Benefits of running fan competitions

Everyone likes to win. Being able to win a prize offered by your favourite team just by filling a short online form, or by sharing your favourite pic from the last match you attended… well, why wouldn’t you give it a try?
As a fan, surely it makes sense to join a competition run by your favourite team: little effort, potential big win. But what about the club? Does running a competition make sense and support the club’s business objectives?
In short, yes! But let’s dive into the topic as this article presents three benefits of running fan competitions.

Lead Generation

Benefits of running fan competitions Winners FDD
Lead Generation

Fan competitions are a huge opportunity for lead generation, allowing the club not only to increase marketing opt-ins from loyal fans, who weren’t collected before, but also to tap into new strategic audiences that will be at the centre of the club’s future marketing activities.
Let’s start by the following: to support participation in your competition you should promote it. This can be done over multiple channels: an email campaign to your fans, a piece of news on your website, organic posts on your club’s official social accounts like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and maybe some paid promotion on social media platforms or search engines. This is where lead generation fits well, consider the following:

  1. Your social media followers. How many followers do you have on the club’s official Facebook page? Probably 10-15 times the number of marketing opt-ins. This is why bringing those followers to your new competition represents a huge opportunity to collect their opt-in for marketing communication
  2. Social media users. It’s fair to say not everyone who supports a club follows its official page on Facebook or Twitter. Many of them probably login to their social media account 2-3 times a week just to check what folks have been up to. And these are exactly the audiences you can target to join your latest competition
  3. Web users. Competitions offer a great opportunity to engage with all web users who visit your website or landing pages coming from both organic and paid traffic
  4. Your sponsors’ and partners’ customers. If you design the competition as a marketing activation with one of your partners (that’s a great move!), you may also have the opportunity to engage with their customers (either opt-ins or their social media followers) by planning some joint promotion. This is a win-win situation for you and your partner: huge lead generation opportunity for you, huge brand exposure for them
    HubSpot, one of the leaders in the CRM market, provides a detailed description of the approach they used to run an online contest.


Get to know your fans better

Benefits of running fan competitions Winners FDD

In addition to lead generation, running fan competitions allows the club to increase the knowledge they have about their fans. This is valid both from an aggregate point of view (how many fans joined the competition coming from the social organic posts or what was the conversion rate of the email campaign I sent to the fans database to promote the contest) and, more importantly, on a personal level.

Understanding where the fan started his/her journey to finally join the competition is good but designing the contest to collect the information that is most relevant for you is crucial. A couple of examples. If you plan a competition focused on kids, you may want to include some questions about gender and age range: thus enabling you to send a personal discount for a specific match kit that fits the fan needs, this is a great way to make him/her happy while supporting your business objectives. Or you may want to allow a “referral mode” in your contest: if the fan doesn’t win, he can invite up to 5 friends to join the competition getting as many as 5 additional chances when they register. While this is a good example of lead generation, it also allows you to understand more about the fan’s “social network”, a great opportunity if you think of your fans as advocates to the values of your brand. You can read more about the metrics to identify influencers within a social network here.

Get user generated content from fans

Benefits of running fan competitions Winners FDD

Sports brands don’t really have a problem with content. Depending on the sport, they have weekly opportunities to create content during match-day as well as during daily training sessions, meetings with the media, events from the past, and the list goes on. But competitions allow clubs to get content directly from their fans. This could be a photo, a video or a love message to their favourite club for example. This is a goldmine for the communication team and a huge opportunity to improve the club’s perception from fans, who are going to have positive feedback on their club’s transparency towards them and will feel part of the club.
Want to go on step further? With image recognition, a subcategory of artificial intelligence, clubs can identify elements within an image and gather additional information about the fan such as gender and age. There are many services available out there but if you want to give it a try, use Google’s Cloud Vision API free application to understand more about opportunities linked to image recognition.

Conclusion and next steps

Depending on your club’s business objectives the three benefits presented in this article may partially or entirely fit within your strategy. I do believe fan competitions represent a great opportunity for sports rights owners; but aren’t always part of the activities. This leaves very much on the table in terms of missed opportunities for lead generation, enhanced information about the fanbase and content generated by the fans.
At Winners we provide our clients with a simple to use and cost-effective competition portal that will provide an ongoing data collection and engagement opportunity. If you want to better understand how fan competitions can be “the next big thing” for your club, or you would like to discuss how some of our clients successfully add them to their marketing activities, feel free to get in touch.