During the soccer World Cup and the European Cup in particular, it’s advantageous for brands and companies to think about their marketing actions around these major events.
The big soccer competitions represent an opportunity to seize to liven up your community and communicate with your prospects and customers.
Why should your communication strategy involve the theme of soccer and its competitions? What are the opportunities and objectives to seize? What actions can you take when you have an online store? What are the rules to respect?
Get out the cleats: here are all the keys to score goals!
World soccer competitions: a unifying schedule
It probably won’t come as a shock to you if I tell you that soccer (or football, as it’s referred to outside of the United States) is the most popular sport in many parts of the world.
Soccer is a sport that brings people together around a common passion: the victory of their favorite club. With several million fans and spectators, these events give great visibility to the partner brands of the event.
This is an excellent opportunity for companies, from small businesses to large advertisers. But it doesn't stop at international competitions: soccer is also local and nationwide, and the opportunities are just as beneficial!
In fact, it’s not only for partner brands and sponsors! You too can benefit from a significant amount of visibility for your business! Of course, we’ll focus on the opportunities to seize when you’re an e-merchant.
While the soccer craze has been going on across the globe for ages, it's recently seen a decent amount of growth in popularity in the US, a country where sports like American football, baseball, and basketball have long reigned. With the growing interest in Major League Soccer (MLS), the National Women’s Soccer League, etc., many American businesses are starting to take it as a sign to begin including content involving soccer events in their marketing strategies.
It’s important to note that, according to a study conducted by Adictiz, an online gaming specialist, 66% of the people questioned believe that these professional soccer events make the time of year even more fun, especially during the summer. The summer period, already conducive to fun (and therefore to consumption) will be even more so.
So, dear e-merchants, what objectives can you follow during these competitions?
How do you market around soccer competitions and leagues?
Throughout the year, there are events that companies shouldn’t miss to communicate about their offer: Mother's Day, Father's Day, Grandparents’ Day, Easter, Christmas, New Year's Day... Sporting events are also important from a marketing point of view.
They make it possible to convey the sports values of a brand or a company.
Occasionally, European championships or other World Cups represent an ideal showcase for the national heritage and therefore, for the companies that represent the engine of the country's economy.
During such large-scale events, businesses can follow the following objectives:
- Attract new consumers: Let's start with the ultimate goal. It’s obvious that any communication operation aspires to a return on investment. This translates into generating more revenue through the acquisition of new customers. With these soccer cups, e-tailers will be able to reach a target that may not have known them before. By having your communication involve the theme of soccer, you’ll be able to reach people who might not have known you otherwise.
- Increase your notoriety: Of course, with the acquisition of new customers, you’ll be able to improve the notoriety of your online store and therefore, naturally, of your offer.
- Liven up your community: Sports events are an excellent opportunity to entertain and pamper your community with the content you share on social networks, around a particular theme, a professional soccer club, a player, and especially, to unite around soccer. It’s important to know that the engagement on social networks is three times higher for brands linked to these competitions.
- Invest in fan zones: This is the trend identified by Michel Desbordes, Professor and former head of the Sport & Entertainment division of the Inseec group.
What are the "fan zones" for soccer clubs during events? They are places dedicated to the gathering of fans who weren’t able to get tickets for the games. They view the games on giant screens and enjoy the show together in a friendly atmosphere. Club jerseys and other merchandise are present to support the soccer clubs.
It’s a response to the constraint of the limited capacity of the stadiums.
Interviewed by the E-marketing.fr website, Michel Desbordes declared that fan zones are "a major marketing trend."
For example, it was not uncommon to see French people gathering in fan zones on Copacabana beach in Brazil several years ago during the 2014 World Cup.
These fan zones therefore represent very important marketing and business opportunities for businesses.
Top 5 marketing actions for soccer competitions
Of course, it’s possible to become an official sponsor of a competition.
The Union of the European Football Associations (UEFA), the organizer of the championship, offers different levels of partnerships, ranging from the simple use of the competition's logo to the official sponsorship which is worth millions of dollars.
Being an official sponsor of the championship allows you to capitalize on its notoriety, notably through the use of the competition's name and logo.
Who were the sponsors of Euro 2016 for example? Adidas, Coca-Cola, Continental, McDonald's, Orange... In other words, not everyone can afford it!
Rest assured, the marketing opportunities aren’t limited to the official sponsors of the championship and advertising contracts worth several million dollars.
We’ll talk here about the notion of ambush marketing, that is to say, the art of taking advantage of an event with a large audience to benefit from its spin-offs without being the official sponsor.
Be careful… At this point, there are rules to respect. It’s strictly forbidden to use the UEFA logo, which protects its graphic and semantic charter. The organization closely monitors the brands to ensure compliance with the rules it has set.
Let's see then how it’s possible to use the event to your advantage, while respecting these conditions. You may find that creativity is the name of the game...
Before starting, you should know that
consumers expect content related to big soccer events about 3 months before the competition.
In addition, you must determine how your offer can be related to soccer or the competition.
Do you have an ecommerce business related to food, and do you offer beers or products for pre-dinner snacking? You have all the ingredients to animate the evenings between friends who meet to see the matches.
Do you sell products made in the country where the people in your target audience live? You’re thus fully legitimate to support that particular country’s team.
If not, here are some ideas to help you stir your communities in connection with soccer teams and world events!
1. Promote your sports products
As you already do for important holidays, you can highlight your ecommerce site’s products that have a link with soccer.
This can include any of the following:
- derivative products;
- products that mark the identity of the clubs or the spirit of the competition or the sport itself;
- products that allow you to organize (and above all succeed in) a party with friends, on match nights;
For example, the online store Animalerie-Chiens (which has since become Du Côté Chien) sold clothes and accessories for animals. At first sight, the products sold by this store have no relation with soccer. And yet…
Du Côté Chien offered soccer shirts for our animal friends! For this store, these competitions represent a great opportunity to promote this category of products, canine jerseys, which are less popular outside soccer events.
When the World Cup was happening, the person in charge of this online store understood the stakes because these products were highlighted on the homepage with a fun visual.
It’s obvious that your products related to soccer should be highlighted on the homepage, either via a visual in your slideshow or in an event category highlighted in your menu.
Also think about promoting them via a dedicated email about the competition.
2. Create a special digital offer
Depending on the specificities of your offer, you can create a product (or a range of products) especially dedicated to the World Cup or European Cup.
To have your communication revolve around these events, you can use the different codes of this sport and the championship: the conviviality, the team spirit, the sharing, but also, the penalties, the penalty shots, the red cards, etc.
On the other hand, if your offer does not lend itself to the creation of such a product or service, nothing prevents you from offering a discount to celebrate the launch of the competition with a promo code such as "QATAR2022."
It's up to you to be creative to promote this offer, especially with the visuals... Remember to contextualize this offer. In other words, propose a percentage discount and specify the context in which it fits.
3. Get on the hashtag bandwagon
As for all events, hashtags will be part of the game to comment on the live matches on the web.
During Euro 2016, the most popular hashtag in France was #fierdetrebleu (“proud to be blue,” in reference to the French players’ blue uniforms).
Take advantage of the craze created around this trend to get your communications across to as many people as possible.
In the same way, during a game, Top Trends will appear on Twitter. Think about watching them to react to them and make your brand known through the fans' tweets. This way, you can create a close relationship with them.
You can also create your own hashtag campaign on networks like Instagram and TikTok.
For example, in February 2016, the alcohol-free beer, Tourtel Twist, launched its #TrinquonsPourLEuro (“Let’s drink to the Euro”) campaign.
Internet users were invited to post their photos on which they toasted with the famous beer bottle. The best publications are rewarded with tickets to attend the games. The results: thousands of posts on social media networks, more than a month before the beginning of the competition.
This is an excellent way to liven up your community, with a contest as a bonus.
In 2020, TikTok was an official partner of UEFA EURO 2020. To mark the event on the platform, different challenges were created, with dedicated hashtags: #MonHistoireBleue (“My Blue History” to look back on the victories of the French team), #EqualGame (to raise awareness about sportsmanship and its values), #Devinelhymne (“Guess the anthem,” serving as a blind test involving countries’ anthems), #MontreTesMaillots (“Show Your Jerseys”) to create videos with unusual shirts). Augmented reality filters have also been created for the occasion.
TikTok is the perfect playground to ride the soccer wave with your brand: invest in the platform and boost your engagement rate!
4. Offer contests and opt-in levers
We know that internet users are fond of contests.
It's the ultimate lever to animate your community in an efficient way and create engagement. And soccer competitions are an ideal theme to entertain your fans.
There are all kinds of ways you can craft a fun atmosphere for your audience: penalties, predictions, Instagram contests, team battles, quizzes, "which player are you?" personality tests, etc.
This way, you convey the image of a creative business that's up to date. It’s likely that Socialshaker also offers these possibilities.
Without using an application, you can offer what is called a "timeline" contest.
Paris Saint-Germain, Olympique Lyonnais, Manchester United, or the U.S. national team: stand out by creating fun visuals around the clubs and teams you support. People can participate in the contest by posting comments, and don't forget to get them to like your social media profiles.
You can also ask them to share your post in public or comment the name of their favorite club below your post.
The disadvantage of this game technique compared to third party applications is mainly that you don't get any database.
That's why you can think about the addition of opt-in levers to be installed on your online sales site in order to make your customers win offers or products while collecting email addresses. With the help of an application like Socialshaker, install "wheels of fortune" or other pop-ups and create winning actions around soccer.
On social media networks, you can adapt your logo to the colors of your country’s team. This can be done quickly and doesn’t require a large budget. It shows your commitment and starts to create an initial link with your followers around soccer.
5. Create proximity with the fans
Let's go back to our fan zones. Michel Desbordes sees many advantages for businesses, especially thanks to the stands and animations. Admission is free. Soccer fans are therefore more inclined to buy.
However, in order to benefit from a stand, you must either be a partner of the host cities, i.e., the cities hosting matches in the competition, or respond to the calls for tenders launched by these cities.
If you aren’t so lucky, you can play the proximity card. Think about geolocation! By going to one of these fan zones, share photos and videos live, via your professional accounts. Remember to identify the place where you are. This way you create a strong link with local consumers.
How do you develop your sports marketing campaign around soccer cups and clubs?
Whatever strategy (or strategies) you decide to implement, it’s important to keep these two tips in mind:
- Make a landing page dedicated to your communication operation, with simple and intuitive navigation.
- Think mobile to engage your users in real time, whether they’re in front of their TV, in the fan zones, or in the stadium...
Every year, you can ride the wave of many sports events... World Cup, European Cup, Tour de France, Olympic Games, etc.
You now have all the cards in hand to take advantage of the craze around these major events and encourage the development of your reputation with effective strategies!