3 Ways Sports Marketers Can Win with Email This Fall

Fall is nearly here, and we all know what that means: cooler weather, pumpkin spice everything, and football. 

When it comes to professional sports, U.S. consumers do not play around. Nielsen data shows that seven of the top 10 most-watched programs in 2018 were sports-related. And six of those were a football game. 

To sports fans, watching the game on TV is just one part of the experience. The proliferation of digital has enabled consumers to engage on a deeper level with their favorite teams and other fans. This is evident on Twitter – a platform where sports-related topics are trending nearly every day. 

The way fans want to consume sports content is evolving, and many sports marketers (and the brands that partner with them) are unsure how to keep up. This is especially the case for those with limited budgets for digital marketing.

But, meeting consumers where they are is crucial: “If you’re focusing on butts in seats or the eyeballs on TV at the exclusion of these new opportunities, then you’re going to be left behind,” said Nascar CMO Jill Gregory in an AdWeek article

Here are three ways digital marketers can use email to win over fans this season. 

1. Make fans feel like they are in the stands with AR.

The rise of Snapchat has put augmented reality on the map. Now, many brands—including those in the sports industry—are capitalizing on the trend. 

The National Football League, for example, is partnering with Snap this year to commemorate the league’s 100th anniversary. By using their phone camera to scan the NFL logo, fans can unlock access to special content. Blake Sutchin, the NFL’s vice president of Digital Media Business Development told Engadget, “the league wanted to build this AR experience for Snapchat users to give them another way to express their fandom.”

Keep in mind: While professional sports tend to have a local following, fans could be cheering for their favorite team from the other side of the globe. AR enables brands to create these experiences that make people feel close to the action. And it doesn’t have to be overly complicated or costly to execute via email. By simply creating a filter that gives a nod to a beloved part of the stadium or introduces people to a new section – fans will love being a part of the game.

2. Don’t lump all your female fans together.

One of the biggest challenges sports organizations are still facing is marketing to female fans. 

“While the sports business is stereotypically focused on men, stats show that up to 50% of fans are, in fact, women. It’s worth exploring how female sports fans react differently to various marketing activities and positioning, and how their media consumption is different from male fans,” wrote Chris Bondarenko for Vision Critical

Don’t assume that your female fans will only engage with emails about pink jerseys and influencers.

Instead, use data to inform your messaging and tap into intelligent content. How are they engaging on your site? Use email to deliver that content directly to their inboxes. Whether it’s sharing scores in real-time or giving them insider access to what’s happening with the team – make sure your content decisions are driven by data, not by assumptions about gender.

3. Play up the partnerships.

Sponsorships play a major role in the sports industry, and consumers really do embrace them.

E-commerce marketplace Wish entered into a partnership with the LA Lakers and used it as a way to connect with consumers on a global scale. Glenn Lehrman, VP/Head of Communications at Wish, told Forbes how it’s paying off for the marketplace: “Consumers remember who was first to invest sponsorship in a team or building and then will continue to call the team or facility by the name of the first sponsor.”

If your brand has a partnership with a sports organization, use the start of the season to remind fans of that relationship. Whether it’s an icon within an email or a special offer for the home team, now is the ideal time to do it. Regardless of how their team fared last year, fans are entering the season with renewed hope for a championship and they’re excited to support in any capacity.