Data-driven communication strategies for the sports industry: from fans to fan-data

tifosi con smartphone

For European mobility week (Sept. 16-22, 2019), WeComSport, the Sports Communications Lab at the CORIS – Department of Communications and Social Research at Sapienza University of Rome, dedicated the second edition of the Festival of Sports Communications to issues related to physical wellbeing, sports communications and sustainable lifestyles.

Cultur-e participated in the “Technology and Communications for Sustainable Sports” Panel dedicated to innovation in sports and the growing importance that it has on the sports industry with a presentation on Fan Data: Immersive Customer Experience and Data-driven Communications Strategies for the Sports Industry

Cultur-e demonstrated how the communications approach employed by top players in the Energy, Technology and Oil & Gas Sectors can also be applied to sports communications. In this type of communications, the data-driven approach is increasingly fundamental, especially for sports clubs that see their fans as clients: loyal followers who would never abandon a club, even when they feel let down.

Cultur-e (represented by Annalaura Ruffolo, Project Manager and Digital Strategist directing the Strategy and Design Area, Elio Teodonio, Content Manager and SEO Specialist, and Filippo Tansini, Head of the Web Intelligence Area) participated in a round table with other important sports communications professionals, including Fabio Lalli (Iquii Sport), Adriano Bacconi (Infront), Diego Nepi Molineris (CONI) and Alessandra Ortenzi (DTMC Sport).

Data-driven Strategies for the Sports Industry

Cultur-e presented its characteristic approach applied to sports communications. What does it mean to implement data-driven strategies for the sports industry?

Nowadays, communications strategies must be multi-channel, integrating a range of traditional and digital channels (in a cross-channel logic), to promote the maximum diffusion of commercial or strategic content placement. The aim is to create a customer journey that will convert results. The synergic, multichannel approach focuses on the user and aims to create experiences that require an integrated organization of all on- and off-line touchpoints.

Sports clubs are no longer about “just fun.” They are no longer there just to provide social, entertaining experiences, but rather they have become true companies that pursue entrepreneurial processes and sell products using new technology and digital communication channels (from social media to smart arenas and mixed reality). Big data played a prominent role in this shift, changing the analysis and definition of business, marketing and communications strategies.

Having fans connected around the clock with the team through social channels, TV applications, on-line TV and smart arenas, allows the companies to gather an enormous amount of data that is then used to devise data-driven communications and marketing strategies and campaigns, shaped around each identified type of fan. In the era of digital transformation, in fact, the team-fan relation is one-on-one. Official applications, websites, OTT platforms, social channels, TV … clubs and fans are constantly together.

Fans have become fan-data and thanks to their purchasing habits allow the sports clubs to finetune multichannel data-driven strategies and create custom-tailored media hubs. Thus, multichannel strategies organize an integrated system of hybrid on- and off-line touchpoints that promote sports activities and aim to involve their reference audience: fan data.

Based on case studies that we have produced for each of the channels involved in the strategy and with the support of web intelligence and on-line reputation analyses conducted with Talkwalker, an advanced monitoring platform that analyses and filters big data from the web and social media and provides an overall picture, we tried to imagine a fan journey that portrays the experience of a fan at 360 degrees by integrating digital, hybrid and off-line touchpoints in the fan-club relationship. This has confirmed that the multichannel data-driven approach contributes to defining and implementing an immersive fan experience from first contact (search for tickets, but not only), ticket purchase, arena experience (real or virtual), active participation in the match, and social sharing after the match.

Annalaura Ruffolo

Annalaura Ruffolo