The ICC Cricket World Cup (CWC) 2023, a $2+ billion opportunity, should be a case study for all marketing professionals around the world.
Yes, the ICC World Cup is a historic event in the world of sports, but for India, cricket is a grand celebration that unites the nation, transcends state borders, and celebrates cultures. The roar of the crowd, the thrill of boundaries, and the triumph of nations—these are just some of the elements that make the CWC not only a grand event but also an opportunity that no brand should miss.
And behind the scenes of every match and every catch lies a crucial factor that fuels the Cricket World Cup’s success in any country: Fan Engagement.
In the post-pandemic digital world, fan engagement has undergone a colossal transformation. It’s no longer a one-size-fits-all approach; it’s about tailoring experiences according to an individual’s preferences and creating connections that resonate with them on a personal level.
The enthusiasm and emotions associated with the sport can be leveraged by brands easily if they study customer behavior closely to tailor their engagement strategies accordingly.
This blog offers insights into cricket fans’ minds, enabling 1:1 interactions through WebEngage’s personalization tools.
It’s a knowledge pool for brands to curate immersive fan experiences and seamless product integrations without detracting from the thrill of the game.
ICC CWC 2023: India’s Economic Wonder
Besides being the most loved and awaited sporting event, the ICC Cricket World Cup also paves the way for a wave of economic opportunities. Projections suggest that the tournament could inject a staggering $2.6 billion into India’s economy.
This financial infusion is a significant economic milestone for the nation and is expected to ripple through various sectors. With droves of fans (2.5+ billion fans around the world), local and international alike, the tournament has become a bustling marketplace, with travel and hospitality giants like Emirates witnessing a dramatic 50% rise in bookings. And considering there are 48 matches across 45 days happening in the country, brands have that much window to engage with fans worldwide, not just in India.
Therefore, businesses have a unique chance to tap into this economic windfall. By utilizing personalized fan engagement and inventive marketing strategies, they can make the most out of this billion-dollar marketing moment, all without the need for extravagant spending.
Personalization, in essence, is about tailoring experiences to individual preferences, behaviors, and interests. It acknowledges that no two fans are alike, and by understanding each fan’s unique profile, sports organizations, and content providers can create more meaningful connections.
Global Trends Shaping Fan Engagement in Major Sporting Events:
- Sensory Immersion: Immersive technologies like Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) offer fans an experience that engages their senses, making them feel like they’re a part of the action. For instance, Super Bowl winners, the Los Angeles Rams, partnered with ARound to integrate AR technology into the SoFi Stadium experience, granting fans access to virtual player locker rooms and interactive play diagrams, taking the excitement of game day to a whole new level.
- Interactive Gaming: The integration of gaming elements, including live challenges, quizzes, polls, and interactive competitions, makes fan engagement more participatory and exciting. Sports teams like Chelsea FC have harnessed this trend, drawing 70,000 virtual spectators to a league game via their ‘Chelsea 5th Stand’ app.
- Digital Community Building: Sports teams and content providers are actively fostering digital communities through platforms like Instagram, WhatsApp, Discord, and others, enabling fans to connect and access exclusive content. Meta’s Super 50 campaign is by far the largest-ever creator campaign for any ICC tournament, involving 500 creators providing exclusive content before and after the match.
- Personalized Content Curation: Fans are now expecting content that caters to their specific interests. Personalized content curation algorithms are employed to deliver tailored articles, videos, product recommendations, and updates.
- Real-Time Interactions: Fans are looking forward to engaging with their favorite teams and athletes in real-time. Live chats, Q&A sessions, and interactive polls during events are becoming more common. In response to this trend, the ICC has partnered with the NEAR Foundation. The partnership gives the audience a pre-match strategy challenge; this challenge allows fans to test their cricket knowledge and strategic skills by making decisions related to batting, bowling, and fielding. As real-life matches progress, fans’ scores are influenced by their chosen teams’ on-field performances.
The ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 has not only learned from the best case studies globally, but they have also fully realized the importance of the diversity of the audience and the market potential of the same.
Hence, personalization has played a pivotal role in making this grand event an unimaginable success story.
Here’s How the Sports Organizations Across the Globe are Harnessing the Power of Personalization:
Personalization relies on historical customer data to curate specific experiences. This allows for customized experiences but relies on static information. However, hyper-personalization takes it a step further and dynamically adjusts interactions based on a customer’s in-moment activities, delivering more contextual experiences.
Fundamentally, hyper-personalization goes beyond addressing a fan by their first name in an email. It’s about making each fan feel like the experience coming their way is crafted exclusively for them.
Therefore, events like the ICC can not overlook what hyper-personalization offers; hence, the ICC has invested in one-of-its-kind vertical feed production for this World Cup. The unique feed can customize highlights for hundreds of millions of fans who access content through multiple channels, including mobile phone apps, websites, or ICC’s Meta channels.
Additionally, for the first time ever, the ICC Website and App will feature specific highlights of each player participating in the event. This means that after each game, fans can watch and enjoy the performances of their favorite players, opening newer opportunities to deliver fans with highly personalized experiences.
AI and ML-Led Personalization
From watching the game live on television sets to stepping into the field from the comfort of home, a lot has changed. Today, fans can not only watch the game but can also experience it, all thanks to the AI and ML revolution that is underway.
Machine Learning (ML) is a game-changer in the realm of fan engagement. Its ability to put forward predictive analytics is nothing short of amazing. After all, it anticipates fan preferences, enabling proactive content delivery. Additionally, ML-driven technologies, like augmented and virtual reality, create immersive experiences that adapt to user behavior.
Today, sports teams are leveraging AI and ML to create personalized, immersive AR experiences. Precisely why ICC partnered up with Nium for the Next In Hackathon. The competition saw 12,500 individuals form over 9550 teams from 113 countries. The winning entry of the competition gave ICC a prototype that enables users to bring the stadium into their living rooms through 3D Augmented Reality, enhancing the experience of watching live cricket.
Not only sports teams but brands associated with sporting events are also recognizing the potential of AI and ML to tap into the fandom of major sporting events. Royal Stag, a long-standing partner for all the events put out by the ICC, is stepping up its game this cricket season by putting forward an AI and ML-based campaign for fans. The unique campaign ‘A Billion Films For A Billion Fans’ harnesses the power of AI and machine learning to let cricket fans create personalized videos with their favorite players. Users simply upload a selfie and voice sample, and the platform does the rest, generating a customized film within three minutes. The campaign embodies the brand’s “Live It Large” ethos, bringing fans closer to their cricket heroes transcending physical limitations.
Personalization Through Omnichannel Engagement
Given that the ICC Cricket World Cup is one of the most adored tournaments across the globe, its fanbase is undeniably huge and diverse. So, a sure-shot way to connect with such a diverse audience to deliver personalized experiences is through omnichannel engagement.
Here, it is worth mentioning that the ICC is doing a thorough job on the same.
The integration of websites, mobile apps, social media, and messaging apps ensures that fans receive a seamless and personalized interaction with their favorite sports. This keeps communication consistent across devices and platforms.
Here’s why omnichannel engagement matters for sports enthusiasts:
Holistic Experience: Sports fans engage with their favorite teams and events through multiple touchpoints, from websites to social media. An omnichannel approach allows them to seamlessly transition between these platforms; such a unified journey enhances fan satisfaction and loyalty.
Real-Time Updates: Sporting events are dynamic, with ever-changing statistics and developments. Omnichannel engagement ensures that fans receive real-time updates, whether they are browsing the website, using a mobile app, or following the match on social media. This immediacy keeps fans informed and engaged.
Interactive Engagement: Interactive features, such as live chats during matches or polls on social media, enable fans to actively participate and share their opinions. This two-way engagement fosters a sense of belonging and community among fans.
As a part of its omnichannel engagement efforts, ICC is allowing fans to engage with relevant content through various channels, including the Official CWC 2023 App, ICC’s Facebook, Instagram, and ICC’s Meta channels. With its new broadcast presence on WhatsApp and Instagram, it ensures you stay updated with the latest news and videos effortlessly. By providing match highlights, team updates, and shareable viral content, the ICC team is ensuring that fans remain closely connected with the World Cup across different channels as per their convenience and preference.
OTT Channels and Live Streaming are Winning from All Sides
OTT platforms are transforming live cricket streaming, offering fans unparalleled access and engagement. These platforms are becoming the go-to destinations for sports enthusiasts, especially cricket enthusiasts, providing a dynamic and immersive viewing experience.
The OTT in the spotlight for the ICC Cricket World Cup is Hotstar; they are going the extra mile with their all-new ‘max-view’ feature. In collaboration with the ICC, Hotstar has come up with this one-of-a-kind feature, which allows users to view the match in vertical mode. This implies that viewers can now consume cricket matches on the go. This is truly an exceptional feature, revolutionizing the viewing experience of sporting events like the ICC.
Engaging cricket fans during major events like the Cricket World Cup is a complex task. There are tons of information out there with ample options to choose from. To make things trickier, people’s preferences, especially younger fans, keep changing. Therefore, at the end of the day, it all comes down to personalization.
As we navigate the dynamic world of sports, it’s essential for brands and sports organizers to embrace these innovative strategies.
To embark on this exciting journey of creating unforgettable fan experiences, take a demo with WebEngage and unlock the full potential of personalized fan engagement.