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Your fans are more willing to provide data than you’d think

Alon Hemsani
3 min read

In the dynamic world of sports, understanding your fans is key to success. As federations, leagues and clubs compete to stay ahead in the game, the importance of accurate fan data collection and management becomes ever more crucial. Yet with changing privacy laws globally, this crucial data is becoming harder and harder to retrieve.  

Data collection practices have undergone significant changes in recent years, and new regulations such as GDPR and CCPA have complicated processes for organisations who are trying to improve fan experiences by collecting and leveraging fan data. Relying on a single data collection method is becoming increasingly risky. For example, the use of cookies is facing unprecedented challenges.

Adapting to this changing landscape requires a strategic shift towards privacy-centric practices, emphasising first-party and zero-party data, exploring alternative targeting methods, and investing in emerging technologies that prioritise user privacy.  

Zero-party data – which is information fans knowingly and willingly provide - can be collected via surveys, quizzes or other interactive content that act as ideal ways to reliably connect with and learn about your audience. It offers more layers to the first-party data collected directly from fans through their interactions with the organisation, such as website visits, app usage, and ticket purchases. Both types of data are valuable, offering insights into fan preferences, behaviours, and demographics.  

Collecting zero party and first party data means you’re getting your data directly from the source: your fans. This data is as accurate as possible rather than generic and general information. Collecting it yourself is another important benefit. You’re not buying information from a third party (which your competitors may also use), and you are the sole owner of that information.  

Collecting data through activations

Digital touchpoints are crucial when it comes to collecting fan data. Social media interactions, website visits, mobile app usage and email engagements offer rich sources of information. With the ease of availability of these data points sports organisations can build an overarching, yet impersonal, persona of their fans.  

Which is why the next step is collecting zero-party data from your fans using activations.  

Activations - interactive, bite-sized games such as contests, trivia surveys and more - offer a more strategic approach to collecting relevant fan data directly from the source. Fans willingly participate, answering questions you draft and providing information in exchange for opportunities to win prizes or contribute to team-related decisions. These activities not only engage fans directly but also offer sports organisations a direct way to gather valuable insights into preferences, opinions, and demographic information.  

Fans actually want to share their data

With the increased legislation around privacy worldwide, it’s easy to think fans are hiding away, keeping their data and preferences to themselves. In practice, we’re seeing something completely different.  

Our clients have been using activations for the past five years to learn about their fans. Each client decides which data points they want to collect and what questions they want to ask their fans. This is where the creative side flourishes - you’re not limited by templated questions about age or name. You can ask anything you want to learn about your fan base and how to better connect with them.

Over the years, we’ve learned that fans crave a personalised touch, and they’re more than willing to share their preferences to help you create these experiences. We analysed our client’s fan engagement over the last year, and an average of 70 percent of fans who engage with activations have shared their data with our partners. This data includes but is not limited to personal data, such as name and geo-graphical locations, as well as information such as favorite player and how fans engage with our partners.  

Benefits of using digital fan data  

Reliable and targeted data opens new exciting avenues for revenue generation. The benefits of using digital fan data extend beyond just understanding fan behaviour. Through digital activations sports federations and clubs can provide sponsors with valuable insights on their target audience, ensuring that partnerships align with fan interests and partner objectives. Additionally, by leveraging digital channels for merchandising sales activations, teams can optimise their product offerings based on real-time data, resulting in increased sales and revenue.  

The versatility of digital fan data allows sports organisations to implement activations seamlessly across all digital channels. Whether through social media, email campaigns, mobile apps or websites, rights holders can maintain a consistent and engaging presence. This multi-channel approach not only expands the reach of activations but also ensures that fans can interact with their favourite teams in the ways that best suit their preferences.    

Furthermore, digital fan data provides a detailed profile of the audience, allowing organisations to understand their preferences, demographics, and engagement patterns. Armed with insights from digital data, sports organisations can create targeted and relevant content, increasing fan engagement across various platforms through a personalised experience enhancing fan satisfaction.  

Personalised marketing also increases the effectiveness of campaigns, leading to higher engagement and conversion rates. Leveraging digital fan data allows for effective re-targeting strategies as well. By understanding fan behaviours and interactions across various digital channels, teams can strategically re-engage fans who have shown interest but may not have completed a desired action, such as purchasing tickets or merchandise.  

Leveraging the full potential of fan data offers benefits also in terms of sponsorship opportunities. With precise fan data, sports organisations can offer sponsors valuable insights, ensuring effective activation strategies, such as optimized merchandise offerings, resulting in increased sales and a stronger connection between fans, teams, and brands.  

Embracing digital fan data is fast being recognised as the most reliable long-term method of creating a robust commercial foundation for rightsholders. Finding tools that offer a window into the world of fans will help organisations create a more complete picture of what their audiences likes and dislikes. This story can shape experiences, drive revenue and forge deeper connections. We are already operating in a data-rich era, and the winners will be those who listen to their fans, not just in the roar of the stadium, but in the quiet click of a mouse.