< Back


7 ways online marketers can drive sales using major sporting events

May 23rd 2019

Martina Poehler

By Martina Poehler

VP of Marketing

How to use sports events in eCommerce marketing

What do the Cricket World Cup, the UEFA Champions League and Wimbledon all have in common? Major sports events inspire excitement across the country and are the perfect excuse for an office sweepstake or a barbeque with friends.

What else do they have in common? They’re also a treasure trove for creative and effective eCommerce campaigns.

Here are seven ideas how to turn major sports event promotion into a marketing grand slam:

1. Tap into team comradery

Provide fans with everything they need to support their team ready on the big day. You can leverage customer data, such as their browsing and purchasing history, to match each customer to their team. If you’re a sports retailer, you could make targeted recommendations on fan items, such as team hats or shirts, for the sports team they support as part of your sports marketing campaigns. This will not only help drive a purchase, but also avoids causing offence. Recommending the wrong team merchandise, such Liverpool kit to a Tottenham fan, definitely wouldn’t go down too well…

Sporting event email campaign example with product recommendations

2. Provide style advice

Use occasions for which people like to dress up, such as Wimbledon or the Grand National, to provide inspiring content that captures consumers’ attention. A few ideas include fashion retailers running sport event promotions on how to style and what to wear for the event. Using UGC and influencer content in your sports event marketing alongside professional campaign shots will add an extra layer of authenticity.

Online retailers can provide style advice emails around sporting events

3. Help customers prepare

Why not run a sport event promotion on items that will help more customers prepare for an opening ceremony or key games in the tournament? Your recommendations could even be weather-based, e.g. suggesting products for a barbecue with friends if the local weather forecast looks promising. Themed timers counting down to the start of the sporting event can effectively market your products to your target market by creating urgency.

Use countdown timers to drive online sales around major public events

4. Be relevant with dynamic content

As people take to their mobile device during advertising breaks or for live updates on scores, it gives you an opportunity to engage fans with relevant, dynamic web and email content. Consumers interacting with your email or online store during the event could see marketing content relating to the event, such as a reference to the leading team, and those engaging with it at a later time see different content.

5. Keep an eye out for news hijacks

On match day, it’s also always a good idea to follow the live tournament to see if there are any opportunities to newsjack the event. A prime example of this is the Oreo tweet during the Super Bowl blackout in 2013, which was retweeted almost 15,000 times, creating even more brand awareness for the company.

Newsjacking helps online marketers engage with customers during sporting events

6. Help deal with road closures

Local events, such as the London Marathon, will cause extensive road closures and make it hard for people to do their shopping. Using location-based marketing, such as dynamic content based on the shopper’s preferred store, or geo-location at the moment of engagement, you can show if their store will be affected by road closures and share dedicated content related to this. Raise awareness for this by recommending other nearby stores or highlighting delivery and returns information for online purchases provides customers with useful information to make them less likely to abandon their considered purchase altogether.

7. Compensate the potential drop in footfall

A lot of sports fans will opt to watch the event with their friends at the pub. Whilst this tends to be good news for the hospitality sector, it often means a drop in footfall for highstreet retailers. Build this into your strategy and design campaigns that aim to drive consumers online to compensate for the potential revenue dip in your physical stores. For example, you could tap into the positive spirit and run an online flash sale celebrating a home nation win.

If you’re looking for ways to tie sporting events into your marketing, your imagination is the limit. To achieve a proper slam dunk, make sure that your campaign is the right fit for your brand and consistent with the expectations of your target customer base.

For a year’s worth of digital marketing inspiration and tips, download our dedicated eCommerce marketing calendar.

Martina Poehler

By Martina Poehler

VP of Marketing

Martina is VP of Marketing at Fresh Relevance. Heading up global marketing, she helps fellow marketers discover how they can boost revenue by blending creativity with smart technology.