How Sports Sponsorship Boosts Your Digital Marketing Performance

In the betting sector, we are all familiar with sports sponsorship. But the question is does it actually work?

Well, the answer is complicated. It all depends on the execution and the targeting. However, with sponsorship, you must be realistic about what you can achieve.

If you are, then Sponsorship is a vital thread that will tie all your other advertising channels together. This goes from Social through to SEO.

Sponsorship Fails Because the Business Expectation is Wrong

I’ll say it now. Sponsorship on its own will result in zero sales, zero new customers and zero whatever direct response KPI you are looking for.

As someone who has studied and practised marketing for nearly twenty years, I find that it is the most misunderstood area in the boardroom.  The core problem is that operationally minded people just don’t get it.

Sponsorship fits in the CMOs brief and the reality is that everyone else in the room looks at them and says “Money in, revenue out and if you don’t get a return immediately then you failed.”

It’s unfortunate, but only the best companies understand the spectrum of marketing and advertising strategies that need to be applied to be truly successful.

Marketing is like an orchestra. Marketing strategy is the key that the composition is written in, marketing tactics are the arrangement of instruments and advertising (which includes sponsorship) is the individual notes for the individual instruments.


So what objective should you be looking to achieve with sponsorship?

Simply put, awareness.  But in the betting sector, it is much more important than that. In our industry, it goes beyond just awareness to being front of mind at key customer decision points.

The harsh reality of betting is that you are easily replaced and forgotten. Without front of mind campaigns, you are doomed to have a customer base of savvy customers and arbers. The board may pay lip service to attract the “recreation customer” but in reality, they have to invest in ATL and awareness campaigns be in with a shout.


After Awareness What Next?

The first thing you need to do is build a staircase from the “awareness cloud” up in the sky to your conversion funnel.

This step is often missed. You also need to know that this is not linear. In a way, it is hard to conceptualise without examples. So, I am just going to jump straight into the examples.


Step 1: The Key of the Composition (Marketing Strategy)

Ok, please say you have this nailed. You need one overarching purpose. Your marketing strategy must be defined before you even start to think about sponsorship. Otherwise, you will have a disjointed mess and you will get the sack in about eight months. Our advice to you is don’t pull the trigger until you have a loaded gun.


Step 2: The Arrangement (Choose Your Channels and Messaging)

Right, this is important you need to understand how the “arrangement” works between sponsorship and other channels.

Traditionally, sponsorship was seen in isolation. However, now with social media and Google Rankbrain (SEO) it is the fuel for other channels.



  • Competition prizes
  • Running competition prizes
  • Behind the scenes access
  • Video content



  • Brand ranking signals (this is more important than ever)
  • Backlinks
  • You CTR on SERPS will increase marginally – huge ranking signal.


CRM: (Front of Mind)

  • More returning customers
  • Higher deposit balances
  • More stakes


Step 3: Play the Part (Sponsorship)

In this step, you must get a number of things correct from a sponsorship angle. Remember, you are also creating residual momentum for other channels.

Actually more and more, the “residual” momentum is becoming the core reason you should do sponsorship and not the sponsorship itself.

So you need to research and plan the specifics here. You should get your SEO, Content, PR and Social team in a huddle and look for ideas.


  1. Are you going large and Sponsoring a Premier League team to target the Asian betting market?

2. Are you looking for a very specific niche or localised outcome?


Then you should think about what content to create and what offers/promotion you can sync with your sponsorship.


Microsponsorship – The next big thing

We know that influencer marketing has become a hot trend in advertising. I predict that Microsponsorship which is a localised version of influencer marketing will step up to the plate especially for betting brands.

Let me give you an example from some of our own activity here at the Unit.

So as you know we are an Ad agency that specialises in online sportsbooks and casinos. But sometimes (once in a blue moon) we do a small bit of work outside of the sector.


To give you some background:

Paddy Co-Founder of The Unit is a passionate Dundalkian. As a result, he became involved in regenerating a once booming section of the town which had fallen on hard times since the economic crash in 2008. One thing led to another, and now along with owning this agency he also owns the legendary McAlester’s pub in Bridge Street, Dundalk (guess where all future staff parties will be held).


So, Paddy came in two days before opening and chalked “McAlesters, we need to create a buzz. Get them in, because once they come in they won’t leave” on our ideas board in the office.

As Head of Digital Marketing, I opened it out to our team of Marketing Execs telling them there is a round of pints if they come up with something good… and they did.

Established publicans in the Town were amazed at the crowds that poured into McAlester’s once the campaigns got underway.

To put it in context of Dublin, it was like if Parnell Street suddenly became cooler than Camden Street.


The Micro-Sponsorship Plan


  1. Get Facebook Followers
  2. Generate Word of Mouth


a) GAA – Training Tops for Clan Na Gael

Why training tops?

Well since this is micro sponsorship we know that there is a large senior panel as the club is one of the biggest in Louth. Every member of the Senior team will get a branded training top with McAlester’s Bar emblazoned on it. Also, there is a large number of supporters who would love to wear Clans gear. So, if the training tops looked cool people ill wear them around town.


clan na gael dundalk training top


clan na gael dundalk training jerseys



b) Media Sponsorship – Europa League Qualifiers for Dundalk FC

In Dundalk, there is one site synonymous with Dundalk FC coverage Dundalk Sport. Go to Oriel park on a Friday night and you see everyone reading Dundalk Sports game previews and keeping updated on the Dundalk Sport twitter account.

Fortunately for McAlester’s Bar there was an opportunity to sponsor the coverage of both legs of the Europa League qualifier versus Slovan Bratislava.

Coverage was first-rate. Here is an example of the fantastic reporting leading up to the fixture.

There was a total of 10 articles which were read by exactly the right demographic. These articles were also pushed out to a twitter following of over 10% of the population of Dundalk. Perfect!

But, to emphasis a point. That’s not all. It is all well and good getting top tier coverage but you also got to “pebble skip” with promotions and social media content.


dundalk v slovan bratislava - bratpack

huge night in tallaght



Over 1,000 “organic” Facebook follows

Packed pub for football fixtures across Premier League, League of Ireland, Champions League and SPL. Also a bumper crowd for both games in the Dublin v Kerry All Ireland Final (GAA).



Mission Accomplished

Oh, so you may have noticed that “The Unit” logo in on the sleeve of the jersey and also on the posts on Dundalk Sport.

Why? you ask.

Well, obviously to have content for this post.

If you would like to talk to us about leverage micro-sponsorship to improve your Social Media or SEO drop us a line.