impactful and worthwhile.

When fans inevitably return to venues, teams will immensely benefit from using technology that allows them to focus on reaching out to prospective ticket buyers in the channels where they’re more likely to be receptive to the sales message. For sales teams, this means becoming more efficient at identifying who is best to contact, for what product, and when. StellarAlgo’s Lead Recommender & Customer Lifecycle functions help sales teams with these prioritization efforts by using highly accurate, behavior-based predictive modeling. For marketing and analytics teams, it will be more important than ever to be able to accurately attribute ROI to campaigns and other top of the funnel efforts. StellarAlgo’s Cohort builder and Cohort Analyzer will become increasingly essential tools as smart marketers look for no-code fan segmentation and attribution capabilities.

In-Venue Fan Expectations Will Force a Shift in Budgets and Create Opportunities

As mentioned previously, fans’ comfort levels in returning to sports venues varies. In a recent FOS Newsletter poll, 67% of respondents would not be comfortable going to an NFL preseason game in August. This poses a risk to teams who will need to invest in additional health and safety measures in order to safely operate events and comply with local legislation. Reduced capacity events are a likely reality for the time being but done right, new venue will actually unlock additional fan insights. Many of these opportunities reside with cashless and touchless systems which can unlock data points that have historically been challenging for properties to collect and incorporate into fan data ecosystems.

These additional in-venue data points will become extremely important since historical behavioral data will be less valuable than ever, and teams will need to relearn what makes their fans tick.

It’s apparent that understanding and nurturing fans will become even more essential in the post-pandemic world. The fan-team relationship is changing, and teams need to be ready to win back, nurture and grow lifelong fans. For more information on how StellarAlgo can help, visit www.stellaralgo.com.

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