Putting users first: It's time for football clubs to step up their game

Football clubs have come a long way in recent years when it comes to digital presence. The world’s biggest teams have become brands in their own right, with fans across the world. And thanks to the powers of social media, smaller clubs are engaging with audiences better than ever, even with the strictest of budgets.

Clubs are no longer solely focused on the team game, instead they have also become retailers, publishers, broadcasters, and media owners all rolled into one. But with the increase in global competition there’s an onus on them to do things differently in order to stand out.

Indeed, those falling foul of the digital offside rule run the risk of losing a loyal fan base. So what’s the hat trick? A flawless, personalised, and highly-acclaimed user experience.

Craig Johnson, Director at Kagool – a Sitecore partner – explains nine ways football clubs can use digital marketing tools to stand out from the crowd, and tailor user experience to ensure it hits the spot.

Target your fans by location

Fans are no longer just on the doorstep; many clubs boast fans thousands of miles away.
Having valuable insight into a site user’s location can help you deliver targeted promotions that drive extra sales and engagement with your brand.

Having valuable insight into a site user’s location can help you deliver targeted promotions that drive extra sales and engagement with your brand.

If a local fan is in the area, why not encourage them to stop at the stadium with a promotional offer? This is a great way to push last minute ticket sales or to improve takings in the club shop before an upcoming fixture.

If a fan is browsing from abroad, why not let them know the next flight to the nearest city?

This variety of tactics will keep your global footprint in-tact and show you see passion for the club as priority, no matter the language barrier.

Personalise your ticket sales approach

Collecting data on every individual customer and integrating that with your ticketing system enables you to target fans based on their attendance history.

Picture this: finally getting your armchair fans inside the stadium with personalised promotions for first-time attendees. Alternatively, tempt loyal fans with hospitality options and season ticket discounts. Or, work with your database of lapsed customers as a great way to get fans back in the habit of attending matches.

By integrating your customer data, you’re more likely to engage with your users and increase ticket sales, rather than wasting media space promoting match tickets to season ticket holders.

Use premium content to capture customer data

Many Premier League football clubs offer “premium content” through their website. This content is often hidden away or hinted at.

Video marketing is a quick and engaging way of communicating with your fans. But integrated videos are also great from an SEO perspective. They help your content rank higher in Google searches.

You can easily integrate teasers of your premium content in your main, freely available material, so you can reach a wider audience and up-sell your premium services. You could also bundle premium content to season ticket holders. This gives season ticket holders a reason to come back to your site and gets new fans to consider buying a season ticket.

Encourage loyalty by being engaged with the user

Websites for football clubs need to make their fans feel included and rewarded. A simple “Welcome back, Mr Smith!” message for registered users can make a real impact on the overall customer experience, and feeling like you know and understand them will encourage them to buy again and again.

Integration with personalisation platforms gives marketers a single view of customers and all their past digital interactions, which is great if you’re looking to give your fans that little bit of something extra.

Expand your website’s reach to a global fan base

For fans further afield, consider integrating translation software, like Lionbridge, for automated translations on your site. Sitecore, for example, makes it easy to reuse content across multiple sites from a central media library. This connected approach means less time and effort spent managing each individual site, so your site is kept consistent and easy to manage.

Market merchandise based on fans’ preferences and behaviour

Offer fans incentives for purchasing merchandise in order to increase sales. Integrate with your shop’s customer data to up-sell merchandise based on purchase history and membership status.

For example, don’t promote a home shirt to a fan who’s purchased one previously – offer them alternatives, like the away strip or options for their family and friends. If a customer regularly buys child tickets for the games, suggest kids’ merchandise.

Track business goals with analytics

Marketers should engage in path analysis, testing and goal tracking in order to create detailed profiles for every fan and audience segment, improving your single view of every visitor to your site.

Detailed reporting of your site’s performance will also be a plus to stakeholders. Let them know where you’ve made improvements and how successful they’ve been. This helps to reassure them that they’ll see ROI.

Make sure your site can handle heavy traffic

The scalability of your site is crucial. You’re likely to have increased traffic when transfer deadlines are looming, during sudden personnel changes, fixture and ticket releases and new kit reveals. You need to be sure your site can carry the load.

The scalability of Sitecore architecture is constantly developing, meaning sites using it can manage an impressive amount of data. And this amount can grow without affecting site performance.

Keep your site secure to give fans peace of mind

When building Sitecore websites for football clubs, security precautions should be in place from the start. This means you don’t experience any nasty problems with your installation down the road.

If things ever do get out of hand, it’s nice to know that your digital partner has your back. Kagool is the only UK Sitecore Partner that offers 24×7 out of hours Sitecore support to our customers, so no matter when the final whistle blows, we’re on hand to ensure your website remains representative of your club, messaging, and most importantly, your fans’ needs.