Reading Room discusses the digital kit that all football clubs should have in their lockers to enhance engagement and develop successful commercial propositions.
Gone are the days when a football club was just a physical entity.
In an age filled with multimedia, technology, social media and virtual reality, a club’s digital presence now plays a fundamental role in supporting their local, national and international status. Not only that, fans expect it – they want to be able to engage with players and feel a connection both on and off the pitch. This appetite for engagement gives clubs a window of opportunity to use digital to nurture the fan mindset, driving loyalty and ultimately revenues.
While it’s often the case that a team’s on-pitch performance and digital success are linked, that doesn’t mean that opportunities to drive engagement are confined exclusively to match wins. Clubs have a wealth of digital tools at their fingertips to help tap into the spirit of the moment and sustain a fan’s engagement for the long-term – not just when a trophy is lifted.
Here’s a rundown of five tech elements that all clubs should be keeping an eye on to maximise fan loyalty and derive commercial success.
1. Flexible CMS: a game changer
The cornerstone of a successful and distinctive digital presence is undoubtedly a club’s website. But, for it to truly function as the ‘home’ of fans and work both strategically and commercially, it needs to have the right functionality in place to allow clubs to compete with other media juggernauts who are vying for the same slice of the audience pie.
Being able to publish at speed, tailor designs, have flexibility over content presentation, and have the autonomy to attract commercial partners should all be at a club’s disposal. Without the functionality to support this, engagement and revenue growth are likely to be hindered.
2. Analytics: the numbers game
Once clubs have the right digital infrastructure, the website and all its content assets should be working as hard as they can. Having a comprehensive analytics strategy – and setting clear KPIs – to help benchmark and measure success is essential if a club is to better understand fans and continue to produce content that relates.
By analysing the direction of traffic, understanding visit acquisition and regularly reviewing content performance, clubs are in a much better position to make their website targeted, serving up content that makes fans feel compelled to return time and time again. Having this insight – and using it to shape future digital activity – is particularly attractive to commercial partners too who may want to review traffic patterns, before committing to sponsorship deals.
3. E-commerce: retail is detail
A club’s online shop is a direct revenue stream, which is why there needs to be a clear and consistent user experience between the main website and a club’s ‘retail rooms’ to encourage conversions.
Teaming up with a reliable e-commerce partner is key to delivering a hassle-free and seamless checkout experience – one negative encounter is all it takes to prompt visitors to shop around and purchase elsewhere.
Having the right level of flexibility in the tech to be able to bundle products together and encourage upsell, as well as regularly analysing conversions to inform a data-driven marketing strategy, are both essential for commercial growth.
4. Single sign-on: a seamless experience
For clubs to be able to drive loyalty and engagement, their overall digital offering needs to be cohesive and streamlined. Having single sign-on to enable fans to access multiple club applications via just one set of login credentials helps to deliver this simple approach.
The industry is already saturated with hundreds of football sites offering club news and speculation, player profiles and minute-by-minute match updates, so working hard to prevent fans abandoning their visit – due to multiple sign-in processes – can be advantageous. Of course, clubs are also likely to glean greater intelligence from logged-in users, over those who merely explore anonymously.
5. Social media: integrating key platforms
Very few football fans receive team news from just one source. Fans like to ‘shop around’ when it comes to hearing about their club or player, and this also carries across to social media – where many forums, groups and discussion boards are hosted for like-minded individuals to join.
For that reason, a club’s own social media presence – and the news disseminated here – is just as important as the website in driving engagement and tapping into the spirit of the moment. It provides an opportunity to connect and interact with fans on a more personal level. With social media so prevalent, it goes without saying that a club’s primary social pages should be easily accessible from – and integrated with – its website, with similar measurement tools used to help review and refine content that will support a club’s fan engagement and commercial objectives.
Our full-service digital agency – Reading Room – now comprises the expertise of Reading Room and Rippleffect. We have more than 15 years’ experience across the team supporting football clubs to engage with their fans and develop a distinctive, strategic digital presence.
Our bespoke ‘Playmaker’ platform provides sports clubs with the building blocks needed to help carve engaging websites, with functionality that supports rapid publishing, seamless user experiences, Club TV, Opta integration, commercial autonomy and full integration between social media, ticketing, e-commerce, CRM and email marketing systems. The platform is already in use by several top league football clubs, supported by powerful analytics plans to help measure success.
Want to join them? Email [email protected] or visit www.readingroom.com to find out how Playmaker can help you raise your game. You can also read more about the recent launch of Playmaker for three top league clubs ahead of their 2017/18 season here.