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Nachos, beer, the Super Bowl, and consumer data - what do these four things have in common? They all improve and drive fan experiences in the sports entertainment industry.

The goal for sports franchises, including teams in the NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB and other pro leagues, is to maximize revenues through ticket sales, merchandise, and fan engagement.

In a world driven by data, sports franchises need to gain fan insights to remain competitive. Here are four benefits that sports franchises receive from using fan insights:

  1. Test ideas

Introducing a newly designed jersey or mascot for your team? Asking fans directly for their opinion is a simple way to solve what may be a difficult marketing dilemma.

With insight communities, sport franchises are able to access thousands of die-hard fans from across the globe. Administering simple 10-minute surveys can provide sports franchises with vital information that is used as the foundation for multiple marketing campaigns.

For example, NASCAR wanted a way to listen and quantify avid fan base opinions to allow them to improve the fan experience. The franchise partnered with Vision Critical to create the Official NASCAR Fan Council, a private online community of 12,000 passionate fans. Based on fan feedback, NASCAR increased TV ratings and improved the sport. In an interview with Direct Marketing News, Brian Moyer, director of market and media research for NASCAR, says that fan feedback has allowed NASCAR to and address needs for various NASCAR business units and individual stakeholders while giving racing fans the opportunity to play an active role in the sport and in the brand.

  1. Engage fans

A highly engaged audience, sports fans are extremely vocal. "Fans love to talk - talking about sports is as important as, or more important than, the sport itself," explains Peter Chow-White, an assistant professor of communication at Simon Fraser University.

You'll be amazed at how much customers want to engage with brands that they are interested in. A great way for sports franchises to spark conversation is through open discussion forums. These forums serve as a platform where fans can share their passion with other fans. As a benefit, engaging fans consistently creates even more buzz and interest around the franchise.

  1. Troubleshoot PR

Sports teams have a lot to worry about in terms of brand management. Consequently, sports teams are constantly trying to analyze what fans are thinking or saying about players and coaches to mitigate any bad press. Whether it's a controversial trade or a new 10-year multi-million dollar player signing, fans will talk and teams will have to listen.

The public relations department of sports franchises can benefit immensely from an online community of fans. By administering surveys to fans, or by opening a discussion forum, PR teams can find ways to best react to a positive or negative event.

  1. Build identity

Having a strong community is essential for sport franchises to build the identities of fans. "It is evident that a sense of belonging and community has always been an important part of the attraction of being a sport fan," says Gary Crawford, author of Consuming Sport: Fans, Sport and Culture. Weaving strong identities in fans is what drives profits in the sports industry.

Sports franchises can rely on insight platforms to test ideas, engage fans, manage public relations, and build identities of avid fans. At Vision Critical, we're interested in providing technology that enables sport franchises to gather valuable insights from thousands of fans.

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