4 Winning Fan Engagement Initiatives You Should Pinch

Engagement with customers is of vital importance within CX and marketing, and the sports industry provides some unique opportunities.

Here are 4 winning fan engagement initiatives you should pinch to elevate your own customer experience and marketing strategies:

1. Use The Latest Technology - Or Take Inspiration From It

If a passionate fan cannot attend a game but still wants to feel like they're there in the audience, then the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, which was first used during NFL game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Indianapolis Colts, provides a fun way of doing just that. It creates a close connection and battles the fear of missing out (which is an actual thing), especially during game season when sometimes work, family, physical distance or social obligations can get in the way of total commitment from your fans.

True, immersion through virtual reality might not be obtainable for all, especially the smaller teams with smaller marketing budgets to match, but there are definitely more budget-friendly ways of helping fans feel like they are a part of the action even if they're not actually there. It's all about creating an experience beyond the field; through technology, social media and the establishment of a true community spirit.

2. You Don't Need to Have a Team to Capitalise on Fan Passion

While providing ingenious initiatives to gain or keep fans loyal to a team is an obvious one for marketers, you don't have to be in charge of a club to be able to capitalise on the passion of these people and get them to take notice of your brand. There are of course the obvious ways to get a slice of the sports cake; such as sponsoring a major event. But have you thought outside of the norm to create a truly differentiated approach to fan engagement?

One clever example is NBC's "Super Stream Sunday", which provided non-stop Superbowl goodnessã?¦ for 11 hours! Full immersion is a great tactic to pull people in and not let them go, especially the hyper-connected Millennials that thrive on an on-demand service, which the likes of Netflix and other on-demand streaming providers prove.

3. Exclusives - Give Fans What They Want

If you've created some exclusive content with your star player or of an important game, don't share it far and wide through all your channels immediately, but firstly think of your die-hard fans. Create a special community just for them to give them priority access to exclusives. This can be via invite-only social channels, a forum, a targeted database for a newsletter or even an app.

The NBA's Detroit Pistons use an app called SocialToaster to do just that and rewards those who have been most loyal to them. Not only that, but users collects points for then sharing that content, which can be turned into tickets and merchandise, creating a far bigger marketing campaign than the Detroit Pistons team could possibly establish by themselves. So you're not only keeping your fans happy by providing some great exclusives, but in turn they're helping you too. It's a win/win situation.

4. Make Fans Feel Appreciated - All Year Around

Fans are committed to a team and passionate advocates for those they support, but research has found that they don't necessarily support the same team for life. In fact, in a single year nearly a third switched teams and this trend is predicted to continue. So once you have gained fans through your marketing and customer experience initiatives, don't forget them; especially when the season is over and they can easily forget about you too.

Are your fans overseas? Digital and social has made it easier than ever before to include those from far away in the special events and other initiatives you organise for them. Are you inviting fans over to view the hallowed halls where training takes place? Ensure a live feed online and social media updates all through-out the event. Throw in some exclusive content and a competition just for those who are unable to physically attend and you're on to a winner.