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Effective Digital Marketing For Local Sport Businesses

Digital Marketing is essentially selling yourself online. The online world is growing rapidly every day, with the increased use of mobile devices; the access to unlimited information is literally at your fingertips. There’s no reason why local sports businesses and local sports clubs shouldn’t capitalise on using a digital marketing strategy. On the outside, building your online profile may seem like a daunting task, but in reality, with the right guidance, it’s not that hard and incredibly important to do.

The Decline in Sport Participation

Since 2012’s London Olympics and its lasting legacy on the UK, sports participation has been on a steady decline. Whilst Covid-19 had a big part to play in team sports, the general consensus is that we aren’t as active as we should be, especially since the rise of digital media.

On a more specific front, sports such as golf have seen a huge decline in the past decade. In 2006, more than four million golfers teed off regularly. In 2016 that number fell to 2,785,000. In that same period, the number of memberships fell from 850,000 to 652,000. Experts have claimed that this is largely down to three main factors; time, cost and our perception to exercise.

How does Digital Marketing fit in for Local Sports Clubs?

As mentioned previously, the online world is growing at an alarming rate. If anybody wants to find information on anything, they’re probably going to search for it online. One of the biggest problems with golf membership is perception, what people associate with golf in their minds. Whilst the stereotype might be that golf is played by businessmen and the older generations, golf clubs actually work extremely hard to encourage younger members to get involved with the sport.

This is all well and good, but if people aren’t aware of the initiatives you are introducing, how will they change their perception? People need to find you online, and you need to showcase what you have to offer; to build your brand awareness, brand perception and then brand loyalty.

This is where a strong digital marketing strategy within your local sports club comes into play, see the top components of a digital marketing strategy below:

1. SEO

Let’s start at the core of a good digital campaign. SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) makes sure that your website is as strong as it can be on search engines. When it comes to digital marketing for local sports clubs, the most important thing to consider is local SEO. This entails marking sure that you have a Google My Business page set up correctly and optimised.


Your Google My Business account is almost the forefront of your company on a Google search. On a desktop device, it normally takes up the right-hand side of the screen, stating key information such as your address, phone number and working hours; whereas on a mobile device, it can take up the whole screen, providing the same information. Being the face of your company to potential sport fanatics, any technical problems such as broken links and outdated or missing information can be detrimental to your user’s perception of your business. Therefore, performing some easy SEO wins and staying on top of the information you relay to your potential stakeholders online is critical to local SEO success. 

2. Local Link Building

Having your local sports club appear on other local websites is a very strong way of improving your SEO. You can achieve this by building strong relationships with partners to link back to your site – this is known as link building. However, to forge such strong relationships, you need to have high-quality content on your web pages that other businesses, bloggers or journalists are going to want to link to.

3. Content

Now at first, the idea of writing content for your website could be scary and overwhelming, as you might not even know where to start. This is where you’ll need a content plan, the foundations to your sports club’s online marketing. Take some time to generate content ideas. If you’re struggling, why not take some inspiration from the digital marketing strategies other local sports clubs are using? Or, see what your target audience is doing, and create a user-generated content strategy to appeal to their wants and needs.

Another idea might be to perform some keyword research around the terms that your target audience might be searching for. If you’re trying to recruit teenage girls to join your local women’s football team in Harrogate, you’d be wanting to rank high and therefore write content for terms such as “local girls football team Harrogate”. To gauge an idea of monthly search volumes for target terms, we’d suggest using either Google’s keyword planner or Moz’s keyword explorer tool.

4. PPC (Pay-Per-Click) and Biddable Media

PPC and biddable media is a great way to advertise your local sports club to your local community. Done correctly, you will appear at the top of the search results page for key terms. PPC is particularly great because you can push specific keywords at whatever time of the year, meaning you can target your local sports club at specific customers just as they want to start participating or buy products sold by a sports business. So, for a golf club, you may choose to advertise a special membership offer at the start of the season whereas a rugby club may promote junior coaching.

As you can see, Starbeck Tennis Club is using PPC to drive new membership. Not only will Pay-Per-Click allow you to sit in a prominent position on a search results page, but it is also incredibly measurable. You can see which keywords are driving traffic and which ads are more successful than others. For a sport’s clubs online marketing strategy, it allows businesses to adapt and improve PPC campaigns to maximise results constantly. For further insight into biddable media, why not read our guide on the best PPC platforms to use for your business

5. Social Media

Social media is becoming more and more popular with businesses, and local sports clubs are no different. This is where you can interact with people, and they can interact with you. It’s a two-way communication tool, and that can provide a significant advantage to sport businesses digital marketing strategy.

People will have their own reasons for joining a sports club which can vary based on psychographics, but there are 5 main reasons to sport participation motives:

  • Learning new skills
  • Experiencing challenges and success
  • Acquiring social benefits from group affiliation
  • Improving fitness and health
  • Having fun

Social Media is the perfect place to showcase what your club has to offer.

Here’s a great example of a social media marketing being used. As you can see, it displays what the club offers for a family. People respond to emotion. Connecting with people emotionally is more likely to grow your social media campaign.

Different Types of Social Media

It’s important that you understand the different types of social media and how they can be used to target different people when performing digital marketing for your sport club.

All social media platforms are different and therefore attracts different types of people. You need to adapt your different social media channels to their target audiences. Find all 2021 social media demographics data here.

1. Facebook

  • 86% of 18–29 year olds use Facebook.
  • 77% of 30–49 year olds use Facebook.
  • 51% of 50–64 year old use Facebook.
  • 34% of 65+ year old use Facebook.

Facebook has a large number of users across all demographics. So, when thinking about Facebook, you’ll be targeting an audience base which is highly saturated. Therefore you may want to raise awareness of your brand, show off your unique selling points (USPs) with pictures or videos and drive customers to your site to learn more about your local sports club.

2. Instagram

  • 67% of 18–29 year olds use Instagram.
  • 47% of 30–49 year olds use Instagram.
  • 23% of 50–64 year olds use Instagram.
  • 8% of people 65+ use Instagram.

There’s no doubt that Instagram attracts a much younger audience. You’re not going to be structuring your Instagram profile the same way that you would your Facebook, as Generation Z are perceived to have a lower retention span on your posts. Whereas with Facebook, you would be more family-oriented; Instagram would be aimed more at a younger audience, who are known to like pictures or videos in short bursts. Attractive, eye-catching user-generated content could be a particularly good form of digital marketing for local sports clubs!

If we look at Harrogate Rugby Club’s Instagram, they’ve focused on images more geared towards young male adults. It’s aimed at a younger audience and members who they would like to attract to the club.

3. Twitter

  • 38% of 18–29 year olds use Twitter.
  • 26% of 30–49 year olds use Twitter.
  • 17% of 50–64 year olds use Twitter.
  • 7% of 65+ year olds use Twitter.

Twitter is a great way to display information. It’s also a way that you can connect with professional athletes and start quick but informative conversations. By retweeting and mentioning professional athletes, you can create a positive reaction from your audience. Due to its quick accessibility and sharable media with the use of hashtags, you should be using Twitter as a way of promoting your services, starting short conversations (performing two way-communication with business and user) and relaying the latest information.

Digital marketing for local sport clubs should not be something you think is out of your reach. In fact, just by performing local SEO alone, you’re bound to see some conversion results on your site – even if it’s over a long period of time. For more information about how to grow your digital business online, check out our other blog posts, or contact one of our SEO, PPC or content specialists today.