Data analytics in sports is nothing new. Data has, and always will be, a big part of how teams and leagues make internal decisions from player performance, stadium changes, and of course, the in-stadium fan experience. Now, we’re seeing a shift of understanding on the importance of data within the industry, and on a larger scale how data, and other SportsTech solutions, are transforming the out of stadium fan experience. It is no longer just about the in-person experience, but about the experience as a fan in its entirety- the physical and digital experience. And data is the driving and one of the important factors.
Let’s talk about game day
COVID aside, for some, game day isn’t what it used to be. With only 29% of sports fans wanting to be at the actual game. For some, attending a game has become more difficult than enjoyable. With an increase in ticket costs, hit or miss seating, long lines, missing replays, many sports fans are opting in to catch the game and game highlights from home. Nothing bolsters fan loyalty more than positive fan experiences. So what does that mean for team, league, and stadium decision makers? What constitutes a better in-person fan experience?
Yep- it’s data. “Smart stadiums”, like the Mercedes Benz stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, are using data to make the in-day experience less of a hassle, and they started from the very beginning of the game-day fan experience, by optimising the parking experience and needs of the thousands of fans that arrive at the stadium on game-day.
“Finding parking is part of the fan experience?” You better believe it. It’s one of the first parts of the in-stadium fan experience that can have a profound impact on how the rest of the day will go. If you spend over 30 minutes trying to find parking, fighting with other fans over spots, forgetting where you parked your car, that experience is starting with frustration. With 70,000 seats, board members of the MB stadium made parking one of the highest priorities, and planned and organised a parking program that enhances – not detracts – the arrival experience for fans. In doing so, they found ParkMobile, and are using the data of fans and their arrivals to prepare space, directions, and more. How does parking data create positive fan experiences? They’re utilising it to track the average arrival times and departures of fans as well as parking habits, to ensure minimal traffic jams during the busiest hours and to understand which areas of their parking lot will be available and when. Once they track and understand the arrival of their fans, they can take it a step further and send targeted messages to the fans that arrived early and encourage them to buy a drink or snack before the game starts from the concession stand. When you utilise data to understand the story of your fans, the experience is amplified, positive, and memorable.
The out-of stadium fan experience
On game-day, the smallest things such as finding a parking spot can negatively impact the entire game-day experience. On the off-days, the smallest thing like receiving the same content blasts that aren’t personalised, can negatively impact the entire digital fan experience. And in some cases, can go straight to the archive. Some would say that the digital fan experience is something that happens anytime a fan is engaging with a team’s digital assets- content, emails, website experience, App experience, purchasing something from the online-merch store, the ‘thank you’ email- it’s all connected. So apart from a website that loads and renders fast and correctly, teams and leagues need personalisation across their content and their offerings. To do that, they need first party data.
With Google killing cookies, and Apple not allowing organisations to track their own audience, the need to own and manage first party data is more crucial than ever. Not only does first-party data identify your digital fans via their name, location, and language, but it builds a picture of each fan in a way that allows an organisation to personalise that specific fan’s experience. When a sports team, or any organisation with a digital audience, is able to know and understand their fans preferences, unique characteristics, purchasing habits, and more, they’re able to custom curate the content they share and send to that fan. If a team knows who a fan’s favourite player is, and the type of merch they prefer (jersey vs soft tee), they can send custom content and offers that are more likely to drive clicks and conversions.
Meet your fans where they are digitally and provide a new experience for them that goes beyond a like, comment, and/or share. Turn your digital content into a digital activation. A digital activation in Pico terms is when you pair your content with an engaging custom game that benefits both team and fan by providing a unique experience for the fan, and valuable data for the team. For example, if there is an upcoming player birthday and plans to celebrate and promote the birthday across digital channels, we would suggest pairing those posts with a trivia activation where fans get to test their knowledge on X player, and the team learns more about the fans with Pico’s data capture technology.
How does a trivia game capture data?
It doesn’t. The gamification of the activation is what creates the new, fun, and unique experience for the fan. The data capture is what happens before they play the game. When they’re asked their name, their preferred method of contact, their favourite style of merch, if they’ve ever been to a game, their interest in purchasing last minute tickets, how they follow the team, and more. Through these data captures, a team can start building out their database with robust fan profiles even if that fan didn’t make a transactional purchase.
Here are a few examples of how our clients have safely and progressively captured first-party data data on their fans with our technology. Not only does having this rich first party data help create richer fan experiences, but it also allows organisations to actually own the data on their fans/audience, and empowers them to build out and add on to their current database of fans.
Data will always tell a story and will always paint a bigger picture. But it needs to be creatively implemented within strategies, rather than just collected. And as Monika Reinhard of the CHL said, data is gold for organisations but it needs to be mined properly. Use your data to learn and understand your fans on a 1:1 level, and market smarter. Want to dive into it all a bit more? Contact our team today and collect first-party data tomorrow.
To read more from our Insight series click here.