The off-season may as well be called the ninth inning for those in sports marketing. The pressure is turned up, the level of engagement heightens, and execution is key. It’s your job to capture and keep the attention of the fans.
You’re not here for sports metaphors, though, are you? You’re here because customer retention is absolutely vital for sports brands. Whether it’s a down year, you’re competing against a larger market, your star player is out with an injury, or any other litany of obstacles, your task of maintaining interest in the brand never gets easier.
Generally, more attention equates to steadier revenue and profit. As such, it’s fair to say that customer retention is one of — if not the — most important aspects and goals of sports marketing. Achieving high rates of customer retention is easier said than done, though.
The world of sports is incredibly competitive both on and off the field (or court or track, etcetera). In order to not only keep up with the competition but elevate your brand to the upper echelons of the market, you’ll need to effectively utilise the best audience engagement tools.
To take you from behind the line to into the endzone, we’ve put together a crash course on the basics of customer retention for sports brands. From essential definitions to insights into the resources available to you, the knowledge contained in this article is sure to give you a strong foundation on which to build.
What is Customer Retention?
When you think about sports brands and their customers, you likely think of the big game, fans in full body paint, synchronised chants from the crowd, and stadiums looking like a sea of the team’s colours. It’s true; some customers in the sports brand niche are loyal to a fault.
While it would be great if each and every customer was tinged with fanaticism, you are well aware that’s not the case. The majority of the fanbase is more casual, making it more susceptible to the natural ebb and flow of the market.
Customer retention is business lingo for the brand’s ability to retain its customers for a set duration. That duration for a sports brand is likely indefinite, but it can help to break the eternal down into more manageable chunks of time.
For example, maintaining customer interest throughout the offseason is typically (read “almost always”) more difficult than it is during the season. As such, you will likely want to assess your brand’s success for certain time periods and strategize according to your findings.
In short, customer retention can be equated to loyalty. The more loyal your customers are to your brand, the better.
Why is Customer Retention Important?
A business can be defined by many things: the product and/or service it offers, the image it projects to the world, the employees behind the name, and so on. While all of those things are great and should certainly be integrated into any successful venture, they’re all pretty pointless without customers.
A lot of the glamour is given to clever marketing tactics and social media campaigns that are designed to attract new customers. Equally as important but often overlooked is customer retention.
When customers are happy with the product and/or service they’re receiving, they tend to be loyal. That loyalty can translate to word-of-mouth marketing, but more importantly, it often leads to repeat business. In other words: a happy customer is a loyal customer, and a loyal customer is a customer that will return.
The reason return customers are so important is self-explanatory. Businesses need money to operate, and customers have that money. As such, repeat business is integral in the growth of a brand, both socially and financially. In fact, a huge percentage of revenue for most businesses can be attributed to repeat customers.
In other words, customer retention benefits your business on multiple levels, from social perceptions to financial success.
How to Measure Success
The natural question that follows is “how do I track customer retention and measure my success?” In theory, the answer is simple—by utilising metrics and key performance indicators (KPI). To someone unfamiliar with such things, though, that can sound like an alien language. Even if you’re vaguely familiar with such topics and tools, it likely sounds easier said than done!
While hiring a professional to assist you or spending hours of your valuable time to learn the ins and outs of metrics and KPIs may be the most thorough approach, it may be prudent to start on a smaller scale by focusing on a select few before expanding your horizons.
The most obvious place to start is by calculating your customer retention rate. Knowing where you are in terms of retention gives you a quick diagnosis and a baseline from which to build. Maybe your retention rate is already fantastic and you have minimal changes to make. Maybe your retention rate is a bit anaemic and you need to do some digging to find out why exactly that is the case. Either way, knowing is better than not!
Hand-in-hand with customer retention rates come customer engagement rates. Essentially exactly as it sounds, engagement rates analyse how your customers interact with your brand. Research shows that higher levels of engagement lead to substantially increased profits.
So, what is engagement? Essentially, it is communication and interaction between customer and business. In the modern world, that communication and interaction can take many forms on many different platforms. One of the primary places where engagement occurs is online platforms. From time spent on your website to social media and app-driven interaction, online resources are convenient and easy-to-use, making them the ideal way to engage with your customers.
Engagement rates coupled with the numerous positive benefits of customer retention rates should be a benchmark for measuring the success of your brand, and as such, should be focal points in your strategy going forward. While the metrics and KPIs mentioned here are a great start, employing the assistance of an audience engagement professional is never a bad idea.
How to Improve Retention Rates
Because customer retention and all that accompanies it is so important to brand success, it is vital to maximise the potential for your business. Once you’ve finished the first step — evaluating and measuring your success — it is time to start incorporating strategies to improve your retention rates and, by doing so, the success of your brand.
There are a few key strategies you can employ right away to begin retaining more customers. The first is to identify and target customers who standout as disengaged. The most obvious warning flag to look for is decreased engagement with your brand. Try designing and implementing a campaign that is specific to retaining these customers before they drift out of reach.
Another seemingly simple yet surprisingly difficult step toward improving customer retention rates is being open to change. This can be difficult due to entrenchment in certain traditions or established ways of doing things, but even more so because it requires admitting that change is needed.
Whether it is adapting to more modern ways of conducting business or heeding negative customer feedback, anything that can be done to improve customer experience and satisfaction should be done. Remember, a satisfied customer is a loyal customer. Making a few changes is well worth the temporary pain of adjustment.
As you likely gathered from the connection drawn between customer engagement and customer retention, increasing the former goes a long way toward improving the latter. While you can take steps on your own to be more active on social media, push advertisement campaigns, and provide incentives to your customers, it is far more effective and efficient to use the tools that are now available to you.
Digital engagement tools such as the Komo Engagement Hub take the processes of customer analysis, targeted campaigns, and customer engagement and streamline them behind the scenes, allowing you to focus on the big picture. Such tools not only provide you with detailed customer information and unique lead generation, but they also allow you to specially tailor a user experience, flawlessly improving customer engagement, and subsequently, retention.
Our Final Thoughts
Many successful sports brands already utilise tools like the Komo Engagement Hub to personalise and supercharge their content and media, giving them a leg up on the competition. In an era of social media and app-driven customer interaction, staying ahead of the curve is vital for brand success.
Unlike sports, business has no offseason. Whether it’s in the head of the playoffs or the lull following, you and your brand don’t take a break. Neither do your customers. That’s why you need to use every tool at your disposal to win day after day.
From completely renovating your brand’s approach to customer retention to putting the polishing touches on your closing lineup, every detail matters. While this brief introduction to customer retention is a great resource to get you started, your work has just begun.
It’s the bottom of the ninth. The bases are loaded. Are you going to step up to the plate?