In 2019, the NFL saw the lowest attendance averages since 2004. The teams averaged about 67,000 per game. To keep things running, sports teams rely on the fans to generate revenue.
So, why are so many people failing to engage and how can teams improve fan engagement? Here are 5 sure strategies to improve!
1. Unique Online Experiences
When your fans aren’t in the stadium, you still want them to be involved. Constant flows of exposure and content are a great way to keep fans engaged and interested. Thre are plenty of ways to make money outside the stadium.
The great thing about online experiences is that there is unlimited potential to reach the masses. In 2019, a whopping 90% of American adults used the internet. If you don’t have an online strategy, you’re missing out on lots of digital fan engagement.
While streaming can be attributed to some of the loss in actual in-person game attendance, you still want your fans engaged online. Finding ways to get your games online is a great way to keep the fans watching no matter where they are.
You can do this on your site, YouTube, or this live streaming company for example. You can earn plenty of revenue by giving your fans access to streams. However, make them worth their while.
Hosting online contests are one way to increase fan engagement. Have your fans share, comment, like, and/or take some other action that allows them to enter to win. You’ll need to offer some great items that entice them to participate.
Interaction on your content attracts even more people and grants exposure while giving fans cool opportunities. One of a kind items and opportunities for further experiences are a great option for prizes.
Smartphones are here to stay and become more and more complex all the time. Apps are a great place to start integrating your content into an easily accessible place for fans.
You can create games and allow fans to collect player cards. Apps are easy to integrate reward systems too. These will help encourage digital sports fan engagement and in-person engagement. Fans can earn rewards for taking certain actions leading to discounts and prizes.
2. Increase Stadium Experience
Lots of revenue is earned by game attendance. When fans come to the stadium they are looking for a tailored experience. Those disappointing NFL game attendance averages from 2019, show that in-person experiences aren’t living up to expectations. So, how do you create an interest in attending games?
Offering products, merchandise, vendors, and situations that can only be obtained in the stadium is step one. If there is only one place to get something, people will come. Increase your fan engagement by creating desires.
The Tampa Bay Lightning offered a jersey for sale that had a microchip. This particular jersey earned fans the right to enter contests, discounts, special vendors, play games, and more. This experience is unachievable outside of the stadium.
Fans don’t want to sit in uncomfortable outdated seating or go to bathrooms from the 1950s. To truly improve the experience, stadiums and arenas need to be well kept and upgraded as much as possible. The main points here are safety, tech, convenience, and service.
Of course, there’s something to be said about having charm. Take Wrigley Field for example. They’ve kept their staple ivy around and it’s become one of the fan’s favorite parts of the stadium and a symbol of the team. Fans take pride in their team’s home.
Themed days are a tried and true strategy for getting people involved and excited. If it’s Valentine’s Day, Easter, or some other holiday figure out a way to incorporate that into your fan’s experience. It’s a great way to change things up.
For in-stadium or even online, you can offer unique ways of viewing the game. Technology has allowed us to put cameras, microphones, and sensors in equipment and other places. The NFL has been known to do a series called Mic’d Up which allows fans to hear their favorite players throughout the game.
3. Engage With Fans
Players are often seen as untouchable people. It’s always exciting for fans to interact with them and they remember it for their entire lives. If you want to increase fan engagement, you might want to look at how you engage with them. This relationship is a two-way street.
Social media plays a big part in your online strategy. However, no matter how consistent you are fans will yearn for you to engage with them. Reply to comments, repost their pictures, and offer shoutouts. Have their favorite players personally respond with video messages.
Host Parties and Events
Allow fans to be involved outside of the stadium. Host exclusive viewing parties or events that they can attend. You can offer these as prizes or paid events with tickets. Having players attend these will significantly increase the fan’s interest.
Build Your Story
Emotional stories can help pull on the heartstrings and when fans relate they build attachment. You can do this with particular players, the team, or the area in which the team is located.
4. Be Generous
Depending on the size and resources of your team, giving back is an easy way to increase exposure and interact with the community. Fans will appreciate this and you’ll build a better reputation.
Offering free items at games, online, at pop-ups, stores, schools, events and more keeps fans thinking about you. Not only does it increase exposure at that moment but they’ll be on your mind every time they use the item.
Getting involved in charities helps the community and build relationships. This encourages fans to give back and support a team with great values. Players’ participation can make the day of people involved with these organizations.
5. Don’t Forget the Kids
When thinking about your target audience, your mind will likely go to adult males. Focusing too much on that demographic will make you lose out in other areas. Kids are a good area to focus on because you have the potential to create a lifelong fan.
Create programs to get kids involved. This could be having a child throw out the first pitch, play on the field, spend time with players, get free items, and more. You can even go more in-depth and hold a raffle for a training day where players teach them about the sport.
Figure out what types of products interest kids the most. Make sure you have specific items that they would enjoy whether that be toys, hats, stuffed animals, or something completely creative.
Get involved with local schools and have kids come to the stadium or arena for a day. You can give them a tour and let them meet players. This will be something they remember for a lifetime.
Fan Engagement: The Foundation of Sports
Fans are the heart of any sports team. Grabbing a fan’s interest and keeping that interest is the only way to increase fan engagement. Players know that the opportunities they are given are in part by the fans and they should be willing to help out. Sports are a business but they thrive on relationships.
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