Sports content marketing: What businesses can learn
Sport. It builds relationships, creates rivalries and showcases the very best of human competition. From the lowest amateur leagues to the lofty heights of international superstardom, there’s something about watching a great sporting contest that inspires us all – even content marketers!
Let’s look at how some of the world’s biggest leagues and teams use content marketing to meet their business goals.
— NFL (@NFL) July 23, 2017
Why and how sports businesses use content marketing
Unsurprisingly, the sports organisations using content marketing to best effect are some of the most successful brands in the business. Many are based in the US, where content marketing has been around for longer than most other parts of the world, and has had plenty of time to work its magic.
It wasn’t a simple shift for businesses in the world of sport to move towards content marketing though. There was already a traditional model in place, described by Econsultancy simply as: “Consumer brands partnering with leagues, teams, or individual athletes.”
These sorts of relationships are everywhere, from the sponsors on your favourite team’s kit all the way through to the major sponsors of televised broadcasts. The problem, however, is that this type of advertising revolves around sports brands or individuals selling somebody else’s product by association, rather than boosting their own profile. The solution? Content marketing!
“A wee bit surreal just now!”
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) July 21, 2017
These days, almost every team or league has its own website with a content strategy – pumping out blog articles, video, social media updates and everything in between. For these businesses, the goals of content marketing are the same as in any other industry. They want to increase traffic, create brand loyalty and boost conversions in the form of merchandise or ticket sales. To put things simply, there’s no real difference between the content marketing campaign of the NFL or Manchester United and a small business in Australia. It’s simply a matter of scale. Every organisation can learn from the techniques used by sports mega-brands.
3 core lessons from sports content marketing
The first thing to note about successful sports content marketing is its consistency. Unlike most industries, professional sports typically focus on a set period of time (the ‘season’) where all the action happens. But what’s a league or team to do when the year’s action has finished? For the most successful organisations, the answer is to use content marketing to stay relevant, whether that’s via behind-the-scenes video, informative articles or exclusive interviews. By posting high-quality content regularly. businesses can weather the off-season and ensure their brand never loses visibility with its audience. The same applies for your business – consistent content keeps you at the cutting edge of your industry and boosts your website’s SEO in the process.
Secondly, there’s the value sports brands put on social media strategy. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but the extent to which these organisations are using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is truly out of this world. For a great example, cast your mind back to the 2013 State of Origin Series, when the NRL rolled out its Mission Control Room, designed to “track, engage, reward and amplify the real-time social conversation.“ It was a gamble at the time, but paid off by generating over a billion impressions and huge levels of audience engagement. Your business may not need a Mission Control Room, but regardless of your strategy, make sure not to skimp on the social side of things – and if you have limited reach on social media, consider boosting it with paid ads.
Finally, sports content marketing is quick to embrace anything new. This presents itself in all sorts of ways, including using the latest social media platforms (many teams have jumped on the Snapchat bandwagon). As the Content Marketing Institute explained in a recent article about content marketing in sports, there’s a demand for these new formats that big brands can use to their advantage.
“The success content brands are finding on so many discrete platforms is proof positive that consumers are more than willing to pay up – or opt-in – if it means they get access to the content experiences they desire most.”
Leveraging the appeal of sports
In addition to learning from sports content marketing, you can also leverage the actual power of fandom to get results. The latest data from Nielsen reveals that over 11 million Australians went online for their sports content in March alone. Creating valuable content for these fans is a great way to boost your business’ profile and create a feeling of friendliness amongst your audience – even if your brand isn’t sports-related.
Convince and Convert explains that: “Sports fans are extremely beneficial to any brand. They are loyal to their teams and players, and will show that same affinity towards you, as long as you keep coming up with great content for them to digest.”
We’re not saying you need to turn your accounting website into a haven for sports journalism, but a few articles along the lines of “End of financial year tips from the State of Origin series” certainly wouldn’t do any harm!