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Fan insight is the Holy Grail of fan experience. Sports and entertainment organizations invest a lot of time and resources to better understand who their fans are, what they like and don’t like.

Data is a key ingredient for gaining better and deeper fan insight. So it plays a critical role regardless of the sport, event or the size of the organization.

Analyzing fan insight is like solving a jigsaw puzzle. Individual pieces (data sources or systems) in “disconnected” states won’t tell the whole story.

Here are four ways we can gain fan insight through data.

Ask the fan: The methods in which we go about surveying fans have changed (more on this in a future post), but the data is still important because it gives us the most direct feedback about the fan perception, which dictates the reality. In some cases, we capture this data in real-time to create new opportunities. Sports and entertainment organizations can make timely and impactful adjustments, leading to a more rewarding experience for the fan.

Technology can dramatically increase the value of survey data. For example, leveraging mobile devices improves data collection by making it:

  • Timely (faster response time)
  • More accurate (immediate feedback instead of relying on people’s memory after the event)
  • Rich in context (additional feedback attributes, such as location, time)

However, survey data don’t necessarily replace hard data, nor does it tell the whole story. Surveys can enhance our findings–and they’re our best bet in the absence of other data. But if we have hard data, surveys shouldn’t be the sole determining factor.

Analyze transactional data: This information may come from internal sources or external relationships, such as vendors, partnerships or sponsorships. The trick is tying it back to the fan profile to build insight based on transactional behavior, which we can glean from any interaction with the fan–not just transactions attached to revenue.

We can build that insight at a micro level to study fan profiles (more on this in future posts), build personalized campaigns or compare them to the overall fan base characteristics. At a macro level, we can study how certain trends correlate to fan behavior, responses or campaigns.

Sometimes, critical data for studying fan insight may seem limited in scope and context because we are unable to link it to master data. This can happen for a variety of reasons, such as legacy or disparate systems that don’t talk to each other. This scenario is common among traditional businesses, and sports and entertainment organizations aren’t immune to these challenges.

Enhance your own data with external data: The goal here is to do two things with available external data, such as demographics. First, enrich the existing fan base. Organizations often assume that they know enough about a fan just because he or she is a season ticket-holder. But it may be shortsighted to assume that as long as they renew, there is no need for further engagement.

Second, identify new target fan segments for new marketing and sponsorship opportunities. These may require sophisticated models powered by predictive analytics. But we increase our chances for success if we harvest reliable data points or analyses to test our assumptions–and make timely adjustments with the help of real-time data engines.

Observe the fan: This method relies on our ability to study general trends, sentiments or other fan behavior. Whether we are looking at social media or event-based data, the link to transactional data may be weak with this analysis, and in some cases it may not even exist.

In most cases, even though these are not related to revenue-generating transactions or can’t be tied to individual fans, they can still provide priceless opportunities for improving fan experience, such as the popularity of new parking arrangements or new offerings inside the venue.

Bottom Line

Our goal is to enable better-informed decisions based on complete and accurate fan profiles. Leadership is critical because it paves the way for executing a vision where technology becomes a conduit to delivering a world-class fan experience through the talent and passion of our teams.

Data alone will not guarantee insight, but actionable insight almost always starts with data delivered by robust platforms built on connected data sources. And the right technology solutions can make it all possible.

Connect with me on Twitter (@KaanTurnali), LinkedIn and

The Fan Experience Matters Series:

Overview | Analyzing the Formula | Data Is a Strategic Asset | Fan Insight Through Data | Design Elements | The Essence of Fan Journey