Statistics and Insights Applied For Digital and Social Media Sports Marketing

I recently put together a deck of some fantastic insights, stats, and observations from the world of marketing shared at Exact Target’s #ET13 conference (click here to view the post), and there is a lot to be learned from these findings for sports marketers, especially those working in digital and social media. This is part 1 of 2 in which I allude to some of the ideas and notions to be considered in light of these learnings.


62% of marketers have personalization on their short list for 2013. 

The notion of “personalization” in marketing can come in many forms and can be informed in a variety of ways. It’s based primarily around using data collected from stated preferences, intentional actions, content consumption, and past purchases to provide a customized experience. Some ways this applies to digital and social media in sports include:

  • Personalized ticket promos/offers/emails/ads based on previous purchases, offers clicked on via emails and the website, offers based on ticket game and/or plan views, encouraging one-on-one conversation via text, phone, or live chat, PPC ad engagement, demographic information, and old-fashioned communication in which the fan states their needs!
  • Personalized concessions ordering: Imagine a scenario where a fan use a team mobile app to order his/her “usual” after they park and their beer and food of choice is waiting at their seat for them. Previous purchase data can also be used to promote food/drink offerings and give useful coupons [including those for off-site partners].
  • Personalized merchandise offerings; more relevant based on previous product views, purchases, stated preferences saved, etc.
  • A lot more! Especially in sports, the opportunities to treat every fan as an individual to give them an experience they remember and value abound! Add your further suggestions in the comment.

Marketing promotion

76% of a large retailer’s audience opened their emails on mobile at least once.

45% of emails are opened on mobile devices.

For emails: click-through rate averages 13% on mobile, but 25% on desktop.

This data confirms what many marketers have long suspected – that the use of mobile is on the rise and more and more individuals are continually checking messages, and opening emails, on their mobile devices. (Also notable is that Gmail’s tabs do not exist on its mobile email service at this time]. Having content that has responsive design built in or is optimized [at least functional!] for use on a mobile device is a virtual necessity these days.

Many also assume just having their emails themselves optimized for mobile is enough without providing content linked to a mobile-ready website. It is also important to note the degree of social media [especially Facebook] usage via mobile.

The click-through rate statistic is interesting and suggests longer engagement (clicking) is done on desktop computers and/or users suspect the content is not mobile-friendly. Experimentation to check one’s audience is the best ‘fix’ here. It may be as simple as explicitly noting in the email that the link is mobile-friendly content. Just make sure it is!

Cross-channel isn’t about cannibalizing [other channels]. It’s about meeting customers on their terms.

This isn’t a telling statistic, but a compelling, provocative statement that certainly applies to sports marketers in the digital and social [and traditional] media space. Many sports teams operate in fragmented silos, which seems nutty when one notes that all departments – from those buying radio ads to those doing email newsletters to the ticket service reps and, of course, the social media team, are all trying to accomplish the same goals; namely make the organization money, through ticket sales, sponsorships, and merchandise sales. What does this mean, then?

Email does not cannibalize social media nor does social media cannibalize PPC ads – they can all work together! Some fans may engage across all channels, others may be sporadic, and many channels will succeed through synergy, leading to a sale while working in harmony; e.g. content is discovered on social media, leads to a website visit, leads to an e-newsletter sign-up or cookie being placed, leads to a PPC ad click or return to the site, leads to a sale.

Every channel is a player on the same team so take a cue from coach and win one for all!


You are 100x more likely to close a sale if you talk to a prospect within 5 minutes of inquiry first being submitted.

This finding is to be taken with a grain of salt, as lead to conversion time can vary greatly across industries, with some business-to-consumer transactions taking place within minutes of discovery and others, especially business-to-business sales, requiring weeks, if not months, of research before a sale is closed.

Many sports marketers, though, have taken this mindset to heart and there is a growing presence of ways for fans [and prospective ticket buyers] to get answers more quickly to their questions. Some teams have facilitated this better than others, but some examples that are out there and others to consider include:

  • A live chat, either enabled by user click-through or a timed pop-up prompting the offer of help from a live representative
  • Having a full-time position to monitor social media and/or someone within ticket sales charged with monitoring Twitter and other social media networks for ticket-specific questions
  • Creating easily navigable [and discoverable] FAQ pages on all parts of the website where it may be pertinent for users
  • Having a branded mobile application that allows for ticket purchasing and houses a lot of information, FAQs, and communication options for prospective buyers
  • Using a combination of email and social media management software that can quickly notify team reps when an email or social media or website [form or live chat] inquiry has been made, and funneling that question to the appropriate person as quickly as possible.

Regardless of industry and infrastructure, this data point is not to be ignored. When prospects are looking, their willingness to pull the trigger is clearly higher and any way to quash objections before they become an issue will most certainly increase the chances of closing a sale.

On average, people receive 416 promotional emails per month.

This astounding statistic should get the attention of any digital marketer, regardless of industry. There is more competition for the inbox than ever (as widespread as social media has become, email is still the most direct route to the fan and prospective buyer). However, users and email providers themselves are starting to more intentionally filter out, ignore, or otherwise segregate these promotional emails (416 monthly promo emails means almost 14/day, not taking into account slower weekend days). What can a digital and social media marketer do with this information besides throw up their hands and hope their email isn’t thrown into the Gmail ‘Promotions’ tab? Follow the increasingly popularized trend of blurring the lines between what is promotional and what is useful, desired content. Are users checking their email so many times every day to look for the latest offers? From retailers, perhaps, but not necessarily from their favorite teams.

Serving fans useful content will create a stronger connection, get them more personally engaged and invested, and, when [team, not promotional] content is linked to via social media and email, users can be exposed to promotions, in-house ads, and offers when and where the desired content is being consumed. Give fans a reason to walk in the store, win them over, then work on the sale once they are comfortably inside. Unless you like your chances going up against the 415 other promotional emails infiltrating inboxes each month.

A lot of digital and social media sports marketers are stuck doing things the same ways the industry has been doing them for years, ignoring data as belonging to irrelevant industries or unlike fan/customer bases or not significant enough to be actionable. We’re becoming an increasingly data-driven society and sports is no exception, on and off the field. It’s time to stop pretending we know what fans want it, let their voice and their actions [and the data recording such actions] lead the way.

Look out for part two of this post with more stats and insights for digital and social media sports marketers.

Share your suggestions and takeaways in the comments to help everyone learn more, too!

Posted by Neil Horowitz

Follow me on Twitter @njh287   Connect on LinkedIn

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