Roughing up the content marketing game

The ads read aloud: “You Want the NFL? Go to the NFL.”

You’ve probably heard it a few times on Sunday. While you might think of the NFL’s unique programing or Thursday Night Football games on the NFL Network, it really points to their content marketing machine.

The NFL’s website has evolved into a 24/7 news site that entices fans to visit regularly to consume their editorial and video. Instead of settling for a “Content is King,” site, the league added a gaming element and NFL Fan Rewards to guarantee that fans would come back.

The program itself rewards users with points for consuming pieces of content including videos, highlights, roundups, fantasy football and behind- the-scenes interviews. Users can redeem points for NFL merchandise or to enter sweepstakes for NFL experiences like trips to the Pro Bowl or Super Bowl.

While it might seem like just a goodwill gesture for rabid sports fans, it is also something that marketers should take notice of in terms of mixing sales with content. The NFL is a giant business that realized that it was missing marketing opportunities to their fans because NFL news came primarily from traditional media outlets. The overhaul of the NFL website made it a destination for fans; the NFL Fan Rewards program merely keeps these fans in the sales cycle. Below are five examples that marketers should look to emulate:

Try our stuff – The NFL offers a bevy of pay services for fans including streaming game day audio and Game Rewind. To inform fans of these services, the Fan Rewards Program gives customers points for checking out them out. Sure many people will just get the points and not look again, but even if a fraction sign up for the services it’s still a profit.

Branded B-Roll – prior to watching any video on the NFL’s site, there is a short commercial from the league or one of their advertising partners. Clicking anywhere on the video or page will lead you to the sponsor tied to the NFL or one of your favorite players.

Emails still matter – we all know that email is losing traction when it comes to marketing. With that said, it is still a powerful medium. Everyone who signs up for an account with the NFL has to supply their email. They also ask you to tick a box to keep up to date with all the latest news and happenings from the NFL – who doesn’t want that? Aside from those goodies, everyone who has ticked the box opts into their email marketing.

Discounted Rewards – some of the top rewards of the program include discounts on merchandise or on one of the paid services. Even with these discounts, the league is still bringing in money.

Year Round Sales Cycle – the NFL only plays games for about 25 weeks out of the year. By creating a conduit for news and entertainment, they have built a year-long destination for fans looking to keep up with the latest news. This fills a void left by traditional news outlets that move on to other sports like MLB and NBA.

Aside from the five areas above, the NFL’s site offers ways for users to part with their dollars every day, including the NFL store and ticket exchange. How can you borrow from the NFL and make your content work for your marketing?

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