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Case Study
January 13, 2021

The NFL's Secret to Greater Fan Engagement

The National Football League (NFL) shifted their marketing strategy in recent years to prioritize the fan experience. Learn how it’s paying off.

Brianna Conley

Professional sports teams have had an interesting year, to say the least.

Without fans attending games in person, many marketers are challenged to maintain strong relationships despite the current reality.

One sports brand that has continued to engage fans and create excitement around virtual events is the National Football League (NFL).

Keep reading to learn more about fan-first marketing and how the NFL has supercharged its eCommerce marketing strategy with interactive experiences.

What is fan-first marketing?

Typically, major sports brands have used standard, transactional messaging as a means of connecting with their fans. These messages are often generalized and provide a rather mundane experience for fans.

Fan-first marketing prioritizes the customer experience and individual preferences.

For example, a standard sports marketing campaign might deliver general news from across the industry, hoping that at least one of the advertisements is relevant in some way.

A fan-first marketing campaign, on the other hand, would recognize I solely root for Boston sports teams, specifically hockey and baseball, and would therefore only send me relevant communications related to the Bruins or the Red Sox.

This is not only a win for me, as a fan, but also for the brand as I will be much more likely to interact with the campaign and provide a little more information about myself.

Why is fan-first marketing important?

Fan-first marketing strengthens the relationship between sports brands and fans.

By creating authentic experiences for fans to engage with, they likely won’t even realize they are being served an advertisement or promotional piece of content.

Especially in these challenging times, fan-first marketing ensures sports brands can maintain their relationships with their biggest supporters and still make the regular season and playoffs fun and exciting.

Client Spotlight: Fan-First Marketing at the NFL

A few years ago, the NFL looked to spruce up their marketing mix and better engage their fans.

A key area of focus was shifting from transactional messaging to more conversational messaging.

The NFL had three main goals in shifting their marketing strategy:

  • Increase their domestic and international fan base.
  • Establish a more efficient and repeatable content creation process.
  • Better engage fans across platforms.

Enter Jebbit.

By partnering with Jebbit, the NFL was able to better engage fans and launch interactive experiences at scale.

Rather than create messaging based around the business, the NFL shifted their focus to the fans. The NFL created interactive ‘Fan of the Year’ and ‘Draft Pick’ experiences to take the focus away from the transaction and towards personalization.

And their fans LOVE it!

But don’t take it from us, take it from Aaron Jones, Director of Marketing Science & Strategy at the NFL. He spoke with Jackie Eagle, VP of Customer Success at Jebbit on all things fan-first engagement.

If you want to see exactly how the NFL optimized their loyal fans’ experience, then check out this video!

Brianna Conley

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