5 Tips for higher converting ads
Your membership teams wants better MQLs.
Your ticketing team needs to sell out single-game tickets.
Your strategy team is looking for different models to attract a younger audience.
Your fan experience team wants every single fan to receive a personalized experience.
We’re here with you.
The sports industry has seen a huge shift in focus in the last few years with teams and leagues competing for more passionate supporters across a wider variety of offerings.
Standing out as the “investment of choice” for fans that have increasingly diverse and low-effort ways to spend their time is the challenge of the day. It’s also where we get excited.
Why? Because technology has opened the door to better alignment, better control and best of all - better fan experiences.
Here are 5 painless strategies to jump in the ring, take control of your ads, and ultimately see higher conversions and happier fans.
1) It starts with a strong database
How well do you know your ideal fans?
Sales may be a numbers game, but at the end of the day, you have to be able to close people individually.
This means you’re aiming at percentages. At groups of fans with specific needs and specific behaviours.
The more strategic your audience, the better (and higher value) conversions you’ll see.
To find and refine these types of audiences, you need a dynamic database at your disposal.
What do we mean by dynamic database?
One that’s flexible enough to keep up with new technologies while hitting your core needs as a business.
Essentially, look for a database that allows you to:
- Bring in the right integrations to streamline your team’s workflow,
- Centralize your most impactful first-party data into single, nonduplicated profiles,
- Analyze this first-party data to form highly-specialized audience segments (that update in real-time)
- Find new data from your fans
Speaking of strategic integrations …
Nothing quite beats watching your data flow in real-time.
Integrating your ticketing, merch, email and more into a system that collates and recognizes each fan in their fullness means that your audiences become more competitive.
You know their purchasing habits, where they engage with you, how they respond to different messaging, and why they love what they do.
But we know that growing with new systems isn’t easy, so here’s one hot integration tip:
If you’re implementing a new database, never underestimate the power of comfortability.
It’s likely that your team is already used to using certain platforms for specific needs. Where possible, integrate their existing workflow into your new database system as smoothly as you can.
For example, if your email team uses a specific ESP and loves it, build that into your integration plans. You can push higher-quality audiences to your email team without forcing them to adopt entirely new processes.
2) Execute consistent collection campaigns
Now that you have a strong database as your foundation, the next step is to continuously enrich your data.
We know, gathering fan data is often easier said than done, but here is a great place to start:
I. Engagement Campaigns:
Our favourite “twofer.”
Engagement campaigns are a great way to engage your fans around specific milestones (or even lulls in the season) and collect verified zero-party data.
They’re how you can prevent fan profiles from going “stale” with outdated information.
Using contests, polls, surveys, personality quizzes and more you can strategic questions that pinpoint a specific audience type you want to go after. Ask questions relating to viewing habits, favourite players and ticketing preferences, so that you can more effectively pair behaviour with intent when segmenting your audiences.
Our hot collection tips:
Engagement campaigns as a collection mechanism aren’t squat with low-quality traffic.
If the goal of your engagement campaign is to surface information to target high-quality MQLs with better messaging + personalization then you want to ensure those questions are getting in front of the right people.
So, consider putting money behind these campaigns.
While this may seem counterintuitive (hey, aren’t I using these campaigns to build better ads?) quality data is the name of the game. Better and more targeted promotion tactics for your collection campaigns in turn leads to more visibility & participation by the audience you want to speak to.
Then, when it comes time to sell out memberships, you already know your audience, can target better, and spend less to convert more.
3) Match Intent, Channels & Offers with your Conversion Goals
Let’s say I’m casually scrolling through Insta, where I see my bae Spicy P pop up.
Learn more it says? I say yes.
Then BAM I’m brought straight to a ticketing page. I’ve never felt more disrespected in my life.
While this scenario might seem a bit dramatic, it’s true that intent, channel and offer need to align for a campaign to do well.
You’ve already been measuring intent and channel engagement through the data collection and segmentation strategy listed above. You know which offers appeal most to each fans, and also how to best display these offers to tug at their heart strings (for example, placing their favourite player front and center in your creatives).
Now, it’s about hitting the right timing for intent to match your offers.
A study of alignment: The Columbus Blue Jackets and Playoff Tickets
For the 2019-2020 ticket season, the Blue Jackets conducted a fantastic, multi-phase campaign to:
1. Find ticket buyers for the Stanley Cup Playoffs
2. Use the right timing to generate leads for the following year’s season tickets.
From Contest to Conquest (at the most engaging part of their season)
First, their team sent a series of “lead generating” ads to their fans, encouraging them to enter an engagement campaign for the chance to win free tickets to a playoff game. Here, they prospected fans to
- Understand interested ticketbuyers
- Have all fans fill in lead qualifying questions for their next season
They used their fans’ high energy engagement around the playoffs to reach a larger audience of quality leads.
Then, using this information, they crafted up more targeted messaging and creative to communicate the benefits of certain ticket packages to fans demonstrating interest.
Finally capitalizing on the engagement around the upcoming playoff games, the Blue Jackets developed a highly engaging 33-second video of key plays and players to announce game 4 ticket sales.
Ultimately, they saw a 66X return on ad spend by aligning intent, channels and offers with the right fans, at the right time. Read more here
Other notes of importance?
While conventional channels such as Facebook, Instagram and Email work great, don’t overlook investing in ‘new’ direct-to-fan channels like Discord or Reddit. Creating community and a direct line to your fans pays off in huge returns - both in organic growth and paid conversions.
4) Rethink your Relationship with Sponsors
Leveraging sponsorship is a tried and trusted method, yet we often underestimate the power in of turning sponsors into a longer term partnership. Together, you can achieve more than as individual entities, and this is true of advertising as well.
I. The importance of shared data:
Sharing is caring (but make sure it’s with consent).
Distributing specific data collected on your fans with your sponsors will not only allow them to better target your audience with relevant offers, but can align the how your sponsors interact with your fans, leading to a better experience on both ends.
You get more visibility (and $$) from your sponsor, your fans feel that the sponsor relationship is authentic, and your sponsors get more value added to their relationship. Triple win, with only a few extra form fields and opt-ins added into your strategy over time.
Teaming up with brands that relate to your audience is an excellent way to not only increase engagement but also expand the reach of your own brand.
Similar to how your audience relates to your sponsor's brand, your brand should relate to your sponsor's audience. Through the power of co-branding, you can reach a much larger audience without diluting the quality of that audience.
5) The Data Doesn’t Lie
Whether you're in the early stages of developing your ads strategy or evaluating its results, it's important to be proactive with any significant trends and results, both positive and negative. And A/B test your ads.
Say for example your Family Value Pack ticket sales have been slacking recently. Rather than continuing business as usual, you could get creative by running a strategic contest or survey which reveals ticketing preferences.
From here you can then target the audience of individuals who have shown an interest in your Family Value Pack and push a cycle of targeted advertisements to this audience. You can also test the CTA’s you use.
While it's normal to want to know what's going on in every facet of your ad campaign, it's counterproductive to try and chase every metric at once.
Knowing the goal of your campaign should be your starting place when choosing your valuation metrics. How you value the success of an awareness campaign, versus one where you are explicitly aiming to sell tickets will be much different.
Metrics also don't have to stand on their own. For instance, your CPA can be combined with your customer lifetime value and average ticket price to indicate the future performance of your business.
Whether you plan on running ads through an agency or in-house, using verified first and zero-party data that you have ownership of will make all the difference. Provide more tailored ads with higher conversions by:
- Prioritizing a strong database
- Executing consistent collection campaigns
- Matching intent, channel, and offers with your goals
- Leveraging sponsor relationships
- Being proactive with your data
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~ Happy Marketing!