In the sports business, marketing business, or the “business of business,” the best way I can describe being a digital marketer is to be an “agent of change.” With the pace of technology and innovation moving at the speed of light, digital marketers across all industries are challenged to remain relevant in a rapidly changing landscape, while working to win more customers and reach a targeted audience in an increasingly crowded market. Easy enough, right?
By now, most marketing executives have identified digital strategy as a necessary strategic pillar to drive profitable growth. Take last year for example, where 24% of a brand’s total marketing budget was dedicated to digital marketing. That’s nearly a quarter of the marketing budget, and an important quarter at that and we all expect that to be higher at the end of this year. But it is important to remember that “digital” doesn’t just mean setting up a Facebook page and calling it a day. Brands must target customers across a wide variety of digital and social channels, from traditional websites and mobile applications to social networks. While there might be many ways to reach your digital audience, there are even more ways to go about this strategy the wrong way. With any strategy, there are some essential principles to keep in mind before you decide anything else, especially when the goal is to create and your engage fans.
Here are the three simple rules of a digital strategy to live by:
1. Inspire your audience
Any brand can deliver a digital experience; the big question is how your brand can deliver outstanding online experiences that further differentiate your products and services on a crowded playing field. Turn your online marketing campaign into a compelling and entertaining experience, i.e., playing a favorite video game or watching a sports broadcast, while also rewarding fans for completing tasks on your websites and social networks.
2. Content is king
This point goes along with the first one; give online visitors ongoing access to entertainment and information, which is fun and entertaining or current and relevant. In terms of sports marketing, we suggest offering something that fans can’t see every day. Behind-the-scenes’ access and content with exclusivity will go a long way in giving your brand a better connection with consumers.
3. Engage in conversation
Sometimes we marketers seem to forget that it is called “social” media, meaning there should be conversation. And that doesn’t mean just talking at or selling to your fans. Actively engage your fans where they are, i.e., sports sites, Facebook, Twitter, or another branded online community. Answer questions, reach out for feedback on your products and keep the discussion a two-way street instead of just shouting messages at an audience that gets enough of that from everyone else.
Why I, you and we all love sports is because the passion is already there. Fans are already passionate about sports, so brands simply need to connect with the consumers on the same level of passion. Once this is achieved, sports fans will passionately seek out your content. The live sports experience combined with a customized digital experience creates the ultimate forum (be it the Super Bowl, Final Four, World Cup or a plethora of smaller niche events) to “engage” fans while also drawing in new ones.
The secret to success in digital marketing, in sports or any other industry, is being open to new content, open to your audience and open to change. Consumers are not going to wait on brands to adopt new technologies and online habits; it is our job and the job of brands to adjust to consumers. Digital marketing is like any sport, providing an amazing landscape to compete for the chance to win over consumers, but if you don’t follow the rules, there’s no way you can win.