The growing importance of aggregated data in the world of sponsorship & advertising
Wednesday November 5, 2014
For years, the key goals of CRM in sport and leisure have been focused on the usual suspects…corporate sales increases, increased attendance, fan loyalty, cost reduction and profit improvement. The income target is usually developed from an anticipated increase in B2B and B2C expenditure arising from improved, data driven, targeted sales and marketing campaigns. These commercial objectives are crucial and the benefits in these areas will form the major part of the business case for the initial CRM programme.
However, one often overlooked benefit is the potential for significant increases in the value of Sponsorship and Partnership income. In a world where rights holders need to work much harder to demonstrate commercial value to their partners, this component of CRM has the potential to become an even greater source of return than those previously mentioned.
For many years, any sponsorship deal with a rights holder was regarded pretty much as a charitable donation. The name on the shirt became the end in itself and there was little of what is now known as ‘activation’ or measurement.
As sport, especially football, has evolved commercially in the past 15 years, so has the size of the sponsorship deals that have been achieved. This has brought greater demands from Sponsors and Partners in terms of the measurement of the return on investment from rights holder. The result has been a major increase in the recruitment of sponsorship activation personnel and subsequently a greater increase in related activities.
This expected return on investment has now extended into the club’s CRM & Data strategy. Potential sponsors are keen to know that not only will they achieve the traditional objectives of media awareness but that the potential audience of customers is well managed, understood and has the ability to be engaged with. Simply put, the greater the volume of quality data a rights holder has, the greater the value which could be derived from a sponsorship deal.
Furthermore traditional forms of television, radio and stadium advertising are being augmented by digital one to one marketing campaigns that have an embedded call to action.
Go to the game early and enjoy a free Cola with this discount code.
Watch the game on this TV channel and use the televised code to get a 20% ticket discount at the next game.
Therefore, the potential power of offering a data driven partnership is large and ever growing as more and more consumers “go online”. A critical factor to consider is the passion and trust that exists between a sports fans and his/her team. Something that is very difficult for most consumer brands to achieve. So long as the fan communication arrives from their team, this model is even more valuable to a sponsor if the available data is national or regional. The opportunity to multiply this fan – team relationship x 20 teams has huge appeal to a sponsor.
The benefits of such an approach appear to be a genuine case of 2+2 = 5!
Aggregated data across a league or a group of clubs or venues, offers sponsors a chance to have access to a much larger pool of customers that generally have similar valued characteristics. This is extremely attractive to sponsors. The golden rule is use the aggregated data to segment and profile fans BUT ensure the ensuing personalised communication is delivered from the team.
The latest technology allows this level of data profiling and segmentation to easily be achieved, but at the same time only permits individual clubs to view and communicate with their own fan data, thus offering the best of both worlds, i.e. club “owned” fan data for their own purposes and a ‘rolled up’ version of the data to be managed by the collective.
The key benefits from this ‘aggregated’ approach are many and include:
- Efficiencies – sponsors and partners need only deal with one source of data when communicating with customers rather than having to build many individual club relationships with multiple systems and data sources. The individual clubs can also utilise a service from the group or league in order to help manage their data. Therefore each individual club can also benefit from the economies of scale and skills of professional marketers that comes with this approach.
- Big Data – The volume of fan data across an entire League, or group of teams or venues can run into millions. The opportunity for a sponsor to engage with an up-to-date, clean database of consumers that have a higher propensity than average to open an email campaign (30% from Green 4 customers compared to 19.7% from a basket of other industry sectors) and to act on the campaign (click through rate of 7% for Green 4 sports clients compared to 3.6% globally)
- Profiling – a large base of customers can be profiled and segmented more easily as there is a larger amount of ‘base’ data to work from, offering a much improved statistical sample. This profiling can be based around the transactional and behavioural characteristics as well as more sophisticated lifestyle groupings such as MOSAIC or ACORN.
- Larger pool of potential Sponsors - having access to a larger, more profiled group of consumers means that centralised deals can be struck for larger values with corporate partners who may not have considered working on an individual club level. This brings larger potential sponsors into play for smaller clubs who would struggle to attract the same sponsor.
- Improved measurement and evaluation - the aggregated approach allows for a new measurement process to be implemented that measures success. Traditionally, media evaluation has been the way that sponsorship success is measured but this is flawed as it only reports on the comparable value of the equivalent advertising rates rather than real sales.
A centralised, data driven option which can prove much more accurate is to measure how many fans appear in the database at the start of the partnership and re-assess on a regular basis. The aim will be to increase the penetration of fans from the rights holder’s data within the sponsor’s customer base. This equates to actual sales and is a much more appropriate measure of Sponsorship success which will inevitably become more prominent in the future.
Furthermore, it could also be used to allocate a share of the revenue to each individual club based on the take up of their fans for the sponsors offer. This in itself would drive the behaviours at club level to increase their focus on data collection and support the activation of the partnership as it is now proportionate to their efforts in collecting fan data.
So, if there are so many benefits then where’s the catch?
There isn’t one! Except perhaps the organisational effort and trust required to get leagues, venues and groups of teams (regional perhaps) to work together. This model has worked best where legislation requires fans to identify themselves on a centralised system. CRM and Sponsor Activation is then merely a huge by-product of a wider process. Centralised Ticketing has been the norm in many countries for a long time (Spain, Belgium, Qatar, Turkey) reducing the cost and operational burden of individual clubs. As CRM is seen as an accepted practice for fan engagement and increasing attendance in stadia, then a centralised CRM approach should be considered in the same way. EXCEPT there is a second revenue stream from Sponsors that couldn’t be otherwise achieved.
As with any CRM or Data Management project then the necessary rigour and discipline needs to be put into place to deliver a measurable return. Commitment is required at all levels and a genuine belief from all parties, with an understanding and “buy in” to the benefits available. There also needs to be trust that each individual club’s data will not be compromised.
The other key question involves how teams/venues can tap into an aggregated approach. Generally it will be through their league structure who are the prime candidates to lead such a project. However, if this is seen as too much of a challenge then clubs can form partnerships with other clubs in their region or based on other similar characteristics (e.g. college teams in the USA). These groupings can then leverage the benefits that the new technology can bring.
From a pragmatic perspective, clubs will also need to work on their data in order to make Sponsor Activation worthwhile in the first place. Only those clubs with a reasonable sized database which is maintained to a good standard will be legitimate candidates to join an aggregated solution. Here are some steps to follow to become ‘sponsor friendly’ and demonstrate commitment to the wider group:
1. Grow the Data
Use measurement to help increase the focus within the business to drive the quantity of customers within the database. Include data measures as a KPI within the business along with targets for all key staff which include incentives. Experience suggests that this will immediately drive a change in behaviour and an increase in data quantity. If you don’t measure it, staff will not believe you think it’s important!
2. Basic Profiling Ability
Focus on building contact and transactional data initially, which can then be used to profile based on behavioural and geo-demographic information. Sponsors want to know that you are able to contact your dataset easily and also understand the basic information about them.
3. Enhanced Profiling
Once the basics are in place then a profiling tool can be applied to add extra information and aid greater insight. MOSAIC is the most popular lifestyle classification tool and is an ideal method to build further insight into customer and fan groups. It is used regularly in advertising and politics as the MOSAIC groups each have clear characteristics about their likely lifestyle choices, meaning it’s much easier to target them with those products and services they are interested in and through their preferred communication methods. This can be used to build profiles and flag those against the customer record within the CRM database for future reference and results reporting.
4. Communications Preferences
The traditional method of allowing possible sponsors to contact a club’s database is to ensure that as many fans as possible have signed up to the ‘allow 3rd party’ section in their communication preferences. However this method can also be a reason for fans not providing their details as they fear being bombarded by perceived spam emails from companies they are not interested in.
This model must change.
With a large database of engaged fans where the data is well managed and insightful, a new model is emerging from which CRM practitioners should be aware. If fans believe that they will be provided with relevant information about products and services that they are interested in then they are more likely to sign up. To do this, use a preference manager tool to find out more about the key products and services they are keen to know more about, especially where there is a chance of extra value in a possible deal. These categories would typically include car dealerships, mobile phone providers and financial services. By opting in to specific sectors, extra value can be generated by linking these people to local partners who see a much bigger attraction in communicating with a smaller group of fans that have given their permission to be contacted.
5. Contact Management Strategies
To support the overall objectives and the achievement of a new value partnership between sponsors and fans, it is essential that their interests and preferences are captured. i.e. when you send an email to the supporter base asking about their interests, favourite player etc… it is much easier to manage the results if this information flows straight back to the customer record. The preference manager survey is an often over looked approach and is much simpler and more accurate than building propensity models trying to predict what fans may want rather than actually asking them directly.
6. Loyalty Program
The implementation of a club loyalty program is an obvious way of further engaging Sponsors. Not only do they get the opportunity to promote their products and services to fans directly, but loyalty programs provide a platform for them to actively engage, particularly if this can work hand in glove with the clubs loyalty strategy. Perhaps earning points with a sponsor product/service and spend on club experiences. With a well-constructed loyalty program this can be achieved with many sponsors covering varying consumer sectors, but once again the club/venue is central to the success of the program.
In summary, there are many benefits to an aggregated approach to data for all parties involved especially now that the technology is available to support it. However, it should not be considered a short cut and a way for clubs to “opt out” of their responsibility to focus on their own fan engagement strategy. This should be considered an incremental revenue stream and also a means of retaining existing sponsors by offering an incremental activation service.
Garry Adamson is Managing Director of Sports CRM and Data Agency 4sight Sport & Leisure.
For more information about 4Sight and the services they provide visit www.4sight-sport.com