In today’s dynamic world of sports – where even global sports event organisers compete to grow their audiences – fostering growth and reinforcing relationships with fans is a constant challenge.

The end goal of any sports rightsholder is to have a dedicated fan base; one which provides significant financial, time and emotional commitment to the sport. In order to achieve this, sports event organisers must deliver engaging content and activations pre-, during and post-event by creating memorable experiences, foster community interaction through feedback and a sense of belonging, and build a connection beyond the game through the provision of exclusive content that resonates with fans.

The voices of fans, their behaviours and attitudes should shape initiatives that in turn improve their overall experiences and respond to their evolving preferences. This provides essential data to ensure that event organisers ‘know their audience,’ to ultimately develop audience profiles, and ultimately provide a framework to develop successful strategies.

Here are some of the methods used in audience research that can increase and enhance the the process of building stronger relationships with fans.

1. Identify behavioral patterns/psychographic trends.

The first step in ‘knowing your audience’ is to hear and understand what they have to say. Capturing self-reported data to measure patterns in frequency of behaviours around sports consumption during an event, coupled with what motivates these behaviours and attitudes, can collectively define your audience. Redtorch conducted an in-depth survey of cycling fans for UCI to gain a deeper understanding of their interests, behaviours, perceptions and purchasing habits. The result? A bolder digital strategy, audience growth and increased commercial opportunities.

2. Monitor fan engagement/sentiment.

In today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape, tracking interactions and conversations on social media is essential so event organisers can gauge campaign performance and messaging. The combined efforts of social media monitoring, in which key metrics such as follower growth, engagements and social listening are examined, are invaluable. Redtorch partnered with United World Wrestling (UWW) to make best use of monitoring their social media as part of an audit to assess the current performance of UWW channels and inform a strategy to improve content. The result? UWW experienced significant audience growth and stronger positioning – becoming the leading wrestling brand in its target markets.

3. Evaluate/measure the impact of any initiative.
Whether designed to increase attendance at events or for larger sponsorship activations responsible for increasing brand visibility. Both require data to support the drivers that ensure successful activation while also highlighting performance. A variety of metrics, such as the ones mentioned, measure overall impact. Redtorch worked with the International Ski Federation (FIS) and their main sponsor Longines to engage their audiences through a sponsorship activation. The aim? To better understand their audiences and what appeals to them about snowsport culture. The result? Data derived from a short personalised quiz provided FIS with useful insights into their current and potential audiences. In addition to its value for strategic planning, it also provided long-term benefits for both FIS and Longines in tailoring their marketing initiatives around events.

Data-driven insights that result in implementing these methods are invaluable for event organisers. They lay the foundation for long-term success by informing strategic decision-making processes. They foster a passionate fan base that drives sustained growth and creates an enduring legacy for any sport.

Redtorch is a global research, content & creative agency that makes sport more relevant to more people. Click here to find out more about our work.