There are activities and behaviors you either want fans to perform or know fans, themselves, want to be able to do. These processes are paramount.
So I wrote a little bit about what I do in the fan engagement and mobile space for Hopscotch and some important lessons I’ve learned from working with so many customers. This is the story of Hopscotch, with some takeaways (hopefully) from which one can learn.
We bring fans closer than ever before. That’s not marketing speak (okay, maybe a little), it’s the new way of the world. Sports and events play into passions, creating crazed consumers — fanatics — fans.
They pay to come to events. They consume content across channels. They start and share conversations related to the organization and its sponsors. And, of course, they invest a lot of money – buying tickets, buying food and apparel and mementos, to watch, to attend, to get VIP experiences, and more.
There are activities and behaviors you either want fans to perform or know fans, themselves, want to be able to do. These processes are paramount. Step into fans’ shoes and buy that ticket, browse that app, sign up on that form — how can you eliminate unnecessary friction?
An extra click, an unnecessary field, a need to zoom or squint – anything that makes it harder to get from point A to point B, without a good reason, is hurting the fan experience and ROI. That is baked into everything we do — a single environment, a native ecosystem that has a simple path to anything a fan wants and needs.
But fans don’t just check in when they need something anymore. The best organizations are building communities with their fans — engaging on a daily basis. The event days may be when attention and activity everywhere, communities are consuming and conversing every day.
The fan wakes up, checks their phone, hits snooze. They check out the morning headlines before heading off to work or school, perhaps killing some time at Starbucks en route. They look for something to talk about and share around friends or coworkers and then start to plan the next time they’ll make it out. They view a video at lunch and browse other snackable content while killing time.
On event day, they worry about parking, tickets, food, how to watch videos and replays, what to wear, what to buy, how to get there, what to see, how to plan, and any number of questions about the details. Every day is an experience and every event involves a 360-degree journey that starts well before and, really, never ends. It’s part of a lasting relationship that the best build with their customers, their fans, their communities.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but as connected and community-seeking as fans are, now, egos are also as ubiquitous as ever. It’s not a bad thing, fans just know what they want and need — and expect smart machines and algorithms to give them what they want in a personalized, contextualized, localized manner. All this ties back to stepping into the shoes on the fan’s journey.
Everyone knows they should be using data. Many are devising or practicing ways to collect information from and about fans. But collect only what is needed and know how and why it will be used. Then, all sides win. Put together a use case or two, if you do not have any already, and ask questions for which data can provide the answer. How can you reach more families? Find out which fans have kids, have bought kids apparel or concessions, have attended with a school or youth group, are social media follower of the kids club page, or have previously purchased (or even browsed the info page with) a family deal.
Still with me? If data is used to bring fans closer to their passions and is fit perfectly into their journey, 365 days per year, we’re as close to nirvana as we’ve ever been. But wait, there’s one last lesson, because what we all think we know today may be anachronistic tomorrow.
It’s impossible to play psychic and try to envision what the future will look like for fan engagement. The best one can do is to anticipate change — not predicting the future, exactly, but predicting the future won’t be entirely like the present.Don’t invest deeply in a strategy or technology that has a track record of rapid evolution, unless you can be sure that investment can evolve at the same pace. Learn from peers, do the homework, and ask the hard questions about how a solution or strategy would stand up to a different tomorrow.
The best organizations do not relax in a rut of routine. They’re constantly incorporating what the innovators in the industry are doing, taking advantage of the public forum in which most fan engagement occurs. Never stop learning, experimenting, and evolving because fans are changing and expecting more every day.
The good news is some lesson and principles never go out of style. It always comes back to relationships and appealing to passions and emotion and why fans are fans in the first place. Make that the foundation of everything and you’ll never go wrong.