A new framework for fan segmentation

Fan data is important. We all know that. You’ve invested in a flashy new CRM software to help you out, and immediately went at it.

The first stage usually means filling the system with data. Lots of data. You started offering incentives for fans to drop some more data with you – when downloading the app, to enter a prize-bearing draw or while buying tickets for the next match. You also started working on connecting all the different touchpoints with the fans to your CRM, creating a 360 degrees view of all fan activities – ticketing, food & beverage, merchandise, etc.

Now that the data is flowing in, you wish to segment your fan base, in order to direct your campaigns to the most relevant people. An easy first step is to tap into the demographics – segment your fans based according to gender, age, area of residence – that’s  what we usually see with different clubs.

However, it is less likely that you will find a high correlation between your fans’ age group and the interest they will find in the offering of a particular campaign.

We would like to suggest a slightly different framework or prism to analyze your fanbase: the fan-pyramid, driven not by demographics, but rather by fan behavior. You may find this concept familiar from marketing courses you’ve taken in the past, detailing the different stages prospects find themselves in the journey of becoming customers.

Here we take this approach one step further and apply sports-specific behaviors for your consideration.

Note that within each layer of the pyramid, there may be several sub-segments to be treated differently.

Single gamers

As the category name suggests, here you will find fans who attend only a few games along the season.

Bear in mind that this category of fans is consisted of multiple sub-segments – starting from tourists who happen to be in town, maybe friends of season ticket holders using their tickets when they can’t go to a game, or people who are not die-hard fans, but would still enjoy a night out in the stadium here and there.

It is important to try and reach this level of granularity in the understanding of the different motivations for these fans to attend games, as each sub-group would require different marketing efforts and analysis of behavior patterns – when are those tourists usually visiting town? Which games does each “random” ticket buyer finds most attractive? And how can we get the details of the actual person who goes to the stadium instead of the familiar season ticket holder?

With the single gamers, as with each of the other pyramid layers, our aim is to create a habit of attending a few more games, and push them upwards from the base of the pyramid.

By identifying their motivations properly, we can align the incentives offered in our different campaigns, and gradually build this relationship forward into the future.

On a side note, as you’ll notice in the graphic above, your membership scheme can run along the entire pyramid, meaning that even single gamers can become paying members who enjoy some extra benefits. Tapping into the sense of “belonging” to the club and fan base, creates a wonderful opportunity to gather more data on such seemingly “random” stadium visitors.

Multiple gamers

Once fans start attending more games, this doesn’t yet mean that they are ready to become season ticket holders – they might not be ready to make the financial commitment of paying a lump sum at the beginning of the season, or maybe it’s about not being sure they will be able to attend most games and make the most out of their season ticket.

In any way, it is important to identify those fans, as they tend to be the most loyal ones outside of the season ticket scheme.

Here, too, it is crucial to understand the behavioral patterns of each and every supporter within this group – some may be attracted to games against a specific rival, others find it easier to attend on a certain day of the week, and there are always those who start showing up after a certain streak of wins by the team.

Such knowledge on the preferences of your fans will help you be very precise with the set of incentives you may offer to each one, in order to push them up to the next level.

Multi-game packers

Multi game packs are a wonderful way of getting fans one step closer to becoming season ticket holders. They may be considered as mini-plans of 3, 5, 7 or even half-season tickets, usually including one “big”, anchor game, and a couple of smaller games which are harder to sell on a game-by-game basis. Understanding which games would be the most relevant ones, and the sort of incentive required to get fans to buy such packs are key to building a successful game bundle and marketing it to the right fans.

Season ticket holders

The fact that you’ve sold all those season tickets does not mean you get to rest. One key problem with season tickets is no-shows. 8% no-show rates are usually acceptable by big clubs, and funnily enough, this is the reported no-show rates at airlines as well, being the driver of overbooking policies.

Clubs take different approaches regarding no-shows, ranging from penalties of different sources through ticket exchange platforms, all the way to loyalty programs rewarding attendance. Remember, again, that each season ticket holder has different motivations for not showing up, and you need to figure them out.

If you want to read a bit more about this subject, you should probably download our 5 ways to fill your stadium guide.

Feel you’re ready to take your data to the next level of fan segmentation, targeting and engagement? Let’s talk!