sports marketing
Soccer backgrounds

Introduction 

Technology is constantly transforming the way businesses function. And the sports industry is no exception to this. Gone are the days when sports marketing was all about putting massive billboards and developing multiple short-term customer relationships. 

Digital technology is unlocking new opportunities for business growth and lasting relationships with customers, as an increasing number of sports fans use their gadgets to watch and read about sports. 

However, giving sports fans opportunities to stream matches and access information is not enough for a brand to grow. Instead, brands have to incorporate their product with the technology itself to maximize their reach with sports fans.

Continue reading this article to understand how businesses can make the most out of sports fans who are digitally engaging with sports in India. Keep reading, and you might find some helpful tips! 

Childhood nostalgia for people who grew up in India invariably includes watching cricket in their neighbourhood community park or playing some other sport there themselves. Open-air sports are familiar to everyone in this country, either as an active participant or a spectator. 

However, as more people have had to stay within the confines of their homes over the past couple of years, community sports have unfortunately taken a back seat. Instead, sports enthusiasts have turned to their gadgets to engage with their favourite sports online, again, either as a participant or a spectator. 

Are you wondering how people are active participants in sports, even while staying home? It’s quite straightforward. 

Let’s take the example of cricket. While earlier, you could find ‘gully’ cricket around every other corner, staying indoors has led to a rise in players of Fantasy Cricket. It is a virtual form of the sport, allowing players to form their own ‘fantasy’ team by selecting 11 real-world players. They then compete in matches with other teams, and this affects their ranking in the game. 

The impact of spending more time indoors has been an increasing trend in digital engagement with virtual sporting games and social media content 

And cricket is not the only sport that has an online version. Another such popular gaming platform is Fantasy Football, which is what it sounds like. 

Because of the nature of such games, and the ability for players to choose real-life sportspeople in their teams, sports fans can gain further insight and expertise about how particular sports people play. It keeps them actively engaged with the sport and wanting to gain more knowledge about it by researching these players and teams online. 

In addition to this, social media websites such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter also post many snippets from matches on sports pages. This allows fans to engage in added scrutiny of how each player employs strategies to their advantage. 

It is safe to say that staying indoors has not dwindled the enthusiasm of sports fans. Rather, it may even seem that they can now more closely watch, rewatch and study their favourite player’s moves! 

Key Takeaways for Digital Marketers

All that is well and good, but as digital marketers, we need to crack the code of how sports-related businesses can use this trend to their own and their customers’ advantage. 

So let’s get to it. 

According to trends studied by Google India, here are some key takeaways for digital marketers working for sports marketing with a digital audience: 

1. Moment Marketing is the Talk of the Town: Planning Around Sporting Events

Online searches related to a particular sport are always heightened around significant events relating to that sport. 

For example, immediately after a cricket match, about 48% of consequent online searches related to cricket are about game highlights, reports Google India. Subsequently, fans look up queries about scores, information about the teams, and then about players. 

Therefore, for digital marketing to work here, brands have to be very strategic about deciding when to advertise a product and consequently plan around sporting events to maximize visibility. 

2. Viewers want to know more about their favorite sports figures 

In this digital age where relatability with famous people is valued more than ever, people look up sports figures for various reasons. 

Whether it be a sports influencer advertising a particular product, or a sports celebrity tangled up in a recent scandal, there are numerous non-sports-related reasons for people to look them up. 

For example, tennis player Naomi Osaka has suddenly gained increased social media popularity following a Netflix docu-series on her struggles. Consequently, many people who weren’t previously sports fans but were mental health advocates instead have taken up an interest in watching her tennis matches and keeping track of her public appearances. 

Advertising around famous sports figures can be effective in keeping audiences interested

Similarly, a non-Olympian who rose to fame – perhaps even more fame than actual Olympians from Tokyo 2020 – is Sha’Carri Richardson. Although she qualified for Tokyo 2020, Sha’Carri was deemed ineligible to compete for the Olympics. However, conversations around her talent, her mental health, and people’s opinion of her ineligibility as being unfair made her an overnight sports influencer. 

Now, Sha’Carri boasts of having over 2.3 million Instagram followers, was invited this year to the highly exclusive MET Gala in New York City, and starred in an advertisement for rapper and producer Kanye West. 

Sha’Carri’s fame, much like Naomi’s, is founded on exceptional athleticism, but their popularity is because of their unique personalities that their fans found personally relatable. Consequently, they are now associated with brands whose values align with them and their fans rather than the usual, run-of-the-mill, conventional sports brands. 

3. Know the audience for each sport

Different sports attract different audiences. That’s no revelation. However, this is a critical point for digital marketers to keep in mind while deciding which sports brands to market for which sport. 

For instance, badminton is popular among women audiences in India compared to men, according to searches on Google India. This insight has implications for how sports marketers choose which products they want to advertise and for digital marketers to discern how to promote those products. 

Knowing the target audience for each sport matters with regards to how sports brands decide which product to advertise, and how to do so 

Similarly, football in India has a mid-tier audience, meaning that it comprises a little bit of every demographic. From a sports marketing perspective, more universal, gender and age-neutral products can be advertised for this demographic. 

4. Capturing the interest of new sports fans

As mentioned earlier in this article, many sports now have a wider audience due to the power of social media. People who previously may not have been interested in sports are now suddenly exposed to snippets of various sporting matches on their social media timelines. 

And many of these people end up searching for particular sports and players on search engines to further their knowledge. This is a new audience that can be retained as sports enthusiasts, given that their interest continues to be captured. 

What defines successful sports marketing, in this case, would be the ability to continue engaging newly interested sports enthusiasts with crisp advertising by understanding what they’re looking for, and accordingly promoting products to keep them inspired.

Additionally, keeping them engaged with more personal stories of certain sports figures can also be fruitful. For example, highlighting Naomi Osaka’s battles with mental health or Simone Biles’ journey can help new sports fans relate to these figures and find a vested interest in their progress. 

Conclusion 

For effective sports marketing, digital marketers need to think about how the target audience maps onto different sports and the key sports moments people will be searching for.

Whether it be the Olympics or a T-20 match, sports marketing can now only work when they work with digital marketers who know how to study the digital consumption patterns of the target audience and appropriately designate the right products for them. 

So if you are passionate about sports but don’t necessarily see yourself becoming a sportsperson, you can very much make a career out of your interest by upskilling with digital marketing! Look no further than Great Learning’s PG Program in Strategic Digital Marketing to sharpen your marketing skills and give a push-start to your career today! 

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