On the eve of Super Bowl XLIX, millions of fans are doing their last minute prepping for the big game. Whether its buying food, stocking up on liquor, or setting up the sound system and projectors, fans are excited and ready to engage. And with the increase of second-screens, social media, and mobile devices, fans can now interact like never before. From the hardcore fan checking every single stat, to the casual fan just checking out the athletes celebrity status, digital marketing engages fans while at the same time helps build the brand for the teams.
So, how do the digital marketing strategies of the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks matchup before the biggest athletic event in American sports?
First, let’s talk about the Patriots.
The New England Patriots, led by Fred Kirsch, Vice President of Content and Publishing, was the first sports team to have a website in 1995, which set them apart from all other teams in the sports-crazed Boston area. However, as time went on, a website proved to be not enough; and in 2009, the Patriots had their lowest season ticket renewal in a decade. To solve this problem, the Kraft Sports Group decided to implement analytics and behavior-based digital marketing…and sure enough, the Patriots saw a historic season renewal rate of 97 percent for the 2010 season.
The Patriots have since adapted some really sophisticated marketing operations. They currently produce 60-minutes of on-demand video a day and another 30-minutes of streaming video during the season. That does not even include special events and streaming audio shows. Additionally, by partnering with Pureview, an analytics company, they are also able to include real-time analysis of what the fan base is doing during the game. This allows the Patriots to gather information on how many devices are connected to the stadium Wi-Fi and social media activity.
Pureview found that Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounted for 10 percent of bandwidth at last year’s Super Bowl. As you can see, this is a great business tool that teams can use to learn more about the fan experience.
Jana Gauthier, the Director of Digital Marketing for the New England Patriots, is pushing mobile, social media, e-mail marketing, and e-commerce to build their brand. As a result, the Patriots have a great mobile app that is available for iOS and Android; and an interactive website that has photos, videos, podcasts, newsletters, links to social media, games and promotions. One thing I really like about the Patriots website is their Lifestyle section. It gives fans a chance to interact with and learn more personal information about the players, including such categories as health and fitness, fashion and style, food and travel. And if you are a Patriots fan, be sure to sign up for their e-mail list! You will get special discounts, exclusive content, and invitations to special events.
Now, let’s take a look at their rival for Super Bowl XLIX, the Seahawks.
The Seattle Seahawks are looking to build on their momentum from last year’s Super Bowl run and keep up with their online communities by adding social media during their playoff push. This year, they turned to Edelman Digital, a global social agency. That partnership lead to a social media strategy centered around quality, personalized, visual content. This strategy included specific analytic tools and a comprehensive analysis of mentions and hashtags, which enabled Edelman Digital to deliver real-time content. Community members were also able to share graphics and templates to their communities.The Seahawks wisely used weekly engagement insights to create relevant content for their upcoming games.
The Seahawks currently have quite an impressive website and mobile app that promotes fan interaction, and they definitely have more Super Bowl content overall. What is very appealing about their website is that they have included the Spirit of 12 link, which really engages fans and helps them feel closer to their team.
Finally, the Seahawks’ community management on Twitter has also led to positive mention and engagement with the fans. In fact, Edelman Digital helped increase the Seahawks’ community management by a whopping 804 percent. This massive increase definitely helped the Seahawks win 1st place in social media from Rival IQ heading into the 2014 season (the Patriots were right behind in 3rd place).
With the Super Bowl hours away, fans of both teams have a tremendous amount of access to their favorite teams. They can interact via blogs and videos on the team website. They can see pictures and exclusive content on their mobile device using social media. They can watch the Super Bowl on television and use their tablets to check stats and comments in real-time.
Both teams engage their fans through a variety of channels, both at the stadium and at home. Come kick off, I can’t wait to see how much content is distributed in real-time. As the game goes on, it’s easy to see some fans being even more engaged with that than the game itself. So, for Super Bowl XLIX, let’s see who wins this year’s title…not for football, but for digital marketing bragging rights.