September 20, 2023

Digital Giveaways in Sports Marketing

Digital souvenirs and giveaways represent a complementary channel for sports marketers - and these digital items can be just as meaningful and fun for fans as the physical versions.

Digital Giveaways in Sports Marketing

In late June, my son and I got to Truist Park to see the Braves play the Twins 3 hours early. We weren’t there because we wanted to see batting practice or maybe snag a rare pre-game autograph, but rather we needed to be there to get that game’s promotional giveaway - the Ronald Acuna Jr. “13” Chain, Acuña being my son’s favorite player. We weren’t the only ones. Thousands of fans were lined up outside the stadium to get in early to get one of these precious giveaways.

Ronald Acuna Chain
The Acuna Chain

Without question, these giveaways and souvenirs are fun. If this one example is any indication, it certainly can motivate a decent sized group of fans to buy tickets and show up early.

Despite this popularity, physical souvenirs can leave a lot to be desired for the sports marketer. A few of these challenges include:

  • Inability to capture data: Who actually got the giveaway? Physical items lack the ability to collect actionable data, limiting the ability to tailor marketing efforts effectively and preventing the opportunity to build engagement with the fan
  • Limited reach and accessibility: Physical giveaways have geographical constraints, restricting their distribution to specific events or locations. This limits the reach and accessibility of offerings, preventing fans from engaging outside of these confined spaces. 
  • Lack of interactivity: In a digital age where interaction is paramount, physical items offer little to no engagement beyond initially receiving it. 
  • Physical storage and logistics: Managing physical giveaways and souvenirs entails complex logistics, including storage, shipping, and distribution. These challenges often result in additional costs and resource allocation. 

The big idea behind digital giveaways

Digital souvenirs and giveaways represent a complementary channel for sports marketers - and these digital items can be just as meaningful and fun for fans. Digital souvenirs are digital items that represent a fan's connection to a team or event. They can be anything from digital trading cards to virtual tickets to autographs. In many ways, the digital generation of souvenirs go beyond their physical counterparts.

  • First-Party Data Acquisition: Unlike physical collectibles, digital counterparts offer a powerful advantage in the form of first-party data acquisition. Every interaction with a digital collectible generates valuable insights into fan preferences, behaviors, and engagement patterns. This data provides sports properties with a deeper understanding of their audience, enabling more targeted and personalized marketing efforts.
  • Interactive Form of Storytelling: Digital collectibles transcend static physical items by offering an interactive form of storytelling. Each digital collectible can be embedded with multimedia elements, such as videos, audio clips, or animations, allowing fans to engage with the content in dynamic and immersive ways. This transforms fan experiences into captivating narratives that resonate on a profound level.
  • Scalable and Cost-Effective: Digital collectibles offer scalability and cost-effectiveness that physical items simply can't match. With digital distribution, there's no need for complex logistics, storage, or shipping. This scalability enables sports properties to reach a global audience seamlessly, while reducing operational costs.
  • Accurate Measurement and Attribution: Digital collectibles introduce a level of accuracy and attribution that is far beyond what a physical souvenir can tell you. Each fan interaction is tracked, enabling precise measurement of conversion rates, fan engagement levels, and overall impact. This data-rich environment ensures that sports properties can attribute success to specific initiatives and fine-tune their strategies accordingly.
  • Innovative Revenue Streams: Embracing digital souvenirs opens up new avenues for revenue generation by selling unique experiences, benefits and merchandise backed by a digital souvenir that lasts far beyond the experience itself.

Fan Engagement Beyond the One-Off Campaigns

The technology behind the digital giveaways is not the value proposition alone. It’s about the fun, the benefits and the experience fans have with collecting these digital souvenirs. Perhaps most importantly, digital giveaways offer sports properties the ability to build up their fan base and community. It can be fun, while deepening the bond between the game and its most devoted supporters. Integrating digital souvenirs into the marketing mix can be a seamless and rewarding approach to building fan engagement that lasts.