Customer Acquisition Tactics: Fantasy Sports and Sports
This research provides the following information: case studies of successful fantasy sports and sports customer acquisition campaigns; customer acquisition best practices for fantasy sports brands; and customer acquisition best practices for sports brands. In order to acquire new customers, it is beneficial for fantasy sports brands to leverage affiliate marketing; it is also important to post highlights and interact on social media. Sports brands can attract new customers by engaging via digital channels and partnering with influencers.
FantasyGuru — Digital Marketing
- The Challenge: Launched in 1995, FantasyGuru.com is one of the most connected and oldest fantasy sports information sites globally. The platform wanted to acquire new users and engage its current customer base.
- The Solution: On behalf of FantasyGuru, Firon (a digital marketing agency based in New York City) expanded the platform's marketing efforts across all digital channels. This was the first step taken to acquire new users and keep their current customer base engaged.
- Daily custom emails were sent to subscribers. These emails contained NFL (National Football League) news. The company also carried out intermittent promotions for both old and current subscribers. This was done in a bid to maximize engagement and to re-engage former subscribers that were not aware of the platform's "new and improved mobile friendly website."
- Since FantasyGuru focuses on providing seasonal fantasy sports content, Firon leveraged programmatic and social advertising to create ads ahead of the MLB (Major League Baseball) and NFL seasons. This was done in order to capture the attention of sports fans throughout the season.
- The marketing agency then continuously monitored and optimized traffic and keywords. This was done in order to place FantasyGuru on the first page of Google search pages.
- In a bid to acquire more users and constantly engage the current customers, Firon also managed the platform's contests and free giveaways.
- The Impact: On social media, these tactics yielded 1,055 new Instagram followers and 3.95 thousand new Facebook followers, within 7 months.
- FantasyGuru gained 20,000 new email subscribers, an average open rate of 19.5%, and an average click rate of 4%, within 12 months.
- By continuously monitoring and optimizing traffic and keywords, FantasyGuru's organic traffic grew by 892%.
FanDuel — Influencer Marketing
- The Challenge: FanDuel, a leading daily fantasy sports (DFS) service based in New York, hired NeoReach to deploy an advertising campaign that would "scale user-generated content at the start of the NFL season."
- FanDuel wanted to acquire new signups and improve engagement. It hoped to increase its paid signups, get more users to make deposits, and eventually play fantasy sports. However, the platform wanted to achieve these goals while simultaneously lowering its customer acquisition costs.
- The Solution: On behalf of FanDuel, NeoReach created an influencer campaign where players who referred new users were rewarded with incentives. According to Brian Sorel, chief operating officer at NeoReach, the agency "chose influencers who would play fantasy sports beyond the promotion window.”
- In explaining the reason behind their strategy, Sorel added: “We felt that ongoing integration was a better approach and would provide better long-term results than just a one-time sponsorship.” In delivering this campaign, the agency sought influencers that would play fantasy sports outside of football (i.e. soccer, basketball, and other sports).
- The influencers that were contracted "included YouTube personalities who broadcast season-long fantasy football on FanDuel." These influencers used affiliate tracking links. They invited their viewers to play along.
- Notable influencers included Mikey Bolts (a comedian), Jimmy Tatro (an actor), Chris Smoove (a gamer), and Matt Stonie (a competitive eater). Typically, the content generated by these influencers often generates "hundreds of thousands of impressions or more per video."
- FanDuel leveraged YouTube channels that had millions of subscribers, enabling them to tap into a large male audience comprising people aged 18-45 who are interested in sports.
- Also, by establishing a CPA (cost-per-action) and revenue share agreements, FanDuel eliminated the risk of losses from campaigns that do not perform.
- In delivering this influencer campaign, "NeoReach took an “always on” approach that cultivated partnerships and long-term relationships." By establishing an evergreen arrangement, influencers could participate in the success of FanDuel through "long-term brand advocacy and repeat endorsements over time."
- The Impact: Through its influencer marketing strategy "FanDuel closed the year with over $1.8 billion in entry fees." The platform was ahead of DraftKings by $600 million, and this was done by spending less.
- A total of 115 influencer posts generated 38 million impressions. The campaign also achieved a 5:1 return on investment (ROI) as measured against customer lifetime value (LTV).
- This campaign had a download rate of nearly 5%. Also, "the conversion rate to actual deposits were 5% of users who downloaded the app.” This download rate (5%) was higher than usual: typically, free apps have a conversion rate of 2-3%.
Dream11 — Advanced User Insights
- The Challenge: During the Indian Premier League season, which is a critical period for customer acquisition and engagement, the Dream11 team needed to act fast in order "to capitalize on the fever-pitch of excitement among the Indian sports community, expand brand awareness, and drive customer acquisition."
- This platform also faced the challenge of keeping those acquired customers engaged well beyond the (Indian Premier League) IPL season.
- The Solution: Using CleverTap’s cohort analysis, "Dream11 discovered that users who had participated in the previous match displayed a higher probability of coming back to the platform for the next one." To drive continued engagement, Dream11 needed to prompt its users to create teams and participate in all matches.
- In order to achieve this, the team then "performed A/B tests on different notification send times for these cohorts and found the highest engagement rates for afternoon campaigns." In such cases, users were only allowed to build their teams a few hours before the 7 pm match. This created a strong sense of urgency and anticipation. Finally, Dream11 "added their tagline, “Dimaag Se Dhoni,” as the notification sound to make messages stand out and reinforce brand recall."
- The Impact: Using advanced user insights, the platform was able to perfect its new user onboarding ﬂow, successfully activating and retaining more users. Dream11 was able to retain 5x more users.
- These tactics also enabled the platform to launch personalized messaging campaigns that re-engaged inactive and churned users. Ultimately, 70% of its inactive users were re-engaged.
Europebet — Facebook Ads
- The Challenge: Europebet.com is a platform that enables sports and gaming fans to place bets and also play poker, table, slot, and casino games. The company wanted to attract new customers and encourage them to open accounts, place deposits, and ultimately place bets during the 2018 soccer World Cup.
- The Solution: To attract customers in the run-up to certain matches, the team decided to use Facebook's carousel ad format. This was used along with a call-to-action (CTA) to open a europebet.com account.
- Europebet used ROI Hunter’s Template Editor to create multiple ads that featured branded backgrounds, team kit graphics, match information, and the latest betting odds. Also, ROI Hunter created "a product feed that automatically added the latest odds for matches mentioned in the ads and refreshed the information every 15 minutes."
- Through the ROI Hunter platform, ads were automatically delivered at times that coincided with the matches. These ads were only "shown to male football fans who had never visited europebet.com."
- For people who responded to the prospecting ads and went further to open an account, they were then shown new dynamic ads that featured the matches they had previously shown interest in. These new dynamic ads were shown alongside the latest odds and a CTA to make a deposit.
- Finally, using ROI Hunter’s Refine Audience tool, the campaign "excluded people who spent less than 8 seconds on the europebet.com website. This tactic helped focus the budget on the individuals who were most likely to covert.
- The Impact: Within the 30-day period that Europebet ran its World Cup campaign, the platform achieved remarkable results:
Tropicana Sports — Free-to-Play
- The Challenge: In June 2018, Tropicana Atlantic City (a top casino and resort in New Jersey) partnered with Chalkline Sports to launch a free-to-play sports gaming platform — Tropicana Sports. The aim of launching this platform was to "identify, engage, and acquire potential customers prior to sports book launch."
- The Solution: The platform partnered with Chalkline to deploy a free-to-play (F2P) strategy. By providing F2P games, it captured users' emails and mobile numbers.
- Besides offering multi-sport and multi-odds games, the platform provided bettor education programs for its users.
- Leaderboard games were featured in order to drive repeat play. These were accompanied by low-cost Facebook advertising campaigns that were delivered to custom audiences.
- Tropicana Sports also leveraged "promotional email marketing automation and personalization."
- The Impact: Through this means the platform gained 74% mobile engagement and an email open rate of 45%. Also, 77% of its players were from New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
- Its monthly players grew by 158% and 72% of its users became repeat players.
Post Highlights and Interact on Social Media
- Social media plays a major role in fantasy sports marketing. Top fantasy sports platforms like DraftKings and FanDuel have a huge following on social media. For instance, on Twitter, FanDuel has 226.2 thousand followers while DraftKings has 291.9 thousand followers.
- These platforms use social "networks to post game highlights and interact with customers." Through these posts, the brands provide "content to [their] users and [help to] get them excited about the world of sport, as well as encourage interaction with their respective fantasy sports platforms."
- It is the best practice to engage on social media because the most popular fantasy sports platforms, including DraftKings and FanDuel, have successfully deployed this strategy to engage users and drive growth. According to bettingsites.me.uk, DraftKings is the top fantasy sports platform. As of 2018, 50.6% of all fantasy sports players used the app.
- By scrolling through DraftKings’ Twitter feed, it would be observed that the brand posts videos of MLB clips and games. The platform uploads "player profiles of top sporting personalities such as Cristiano Ronaldo, and even cheat sheets to help its user base improve their fantasy teams."
- FanDuel, on the other hand, regularly posts WNBA highlights and shows amazing MLB home runs. The brand also posts funny sports memes and bloopers.
- Besides social media engagement, affiliate marketing is another practice that is highly beneficial for fantasy sports platforms. This is a clever form of marketing that is very important for fantasy sports platforms because they can gain "increased exposure and more customers" without much effort.
- These brands usually give a small percentage fee to their affiliate marketers as a reward for promoting their platform.
- It is the best practice to leverage affiliate marketing to acquire customers because the top fantasy sports platforms deploy this tactic successfully.
- Both FanDuel and DraftKings "operate an affiliate program through which customers can gain commissions." By using a special hyperlink, customers can promote the fantasy sports platform. Once someone clicks on a hyperlink and proceeds to register an account, that customer earns a small fee.
Engage via Digital Channels
- To acquire new customers, it is very important for sports brands to connect with consumers through digital content. People rarely browse through websites on their smartphones. However, with a mobile application, it is "so much easier to get the right content to the right person in the right way."
- Customers are used to identifying with brands through digital channels, such as social media or the company's app. Even when these customers engage on social media, they use apps more often.
- A brand that does not appear in the digital world is almost nonexistent in the customer's mind.
- Research findings provided by Anyline reveal why it is the best practice to leverage digital channels to engage and attract consumers. In Central Europe and the United States, more than 66% of inhabitants own a smartphone. Also, users spend 90% of their time with apps. Furthermore, "57% of consumers are interested in using their mobile device to check their points balances, redeem reward points (55%), find a location/store (54%), and browse reward options (54%)."
- According to GlobalWebIndex, "globally, 22% of internet users say that following sports events is one of their main reasons for using social networks."
- An example of a company that leverages digital channels to drive customer acquisition is Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI). The brand has apps for trail running, hiking, and exploring national parks. Through these offerings, consumers can be accessed and lured into patronizing the brand.
Convert Influencers' Followers Into Customers
- Sponsoring elite athletes has always been an integral part of sports brand marketing. However, with the advent of social media influencers, it has become easier than ever for brands "to leverage fan followings to build their customer base."
- This tactic is particularly efficient for smaller brands that might not have the resources to partner with established athletes.
- A survey conducted by Cascade reveals why influencers are a crucial part of sports marketing. According to Cascade, "more than 65% of sports marketers now believe influencer marketing to be a necessity to their brand’s success."
- Also, Cascade's 2019 survey found that 45% of sports teams had increased their influencer budget as of 2018. 25% of these marketers are spending over $20,000 on their influencer programs.
- A company that successfully deployed this tactic is Gymshark. The brand contacted a number of athletes who had growing followings on social media and offered them free products. The aim was to lure those athletes into sharing their Gymshark products on their social media feeds.
- Gymshark's strategy was successful. The brand "now sponsors a number of athletes who are active on social media, advertising to their millions of combined followers through regular sponsored posts."