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The sports retail industry has experienced rapid growth through 2020-21, especially when it comes to outdoor recreation. A greater number of people and households are outside and participating in tennis, basketball, golf, cycling, mountain-biking, paddle-boarding, surfing, skiing, snowboarding and other athletic activities. But the boom in popularity is accompanied by an equal rise in competition. Retailers not only have to keep up with demand, they have to stay ahead of competitors to capture their share of the market. It seems that sports retail has become a competitive sport in itself. And just like athletes must prepare before stepping foot on a court, track, or field, so must the sellers of the goods that facilitate the same recreation. Below is a breakdown of how to level the playing field and get the win through digital marketing.

5 Tips to Online Marketing Success for Sports and Recreation Retailers

I. Optimize Your eCommerce 

Today’s athlete doesn’t have the time to comparison shop in brick and mortar stores. The mall is the last place they want to be, which is why they have shifted their consumer focus online. But as a retailer you’re not only up against your competitors’ websites, you’re battling it out with Amazon and even eBay. The latter has ramped up their efforts in the sports market of late, with Bloomberg reporting that eBay’s annual athletic sneaker trade has now grown to $2 billion in North America alone. Simply put, you cannot afford to lag on eCommerce any longer. Follow our guide to optimizing the eCommerce experience. In addition, since ease-of-shipping is Amazon’s greatest selling point, be sure to update the shipping information on your website and make it your own value proposition. You’ll see conversion rates rise when you do.

II. Leverage the Shopping Tools on Facebook and Instagram

Facebook Shops offers your retail business the opportunity to create an online store on Facebook and Instagram for FREE. It’s especially helpful for smaller retail operations who don’t yet have the infrastructure to launch more robust eCommerce functions on their website (although it’s best to have both). Another great thing about Facebook Shops is that it allows you to create customizable collections to showcase your featured sports products using design features and creative tools to make them “pop”. Better yet, the tools work with Facebook and Instagram simultaneously. This is perfect for those who may have a small Facebook following but a large Instagram following, or vice versa. View more about Facebook Shops here, which we can set up and manage for you. Just ask.

III. Create Original Instructional Content for Your Website

Content is the cornerstone of digital marketing. It steers your social strategy (more on this below) but first and foremost it drives your website marketing plan. It’s a requirement for all SEO and PPC initiatives, and is extremely helpful for email campaigns.

As a sports retailer, you have no shortage of inspirations for creating content, namely of the instructional nature. Usage for nearly all of the sporting equipment that you sell requires consumer learning. In some cases they may need instructional content for how to put together a purchase such as a portable basketball hoop or stationary bike. In other cases, they may receive instruction on how to improve performance while using new equipment, such as how to adjust their golf swing with a certain brand of clubs. In all scenarios a tutorial can be provided about how to care for gear and equipment. This catalogue of instructional content can and should be represented via articles, infographics, photos, and videos to create a number of crosspollinating opportunities. You can take the same pieces of content and distribute them across a variety of networks. Collectively it will serve as ammunition for your SEO, PPC, email, and social media campaigns.

IV. Curate Social Content from the Brands You Carry

The popular athletic brands that you sell in your store have spent millions upon millions on marketing their products. This includes high-quality, creative, and engaging photos and videos that even feature professional athletes. Use this to your advantage when it comes to your social media marketing efforts. In fact, these brands want you to curate their content for use on Facebook and Instagram, especially when you are an approved seller of their products. For those days where you don’t have fresh content of your own to share, simply visit the social profiles of your shop’s brands and get trigger-happy with the share function. Add your own comments to the shared post to direct followers back to your eCommerce and brick and mortar store, letting them know that you sell them at competitive prices.

V. Tie Online Promotions to All Major Sporting Events

Piggyback off of the buzz surrounding the Super Bowl, March Madness, NBA/NHL playoffs, MLB World Series, the Olympics, X-Games, Tour de France, and every other major sporting event that ties into the products you carry. You have the benefit of being in an industry where customers are excited through all four seasons thanks to the sporting event calendar. It’s basically holiday shopping excitement for 12-months of the year for diehard sports fans.

Campaigns can be simple, such as offering percentage discounts for online sales on the day of a major sports event. Or they can be more interactive, with offers being applied based upon the results of key games or events. This is the benefit of online marketing as offers be made and claimed in real time. Interactive promotions do especially well for social media and email campaigns as brands are welcome to engage customers to communicate when certain discounts and promotions kick in. You’re in the perfect industry when it comes to generating consumer enthusiasm for your business and the products you sell.

Get a coach and team captain in your corner for all of the above digital marketing plays. Contact Strategis Consulting Group today.