Using SMS as Fan Engagement Technology for Your Sports Franchise
By far, SMS has become customers’ preferred communication medium, proving equally effective for the companies themselves. According to Forbes, 71% of businesses that use SMS marketing report open rates between 10 and 35% — far more than any other medium. Due to its speed and high capacity for personalization, B2C SMS messaging is the perfect medium for any fan engagement technology.
We’ll cover the massive benefits streamlined text-management software can have for driving engagement between your sports brand and its fans to elevate the live sports experience.
Unprecedented Demand for Fan Engagement Technology
Fan engagement is crucial to any sports team, and capturing their attention is essential to keep the stands full and participation levels high. In 2020, fans adopted new behaviors that opened them up to new engagement methods with the entertainment and brands they care about most. For sports fans, Nielsen’s 2022 report “Fans Are Changing the Game” demonstrated just how differently they now engage with their teams.
The report showed that over 40% of sports fans worldwide now stream live sports, driving a massive demand for new sports media content in general. This goes beyond the need for the games themselves, as along with it comes the demand for commentary, recaps, highlights, and other related media content. Even full game rebroadcasts are on the table, as Nielsen estimated almost 40% of fans would also watch significant portions of game rebroadcasts at their leisure.
Women also engaged with sports content at a higher rate, prompting a yearly rise of 146% in sponsorship investments in women’s league sports. Because those rates only rose by 27% in 2020, it’s a significant indication that these trends are increasing further as interest in digital sports media crosses boundaries at an unprecedented pace. At a 19% increase, the female fan base even outmatched the male fan base, having only raised 12%, comparatively.
These trends keep sports fans connected to their teams via their phones anywhere they go — including the stadiums and arenas.
Sports Engagement Increasing Through Mobile Devices
On the other side of the screen, the Nielsen report showed that athlete-specific messaging particularly drove sports brand engagements higher. Over a quarter of fans who use social media for sports news stated that athletes were one of their preferred ways to connect with brands and brand sponsors. While this relates more to social media accounts than SMS, it points to a higher level of phone usage, as mobile devices accounted for 79% of social media site visits from Americans in 2019.
In whatever ways customers engage with team brands through their phones, it highlights the increasingly mobile nature of brand-to-customer marketing in the sporting world. As the boundaries between instant messaging and texting continue to blur, any mobile device engagement with sports media sets your market base up for nearly immediate text-based engagement — and by all measures, these trends are amplifying further.
How To Engage New and Changing Fan Bases?
Along with these general shifts, Nielsen discovered specific indicators that sports fans are highly receptive to new brand engagement practices and strategies. As viewership increased, so did the habit of engaging in multiple activities. Nearly half of viewers were simultaneously interacting with live content over their phones while watching sports through another medium, which marked a 5% increase over the previous year (2021).
Nielsen’s managing director was unequivocal in his interpretation of these trends, stating:
“It is clear to see that sports fans demand new types of content driven by innovative delivery platforms.”
He further specified that more sophisticated methods to engage with fans and measure effectiveness are essential to help rights holders remain relevant. This puts the ball firmly in the hands of those developing fan engagement software for sports teams. Text-based fan engagement technology, in particular, will give brands the edge needed to keep their fans fully immersed throughout the season.
Software, in general, is helpful, but it’s usually focused solely on fans at home or pre- and post-game media. On the other hand, SMS engagement applies to fans in the stands and those watching from home. Further, with high-speed and high open rates, SMS perfectly suits the ultra-quick timing necessary for sports marketing.
It’s a safe bet that if fans are accustomed to engaging in sports-related content through their phones while watching the game on TV, they’re also primed to do so from the stands. This gives sports brands a more apparent portal to each fan’s point of attention, even during a live game.
New Sports Media Driving Higher Sponsorship Deals
As your customer base transitions to mobile digital media and communications platforms, your brand must meet them where they’re at with a powerful and versatile SMS management platform of your own. This is enormously promising for sports marketers in particular, as the fluidity of new B2C outreach methods enables greater speed and engagement — factors that are always certain to drive sales but which are essential for sports marketing.
There is no question that sponsorships for sporting brands are vastly increasing. The question is how you’re going to capture the highest amount of market share. In 2021, Nielsen measured a 107% boost in overall sponsorships for sports brands, and they even delved deeply into a wide variety of 100 specific sponsorships. They discovered that 81% of worldwide respondents almost implicitly trusted brand sponsorships at live sporting events, driving a 10% boost in purchasing intent.
It’s no wonder that they tallied nearly 500 more publicly announced sports-sponsorship deals in 2021, bringing the number up from 1,785 in 2020 to 2,254 just one year later. Further, these trends can’t simply be attributed to a general increase in digital media engagement, as though it were an automatic reaction to being locked in their homes with little to do. Digital sports media specifically proved to be one of the fastest-growing segments of the entire entertainment industry.
It may be a trend just getting started as sports media’s fast-paced and time-sensitive nature starts employing equally fast SMS-powered fan engagement technology. As the stands continue to fill once more, fans will inevitably take their new media-engagement habits with them.
Capitalizing on These Trends
One of the significant advantages of SMS over other communication mediums is that it can simultaneously function as a one- or two-way communication method on demand. When set up and managed correctly, it’s just as easy to use A2P (or Application to Person) software for sending mass messages as it is to provide customer support. With the right tools, you can coordinate a major media campaign and solve customer service issues in real-time, all from the same platform.
These campaigns are ideally suited for in-game promotions and messaging needs. Imagine coordinating your team’s connection with its fans during and after the game by communicating:
- Concessions discount promotions
- Alerts when season tickets go on sale
- Notifications to visitors about other events at the venue
- Contest and promotional participation
Further, the software-based nature of modern SMS marketing allows franchises to integrate texting directly and seamlessly into their other business applications, such as CRM and sales-tracking platforms.
This is essential for any digital media-related business, where a major pain point has continuously been operating disparate systems and trying to iron out even the most straightforward data-management procedures between them. During a live game event, lag time is simply not acceptable.
Often, managing the tools themselves can become almost more burdensome than the advantages they’re designed to deliver — which is why digital media and communications integration is the future of digital sports marketing. As telecom regulatory agencies have greatly loosened up their software-based B2C text messaging rules, it’s also never been easier.
A Game-Changing Approach to B2C Communications
Fan engagement software for sports teams is the most significant way to boost engagement levels and maximize sponsorship dollars with these major transitions.
Sports teams that adopt the most advanced fan engagement technology will now stand high above their rivals and build the most competitive digital fan base in their league. New demographics engaging with sports media through increasingly mobile practices will enable digital-sports-media pioneers to expand their consumer base just when it’s radically growing.
For over a decade, TrueDialog has led the SMS-powered marketing industry with robust and user-friendly text-management platforms. We’ve been facilitating advances in 10DLC and other phone-powered marketing efforts since the beginning – and if you’re looking downfield for the most effective new methods to catch your customer’s attention where it already is, start your free trial today.