Fiona Green | 30th June 2014

What Does The Customer Life Cycle Look Like For Sports Fans?

OK so maybe when reading this you’ll think everyone at Winners is a data geek but we don’t mind admitting that one of our favourite discussions is the customer life cycle and what it looks like for a sports fan.

Case in point, Callum, our Data and Research Assistant, has been an Arsenal fan since he was 6, when he knew no better and had no choice. His dad took him to Highbury (gosh, it’s a long time since I’ve used that name!) and he just grew into it. Fast forward through 16 years of passion, heartache, joy and tears, and the Gunners have to do something “really, really bad” to make him walk away. In fact, after further thought about this, he concedes he’d never actually walk away, he might just sulk for a while.

So how does that affect our traditional understanding of the customer life cycle?

Over a decade ago leading CRM practitioners, Jim Sterne and Matt Cutler, divided the phases of the customer lifecycle as follows:

Reach:  what you do to get the attention of the people you want to reach
Acquisition:  how you bring the “reached” person closer to you, how you manage to engage with them
Conversion:  converting this reach and engagement into a purchase
Retention:  holding onto customers, selling them more (and more often)
Loyalty:  furthering the relationship so the customer becomes loyal to you

Within these phases you have the journey that a customer takes as they lose interest in you (abandonment), move away (attrition) and then come back to you at a later date (reactivation) which provides your churn rate.

However, the life cycle of one of your major customer groups – your ticket buyers – may start with natural loyalty. You won’t have had to “reach” them – they will have found you – and they will have “acquired” you, not the other way around. And “converting” them into a fan was not something you had any hand in, it just happened…..like it did to Callum.

This also means the barrier to leave you will be extremely high – your abandonment and attrition levels will be low and churn should be almost non-existent.

However while this may be the case for a fan’s interest in you, converting that interest into regular transactions is where the sports industry has its challenges. You’ve got the natural loyalty – traditionally the ultimate objective for a regular brand – but our late arrival to CRM means we’re not nurturing it in the way traditional marketers would.

We apply the same thought process to our governing body clients whose objective may not always be selling tickets – often their focus is on increasing participation – but understanding what the traditional customer life cycle looks like in this environment is just as important: your customers grow up playing the sport but what happens when they can’t keep up the pace? Or when a volunteer has kids and therefore less time? The Sterne and Cutler model applies more readily to these situations…..but this time without the loyalty at the end of it!

We’re passionate about understanding customer life cycles so if you’d like to discuss yours – and more importantly how your understanding of it can help you prevent attrition and minimise churn — please feel free to contact us.

What Does The Customer Life Cycle Look Like For Sports Fans?

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