All popular holidays present exciting opportunities for eCommerce store owners. Shopping associated with holidays is usually extravagant, as customers find promising deals and offers that nudge them to make impulsive purchases. In fact, holiday shopping has increased tremendously in the past ten years and has crossed $900 billion in 2022.
For this reason, online stores bring out their A-game marketing. For a sporting event like March Madness, it's nothing different. With millions tuning in, it's a prime time for brands to step up their marketing game. The March Madness marketing strategies you choose and implement for your Shopify store can have a significant impact on your sales and revenue.
So, in this article, we will explore seven amazing March Madness marketing ideas that you need to try for yourself this year.
- What is March Madness?
- What Makes March Madness So Popular?
- How Much Money Does March Madness Generate?
- 7 March Madness Marketing Ideas You Must Try Out This Year
- March Madness Marketing Campaigns to Inspire You
What is March Madness?
If you are not much of a sports fan but want to understand what March Madness is for the benefit of your store, we have got you covered.
National Collegiate Athletic Association, also known as NCAA, has three divisions, out of which Division 1 includes all the top universities with the best athletic programs in the nation. This division of the NCAA conducts a yearly all-men's basketball tournament, which is what is now known as March Madness. It is a single-elimination tournament of 68 teams that compete in seven rounds for the national championship. Quite exciting, right?
March Madness stands as one of the most eagerly awaited spectacles in the sports world and even attracted over 10 million viewers in 2023, increasing year by year.
What Makes March Madness So Popular?
There are many reasons why March Madness is so popular. The bracket-style competition offers a unique format for sales promotions, such as discounts based on game outcomes or special deals for each round of the tournament.
Additionally, the buzz around the tournament on social media platforms provides eCommerce brands an opportunity to engage with potential customers through targeted ads, interactive content, and more. Many eCommerce retailers have, in fact, witnessed a spike in traffic from avid sports fans as they engage on social media platforms during the tournament.
How Much Money Does March Madness Generate?
March Madness, one of the most lucrative sporting events in the United States, presents a golden opportunity for e-commerce businesses to run successful marketing campaigns. In 2022, the NCAA raked in an astonishing $1.14 billion in revenues, with a substantial portion, approximately a billion dollars, attributed to March Madness alone.
Given this remarkable figure, March Madness becomes an optimal time for e-commerce businesses with several strategies you can consider for a positive financial impact from March Madness for your online store:
- Themed merchandise sales: If you are a clothing brand, especially in the sports sector, then offering team apparel, accessories, and memorabilia can help you with a surge in sales.
- Partnerships and sponsorships: Collaborate with influencers, bloggers, or even teams to create exclusive March Madness content or products to drive sales.
7 March Madness Marketing Ideas You Must Try Out This Year
Now, coming to the juiciest part of this article. If you are looking for March Madness marketing ideas that you want to implement for your Shopify store, then these are a few ideas you can explore:
Flash Sales and Daily Deals
Who doesn't like a sale? Flash sales (almost similar to the fast-paced nature of the games) can be a game-changer for your Shopify store. March Madness is a time of excitement and anticipation, and people are always looking for ways to celebrate. Having flash sales, daily deals, or time-bound in your store can be a great way to generate excitement and buzz around your Shopify store.
You can offer discounts on your most popular products or on products that are related to basketball or March Madness.
For example, a sporting goods store could offer a flash sale on basketball jerseys, shoes, and other equipment.
Fanatics often have time-sensitive deals during important games, enticing fans to grab their favorite team's merchandise at a reduced price. Pairing these sales with real-time game updates on your website or social media can further enhance engagement and drive traffic, leading to increased conversions.
As a Shopify store owner, you can utilize Shopify apps like Hextom Countdown Time Bar or Bold Discounts for adding countdown time bar, flash sales, and even daily deals.
Pro Tip: Consider creating a "Shot Clock Savings" campaign. Run hourly or limited-time discounts, mirroring the quick pace of basketball games. This approach adds a sense of urgency and keeps your customers engaged as they eagerly await the next big deal.
March Madness Bracket Challenge Contest
These challenges are a staple of March Madness, and they're a great way to engage your customers and generate excitement around your brand. The allure of predicting game outcomes is a central part of March Madness. And you can tap into this, too, by hosting bracket challenges.
To create your own March Madness bracket challenge contest, you can create a simple bracket template that your customers can download, fill out, and submit for interesting goodies from your store. You can also consider using a free bracket tool for Shopify stores like Common Ninja. Once the tournament begins, you can collect the brackets from your customers and track their progress. The customer with the most accurate bracket wins a prize!
For example, ESPN’s Tournament Challenge in 2021 invited participants to submit their predictions, allowing up to 25 entries per person. Contestants had to aim and accurately predict all 63 games in the NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Tournament. The highest scorer was rewarded with a lavish trip for two to the 2021 Maui Invitational in Hawaii, an experience valued at $18,000.
Pro Tip: Boost participation by offering a tiered reward system. Recognize not only the top predictor but also those who achieve milestones like correctly guessing the Sweet 16 or Final Four teams. This encourages more entries and ongoing engagement throughout the tournament, making your contest even more exciting.
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Limited Edition March Madness-Themed Merchandise
Exclusive products always have a unique appeal. March Madness is a great opportunity to create and sell limited-edition merchandise. This could include t-shirts, hats, jerseys, and other items that are decorated with your brand's logo and March Madness-related designs. The goal is to attract all March Madness fans with merchandise that shares the same spirit of excitement, fun, and curiosity as the game.
Even if your store isn't sports-related, you can still get in on the March Madness fun. Take the online bakery, Southern Sugar Bakery, for example. They rolled out basketball and basketball hoop-shaped cookies just in time for March Madness viewing parties. You could get them in sets of a dozen or half a dozen. It's a clever way to join in the game-time excitement!Pro Tip: To make it even more enticing, consider running a "Score Big with Collectibles" campaign. Offer a small but valuable collectible item, like a limited-edition trading card or signed memorabilia, with the purchase of select merchandise. This can add an element of surprise and exclusivity, driving further interest and sales among March Madness enthusiasts.
Bundling products is a great way to increase your store's average order value. Create special March Madness bundles, like "Elite Eight Essentials" or "Final Four Favorites." To create a tournament-related bundle, simply group together products that are best-sellers from your store that share the theme or your special March Madness products that can be bundled together. You can use apps like Bundler and Zoorix to bundle your products.
A great example is Shopitree's Nintendo Switch OLED console bundle, a special deal as a part of their March Madness offers. It is the perfect time to gather with friends and family to watch some great basketball. And what's better than watching basketball than playing basketball video games?
With the Nintendo Switch OLED console bundle with any 1 Mario game, shoppers could enjoy the best of both worlds.
Pro Tip: Increase the appeal of your tournament-related bundles by coupling the exclusive March Madness merchandise strategy with this. You can also offer limited-time access to sports streaming services with each purchase. This extra value can entice customers to opt for your bundled deals, enhancing your average order value.
Predict the Winner Discount
Engage your audience by offering special discounts to those who correctly predict game outcomes. For instance, you could display a quick multiple-choice question form as a pop-up for visitors on your website. They can then choose from the provided options and submit their answers along with their name, email address, or contact number. Shopify apps like POWR and Pop Convert are perfect for this one!
Once the game is over, for those participants who answered correctly, you can contact them and send them the details to receive the prize! It's that easy. And trust us, a simple no-harm, no-cost 'predict the winner and win a prize' can get tons of responses, hence the engagement!
DraftKings.com, while primarily a betting platform, often has promotional offers tied to game predictions, which can be a source of inspiration for eCommerce stores to design their prediction-based discounts.
Pro Tip: Take your Predict the Winner Discount strategy to the next level by offering participants an extra bonus when they correctly guess the final score or key player statistics, such as points or rebounds. This added challenge can generate even more excitement and engagement.
March Madness Giveaways
Everyone loves freebies. Host giveaways on your site or social media platforms, offering products, gift cards, or even game tickets.
Racknerd.com, a popular services solution, previously ran giveaways during the tournament, offering iPads, 3D printers, and more. This not only boosts engagement but also increases brand visibility as participants often share such contests, attracting more potential customers.
Shopify apps like Gleam Competitions and Social Boost Giveaway Contest are perfect for the job! You can effortlessly establish and execute giveaways, contests, and sweepstakes to boost genuine user participation.
Pro Tip: Enhance your March Madness giveaways by collaborating with influencers or sports bloggers. Their endorsements can add authenticity to your promotions and attract a broader audience of sports enthusiasts to participate.
Social Media Polls and Quizzes
Engage with your audience on platforms like Instagram or Facebook by hosting polls or quizzes. Questions like "Which team will win?" or "Who'll be the MVP?" can drive interactions.
Shopify survey apps like Zigpoll Customer Surveys can enhance your March Madness marketing by enabling you to create and deliver engaging social polls and quizzes. You can also consider POWR’s Customer Survey app for this task.Pro Tip: If you run a Shopify store and use Instagram, try out the VIBE app to supercharge your March Madness strategy. VIBE seamlessly connects to your Shopify store and turns your Instagram posts into shoppable experiences. You can tag your products in your quiz and poll posts, making it easy for your followers to shop directly from your Instafeed. This not only increases engagement but also helps boost your sales.
March Madness Marketing Campaigns to Inspire You
Here are two March Madness campaigns that you can gain inspiration from for your Shopify store:
LG x Fanatics
Leveraging March Madness can be a slam dunk for online stores. LG brilliantly utilized the opportunity of the March Madness buzz with their #LoveTheGame promotion. How? They offered a $200 gift card for Fanatics, a top-tier online sports merchandise platform, with the purchase of two eligible appliances. By tapping into sports enthusiasm and partnering with relevant brands, eCommerce platforms can drive significant sales and engagement during the tournament season.
Bose x NCAA
What's an audio equipment brand got to do with the NCAA? Well, Bose's partnership with NCAA stars like Aliyah A. Boston and Chet Holmgren for their #RuleTheQuiet campaign shows the way. With Bose's noise-canceling headphones, these college basketball stars are tuned out from distractions and haters alike. By connecting with basketball fans, Bose boosted their brand's visibility. Such collaborations and engagement via social media during March Madness can be a game-changer for your Shopify store.
March Madness offers a prime opportunity for Shopify store owners to elevate their marketing game. These tried-and-tested March Madness marketing ideas can be the kickstart your Shopify store needs. By implementing any of these seven strategies, you can engage a passionate audience and drive significant sales. Don't just watch the games; capitalize on the excitement and score big with your marketing efforts!
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