Five Key Learnings From Our 2019 British Athletics Campaign

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WePlay is incredibly proud to be working with the National Governing Body of athletics in the UK, British Athletics. Our remit over the coming years will be to support them in driving awareness and attendances of their events, which includes the Müller Anniversary Games.

Now with our marketing campaigns in full swing for the 2020 events season, we thought it would be an ideal time to share our top five learnings from our work on the Müller Anniversary Games 2019, which was held at the London Stadium, where WePlay conceived and executed a multi-phased integrated marketing campaign across digital, social and outdoor media.

We have compiled our five key learnings for the seven-month campaign of the 2019 edition:

1. Pretty pictures are great, but clever creative is better.

It is easy to get drawn to campaign artwork that looks good, but how does it perform? Is it delivering measurable results, and does it serve a purpose?

Our creative strategy is always audience-led. This means it’s data-backed, audience-tested, strategically informed, tailored to every segment of our audience and formulated to best-practice specs.

In practical terms for this campaign, it meant taking advantage of the awareness phase to test and identify which elements of the event were most important to our audience. With a relatively small budget, we were able to segment the audience based on the best performing creative, and integrate this into a more targeted conversion phase.

We harnessed these key learnings and developed an informed creative rebrand, encapsulating the elements of the event which resonated best with our macro-audiences. The result? Conversion rates spiked from 1.35% to 4.4% and directly resulted in more people attending the Müller Anniversary Games.

2. Make the moments matter.

How do you feel when scrolling through your social channels first thing in the morning? How does that feeling differ from doing the same thing, but at home after work?

There are trends in human behaviour that can be identified and used to optimise your digital strategy.

It’s crucial to understand when your audience is most likely to respond, so you can serve the right fan with the right message at the right time – we call this Moment Marketing.

By serving specific messages at certain times of the day to specific audiences, we optimised both our marketing strategy and our media budget. Tailoring the value proposition to the specific user in a targeted time frame resulted in far higher CTRs (click-through-rates), and eventually conversion rates.

A clear example is our “Team Jamaica” creative. It was only served to a specific audience segment that fit our pre-set criteria: consumers who showed an interest in Jamaica, lived within 20km radius of the London Stadium, with the ad being served only on the weekend. It resulted in one of our highest campaign CTRs: an increase of 89% compared to the campaign’s average conversion.

This is in contrast to broader athletics fans, who were served a tailored conversion creative with copy in the morning (between 4am and 10am); this resulted in CTRs 40% higher than campaign average when served on a weekend.

Understanding your audience and the moments that matter to them will allow you to engage with them more effectively, and elevate your strategy to the next level.

3. Be proactive. Get reactive. Optimise.

After heavy scoping and time spent strategising the full campaign based on previous events and results, it can be tempting to stick to the plan. It’s crucial however to continuously review the performance and optimise to achieve the best possible results.

We optimised the strategy after reviewing the results, creative, and the marketplace. The results from our ‘always on’ campaign showed what was working – and what wasn’t – so we adapted our strategy and reacted to what was working.

It turned out that for this specific campaign, the more imaginative we got, the better.

Did we get competitive with rivalries? Yes. Did we empower women? Yes. Did we serve Spice Girls related messaging? Yes.

Some changes were bigger than others, but crucial to our success was how we reacted to the market and the campaign results.

See a social or industry trend kicking off? Get involved. See something that stands out in the industry your target audience is part of? React. See something in the campaign working well? Optimise accordingly.

There’s nothing more relevant to consumers than being a significant part of the social game they’re playing in.

4. Be mobile.

Creating mobile-first user experiences is everything. In this digital age, we discover on our commutes. We learn when we scroll through our Instagram feed. We get inspired sitting still.

When running a digital advertising campaign, it’s imperative to not only help people discover, learn and be inspired through awareness campaigns, but to also help them take action in an easy and simple way.

The user journey therefore needs to be as seamless and natural as possible.

At the start of the campaign, we found there to be a 50% drop-off rate per click after an ad. Where the audience pool was potentially 400,000, only 25,000 ended up on the final ticketing page.

Creating not just social-first advertising content, but also considering a mobile-orientated user journey was key. The solution? Instant Experience advertising (previously known as canvas ads). These full-screen takeover ads load instantly and are mobile-optimised, designed to capture the full attention of the audience.

By allowing the user to stay within the platform and explore the multiple options available to them in a simple, attractive and informative way, we managed to increase the conversion rates by a whopping 808%.

5. More than just metrics.

Reflecting on a successful campaign and assessing results is fulfilling, but the real impact of our work was seen on the day. The WePlay team got together on the Saturday of the Müller Anniversary Games at the London Stadium to experience the event.

Checking the live performance dashboards up until the moment of entering the stadium, the team stopped in their tracks (no pun intended) when seeing the creative for the campaign plastered everywhere. This included the stadium itself, the programme and the big screens. It was fantastic to see our creative come to life, and made the team truly realise what impact they had on one of the biggest events on the annual athletics calendar.

The experience fuelled the team with inspiration to continue going the extra mile for our clients, and keep on delivering game-changing creative and industry-topping results.

Interested to know more about our work with British Athletics? Check out our case study. 

If you haven’t been to the Müller Anniversary Games, be sure to secure your seat. It is an Olympic year after all….

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