Why Your Win-back Campaigns Are Losing

Win-back Campaign

Effective win-backs start the day after a customer attends a game or event.

Do your win-back campaigns focus more on customers who haven’t engaged with your organization in the past few years? That’s not a bad group to try and re-engage when timing is right but we need to start thinking more about “winning-back” the moment a fan attends or purchases a ticket to a game and here’s why: there’s an alarming statistic that we’ve verified is standard across all leagues in the sports industry: 

“On average 80-90% of individual ticket purchasers won’t come back next season.”

Those are daunting numbers and often times organizations don’t even realize how many of their individual game customers are churning from one year to the next.

Within the above statistic lies an incredible opportunity to engage customers who have already raised their hand and shown enough interest to purchase a ticket and experience your event. Win-back campaigns should focus on just that: winning over a customer; and nurturing them to continue engaging with your team and brand into the future. This nurturing is all too often not timely (in other words, waiting weeks or months to start nurturing will result in poor win-back campaign results) or involves “buy now” ONLY messaging (i.e. selling “at” fans instead of warming them to a future purchase).

The unforeseen effect of not building these relationships is an addiction to acquiring expensive and uncertain, net new fans. In other words the cost to acquire new customers is much higher than re-engaging those who have already been to your venue. Here are a few reasons why:

  1. These customers have already demonstrated an interest in your brand, making them significantly better prospects for your sales team than cold calls

  2. Having recently interacted with your organization, these customers are more likely to engage with future communication - so much so that 45% of recipients who received a win-back campaign read a subsequent message (Marketing Land)

  3. These customers have already purchased a ticket, which means you’ve got important data that allows you to score them as a lead as well as tailor messaging to them  

  4. New fans are primarily accessed through advertising channels which are more expensive and opaque than a multi-channel strategy that allows you to leverage personal touch and inexpensive email outreach

From a data perspective, existing fans present an opportunity to dive deeper into behavioral data to measure and segment customers. This allows you to understand why those customers didn’t return and ways they would prefer you engage with them (think channel affinity, message, and timing). 

For individual game buyers, effective win-backs start the day after they attend a game or event - relationship building is key. Thank them for attending the game and invite them to another one, or send them an epic photo from the game they attended with a special offer that is relevant. 

How can you win back those individual game buyers? Here are areas to focus on to increase your win-back percentages:

Ask for feedback. That valuable interest layer of data increases your understanding of where they are in their fan journey. A great way to capture this data is via a short, timely survey (What did they like or not like? How can you improve?) Trends in this data can help you identify opportunities or problem areas that can be addressed to reduce churn. 

Segment which customers should get specific types of win-back messages. Not all your individual game buyers are the same, which makes segmenting groups within your win-back strategy important (e.g. someone who hasn’t been to a game yet this season vs someone who was a package holder two years ago and purchased tickets to two games last season, but none yet this year).

Personalize the message. These customers have already engaged with you so consider delivering a campaign based on what they’re interested in. Recommend products (tickets & merchandise), events or promotions for them based on their past behaviour that they might be interested in. For more on personalization, check out a previous blog we wrote.

Incentivize your customers with a discount or value offer to encourage another purchase. This doesn’t need to be a discount on a game ticket though, maybe it’s a special offer for a piece of merchandise, a tour of your stadium, a chance to win a VIP experience, or an exciting in-game giveaway they might be interested in. Try thinking outside of the box and offer something unique that will catch the customer’s eye and re-engage them. 

Try different channels. Are customers not opening your emails? Try a targeted Facebook campaign. Call them directly. Segment offers within campaigns and in different channels to hit the right buyer with the right message. 

Retarget based on the messaging and channel with which they engaged. (e.g. were they looking at a specific merchandise item or dates for an upcoming game?)

The most sophisticated organizations will further tailor messages based on behavioural data they know about these segments by leveraging tools that tie together fan data and map out fan journeys. More organizations are leaning towards systems that utilize predictive capabilities to better understand which fans are likely to take different actions. The key, though, is not to be afraid to test something and then learn fast. 


We’re focused on helping teams maximize the potential of their data via our machine-learning powered Customer Data Platform that leverages behavioral data points to segment your audience and identify the why behind customer engagement and conversion. We do this in an automated way, so you get the answers to your questions immediately, when you need them most. Ready to increase return on your marketing and sales efforts? Let’s chat!


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