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What marketers can learn from sports marketing fan engagement

By Jamie Beckland | Posted on September 14, 2016

What marketers can learn from sports marketing fan engagement

In today’s digital world, everyone has a home field advantage. You have the ability to connect with your customers directly, and engage with them in ways that are unique to your business – not just on a social network’s terms. No one does this better than sports teams, who are using innovative engagement capabilities to drive even deeper fan conversations; extend the fan experience to new channels, and create year-round relationships for seasonal products. Here are some of their best techniques.

• Convert anonymous users into registered fans

If you want to get customer information, you first have to give the user a reason to hand over their data. In order to convert anonymous users into registered fans, begin with giving incentives.

It starts with providing reasons for consumers to identify themselves via capabilities such as commenting and user-generated content. Once you spark their interest, you’ll need a unified and easy system for the user to log in. Many companies choose to create this with social login and registration.


Pro Tip:Implementing social login allows users to register quickly via one of their social profiles and allows you to collect the data they are storing on that profile.

• Build loyalty

Companies and brands have the opportunity to connect with thousands of people. Brands can do this through catered loyalty programs that allow users to feel more connected to the brand.

For example, Australia’s Melbourne Storm implemented a new social login and registration system and has used it to create one of the most innovative loyalty programs in Australia. It even earned them a spot as a finalist in the global 2016 Stadium Business Awards this year.


Another example is how the NHL Winnipeg Jets use their loyalty program to engage fans and cut costs. Season ticket holders get up to 3,000 ‘Jets Points’ when they pay for their tickets in full and on time. But, if they pay via a check, the Jets Points double. Checks save the Jets from having to pay credit card fees. With credit card companies taking 1.5 percent of every credit card swipe, that amount adds up. Hence, double points for checks. Fans can use Jets points for gear, memorabilia, gameday and non-gameday experiences.

All companies and brands have the opportunity to build loyalty programs like these to engage with fans and build a deeper brand experience.

• Drive fan participation with community

Creating portals and channels to foster community is a great way to keep fans engaged. Creating these online experiences and communities allows fans to feel like they are part of something.


Take the Cleveland Cavaliers, for example. They have an entire community portal dedicated to campaigns, volunteer opportunities, promotions and even camps. Through different efforts such as education programs and online fundraisers they are able to connect with a variety of fans both online and offline. They have created both in-person and virtual communities to find ways to engage with fans of all backgrounds and ages.

Other industries can use this example of creating a community within a brand. Creating meaningful shared experience both on and offline will make your brand more exciting and appealing to customers.

• Personalize the customer journey

After obtaining registered users, you can begin to personalize the customer journey. Give users and fans the ability to feel like they own their profile. Allow them to select their favorite uniforms, who their rivals are and to follow their favorite players. Using this data, you can personalize relevant content and ads to drive upsells.

Personalization is important in all industries. By connecting with customers on a 1-on-1 level, they will feel a deeper connection to your brand. Personalization gives you the opportunity to build a relationship with them that will keep them coming back.

By following these steps you can create a digital fan engagement strategy that really works. Users are looking for ways to be involved and support their favorite teams. Take advantage of that passion and create experiences that keep them coming back. Learn how Janrain can help you create a fan engagement strategy.

This article was originally posted in Convince & Convert.

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About the author

Jamie Beckland

VP of Product

Jamie has been delivering custom web solutions for more than 10 years, and built his first social media community in 2004. Prior to Janrain, Jamie led the emerging media practice at White Horse, and has worked as a marketer and technologist with clients including Coca-Cola, Financial Times, Samsung, Wells Fargo, L’Occitane, The Brooking Institution, and many others. He frequently speaks about technology trends and writes for Mashable, Social Media Examiner, iMediaConnection, AdAge, and other publications.

View all posts by Jamie Beckland