The Role of Digital Marketing in the Business of Sports

digital marketing for sports business
Before the advent of social media, how did sports fans get their fix? Of course, the old-fashioned way – watching it on TV, listening to it on the radio, reading about it in newspapers, talking about it with neighbors and friends, or being a player yourself. However, with the emergence of digital marketing and media […]

Before the advent of social media, how did sports fans get their fix? Of course, the old-fashioned way – watching it on TV, listening to it on the radio, reading about it in newspapers, talking about it with neighbors and friends, or being a player yourself. However, with the emergence of digital marketing and media (particularly social media), the entire game has changed.

The way fans and athletes discover, view, engage in, and express their enthusiasm for sports has been transformed by digital technology. And do you know what digital media and sports have in common? It is the opportunity to reach out to a large number of people at the same time.

Before we look at how digital marketing has transformed the sports industry, let’s take a look at the sports landscape in India. The global sports industry is approximately valued between $480 and 620 billion dollars. However, sport is yet to be recognised in the economic field in India. Still, with the establishment of leagues such as the Indian Premier League, Hockey India League, Indian Super League, and others, a new identity of sports has emerged.

Along with cricket, India is steadily evolving from a single-sport country to a multi-sport one, with a focus on other sports such as hockey, kabaddi, football, badminton, boxing, and others. In the economic parlance, the sports industry in India employs over 500,000 people and will continue to offer more employment opportunities in the coming years. As a result, we may conclude that the sports industry in India is gradually rising, with long-term growth prospects looking positive.

Scope of digital marketing in sports business

One of the primary reasons for the exponential growth of sports in India is the massive popularity of leagues such as the Indian Premier League (IPL), Indian Super League (ISL), Pro Kabaddi League, and others. Businesses are now considering sports as a possible way to expand their brands, and with the rise of digital media, advertisers are considering using digital marketing in the sports industry. With over 323 million Indians using the internet, the future of digital marketing in the sports industry looks promising. 

To link marketers and fans, digital marketing uses a variety of online platforms. During live events, digital media is gradually replacing conventional broadcast as the second screen. Both new media and sports have the potential to draw a vast number of viewers at the same time. As a result, sports digital marketing strategies are gaining popularity and transforming the sports industry in ways that will be addressed further below.

Ways in which digital marketing is shaping the business of sports

Extensive social media engagement by sports fans

It was discovered that 83 percent of fans scroll through social media when watching sports on TV, and 63 percent use social media while watching a game at the stadium. Companies are coming up with innovative ways to engage sports enthusiasts. Many sports brands can be seen advertising themselves on Twitter and Facebook. 

Social media is bridging the divide between the average sports fan and his urge to watch a game that he cannot afford to watch live, likely due to financial or geographical constraints. This is made possible through live updates, exclusive material, competitions, and event promotion. As a result, it can drive a lot of traffic to the web and be used to sell goods, which is how sports marketing via social media can be accomplished.


Blogging can be an excellent way for clubs and teams to display their human side by encouraging supporters and fans to write about their activities. They can also interact with some bloggers who are also sports fans by posting the club’s latest happenings, which they will then share with their group of followers. This would boost online coverage and assist in brand promotion.

Search Engine Optimization for Sports Business

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can dramatically help to increase visibility and generate additional traffic to websites and is thus gaining prominence in sports digital marketing campaigns. SEOs can also be used to boost page rankings in search engine results. Brands are not only optimizing their pages to rank for keywords related to their products but are also engaging in creating content around sports (only if relevant) and ranking for it. 

Brand Management

One component of brand management is the management of search listings so that favorable listings are highlighted in search results. This can be beneficial for any sports team or brand attempting to establish a positive online identity.

Content and Video marketing

Content marketing is used to increase website traffic and keep fans, followers, and potential customers interested and engaged. Wimbledon’s YouTube channel is a good example. They are known for providing their followers with appropriate, exclusive, and engaging material.

It is also important to note that in order for a digital marketing campaign to be effective in the field of sports, the following three factors must be considered:

  • Technology: If you use technology or content to reach out to your followers, creativity is key. In season one of the ISL, the Facebook cover was automatically updated with the shift in ranking, which was a perfect example of technological advancement. When it comes to content innovation, the Mauka Campaign, which used custom emoticons during the 2015 Cricket World Cup, is identified as one of India’s best sports digital marketing campaigns. It played on the rivalry between India and Pakistan in cricket.
  • Be data-driven: The use of digital channels produces a vast volume of user data that can be used to make informed decisions. Tweak your UI, creative, plan, and so on based on the data, but don’t get lost in the sea of data.
  • Engage on a real-time basis: When we talk about sports, every campaign must be real-time in order to be successful. Sport is all about the moment, and you must be present in order to interact and communicate with your audience. You must sail alongside your end-user, whether it is live ratings, stats, or user interactions.

Digital Marketing models for sports business

Digital marketing is no longer just a branch of marketing; in practice, digital marketing now accounts for the majority of marketing. As a result, every organization’s marketing plan would include a digital marketing model at its heart. Hence, it needs a proper ‘line of sight.’

Let us look at the examples of digital marketing models in the sports business which can be adopted for winning and retaining modern customers.

Customer Experience Design Model

Brands that follow this approach use customer data and insights to enhance the end-to-end customer experience, which is usually focused on customer service. They strive to develop unforgettable experiences at various touchpoints in order to cultivate deep and loyal customers.

Since all sports teams, leagues, and activities compete in this manner, the industry word for this method is ‘fan engagement.’

Teams such AS Roma, FC Barcelona, and the Orlando Magic take this approach exceptionally well because they have developed an internal culture centered on fan-first thought, design, and inclusion.

Digital Branders

Market goods that concentrate on building brand loyalty and deepening consumer interaction often use digital branding. Digital marketers are moving away from conventional advertisements and toward immersive multimedia interactions that interact with customers in novel ways, which may involve expanding the experience.

Red Bull is an example of a digital brander worth studying. They first developed their own category focused on adrenaline and enthusiasm, which instantly connected to sports. Then, they crafted leadership by owning teams and events to maintain leverage of multi-media content publishing and delivery with remarkable success.

Tough Mudder events are the ultimate examinations of physical endurance. The community that they established around the brand urges participants to line up for the Tough Mudder tattoo post-completion. They market the quality of perseverance in a true sportsperson.

Demand Generators

These brands emphasize volume and productivity over the more profound emotional experiences sought by rivals in other categories.

Companies that use this model are typically retailers focused on driving internet traffic and converting as many transactions as possible across various channels for optimum reach. Both digital components, such as a website, search engine optimization, and social media, are designed to raise visibility and increase sales.

We’ve all seen this tactic in motion, such as purchasing tickets to a sporting or entertainment event only to be bombarded with deals for any other event the agency is offering.

Product Innovators

Organizations use this model to define and create innovative digital products and services. Companies are focusing on analytics derived from digital interactions in order to obtain customer insights for innovation.

The following quote encapsulates the philosophy of product innovators:

“We used to think that everything started in the lab. Now we realize that everything spins off the consumer. And while technology is still important, the consumer has to lead innovation. We have to innovate for a specific reason, and that reason comes from the market. Otherwise, we’ll end up making museum pieces.” – Phil Knight, Founder, Nike.

In the sports industry, Levi’s Stadium in Silicon Valley and London’s O2 Arena are two examples of stadiums that are pushing technological boundaries to build the most unique fan experience and unlock game-day revenues.

SC Views

Sports is a highly dynamic business. And this dynamicity of the sports business has only been matched by that of digital marketing. 

Digital marketing innovations in content, platforms, social media, and interaction and feedback have given wings to sports. Sports have become more ubiquitous than ever. With digital marketing being the core of most brands’ campaigns, innovation in the strategies followed and the model adopted for marketing is the only guarantee for grabbing eyeballs.

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