Why the enterprise should pay attention to NASCAR's research tactics

NASCAR'S use of aggregated data, analytics, and social media helped grow its fan base. Learn how it could do the same for your business.

How to choose the right data analytics tools: 5 steps Data is one of the most integral business assets for a company, but sometimes it is unclear how to leverage that information. Here's how.

NASCAR is no stranger to growing and maintaining its fan base. It has excited and captivated stock race car fans since its inception in 1948.

In 2019, NASCAR's analytics group was created as a way to integrate all of the different analytics activities that departments within NASCAR performed.

"Like many organizations, we followed and reported on our fan activity, but what we really wanted to know was to how to get even more engaged with our fans," said Norris Scott, NASCAR's Vice President of Analytics and Insights. "We recognized that if we ever were going to get a truly holistic and integrated view of our customers, we would need to break down the individual departmental silos."

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To do this, NASCAR employs primary survey research that the company conducts, as well as social media research, and research contributed from industry sources such as Neilson.

"We recognized that we needed strong relationships with outside business partners, as well as a more integrated approach to data internally," said Scott.

Gaining insights

NASCAR completed several analytics projects that yielded new customer insights. These projects also opened up new engagement opportunities with customers.

"Most recently, we completed a customer segmentation study," said Scott. "The study allowed us to gain more detailed insights into our fans, which we actually divided into six separate groupings, based upon what we learned."

Scott, who said that the study's results are still being used, emphasized that NASCAR was able to learn more about the interests of different fan segments and their behavioral and viewing habits from the study.

NASCAR also worked with its 25,000-member fan community to gain valuable insights. "After every race, we talked to members of this community about various topics and about what's on members' minds," Scott said. "We decided to to take a little over 1,000 members from this group and signed them up for live polling during the race. We would ask them questions like how long they were watching the race, where they were sitting, and what they were doing. The exchange would be in near real time, so participants could also see the results of the poll.

"Later, we looked at the data, which would tell us how many races customers watched, who their favorite drivers were, and so on. We could then take this information and cross-reference it against other demographics data for additional insights and trends."

One discovery NASCAR made was that most fans really liked stage racing--the ability to divide races up into different segments, instead of just one long event.

Another valuable asset that NASCAR developed was a technology platform for fan media and social engagement. "We use social listening technology on this platform that enables engagement with our fan base in real time. We can also monitor emerging issues so we can be on top of them," said Scott.

Both social media engagement/listening and the ability to use aggregated data and analytics about fans has enhanced NASCAR's ability to interact with its fans--and grow its fan base.

Three takeaways

What are the main takeaways data and analytics managers can implement from NASCAR into their own organizations? Below are three examples.

1. Look at data you already own

Are you fully exploiting the information you already own? Or are there new ways that you can tap into it for more insights? Do you have an opportunity to holistically aggregate your internal data, or do different departments have different pieces of it that you must bring together first?

2. Choose the best outside information partners in your industry

In NASCAR's case. a key business partner became Neilson, which captures a large amount of media-driven information. Identify information leaders in other industries. You ideally want to work with these folks.

3. Identify ways to engage customers

Whether it is through social media, retail and online stores, train stations or websites, find where customers gather and connect with them. The stronger your ability to engage is, the greater the chance you will grow your customer base and keep the ones you already have.

Also see

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Image: James Steidl, Getty Images/iStockphoto