Why You Don’t Need to Wait for Sports to Return to Engage with Sports Fans
With sports being canceled abruptly this year due to COVID, sports fans, sponsors, and the teams themselves are anxiously awaiting for the return. As teams prepare to return to their arenas, your business should be preparing to engage with sports fans again. While sports haven’t resumed yet, that doesn’t mean your business has to wait to target those fans until they do.
In 2020, the eSports audience alone is expected to hit more than 295 million enthusiasts, with more than 272 million occasional viewers. This year alone nearly $200 million will be spent on eSports advertising. Right now, sports fans are more eager for the return of the upcoming seasons than ever. Marketing to this audience can substantially raise your advertising investment. The best part--you don't have to wait for the return of sports to engage with sports fans and experience the benefits.
How You Can Engage With Sports Fans Now
There are already engaged sports fans across eSports platforms like Twitch and Steam. Not only that, but many sports fans are also looking for ways to connect with the teams that they love and the brands that support them. You may also want to move your in-stadium advertising to digital, capitalizing on increased viewership across video platforms this year. You can also choose to partner with sports fans through a number of other avenues, including your social media accounts and your advertisements or sponsored television segments.
Why You Should Start Advertising Now
Americans are more eager than ever for the return of sports. With the early, abrupt end to many sports seasons and the cancellation of many anticipated events, they're more excited than ever about the upcoming season. In the 2019 season alone, an average of 16.5 million people tuned into NFL games and that could be even greater this year. By aligning your brand with sports sooner, rather than later, you can begin to build or strengthen relationships with those sports fans as soon as possible. These relationships can help build brand awareness and credibility for your business. Many Americans are eager to support the brands aligned with their favorite teams and have a deep sense of trust in the brands that do.
Capitalize on the excitement and hype of the upcoming seasons and encourage fans to connect that excitement with your brand. For example, start to share game day recipes or tips across your social media accounts to get fans excited. You could also drive excitement through your content. Consider asking fans what they're looking forward to most with the return of sports, or how they're planning to connect with their teams this year.
Planning Your Creative for the Return of Sports
The reopening of sports seasons is incredibly important to many members of your target audience--and that makes it important for your brand, too. Consider including some of these strategies as you design your creative for the return of sports.
Create emotional connections between the fans and your brand through engaging social media content. Over 70% of the U.S. population has a social media account, making this medium a great opportunity to reach your target audience where they already are. Imagine that you’re scrolling through Instagram and you are presented with an ad from a local business that is talking about their upcoming promotions revolving around sports. Wouldn’t that get you excited about the return of sports?
For example, build enthusiasm around upcoming games or highlight what your business plans to offer this upcoming season, such as special offers for game days, rewards for winning games, and more. These ads on social media are excellent opportunities to get the attention of your target audience while aligning your brand with their favorite teams.
Digital ads are a great way to target sports fans. Consider where these fans can be found right now--eSports, sports websites, team websites, stadium/arena websites, Twitch, etc. When you begin creating your digital ads that revolve around sports, keep in mind where you will be running these ads.
Direct Partnership with OTT Sports Content
Sports content will likely be so popular this year with digital viewership up significantly from previous years. Savvy advertisers are choosing their direct partnerships with OTT sports content and designing their ads now. For example, you might want to consider partnering with WatchESPN.
Now is the time to start planning. You have the potential to start running many of these ads now, with a rise in engagement once the sports season begins again and you can publish game day-specific ads. Continue to run regular ads throughout the sports season, since you want your customers to continue to associate you with those brands.
Should you shift your messaging as sports return? Ideally, you want your messaging to continue to reflect the ideas your brand stands for. However, as you work to build your online presence and branding, you may want to create messaging that associates your brand with the local sports teams you support.
Sports have been America's favorite pastime for a while, and the return this season is highly anticipated. Aligning your brand with sports fans is a great way to expand your reach by capitalizing on the excitement. By working with a digital advertising partner, you can receive several advantages that will help you build your ads. This includes help with the creative, execution, and tracking your efforts. Take a creative look at how you can align your brand with local sports teams. Even though the return of sports isn’t here quite yet, you can start engaging with fans right now.