With all of our high-definition, affordable plasma TVs, we are becoming more and more likely to want to enjoy sports games from the comfort of our own couches. This is good news for the couch potatoes of the world, but bad news for sports teams. The pressure to get sports fans to the sporting venues is becoming greater and greater. Teams are re-orienting their marketing strategies in attempts to sell more tickets. They are establishing in-venue Wi-Fi, mobile apps and posting video content on their websites to collect data about their fan base. Data can be used to build loyalty among current fan bases, and also to grow fan bases. Sports teams are creating content 24/7 to attract all types of fans, and to show that they care about their fans interests both in and out of the stadium. But there’s more to building loyalty and growing a fan base than just selling tickets during the sports seasons. They have to do this during the off season too. How can teams continue to drive ROI and collect audience data during the off-season? Most sports teams have customer and fan data in multiple, siloed systems. They collect data from systems like TicketMaster, Facebook, Eloqua and other 3rd-party software. Some sports teams, such as the NHL team, the Florida Panthers are aggregating all this disparate data into a single platform. This is certainly the first step to achieve their goals, using data. They can also boost the amount of data they collect by hosting contests and giveaways that instantly engage and collect data from their fans. This is replacing the traditional survey. Not only is it more encouraging from the customers’ point of view, but they are also able to collect hundreds of data points by doing so. This gives sports teams a great deal of insight. For example, through a ticket giveaway, the Panthers discovered something surprising. Based on over 109,000 fans that participated, they found that their fan base was not primarily male! Nearly half of their fans were female! This allows teams to re-orient their marketing strategies. If enough data is collected, aggregated and analyzed regularly, they can even customize their ads and seasonal offers, to boost ticket sales . In one month of doing this, the Panthers reached a 7.5x cumulative ROI. This can take a great deal of time to achieve, especially in-house. Most software integrations take weeks and weeks, or even months. However, data analytics firms can greatly speed up this process, and also make it more affordable. They can work closely with in-house marketing and IT teams to import, collect and sync data, while simultaneously integrating systems. They achieve this in only a matter of days. Data can be used in even more ways in the sports world. I think it could be used to target special interest groups, such as tourists. It could also help teams find younger sports fanatics, and convert them into loyal fans.

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