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Team Rivalries as a Way to Drive Fan Engagement

Learn how traditional rivals Collingwood and Richmond joined forces, using Tradable Bits to build hype and engage their fans as they returned to play in the Australian Football League (AFL) post Covid-19 shutdown.



When live sporting events had to shut their doors in 2020, teams and leagues had to transition their fan and partner commitments to the digital realm to continue keeping fans engaged. To achieve this, in one of the most innovative strategies we've seen recently, the Collingwood Magpies and Richmond Tigers tapped into a long-standing rivalry that plays out both on and off the field. Their on-field rivalry grew throughout the 1970s and 1980s, but off-field, the two clubs are neighbours, residing in two of Melbourne’s most iconic footballing suburbs.

Embracing the era of suburban rivalry, the “Ponsford Vs Punt" campaign was born. As a bundle of digital engagement campaigns, it was designed to excite the two footy starved fan bases as they prepared to re-launch the AFL season. The name refers to the two ends of the Melbourne Cricket Ground where the respective cheer squads sit when the teams play.

How they did it



Collingwood and Richmond leveraged the tensions, intrigues, and histories between their teams to create a series of targeted engagement campaigns in the days leading up to their game. Using their rivalry as an opportunity, the teams were able to engage and empower fans in the days leading up to their faceoff.

Click here to see their campaign in action.

Strategic Campaign Types

Collingwood and Richmond were deliberate about the types of campaigns they used to engage their fans and collect information. Using Tradable Bits’ turn-key engagement campaigns, the teams built a bundle of campaigns that provided fans with unique engagement opportunities. From quizzes and trivia to activations that inspired fans to “battle it out,” the campaigns brought value to every type of fan.


Campaign Examples

Not Just a One-Off

Collingwood and Richmond built hype and ensured that their fans had an outlet for their growing energy by providing multiple engagement opportunities in the days leading up to the faceoff. With the game being physically “fan-free,” it was important to build excitement and boost the “stakes” in the minds of fans. Using the Tradable Bits platform, the teams saved time and resources while providing quality moments each day of the Ponsford VS Punt campaign.


Campaign Bundle

Willingness to Experiment with Data

There’s no doubt that 2020 has forced many leagues and teams to experiment with new approaches. Collingwood and Richmond put themselves out there by collaborating with the unified goal of promoting Australian Football. The teams’ willingness to experiment with a campaign partnership not only hyped up more fans to get involved but facilitated a data strategy where both teams retained their own fan data. The increased fan participation in these campaigns and corresponding fan insights are foundations that both teams can use for strategic activations going forward. All fan data collected during the Ponsford VS Punt campaign was analyzed, segmented and activated using Tradable Bits FanCRM, allowing the teams to increase conversions in future campaigns, build data-backed marketing strategies, and qualify leads for ticket sales.

Results

Unlike most typical digital engagements, the average completion rate across all 4 campaigns was 36%, with one of the campaigns topping it off at an astounding 60% completion rate. Thanks to these campaigns, each team was able to add hundreds of fan profiles to their CRM.

The Collingwood Magpies and Richmond Tigers worked closely with Tradable Bits’ team to accomplish their goal of increasing fan engagement during a difficult season and ultimately set themselves up to stay top-of-mind for fans in the next season.

Insights

The AFL has piloted a number of innovative campaigns that can be adapted across leagues worldwide - including rivalry campaigns. Rivalry campaigns represent an untapped opportunity that can be used to drive fan engagement to a new level. Teams have been rallying their fans behind them for generations, and it’s time to go beyond traditional marketing strategies and use deep-seated rivalries to increase fan engagement and gain more insights about your fanbase.

Our team has compiled some best practices to achieve the goals you set for your rivalry campaign. Read on to start building your strategy.

1) Set Clear Expectations for how you will Manage your Data:

Before you embark on your partnership with your rivals, it’s important to set clear boundaries regarding the information you are collecting. If each team wants to retain its own fan data, campaigns will need to be set up in a specific way to enable this. Define expectations and goals from the outset so that your campaigns can be built out to support your decisions.

2) Have a Robust Social Promotion Strategy:

The best digital campaign in the world will fall short if no one knows about it. Consistent promotion is often overlooked when it comes to digital campaigns, especially if there are multiple campaigns to promote. Leverage the partnerships of both teams to reach as many fans as possible with each campaign. Employ a strategy that combines paid and organic reach across social channels and ensure that you don’t drop off on promotion as you near the end of a multiple campaign strategy.

3) Set a Manageable Timeline for your Campaigns:

Gamedays are huge. So it’s understandable that your social channels will be flooded with different priorities in the days immediately before your big day. We recommend setting a manageable timeline for multiple campaigns by spreading them out over a longer period of time. Be deliberate about the dates you push your campaigns out so that you are not cannibalizing other engagements. If you believe one of your digital campaigns will do better right before a big game, then ensure that you have set space for it to be seen amongst your channels. You can build longer-lasting hype among fans if you give space for each campaign to work its magic.

Takeaways

While the sports world continues to see fluctuations with live-events, the tensions and histories that create team rivalries are steady. Collingwood and Richmond have shown that using team rivalries as a theme in digital campaigns incites more fan engagement.

If you’re looking to engage your fans with strategic digital campaigns, talk to our team today to start brainstorming ideas.


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