How Sports Brands Are Using Technology to Dominate in Business, Not Just in the Game

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Orlando City Soccer was a sports team looking to build a thriving soccer culture in its city from the ground up. Now, in a short time, the brand has captivated not only its regional fanbase but the world of soccer at large. To do so, the franchise sought to be ahead of the digital curve by investing in technology to take its connection with fans to the next level. Orlando City Soccer wanted to amplify fan engagement opportunities and get better insight into the impact of its sales and marketing efforts. To do so, Orlando City launched its first fan app, LionNation.

Data intelligence and mobile are infiltrating the sports world. Innovators in the industry have vocalized a vision for using data, however, implementation is still scarce on the business side of sports. The power of mobile and data together opens up a world of fortune for sports brands. It’s time for more brands to see the power in analytics for branding and fan engagement – analytics they own and have full access to.

Orlando City’s LionNation app is a prime example of the opportunity the sports industry has. In particular, there are three areas analytics supports:

Content Guaranteed to Stick

Sports teams are utilizing social media and owned-media channels to connect with passionate, life-long fans and newcomers alike. This is all done through exciting content fans can’t get anywhere else. Though mobile digital media consumption is up, social media channels are designed to capture economics only for their shareholders. This leaves brands with millions of followers but no insight into monetization and no ownership over the data they create. An owned platform enables brands to capture greater economics from fan engagement through direct, more meaningful interactions. Relying on a third-party, like Facebook, for success gave Orlando City little control over the fan experience and delivery of promotions, the inability to proactively engage its audience at its own discretion, and no control over how and when to generate revenue. LionNation has helped Orlando City overcome all of these challenges.

Enlightened Sponsorship Strategy

This new knowledge into fan behavior not only allows for unique monetization opportunities, but also entirely new offerings for advertisers and sponsors. The app can hyper-segment users, activate geolocation features and more to target the right fan the right way for the right sponsor. Orlando City has detailed insights into who its fan are by understanding their common interests, consumption patterns, and buying habits. This means less guessing on whether sponsorships and partnerships are a good fit for the audience and the ability to track performance.

Bonus Offerings that Get Fans to the Game

It’s also important to mention the obvious revenue driving opportunities the app creates for paperless ticket entrance, in seat ordering and loyalty point program. If Orlando City hasn’t seen a fan in awhile, it can push a promotion that makes sense for that particular fan based on past behavior. This keeps the brand top-of-mind and motivating fans to come back for game day year after year.

The launch of LionNation far surpassed expectations. With an average of 22,000 fans in attendance per game, the app has more than 62,000 downloads. Orlando City sees an average of 14K users per day on the app (9K in the off-season), and growing, with an 80 percent conversion rate to registered users. To date, the app has had close to 2 million sessions. Additionally, the app has converted close to 12 percent of people who liked the Orlando City Soccer Facebook page (its biggest social media channel) and 30 percent of its Instagram followers.

These exceptional engagement milestones indicate a powerful shift in control for brands. The ability to track all of this through one easy mobile application is providing Orlando City with more data on its fans than ever before. Whether Orlando City is the best team on the field, the brand has more control over its fan experience, which keeps them happier, regardless of player stats and goals tracked.

About the Author

Leo Farias is the CTO and Co-founder at Fanhero and Concepta, a custom software development firm providing tailored web and mobile applications to small-to-medium enterprises. With over 18 years of technology-focused experience, he plays a vital role in architecting and leading various mission-critical projects for world-renowned clients like Time Warner Music, Orlando City Soccer, Vasco de Gama and Corinthians Soccer Club. He received his MPS in Business of Art & Design from the Maryland Institute College of Art.


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