Mastering Customer Lifetime Value for Sports Brands

Before I became a professional marketer, the world was a different place filled with wonder, mystery and a sprinkle of dellusions of grandeur.

Home from school, throw my backpack down on the ground, fire up AOL, login to AIM and check my hotmail. Ah, a new email from an unfamilar sender. This is definitely not a scam. “Hi Ron, you just won a free trip to the Bahamas.”

That 13 year old chubby kid who played World of Warcraft all day just won a paid trip to the Bahamas because he was special and earned it. 

“All I have to do is give my personal information, social security number, and first pet’s name? Easy money,” I proclaimed. Ron did not go to the bahamas.

When the local boba shop introduced their new stamp card promotion, I felt like I was smarter than everyone around me. 

“These fools aren’t aware of the stamp card,” I said to myself in front of the mirror. All I would have to do is purchase 10 full price popcorn chicken and boba meals and on my 11th visit, I would receive an ellusive and coveted small soft drink. Like taking candy from a baby. Ron did not take candy from any babies and he was in fact the fool.

That boba shop rinsed me of my allowance. They had new signage, fresh menus, and all of their employees had the newest Motorola Razr because of my patronage.

As a Marketer, I now look back on that stamp card and realize it was one of the earliest versions of a loyalty program I can remember. A loyalty program whose intent was simple: increase the lifetime value of our customers (CLV or LTV) or “repeat business”. It was effective. Whether it was sunk-cost, the illusion of a good deal or whatever, it worked well. As long as the popcorn chicken tasted good.

For restaurants, the loyalty you have to them can be shaken with a few bad experiences. If that popcorn chicken wasn’t hitting just a few times, I’d take my talents elsewhere. Customer loyalty is a topic that deserves its own deep dive but I want to shift the focus to a market that wrote the playbook on customer lifetime value and fan loyalty.

SportsOnce a fan, most likely always a fan. People maintain their fandom to paritcular teams for most of their lives. This positions sports as one of the leaders in “repeat business”. And consequently, provides them one of the biggest opportunities for maximizing their CLV. 

CLV is a crucial metric that measures the total value a customer brings to a business throughout her entire relationship with the company. It encompasses the total revenue generated by the customer, including repeat purchases, upsells, and cross-sells times the retention horizon of that customer.

Here are a few eye opening statistics to consider:

It costs 5-25 times more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep an existing one. (Billsby)

On average, existing consumers spend 67% more than new customers. (Billsby)

customer lifetime value equation inline graphic

By understanding the total value a fan brings throughout their entire relationship with a club, teams can unlock new levels of engagement, revenue, and loyalty. In this article, we’ll explore the concept of CLV and reveal the best practices that can transform sports organizations into CLV powerhouses.

Building a successful CLV business involves several key factors:

Tracking and Understanding CLV

To create a successful CLV business, it is essential to track and understand CLV metrics. This involves collecting and analyzing data on customer behavior, purchase history, and engagement levels.

Naturally, your funnel often extends beyond multiple channels, tools, and even blends with physical events like games, meetups, and other live experiences.

Ideally, you have created enough attribution elements to be able to track your fans’ behavior across those domains. This can be tricky.

By gaining insights into customer preferences, needs, and behaviors, businesses can tailor their strategies to maximize CLV.

Becoming a Highly Customer-Centric and CLV-Oriented Organization

What makes for a successful CLV-oriented business?

We think it takes three things: 

  1. A firm grasp on tracking and attributing across the funnel
  2. Being highly customer-centric to foster loyalty
  3. Utilizing those insights in meaningful ways

This often requires buy-in from multiple stakeholders.

From marketing and sales to customer support and product development, every aspect of the organization should be focused on delivering exceptional customer experiences but crucially, reporting learnings back.

With customer centricity comes fan loyalty and consequently, a higher CLV.

Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon is a perfect example of these goals coming to fruition. He held “customer centricity” as a core value for Amazon early on.

It was intentional and there is a firm belief that Amazon’s current standing is due to Amazon’s obsession with the customer experience. 

This includes personalizing interactions, anticipating customer needs, and providing proactive support.

Why Sports Need to Embrace CLV

Sports organizations, in particular, can greatly benefit from adopting a CLV approach. As mentioned, with their high levels of fan loyalty and various direct touchpoints, sports businesses have unique opportunities to build lasting relationships with their audience. 

By understanding CLV, sports organizations can leverage direct sales, sponsorships, and other revenue streams to maximize the lifetime value of their fans.

Becoming a CLV Business: Best Practices and Steps to Take

To transform into a CLV business, sports organizations can follow these best practices and take the following steps:

  1. Segmentation and Targeting: Identify key customer segments based on demographics, behaviors, and preferences. Tailor marketing efforts and engagement strategies to each segment’s unique needs and interests.
  2. Enhancing Fan Engagement: Create meaningful touchpoints and interactions with fans. Leverage digital platforms, social media, and personalized content to foster engagement and loyalty.
  3. Building Data Infrastructure: Invest in robust data collection and analytics capabilities. Implement customer relationship management (CRM) systems and other tools to track and analyze customer data effectively.
  4. Personalization and Customization: Deliver personalized experiences and offerings based on individual fan preferences. Leverage data insights to offer tailored content, products, and promotions.
  5. Collaboration with Sponsors: Understand the value that fans bring to sponsors of the club. Collaborate with sponsors to create mutually beneficial partnerships that enhance the fan experience and drive revenue.
My colleague Thomas wrote a piece of CLV that warrants a look and closely relates to this section. In one specific section, he provides 5 ways to get started that include measurement, strategy, optimization, and crucially: building user segmentation models.

By implementing these steps and embracing CLV principles, sports organizations can transform into successful CLV businesses. They can maximize the value of their fan base, drive revenue growth, and create long-term sustainability.

Unyfy, a one-stop solution to transform your CLV 

Unyfy is a no-code platform builder for sports organizations. With clients like FC Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, and more, we have built a product that meets the needs of global sports brands.

With it, you can create a digital home for your fans. Combining the best of web 2.0 and web3, Unyfy is all you need to unleash your brand’s digital potential: no-code customization, templates, extensive APIs, a backend with an intuitive CMS, CRM tools, and analytics. Easily create digital goods, launch automated loyalty campaigns, integrate with your digital infrastructure, and go further: our web3 tools even power cross-platform fan journeys in your partner network.

With regard to CLV, our platform gives you insights into the behavior of some of your more loyal and engaged fans while fostering that very loyalty itself. Unyfy is a tool that allows you complete control of the middle/lower section of your customer funnel. By offering your fans premium experiences and engaging content, you can increase the CLV of each of your fans.

This is accomplished through building a more loyal fan but also in direct-to-consumer offers and more digital inventory that is scalable.

For more information, check out our feature update on the Commerce Dashboard which lets operators gain access to valuable advanced metrics about commercial activity.


While I may be more aware of the promotions I am entangled in, every so often I stumble upon another stamp card and fall into its vicegrip. Call it echoes of a past gullible Ron. Call it willingly succumbing to the nostalgia of ignorance. For sports brands, understanding Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) is essential for retaining fans but better yet, maximizing that relationship for both parties. CLV measures the total value a customer brings to a business throughout their entire relationship, including revenue generated and costs associated with acquiring and serving the customer. By tracking and understanding CLV metrics, businesses can tailor their strategies to maximize CLV and create exceptional customer experiences. 

Being highly customer-centric across all departments and touchpoints is crucial for success, as it allows organizations to foster engagement and loyalty. Sports organizations, in particular, have unique opportunities to leverage CLV principles due to their high levels of fan loyalty and various direct touchpoints. By following best practices such as segmentation, enhancing fan engagement, building data infrastructure, personalization, and collaboration with sponsors, sports organizations can transform into CLV powerhouses. 

This transformation enables them to maximize the value of their fan base, drive revenue growth, and create long-term sustainability. To revolutionize your sports business with CLV,check out Unyfy, which offers a customizable foundation to achieve this.

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