Cricket seasons in India are a frenzy for players, fans, and brands. Fan engagement is an integral aspect of the game for players, teams, cricket organizations, and sponsors.
Historically, fans watched the game on television, heard it on the radio, and if lucky – they hit the stadium. But today, amid the rapid proliferation of technology, they can watch the match on tablets, phones, TVs, or laptops, enabling companies to target viewers across multiple channels with precision.
Here, look at this iconic ad from the 90s that took everyone by storm. In 1994, when this ad featuring a girl dancing on the cricket pitch hit the TV, the audience loved it. It changed the brand’s perception that chocolates were only for children and expanded its target audience.
As it was TV. unfortunately, we don’t know the views, but given the likeliness of this video, we deem it was a lot. In fact, Uber Eats India recreated this ad in 2018 to pay homage to the iconic scene and build their own brand over it.
In 2023, all of this can be tracked. Let’s take a glance at how advertising has evolved over the years to meet the needs of the brands and to cater to the users efficiently.
70% of Indian cricket fans are on their smartphones during matches.
As we witness the 2023 ICC Cricket World Cup, one of the most eagerly anticipated tournaments, how can you, as a brand, milk this opportunity? As the surge in advertising during this time increases, how can you avoid poor engagement and customer fatigue?
In this article, let’s explore steering away from poor engagement habits and attracting fans at a deeper level.
Understanding The Appeal: The Power Of Fan Engagement
With 25.3 million viewers, India has cricket’s most concurrent livestream viewership. This year, brands are set to spend ₹2,000 crore ($240 million) during the World Cup, with 10-second ad slots costing around ₹ 30 lakh. From jerseys to the pitch, from mid-rolls to man of the hour – brands have captured these moments like a hawk.
Thus, in recent years, the role of fan engagement has evolved. Earlier, it was majorly driven as a medium for fans to engage, participate, and experience cricket better. However, in recent years, brands have entered the season seeking emotional, psychological, and social connections.
This bond materializes through various means, including social media interactions, in-app exposure, fan-centric events, engaging contests, emails, push campaigns, fantasy leagues, interactive websites, and other innovative initiatives.
Fan engagement is the lifeblood of any successful sporting event, and the ICC Cricket World Cup is no exception.
The Impact Of Fan Engagement
Any sports marketing or management campaign is a series of solid content loops that work well for its viewers. From a pure business standpoint, sports combine good games and the money they make. When fans enjoy the game, it attracts more crowd – making it a hot pool for brands to engage.
For example, CRED’s collaboration with Rahul Dravid for the ‘Indiranagar Ka Gunda’ ad was one of the most-watched cricket ads in 2021, hitting a million views in less than an hour.
This gave CRED an incredible amount of social conversations. Being a sponsor of the IPL, CRED released the ad on the same day as the first match of the season.
Pro insight: CRED used Virat Kohli as the leading distributor of their ad. After this, they used their email and other app-based levers to share this with the customers.
Furthermore, new faces like W. Sundar and T. Natarajan, along with mainstream actors like Deepika Padukone, were onboarded to further amplify it.
While this was a TVC and a kind of outlier regarding viewership, brands can also engage with viewers through other mediums.
These fan engagement strategies are put to nurture a profound emotional bond between fans and the sport.
It stands as a pivotal factor in shaping the performance and popularity of the game. Beyond this, it also unlocks the following:
- Enhanced brand perception: Brands can unlock heightened customer loyalty through creative campaigns during the cricket season. When fans see their favorite brands on the ground, they appreciate brands that contribute to their enjoyment of the sport, resulting in an improved brand perception.
- Targeted marketing opportunities: With digitization, brands can gather tremendous insights regarding the behavior of their fans. This approach can also target, position, or reward the audience into believing in the brand.For instance, Bira91 wanted to promote and position itself as the ideal companion for watching a match. They used real-time cricket API and triggered ads only when a ball hit six or a wicket was taken down.
The ads were so good that users engaged for 9 seconds on average. Bira unlocked 1.8% CTR and reached 2.2 million users.
- Data-driven opportunities: Marketing automation platforms such as WebEngage give you deep insights into the behavior of the fans – beyond the obvious, that is, engagement and conversion, it also tells you demographics, preferences, and behavior. Such data empowers brands to make the right decisions.For example, DBS bank used real-time scores from the match to promote its services to a highly targeted audience. They used the spotlight format and touched 12 MN users with an impressive 21% VTR(View-through rate).
- Deeper market penetration: Cricket as a sport enjoys a beyond-the-border penetration, which allows brands to penetrate untapped markets. So, if you are a young brand wanting to explore uncharted territories, this is the real deal.
For example, in 2019, Uber released an anthem for ICC titled ‘Way-o’ to connect with newer audiences. “Music transcends geographical barriers and will give fans a powerful voice to express love for their favorite team and players,” said Uber’s Chief International Business Officer, Brooks Entwistle.
- Increased brand visibility: Engaged fans are likelier to stay loyal and connect with the brand. Sponsors can extend their brand reach to a broader audience by associating with popular and engaged cricket teams.
- Unique branded activations: For Indians, watching a match is no longer a passive activity – they tweet, share stories, and talk to their friends on WhatsApp. This leaves brands with a lot of opportunities to activate their campaigns creatively. The best way to engage with your audience is to create one-click content campaigns and allow your users to engage.
Campaign Initiatives To Solidify Engagement During The ICC
- Interactive Content: Brands can create polls, in-app activations, send emails, or push notifications where customers can engage before, during, or after the match.For example, in 2020, the popular food delivery brand Zomato hosted ‘Zomato Premier League’ and sent out these in-app interstitial banners to keep the users hooked. Paired with some food coupons, this campaign was a hit.
Pro tip: WebEngage can help you set and scale such in-app notifications in a few clicks. The templates on the portal are a big hit amongst marketers as they make the process super easy.
- Real-time Segmentation: Imagine there’s a cricket match, and one of the teams loses. Using this segmentation based on demographics and location, brands can treat or pacify fans with offers, making it entirely contextual.For example, earlier this year, PayTM gratified users with guaranteed cashback for using their product during the India vs West Indies ODI. They also gamified the experience and created an in-app activity to hit a four during the match. The campaign touched 11 MN users and achieved 12.5X CTR.
- Omnichannel Engagement: One of the most innovative ways for brands to create a robust engagement campaign is to create a 360° marketing campaign utilizing email, push, SMS, social media, a dedicated mobile app, and website interactions.For example, during the 2019 World Cup, Uber India launched two campaigns: a rides campaign featuring Virat Kohli as a cab driver and a demand generation campaign for Uber Eats. Their consumer engagement program allowed riders and eaters to earn ‘runs’ for each trip or order.
Pro tip: With its complete suite, WebEngage can help create a 360-degree campaign across email, SMS, push notification, WhatsApp, app, website, Facebook and Google remarketing.
- Automation of campaigns: 91% of marketers say marketing automation helps them achieve their objectives. So when you use automation platforms to run journeys (that are trigger-based and run themselves based on an action like an app opened or event occurred) or relays – they create exhaustive, responsive, and timely campaigns.
- User-generated campaigns: In the past, brands like Zomato or Tinder have created a space for themselves to deliver solid UGC, but more and more brands are trying it every day.
Here’s an example of Moj-PlayerzPot creating a moment during IPL that led to over 300+ UGC branded moments.
- Influencer marketing: As a result of social media, the nature of marketing has radically changed. With micro-nano celebrities popping out from every nook and corner, brands have developed an ecosystem of fast distribution.For example, during the previous IPL matches, Disney + Hostar collaborated with India’s leading influencer to launch a commentary feed titled Hotstar Dosts for match promotions. These artists presented live cricket action in their unique ways.
Key features and benefits of WebEngage
800+ global brands, from D2C to banking to e-commerce, have trusted WebEngage with their marketing.
Here are a few reasons why you should, too:
All these features are a goldmine for any brand that wants to create a dent in the world of cricket. As one can only fathom, the connection between fans and the sport makes for a passionate and devoted following. When brands meet fans where they are, they create loyalty for themselves.
The future of fan engagement
The future of engagement is headed in the mighty hands of augmented reality and virtual reality. One of the most promising progressions in enhancing the viewer’s engagement, AR and VR are here to offer an immersive and interactive experience. AI algorithms can analyze a fan’s behavior, preferences, and interactions to offer a highly personalized recommendation. We’re talking about merchandise recommendations based on a fan’s interest.
However, at surface levels, the tech world is also debating the efficacy of interactive marketing, chatbots, virtual assistants, meet & greet, and immersive experiences. All of this would offer viewers a hardcore at-stadium feel from the comforts of their homes. To bring you up to speed, the FIFA World Cup has introduced (AR) technology, offering app users immersive experiences and real-time statistics.
As technology advances, fans can expect every match to be an exhilarating digital escapade.
Customers these days are not satisfied with mediocre marketing efforts. With the constant dopamine kicking in, they want personalized, data-driven, interactive, creative, and new-age marketing campaigns. But there’s no way this can be done through manual interventions.
To create a solid impact and strategy, companies need substantial support from marketing automation platforms to create dynamic and unforgettable experiences for fans.
WebEngage can help you in:
- Facilitating real-time and personalized fan engagement
- Delivering campaigns across multiple channels while they’re relevant
- Amplifying visibility and awareness, and fostering brand-fan relationships
- Working with data, offering insights, and optimizing instantaneously
To discover marketing solutions that can revolutionize your fan engagement campaigns, contact our experts and book a demo today!