The Role of Data in Modern Fan Engagement

The Role of Data in Modern Fan Engagement
10, August 2017 Donnacha Brennan

In the past when sports organisations thought of Fan Engagement, they would have pictured mascots making fans supporters laugh at halftime and players stopping to sign signatures after games. The way clubs interacted with their fans was driven by a one-size-fits-all strategy, with little innovation of approach or benefit analysis involved. No attempt was made to really understand fans, and get to know them. Such poor engagement ensured that fans were left feeling undervalued, and sponsors unfulfilled.

Fan Engagement for progressive modern clubs is much different, as they have realised that there was a valuable mine of information at their fingertips if they could just know how to, well… mine it. Effective data analysis allows clubs to properly get to know their fans - their customers - like never before.

That is why having an effective data solution is so essential, it builds a club’s understanding of their own fans, allows for a better supporter experience, facilitates revenue growth for the club and very importantly allows for effective sponsor activation.

Data is now central to leading clubs efforts to both retain and grow their supporter base. That is especially true in the fractured, transient and global market these clubs are operating in. Effective communication with - and ultimately marketing to - their supporters is only possible by having a detailed knowledge of each supporter; who they are, where they live, their financial power and their monetary investment in the club. That mine of supporter data is also used to attract and provide value to sponsorship partners, as different segments of the fanbase can be identified and targeted by advertisement campaigns. Sponsors are confident that their expensive activation is reaching the correct audience, and so are reassured that their investment is not going to waste.

Without understanding data, an organisation’s marketing and sponsor activation messages will be the same for all fans, without taking into consideration the key differences between each. For example, the message delivered to a fan who lives some distance away, travels to two or three games a year with his children should be markedly different than that delivered to a local season ticket holder. The traveling fan could for example be informed of special offers on children’s jerseys, matchday events in the area for children, or details of the restaurants or hotels with who the club is partnered. Without analysing the data, such distinctions cannot be made and teams cannot tailor their marketing messages to suit their fans needs and wants.

At Sportego we take a 360° approach to Fan Engagement, working with organisations to engage their fans and capture data through customisable fan apps. Through in-app notifications, live streaming, exclusive content and interactive features such as polls and Augmented Reality, we make the app the interaction portal between the fan and their club. With the click of a button, fans can communicate directly with the club they love and interact with other fans, and the club can begin to know them better simultaneously.


Sportego Fan App

The Live Streaming Content & Login Screens on FanLink


We then cleanse and analyse fan data gathered from a variety of additional sources such as ticketing and retail to better get to know and understand the individual fan by learning their demographic, their behaviour, spending patterns and location. That desire to better understand the fan also extends to tracking and analysing an organisation’s social media accounts, to improve their social media and marketing initiatives. While sometimes fans can feel that such data analysis is cynical and designed to maximise revenue for clubs, we prefer to think of it as also ensuring that fans feel valued and understood. We feel it is the random bombardment of fans with marketing information with clearly no consideration for their needs and wants which contributes towards making them feel misunderstood and underappreciated.

By avoiding the scattergun approach of non-data driven marketing and fan engagement campaigns, fans feel appreciated and not bombarded with information which is not relevant to them.

Consider the mother of three who is attending a match at the weekend, and receives an email telling her that there is a 20% sale on children’s jerseys in the club shop immediately following the game. That fan’s response to that contact is likely to be positive, where if that same message was sent to every person in the club’s database, the overwhelming reaction would be negative.

The data driven approach to fan engagement allows for more efficient contact between the fan, their club and their commercial partners to the benefit of all three parties.


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