Sports and other live entertainment organizations thrive off understanding their fans. You can try to guess what fans want or go off demographic clues (e.g., you have lots of millennials in your audience, so you should anticipate short attention spans). Or you go to the best data source around: the fans themselves.
Surveys have been a mainstay of marketing, advertising, and sponsorships for years now. You’re probably running some of your own surveys already (or paying a vendor to do it), but are they fully integrated into your strategy? Like contest entries, ticket purchases and social media, surveys are a source of data that can give you greater insight into your fans, and with a strategic approach to the questions you ask—and solid data analysis—can directly impact revenue for you and your partners.
Leveraging feedback surveys
We encounter feedback surveys every day: as you’re leaving a website, a popup asks you to rate your experience; when you open an app, another popup asks you to leave a review; when you’re leaving a bathroom, you can even push a button to rate your satisfaction with its cleanliness.
Live events are now way more than just about the game or the artist—it’s about the whole experience. You can’t do much about the outcome of a game, but you can do a lot about the experience, which is why you should get feedback on anything that’s a part of it, whether it’s lines, the food, halftime show, and yes, even the state of the bathrooms.
Here are a few ways to deploy feedback surveys:
- With an in-venue app, you can have a notification that asks a few questions at the end of the game or later that day.
- If you have an in-venue contest at the end of the game, after fans fill out a form or use social authentication to enter, you can ask additional questions about their experience. Adding an incentive like a chance to win increases survey completion by 5 to 20 percent.
- You can email a survey to ticket purchasers after the event (send the email everyone or a random selection of attendees to get a representative sample).
How to impact revenue
A feedback survey will help improve the event experience with some concrete action items (e.g., the lines were too long, sodas are flat), but can also help create some targetable segments in your database.
You can first group “Satisfied” attendees and “Dissatisfied” attendees and create different offers (whether via email, custom audiences on Facebook, etc.). Dissatisfied attendees might get a discount several months after the event to show off improvements, while satisfied ones get a premium ticket offer shortly after the event.
With lookalike modeling, you can combine data points you’ve collected (for example, when they socially authenticate, collecting brand affinities and interests in the form of Facebook likes) and create a model of a satisfied attendee, seeking out people in and out of your database who would more likely to be satisfied going to an event, even if you didn’t ask them, even if they’ve never been to one of your events.
Questions for sponsors present and future
Proof of ROI and ROO has become more and more inescapable in partnership agreements. In addition to tracking links from your app or site to a sponsors to track traffic and purchases, you can ask pointed questions before, during, and after your event via the channels mentioned above:
- Are you more likely to buy ___________ after attending today’s event?
- Did you know that _________ sponsored today’s event?
- What 3 sponsors do you remember from today’s event?
How to impact revenue
To drive revenue through surveying, you’ll want to ask more pointed questions for sponsors like “Are you in the market for a new car?” and “How often do you fly annually?” We’ve seen properties like Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment ask these on behalf of sponsors like JetBlue or local car dealers, typically as part of an activation that involves contest entry.
The property can take several approaches with the data. The most direct is they deliver targeted lead lists of people interested in the sponsors’ brand or are in the market for their products. Next, like with feedback surveys, the property and the sponsor can use lookalike modeling to uncover more potential buyers of the sponsors’ products.
Properties can also use survey data to approach new sponsors, pairing it with other data they’ve gathered. Let’s say for example, a brand has collected brand affinities from 20,000 fans, 23 percent of which have an affinity for Ford, which indexes higher than with the general population. They also survey their audience, knowing they’re looking for vehicle sponsors, and find that 25 percent will be in the market for a new car in the next two years. That could be a high-value proposition for some local car dealers, and you can ask similar questions around vacations, hotels, restaurants, or favorite candy bars.
Probably the most straightforward question you can and should be asking your audience is “Do you want us to reach out?” When someone does a personality quiz or enters a contest, instead of subscribing them into every one of your newsletters, ask them if they would like to receive one that’s relevant to whatever they’re filling out. You can also use this ask a basic qualifier for high-value tickets: “Do you want us to reach out about season ticket packages?”
How to impact revenue
Again, straightforward. Reach out to people who want to be contacted, and don’t to people who don’t. If you’re targeting EU residents, GDPR makes many opt-in questions a legal requirement, and it’s a big hit to your revenue if you’re caught violating that requirement after May 2018.
For high-value hand-raisers, you can combine that with their other data points to create a lookalike model of fans “Interested in season tickets” and find other potential premium buyers who you haven’t directly asked.
Learning more and more about fans
Finally, don’t be afraid to get creative and go beyond the tried-and-true market research inventory. Whether it’s quick questions in your app or a question to finalize a contest entry, ask things like:
- Do you typically stay for the whole event?
- What led you to buying your most recent ticket?
- Who’s your favorite player?
- What was your favorite theme night last year?
- Do you wear pajamas to bed?
How to impact revenue
Sky’s the limit. You can segment offers based on the questions you asked (like a signed jersey from a favorite player), create contests that last the game to keep fans at the game and spending on food and merchandise, investing more in sources that brought high-value buyers, etc. You can even mask a survey as a personality quiz, tailoring messaging and offers based on their personality type (for example, are they a “Trivia Nut” or a “Rowdy Fan”?)
Going outside of the norm can reveal trends you might not have expected or even looked for with traditional survey questions. Asking more questions has another effect: the more questions you ask, the better you’ll understand your audience, and the better you can deploy your surveys to get more people to fill them out as time goes on. Surveys aren’t just effective—they can and should be a fun source of data for your organization, helping enhance the fan experience as they enhance your programming and marketing.