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GUEST COMMENT How to use sports events to drive customer engagement and sales

Major sporting events inspire excitement across the country and offer retailers significant opportunities to drive consumer spending. By leveraging events like the upcoming Women’s British Open, Rugby World Cup and IAAF World Athletics Championships, marketers can deliver creative campaigns that capture the consumers’ attention and most importantly, offer something different to their day to day marketing.

One reason why it works so well to tap into sports events is that their reach is unrivalled. Over 4.6 million people watched the 2018 Wimbledon women’s final, in which Angelique Kerber defeated Serena Williams. The iconic tennis event serves as a perfect opportunity for brands to tap into team comradeship and deliver relevant experiences to their customers. The tournament’s sponsors, including Pimm’s, Evian and Robinsons, all have made it a tradition to launch dedicated campaigns that are inspired by, and celebrating, Wimbledon, including limited edition products and pop-up bars.

But even if you don’t have the financial means to become an official sponsor, there are many ways to use sports events in a creative way to engage customers. Ikea is a great example, tapping into the family football team divide during the 2018 World Cup by promoting a set of flexible couches on social media. The sofas allowed family members to turn their backs on the TV or to separate seats to accommodate for opposing factions. Not only was this a fun way to share the brand’s passion for the World Cup, but also to connect with their customers around a timely event.

Here are some timely and personal ideas on how to turn major sporting events into a marketing success.

Tap into team comradery

Supporting their team is important to every sporting fan out there. Thanks to all the customer data readily available, such as viewed and purchased products, retailers can match customers with their team and promote the fan items they’ll need to support their team on the event day. This works particularly well for sports retailers, who could recommend fan items, such as team clothing or hats, for the team they want to get behind.

Gearing email content and subject lines around upcoming events are likely to drive open rates and click-throughs. But the campaign doesn’t have to end with the final whistle. An email congratulating the winning team is a good way to show that your brand is authentic and not just focused on making a quick sale.

Create urgency with timed offers

Themed offers that are only going to be available for a short period of time help drive a sense of urgency amongst consumers. Running promotions on items that will help consumers prepare for an opening ceremony or key games tournament can be particularly effective, such as a limited-edition clothing line inspired by Royal Ascot.

These promotions could even be weather-based, suggesting products for a barbecue with friends if it is sunny and rain gear if it’s supposed to rain during the Wimbledon tournament. Equally, retailers can tap into the positive spirit of a home win and run a flash promotion on merchandise to celebrate.

Engage with dynamic content

Consumers’ needs and interests change based on their current location and time of day. This gives retailers the perfect opportunity to engage fans with contextually relevant marketing. Using dynamic content in emails and on the website allows retailers to auto-populate their digital marketing with the most relevant content at the moment of engagement.

For example, you could use the shopper’s geo-location when they open your email to determine if they’ll be affected by road closures caused by a local event like the London Marathon. Recommending nearby stores that won’t be affected or highlighting delivery and returns information for online purchases provides customers with useful information and makes them less likely to abandon their intended purchase altogether.

Keep an eye open for news hijack

Live sport events also offer opportunities for social content to go viral, although it will require a pinch of luck and a very funny idea. Someone from your social media team should follow the live tournament to see if there are opportunities to news hijack the event. The Oreo tweet during the Super Bowl blackout in 2013 proved highly effective, being retweeted almost 15,000 times.

Include sports events in your annual campaign planning to map out the year with timely ideas that will keep your marketing fresh and relevant. While global events like the Olympics and the Football World Cup are obvious choices, there are plenty of smaller or local events to leverage all year round. To achieve success when tapping into sporting events, ensure that the event is a good fit for your customer base and that your campaign ideas are right for your brand and consistent with the expectations of your target customer base.

Author: Mike Austin, CEO and co-founder, Fresh Relevance

Image credit: Fotolia

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