Are you in sports marketing and often find yourself scratching your head trying to figure out how to do it? You are not alone.

Marketing is hard work, and as the digital age only continues to grow, it can often become more challenging. There are several facets that go into effective sports marketing and knowing every last one of them is almost impossible.

However, one can have a bit of a leg up by paying attention to certain marketing trends. To help you with your marketing endeavors, here are the top five trends for the sports market.

1. Embracing Women in Sports

Nowadays, sports is far from being something “just for the guys” (not that it ever really was). The female sports audience is growing rapidly, and many brands are taking notice and implementing campaigns that target female sports fans. Such campaigns include Nike’s “Dream With Us,” North Face’s “She Moves Mountains,” and the “This Girl Can” campaign commissioned by the British Government.

2. Athletes as Influencers

In the past, many athletes had endorsements for multi-million-dollar sums for the typical companies – sports apparel, healthy/sports drinks, etc. But now, athletes are finding themselves becoming partners with up-and-coming brands outside of the sports atmosphere, everything from crypto to CBD companies. And cash may be no longer king when it comes to the partnerships too – athletes are also becoming partners with equity investments or receiving their funds in crypto currency.

In addition to the evolving landscape around endorsements, athletes in every sport are becoming true marketing leaders by managing their brands on social media. Their deep connections with fans on social media drive engagement, revenue and overall value for their sports teams and leagues across business areas. This is happening as they’re building their own lucrative personal brands in tandem.

3. eSports

Electronic sports (or eSports) have been popular for years. This is clear with the popularity of video game franchises such as Madden, FIFA, and others.

eSports popularity is now skyrocketing. These are no longer just fun games, but they can become tournaments with major cash prizes. This new era in eSports is giving rise to up-and-coming influencers and events that marketers can make a major profit from.

This is a big contribution to the digital age and one that sports marketers need to be mindful of.

4. OTT is Taking Over

Over-the-top (OTT) services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and ESPN+ are now taking over video consumption. PayTV lost over five million customers in 2020, and that number only grew by 30% in 2021. What’s more, 87% of customers aged 18 to 24 prefer OTT services.

These services offer the convenience of giving live sports coverage wherever viewers consume video. For example, the Olympic games are often viewed now through social media coverage or platforms from The NFL is offering similar services through its mobile apps.

5. Environmental Sustainability is a Must

Many consumers, especially younger ones, are seeking out brands that are committed to environmental sustainability. As a matter of fact, 66% of consumers are more willing to give their money to companies to take these issues seriously.

Sport-related companies and environments are recognizing this demand. Some athletic clothing companies are using recycled materials to make apparel. There are also movements that encourage picking up trash during jogging.

Marketers need to realize that the general public cares that businesses don’t thrive off of environmental harm and seek ways to appeal to those consumers in a genuine way.

Client Success Story

Almost overnight, the world of sports stopped COVID-19 blew the whistle on every level of athletic competition, from the pros down to Pee Wee leagues. With that time-out came a real threat to GameChanger’s business: if coaches were not able to coach, they would likely see little need for an app that helps them do their jobs better, from keeping track of stats and developing game strategies, to staying in touch with players and their parents with schedules, tips, and videos. It would have been easy for the brand to take a defensive position and simply accept the losses. But, as their agency and strategic partner, we saw a better way.

Our approach involved a nimble, optimizable media plan that could reach our three different consumer targets along with enough creative messaging to speak to each target’s specific needs. We leveraged look-alike targeting, retargeting, and CRM data to change how GameChanger reached their subscribers.

As both modern sports and marketing managers know, the results are in the stats, and, in this case, we hit it out of the park with this multi-tiered campaign. In addition to the three-point approach to media we launched with a deep bench of creative. Our creative team developed over 70 digital ads, 5 explainer videos, a dedicated app store video and other creative units for customized placements. This combination resulted in over 19 million coaches and parents reached producing a 66% increase in new app downloads Yo2Y and a 12% lower cost per acquisition.

Ready to be the next success story?

Knowing these sports marketing trends is crucial to a successful campaign. However, there is much more to consider. You shouldn’t go through this process without some help. We at Marketsmith Inc. pay close attention to trends in order to help our clients succeed. Our goal is to be ahead of the pack, to give you a leg-up to guide your business from a challenger to a champion. Get in touch with us today and let us boost your marketing efforts.