As we accept that 2016 is in fact nearly over, I’ve cherry picked some 2017 sports marketing trends that we should see pick up momentum next year.
Larger stadiums are investing in connectivity boosting hardware and Wi-Fi hotspots as clubs see the benefit of fans sharing their match day experiences on social media platforms. In 2017 this is likely to trickle down to smaller stadiums too as ‘data demanding’ video sharing apps like Facebook Live, Shapchat, and FaceTime become even more popular across the home and away fan bases.
Venue technology as a sales and marketing platform has become a hot topic throughout 2016. 2017 will see an increase in venue software offerings, and as a result, more mid-sized clubs will embrace technologies and initiatives to improve the match day experience for individual fans, whilst providing clubs with a platform to optimise sales opportunities.
Fan generated content
For years, professional sports clubs have aired on the side of caution when it comes to fan (or user) generated content. There is an unlimited supply of raw passion amongst a clubs’ fans, which is why UGC could go very right or VERY wrong. This has resulted in social media being used by clubs as one-way traffic, trying to sound engaging at least, but ultimately keeping the flood gates firmly shut.
Now that UGC has been adopted by corporate brands outside of sport, it is time for sports organisations to really appreciate and capitalise on the volume of mentions in forums and online groups. A recent survey identified that 86% of millennials believe UGC is a good indicator of the quality of a brand or service, so it’s time to be brave and harness the voice of the fans, even if the content doesn’t make easy listening.
One of the obstacles faced by club sponsors is the ability (and resource) to completely fulfil the sponsorship opportunities on offer. Even the smallest professional clubs have hardware and software facilities to display partners’ video advertisements on screens throughout the venue as part of sponsorship packages. But traditionally smaller, local corporate partners have not had the marketing resource to activate this option. With video advertisements becoming more popular in social media advertising across the digital scene, and as more video editing software becomes readily available, this feature is likely to be utilised more in upcoming seasons.
PokemonGo was an unexpected game changer in mobile technology, and has whet the augmented reality appetite for consumers. Augmented reality is already used in sport, with the likes of Barcelona adopting the technology for stadium tours and a few stateside sports brands also experimenting. The reality is, 2017 will see but a few major UK clubs and associations slowly adopt the technology, whilst the majority of clubs will see how the Guinea Pigs get on.
With strict licensing rights surrounding most professional fixtures, live performances may not reach our Facebook feeds and YouTube channels in 2017, but expect clubs to capitalise on other valuable moments. Training sessions, team talks, game preparations, post-performance reflections are all fair game, and if they can be maintained as regular features, will have an incredible impact on engagement figures and reach. This is something larger clubs are already doing and doing well, it’s just a matter of time before it trickles down to as far as grass roots.
360-degree views as standard
As sports marketing teams embrace all different kinds of technologies to improve the supporter experience (and gain from the revealing insights along the way) the expectation is that the information about each supporter is in one place not several. Stadia access, loyalty schemes, ticket purchase history and social media activity all help determine successful campaigns, but in our recent survey, 22% of sports clubs identified that a 360-degree view of supporters is a desirable feature that they do not currently have.
So there we have it. We know that many of the new marketing practices and platforms mentioned are in fact already being experimented on by the larger pioneering sports organisations. We all wait with baited breath to see the adoption of these new technologies to see which ones can be justified campaigns within a 2017/18 marketing strategy.