Sports Brands: Holiday Marketing Best Practices

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The athletes of the world aren’t going to outfit themselves with sports gear this holiday season.

For brands with sporting services or products to sell, you’re likely to be interested in a couple of these top consumer categories as reported by the National Retail Federation (NRF):

  • 18% said that they want to receive sporting goods and leisure items
  • 60% of respondents said that they want to receive gift cards and other certificates

You’ll need to meet those consumers online. According to the NRF, over half of respondents, 55%, plan to do their holiday shopping at least partially online—but it’s extremely competitive this time of year.

If your brand is going to stand out, you’re going to need data-driven insights when it comes to targeting and budgets. Most importantly, you’re going to need knockout creatives to entice consumers to click.

This holiday season, we’ve taken a deep dive into planning and executing digital marketing campaigns for the sports industry.

Download the Ultimate Holiday Marketing Playbook

Building the best sporting goods creatives is a matter of gender and color.

From video ads to sponsored content, we see colorful images and videos of people performing best no matter the category.

For video campaigns, focus on specific actions, whereas for sponsored content and social media ads, colors and the lack of photo props are what’s important for performance.

Video campaigns: keep your subjects moving.

Physical activity drives the best performance from video branding campaigns. For sports marketers, keep your active for the most engagement from viewers.

We analyzed the top 2,000 video campaigns on the open web based on two key metrics—viewability and completion rate. We mapped actions in three categories to see where the highest opportunity for sports marketers is this holiday season: physical activity, vocal activity, and general activity.

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Going beyond the creative, here’s how sports videos can soar:

  • Keep your videos between 15 seconds and 1 minute long
  • Include your logo on-screen for better brand recall
  • Include subtitles if needed to optimize for sound-off
  • Include and overlay for better CTR
  • …Or an end card to drive traffic from people who have finished your video
  • Finally, test three video creatives for the best optimization

Sponsored content: women in colorful images attract the most engagement from consumers.

The images that drive the highest click-through-rate (CTR) for sports brands this holiday season include women in colorful settings. Keep the animals out of the mix though; those actually decrease CTR.

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We also analyzed the top keywords to use in your sponsored content headlines and creatives. Keywords like “red,” “NFL,” and “about” can increase CTR by up to 191%.

Download the Ultimate Holiday Marketing Playbook

Targeting: consumers want sports content on Wednesdays, and other insights.

After you’ve built the most enticing creative possible, you’ll need to focus on meeting consumers at the best time while they’re shopping online.

We took a look at several targeting parameters to pinpoint exactly when and where sports marketers can find their consumers and audience this holiday season.

Opportunity is defined at the intersection of supply and demand. We define supply as the amount marketers are spending to promote content and products, and demand as the CTR on that content.

Here’s what we found:

You’re most likely to reach sporting goods consumers on Wednesdays.

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Sports marketers should plan to reach consumers from Black Friday through the New Year.

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Some final tips—try testing campaigns specifically for desktop devices, as well as promoting landing pages that host photo galleries. We see high opportunity for these device and landing page types.

As you test out different targeting and creative tactics for the holidays, keep in mind that you’ll need to pivot as you learn. Keep creatives fresh and try new tactics if you start to see fatigue in your online audience.

The holiday season is a time for sharing, giving, and fun, which is exactly what you should be aiming for with your holiday campaigns—give customers and fans the chance to be a part of the action.

Download the Ultimate Holiday Marketing Playbook