In sports, technology, and fan engagement are playing an increasingly important role. The way sports organizations reach and engage their fans is constantly changing thanks to innovations such as sports loyalty technology. In this article, we take a closer look at the importance of this technology for sports clubs and how it can be used to deepen the emotional connection between fans and their favorite teams.
Why is sports loyalty technology important?
The sports industry is big and always growing which simultaneously brings in a lot of money. Along with growth the sports organizations and clubs need to adapt to the changing fan needs to retain them and increase their loyalty towards their clubs.
As a sports organization or club, Fan loyalty is crucial to the success of a sports business. Loyalty means not only recurring ticket sales, but also merchandising purchases, attending events, and sharing passion and excitement on social media. This is where sports loyalty technology comes into play to deepen this bond. As per a report from databridgemarketresearch.com the sports technology market is expected to reach a valuation of $56.57 Billions by 2030 with a 19.9% CAGR increase from 2023- 2030.
But most sports organizations, do not leverage technology to understand and reach out to their fans. Regardless of the amount of money gained from the sports business and the data collected from fans, sports organizations and clubs need to give their fans the offers and messages they actually want to see. Statistics from Leaders Report suggest that 72% of millennials would rather spend money on experiences rather than on sport possessions and similarly a report from Tappit Sports suggest that 72% fans would prefer to receive personalized content for their teams.
The emotional connection between sports and technology
Sports and technology are now linked. Fans expect an interactive and personalized experience. Technology allows sports organizations to meet these expectations and create a deeper emotional connection between fans and their favorite teams.
How technology connects fans more closely to their favorite teams
Sports loyalty technology offers innovative ways to connect fans more closely to their favorite teams. From personalized experiences to gamification elements, this technology is revolutionizing the way fans interact with their favorite sports clubs. As per an infographic report from Fan.AI most sports organizations believe that nearly 21.3% of their business revenue is driven by digital fan engagement and loyalty but as stated in a report from Oracle- Fan Experience, from the overall business only 20% of season ticket holders are part of the organization’s loyalty programme. This shows that technology plays a really vital role in connecting fans with their favorite sports club.
Loyalty platforms: Advantages for football clubs
Loyalty platforms are a crucial part of the success of modern football clubs. They offer a variety of benefits that help deepen fan engagement and create long-term loyalty. From increasing weekly engagement and retention to gathering more insights and data about user behavior, loyalty programs are a fantastic and mutually beneficial way to make it happen.
In this section, we will explore six ways sports clubs can use fan engagement platforms.
Way 1: Mobile apps and interactivity
Mobile apps have become an indispensable tool in the arsenal of sports clubs. Sports organizations can use tools that allow them to build no-code apps easily to connect with fans.
These apps can not only offer current scores and news but also exclusive content, live chats with other fans, and even the opportunity to collect virtual collectibles. Mobile apps can also be used to get fans to interact with the team using polls, suggestions and fantasy gaming.
These interactive features deepen fan engagement by giving them an immersive experience that extends well beyond the stadium.
E.g., BVB(Borussia Dortmund) is using Unyfy to build a mobile app that supports their fand engagement campaigns with polls, exclusive content, and virtual collectibles.
E.g.: Unyfy being used for event management for fans
Way 2: Data Analysis and Statistics
Data has become a key element in modern sports management. But data is important for more than just training and tactics.
One such instance of data being leveraged from a player was the famous case from Kevin De Bruyne. Kevin De Bruyne and his legal team commissioned Analytics FC to create a study of every aspect of his contribution to Manchester City prior to his contract renegotiation with the club. “Overall, the report provided a detailed analysis of De Bruyne’s contributions to Manchester City and demonstrated his worth to the club, leading to his new five-year, £104 million deal.”
But data can also be used by clubs and teams when considering sports loyalty solutions.
Sports loyalty solutions make it possible to prepare data in visually appealing ways for fans. Through data visualization, fans can better understand their team’s stats and performance. For example, RastroF1, one of our clients at Unyfy, provides fans with telemetry data on Formula 1 races. He publishes advanced charting as a premium offer to his audience, giving those superfans a leg up on post-race analysis.
Sports organizations can also easily understand their user data using fan engagement and fan loyalty platforms. They can use the data to identify key insights like their current sales from fans, the percentage increase in fans, content performance, etc., to convert more fans and ultimately grow their audience.
Way 3: Personalized Experiences
From personalized messages and birthday greetings to tailored offers and recommendations, the importance of personalized experiences cannot be overstated. Sports organizations can personalize webpages based on fan preferences and gamify interactions to increase fan engagement and fan retention.
Fans feel more connected to their team when they feel like their individual needs and preferences are being taken into account.
Way 4: Merchandising and merchandise
Fan articles and announcements are a way to promote identification with a team and, at the same time, generate income. Modern e-commerce platforms allow fans to purchase official team products from the comfort of their own home. Sports organizations can use fan engagement platforms in line with their e-commerce platforms to upsell and cross-sell merchandise to fans to generate more revenue.
Additionally, sports organizations can also use fan engagement and loyalty technology to create personalized merchandising options that further strengthen fans’ involvement with the club.
Way 5: Social media and fan communities
Social media plays a crucial role in fan engagement. Fans can connect with like-minded people via social media, discuss current events, and share their passion for their team.
One problem with this medium is that the interaction you have with fans is shared and rented. You post content, users engage IF they see it. They have to stumble upon it most of the time.
A fan community or dedicated platform is a way for sports brands to provide fans with a space to engage directly.
Additionally, these fan communities can act as lower funnel mechanisms to funnel fans downward as you nurture and engage with them further.
Way 6: Games, competitions, and rewards for loyal fans
Games, competitions, and rewards are a particularly powerful way to strengthen fan loyalty. This approach goes beyond the usual interactions and creates a fun and exciting fan experience.
Modern sports clubs can create games that range from virtual fantasy leagues to quizzes and prediction competitions. Fans have the opportunity to demonstrate their Sports expertise and compete against other fans.
Sports competitions where fans can win prizes are another way to increase awareness and loyalty. Sports clubs can create betting games or can also host creative competitions where fans can submit videos, photos, or stories to win prizes.
Finally, Sports organizations can introduce special rewards and awards for their long-time followers. This could be in the form of exclusive merchandise, VIP access to events, or even loyalty points that can be exchanged for special privileges.
Such games, competitions, and rewards create a vibrant community and encourage discussions around the team and events from fans.
The goal of these gamified experiences is to keep fans engaged and retain them. By retain, we mean keep them entertained and active with your brand beyond just gameday – which is a problem some sports brands are attempting to resolve.
How leading sports organizations are using the technology?
In the world of sports, numerous top organizations and teams are leading the way in implementing sports loyalty technology. These teams recognize that this technology not only builds fan loyalty but also increases their organizations’ success and profitability.
Examples of leading sports organizations:
- FC Barcelona: FC Barcelona uses sports loyalty technology to intensify fan loyalty. They offer their fans personalized content and exclusive insights into team life via mobile apps and social media.
- Golden State Warriors: This NBA team has developed innovative apps that provide fans with real-time statistics, interactive arena experiences, and mobile ticketing.
- Manchester City FC: The club has adopted a far-reaching digital strategy to engage fans worldwide. They offer dedicated fan content, live streaming of games, and even VR experiences.
- National Football League (NFL): The fantasy football league of the National Football League (NFL) in the United States. Millions of fans get involved every year by creating and managing their own teams throughout the season. This creates an intensive, playful interaction between the fans and the league. Another example from this league is the “Fan of the Match” promotion, where a selected fan is given a special honor during the game. This creates a strong incentive for fans to participate in the game actively and shows that their loyalty and commitment are recognized.
- Borussia Dortmund (BVB): Sports Clubs use live events as a source to engage and activate fans fans but generally have trouble doing that and look for an online solution. That’s where Borussia Dortmund (BVB) thought to use Unyfy to bridge live events with digital platforms. Their core use case with Unyfy is providing their international fans a place to congregate, share stories, and engage with their brand. With gamified mechanisms like token votings, NFT-powered “Stickers,” and much more, BVB has done a great job activating fans.
These examples show how leading sports organizations are successfully leveraging sports loyalty technology to increase fan engagement while creating new revenue streams. The implementation of these technologies has allowed fans to delve even deeper into the world of their favorite teams.
Why is this technology worth keeping an eye on?
Sports loyalty technology is not a passing phenomenon; it is a driving force behind the evolution of sports and the interaction between fans and teams. Here are some reasons why this technology is worth keeping an eye on:
1. Fan engagement and loyalty: Sports loyalty technology enables sports organizations to build a closer relationship with their fans. Personalized experiences, mobile apps and interactive content help fans feel more connected to their team.
2. Revenue Increase: Implementing fan engagement technologies opens up new revenue streams. This ranges from virtual merchandising sales to advertising partnerships, which become more attractive due to increased reach and interaction with fans.
3. Innovation: Sporty loyalty technology opens up space for innovation. From virtual stadium tours to augmented reality experiences, the possibilities are almost endless.
4. Competitive advantage: Sports clubs that adopt this technology early on can gain a competitive advantage. They are able to delight and engage fans in new ways, resulting in a more loyal and engaged fan base.
5. Long-Term Strategy: Sports loyalty technology is not a short-term solution. She supports the long-term vision of sports organizations by building sustainable relationships with fans.
The opportunities and challenges of digitalization.
Digitalization has changed the sports sector in many ways. It offers opportunities but also challenges.
- Global Reach: Digital platforms enable sports organizations to reach and engage fans worldwide.
- Personalization: Digitalization enables personalized fan experiences and offers.
- Revenue Increase: New revenue streams through digital advertising, merchandising, and virtual events.
- Data security: With the collection and storage of fan data, questions about data security also arise.
- Digital strategy: Sports organizations must develop effective digital strategies in order to benefit from the opportunities presented by digitalization.
- Cost: Implementing digital technologies can be expensive but requires wise investments.
Unyfy: An out-of-box loyalty toolkit for sports brands
The secrets of a successful loyalty platform lie in the ability to engage fans on a personal level and engage them in their team’s world. This is where Unyfy comes into play.
Unyfy: A toolkit for robust loyalty solutions
Unyfy is a leading sports loyalty technology platform that helps sports organizations take fan engagement to new levels. With Unyfy, sports clubs can:
- Create your own interactive platform: Unyfy enables sports clubs to create a customized, interactive web and mobile platform that offers fans an immersive experience.
- Gamify the fan experience: With Unyfy, sports organizations can gamify the fan experience. Collectibles, community tokens, and automated rewards create a fun and engaging fan experience. With login streaks, automated giveaways, votings and other loyalty-focused features, Unyfy is a perfect addition to increase fan engagement.
- Community Management: Unyfy helps sports clubs build a viewer base and an engaged community and convert fans into loyal supporters.
- Premium Publishing: With Unyfy, sports organizations can create seamless access to a variety of content, be it text, video, audio, or images, and provide the ability to control access via tokens or NFTs.
- Virtual Commerce: The platform provides access to new revenue streams and powerful tools for virtual commerce and sponsorships out of box. Importantly, these tools are modern and built for the changing preferences of younger audiences.
- Customization and integration: Unyfy allows customization and integration into the club’s digital ecosystem to create a unified brand experience.
- Web3 Tools: Unyfy allows sports organizations to launch web3 experiences that feel more natural to fans and can be released periodically as you test the response and sentiment.
Unyfy is a no-code toolkit for sports brands to reach their fans better. We have put a focus on fan engagement and giving sports organizations the tools to leverage the secret sauce of a successful loyalty platform. It enables clubs to build close, long-lasting bonds with their fans and reshape the future of fan engagement. With Unyfy, sports organizations can ensure they engage their fans at the highest levels.
Ultimately, sports engagement platforms are a critical aspect in the current age, and missing out on this technology will hamper the growth of sports organizations.
Considering that younger fans have vastly different preferences with how they engage with the brands they enjoy, modern solutions are needed to reach them better. With sports loyalty technology, the goal is to engage fans and keep them interested year-round organically.
Unyfy provides gamified and automated ways to achieve this.
Hence, sports organizations should leverage this technology for long-term and effective brand growth.