How sponsorship can retain your customers

In a world where you can swift from one brand to another in just a couple of clicks, customer satisfaction and loyalty increases in value. To keep their customers happy, O2 has prioritized sponsorship as a key platform.

O2 sponsors, among others, the O2 Arena, Rugby Football Union and 19 O2 Academy music venues.

According to IEG, the company has reduced contract churn from 1.8 percent to 0.9 percent over the last decade, a result the company credits in part to its marketing investments.

“The Priority program has resulted in a significant reduction in churn among customers who use it actively,” said Nina Bibby, O2 chief marketing officer, to IEG.

O2 reportedly paid £6m a year in 2007 when the partnership with O2 Arena began, and it’s thought that the value of the deal has increased over the decade as the venue has become more popular. The latest report says £125m for 10 years.

O2 is working with AEG on different technology integrations, such as enhanced Wi-Fi and smart phone apps. With these features, AEG can track crowd movement, analyze the most popular moment of the night (measured by crowd noise) and other insights.

The 21 year-old partnership with the Rugby Football Union is also used to offer ”exclusive experiences”, content and other offers as part of the Priority customer loyalty program. In 2016, O2 extended the RFU partnership for another five years.

“We know customers love live experiences we offer them with rugby and concerts so now we’re focusing on how digital can enhance those experiences before, during and after [events]. That’s really what we want to try and do more of, that whole end-to-end experience from live to digital and back.”, says Nina Bibby to The Drum.

Stadium sponsorships are perfect for these kind of loyalty programs because the arena can offer different types of entertainment; you can please both sports and music fans with one partnership (read: one brilliant activation idea is enough). Sometimes the most ”obvious” campaigns are the best; give your (most loyal) customers the possibility to buy tickets before others. 

Trends that will boost your fan engagement

Jakob Wikenstål have gathered some of the best inventions from past year that might boost (y)our success in 2017. I would like to pick out three of the six trends spotted.

The first one, ”Smart jersey”, with a case from Tampa Bay Lightning, is a combination between fan engagement and ticket marketing strategy. The NHL team introduced a replica jersey equipped with a radio frequency chip embedded in the sleeve. Fans can scan the chip (read: jersey) at stadium stores to receive discounts on refreshments and merchandise.

It sounds like an excellent way to connect with your fans and increase the visual event experience in the same time, doesn’t?

Well, the case is in fact from 2011 (!), and it’s interesting that the technology and theory behind it haven’t been a breakthrough yet. Preston McClellan wrote about it again in 2014 in the context of Ryder Cup. A lot has happened on the digitalization since 2011, but I guess this one is still up for grabs.

The second trend from Jakob that I would like to highlight is ”VR Sports Museums”.

There has been a lot of (good) stuff published on the broader topic, and I think you will find the big picture by reading Virtual Reality in Tourism (excellent blog, bookmark it!) and How Virtual Reality is Being Used in Museums. In short, if you managed to miss it, is that sports (and museums) are experiences, but what happens when you can get ‘the same’ experience with glasses…

Is VR a big threat to (live) sports? Yes, of course. But also a true win when you combine R and VR.

Last but not least, I think the revolution of the pick number three, ”Stadiums 2.0”, only just begun.

We might have a lot of top-modern sports and entertainment arenas all over the world, but just look at what is going on in the Out-Of-Home Advertising (OOH) Industry and you will soon find out that our stadiums will go from ”part-time white elephants” to digital, personalized experience spaces.

Digital signs are talking to me when I walk from the subway to the office. My dishwasher talks to me when I’m lazy at home (almost never happens though…). Why wouldn’t a stadium talk to me when my favorite team are about to play, just scored or when the queue to the hot dogs is too long?

It will happen. Gradually.