Building A Long-Term Relationship With The Single-Ticket Sports Fan

For most sports franchises, the season ticket holder is the holy grail of fan. And for good reason: according to research from Deloitte, season ticket holders “spend five times as much money as non-season ticket holders on non-ticket purchases from sports organizations and authorized partners.” 

But season ticket holders aren’t spending just because; they’re spending because teams invest significant resources in gathering data about them and creating personalized, targeted marketing programs to get them to spend more. In their laser-focus on season-ticket holders, however, sports marketers are leaving the many other ticket-buying fans, and their purchasing and social media power, on the table. 

In fact, the one-time ticket buyer’s game day should be the first encounter of a meaningful long-term relationship that creates new value and keeps fans coming back for more.

Embrace the single-game ticket holder once and for all. 

Deloitte’s research found that, on average across all sports leagues, only 1 in 15, or just 7% of, team fans is a season ticket holder. These buyers are, as those numbers suggest, only a small fraction of all ticket buyers and a minority of the dedicated fans who attend games. Deloitte found that 66% of super fans and 38% of casual fans attended a single live game in the most recent season. In sales and marketing terms, the single ticket fan represents a significant opportunity, not only in terms of revenue, but in terms of their valuable social currency and influence.

Give in-stadium fans a reason to remember—and share—their in-person experiences.

New stadiums and arenas are filled with retail and dining experiences to capture dollars, but teams often forget to cash in on fans’ social currency. As franchises create more ways for on-site spending, they should also create experiences that show fans they’re worth more than their in-person dollars. Whether special activities for families, sweepstakes or rewards, or surprise-and-delight moments, unique experiences create the memorable, shareable moments that extend the value of a ticket purchases for that “priceless” factor that builds loyalty and connection. These experiences have multifold value: they build the fan relationship and fuel differentiating social media content that turns any single fan into a social media influencer, marketing the desirability of the game-day experience to all fans.

Identify your most influential superfans.

There are superfans and there are influential superfans. Both are valuable, but only the influential superfan’s fandom is contagious. These fans are both devoted to the team, willing to tell their many engaged social media followers about it, and their followers actually care what they have to say about it. Which is exactly why you need to determine who they are, learn from them and deliberately activate them. With social media networks making it difficult to track the lifetime of a social media post, where it gets shared, how many people are engaging with it, many marketers struggle to gather this data. The good news is there are ways around this. 

The game lasts a day; the memory should last a lifetime.

he vast majority of fans, game attendance is memorialized through photos, ticket stubs, game programs, or other cherished memorabilia. Teams can tap into the value of that emotional connection by bringing substance to those keepsakes.

Consider the Philadelphia Eagles: Last year when they discontinued their printed tickets, ticket holders were upset they no longer had the physical keepsake. The Eagles reacted by greeting fans in stadium with branded interactive stations where they could take game-day social media photos and then print, on the spot, Eagles-branded commemorative tickets bearing their photo, the game number and date. The Eagles communicated that they were listening, and in the process created a unique keepsake that thrilled fans and motivated them to share on social media. 

Know every fan like the season-ticket fan.

Understanding all fans, not just the current big spenders or influential superfans, can open a wealth of new marketing opportunities. With fans in stadium for hours, teams have many chances to capture email addresses, gather social media insights, or even encourage fans to respond to short surveys. These gateway insights will open the door to better understanding all fans—and what motivates them to spend on their favorite team. Teams can discover, for example, interest groups or demographic fan bases that might welcome and respond to specialized marketing initiatives or new partnership opportunities to serve those previously unrecognized fan groups. 

With the initial data and insights gathered from fans in stadium, teams can begin to relevantly target news, offers, and programming to all fans year round.

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