Football fans transformed into lifelong high value communities

Christopher Lowe

Aug 27, 2021

Football fans transformed into lifelong high value communities Featured Image
Christopher Lowe

Aug 27, 2021

Table of Contents
  1. Every football club has them: the loyal fans

  2. The secret to turning football (fans) brand communities into a revenue-making machine is to be genuine, honest, and authentic

  3. Conclusion

Every football club has them: the loyal fans

They show up in droves, never miss a game, and can name every centre forward a club has had for the past three decades. But when football fans are invested, with their season tickets paid for, it can be challenging to boost their revenue much further beyond this point. Are there any new revenue-maxing strategies out there for marketers to embrace?

I have good news for you, there are! And in this blog post, I’m going to show you how. 

“Football is more than a game.”

One word: Loyalty.

It’s all about loyalty. And good storytelling, of course. 

The global lockdown has taught football brands that sincerity, connection, and a genuine voice in their communities. Both online and offline, they make their fans stick around.

This is the core of their marketing strategy.

Sell stories not merchandise, they say, and we believe them.

The most successful social football communities are now taking serious interest in storytelling.

They emphasise not only their club’s history and their players, but also their fans’ stories because they know that’s what will keep them coming back for more.

Football fans crave authenticity

When fans believe a brand is honest and authentic, they’ll do anything for the team. That’s why football brands are increasingly embracing this new approach with open arms. And, their their most successful campaigns show these qualities: sincerity, connection, and a genuine voice in their communities.

 ‘Til death do us part.

Statistically, a person is more likely to change their spouse than change their favourite football club. Football fans are not just a marketing demographic. They’re some of the most valuable customers a company can have – loyal and eager to be part of something bigger than themselves.

For clubs, this is an opportunity to capitalise on that engagement and turn football fan communities into revenue-making machines with authentic, sincere, and honest stories.

Creating football fans vs. lifetime supporters

A truly successful football brand does not see its fans as customers, but rather as partners, club members, or lifetime supporters. This makes all the difference when it comes to turning football (fan) brand communities into a revenue-making machine.

Loyalty comes in many forms, and fans show their loyalty to a club in a multitude of ways.

Let’s take a look at a recent example.

When the news that Messi was joining Paris Saint-Germain broke, the club’s Instagram account almost instantly gained 20 million new followers. More than 150,000 ‘Messi 30’ shirts were sold in just seven minutes after his move was made official.

Football fans are not only an integral part of any club’s success, but are also the most important players in your business.

Now it’s time for me to let you in on a secret. 

The secret to turning football (fans) brand communities into a revenue-making machine

Today’s fans expect transparency and agility. They’re constantly plugged into sports stories, and expect the teams they support to provide them with binge-worthy content and experiences. 

Consistent messaging across fans’ preferred channels on fixtures, player trading, club news, and more, are some of the ways clubs can grab their attention.

From there, it’s just a matter of knowing how to keep them loyal.

Experiment with new content types like live video or interactive polls to keep your audience engaged, and obtain insight into what they want from your brand in order to maximise profitability.

Stepping outside the traditional channels can be the key to increasing digital sales. 

Two real-world examples of clubs using WhatsApp to connect with football fans

The Dutch Premier Division soccer club, Vitesse Arnhem, also adopted WhatsApp Business to deliver a better customer experience. What’s more the club only needed to train four new customer service live agents and one community manager to manage this new channel. The results: 40% increase in first-contact resolution and an 80% decrease in average resolution time, resulting in a 10% increase in revenue. 

But, the Dutch Club isn’t an outlier. Atlético de Madrid, a Spanish football club, created an index of FAQs from its traditional communication channels, such as social media, phone, and its stadium office, and uses a virtual assistant on WhatsApp to respond to commonly asked questions in a conversational style, complete with emojis, videos, and photos. 

Be where football fans are building communities

Clubs should also be present on all the channels your audience frequently uses. The more convenient your communication with fans is, the more receptive they will be. Additional channels also give clubs the opportunity to gather more insight data about their fans, which with the right strategies, can send personalised, targeted communications and promotions. 

The more time you spend learning about your community, the better results you’ll achieve in terms of sales conversion rates or potential revenue because passionate fans will spend their money in support of their team. The best way to do this is by asking questions and listening to what they’re saying.

Another great thing to do is to use geofencing for apps to send relevant content to the users who are already packed into the stadium to watch the game. For example: “Hey, it’s half time! Head to the gift shop for 30% off merch now!” With this targeted real-time prompting, they’ll be more likely to buy something because the message arrived when at the right place, and right time. .

If you invest in your football fan base, the payoff will be well worth the effort!

Okay, we talked about different ways of turning your fan community into a revenue-making machine, and we have also touched on how different clubs interact with their football fan communities and what they do to increase their revenue stream.

So, let’s take a look at how a cross-channel customer experience platform can help you to maximise your revenue with a football fan community.

The benefit of using a single, cross-channel platform is that it allows you to stitch both your online and offline data together. From this, you have a single source of the truth, from which to draw insights and take actions. 

Understanding football fan intent with AI

Next, we rely on our Artificial Intelligence (AI) engine to identify fans’ interests, their likelihood to purchase and churn, their replenishment needs, and much more. With this, we look to understand their intentions, allowing you to predict user actions and behaviour. Using this valuable information, you’ll have the insight you need to make smart decisions on how to properly engage with your football fan community and increase your revenue streams, even through channels you may not necessarily have considered before.

Once we’ve understood your fans’ intent, we segment them, aiming to increase engagement through optimising their experience with our AI-backed recommendation engine, personalised layouts, messaging channels, and our user journey tool architected for football fans. 

We use AI to make this process as easy as possible, so that we don’t overwhelm users with irrelevant content or products. We also help reduce churn rates because fans are happier about their purchase/experience. When we know what’s going on at each stage of a customer’s journey, it’s easy to see where there are opportunities for improvement, and then we automate these processes across multiple channels!

Using AI to increase relevancy

We’ve combined our best practices for turning a brand into an active, engaged supporter for the team with AI-powered targeting technology. 

Finally, we measure the overall success in four different pillars of digital marketing – through acquisition and retention. We have a strategy for your club that will make the most of your football fan community. By utilising our AI engine, we can take care of all the work with accuracy and precision! 

We may not be able to do everything on our own, but together, there is nothing we cannot accomplish! 

With this in mind, it’s important to look at each individual pillar of digital marketing as one whole strategy rather than seeing them individually, which could skew the data significantly and adversely affect success.

And throughout all of this, we’re touching your digital marketing channels / touchpoints, your desktop web, your mobile web, your app, push notifications, and all your other online channels. We start with the low-hanging fruit and add more channels as our partnership progresses.

What exactly do we use to achieve all this?

First-party data

There are a number of benefits to using customer data as it can help you increase conversion rates, improve retention, and reduce churn. It’s important when collecting relevant data that you know what your specific business goals are, otherwise any potential improvements will be hard to measure!

Anonymous segments

If you’re not sure where to start, creating anonymous segments of your customer data is a good place, as it will help create new clusters and groupings that can lead to better targeting. You might need some help on this one, so we have a few experts in our team, who would be happy to provide assistance. They will also be able to take care of any segmentation work if needed, which could save you the time and money involved in hiring a new employee.

Mobile apps 

Most, if not all, premier league football clubs have mobile apps nowadays. Creating engaging personalised in-app experiences improves engagement, decreases uninstall rates, and drives additional revenue growth for the club.

Push notifications

Allowing customers to opt-in for push notification alerts is a great way of keeping fans engaged throughout the year. It’s also an easy way to increase customer retention rates. With this in mind, it’s important to segment your list so you don’t spam irrelevant information to people who are no longer interested in your club. We recommend sending out targeted messages based on where fans live (region), and if you need help with targeting, our team will take care of that too, because, once more, using our services can save you time and money involved with trying to do everything by yourself.

Desktop web

Increase your revenue and get more fans engaged with the club. Desktop web presents lets you get closer to potential customers, increase conversions/leads, and lower churn. Plus, it’s an easy way to convert your traffic into revenue.

Gamification for special offers

We’d also recommend using gamification to incentivise the purchase of items. When customers are given points for completing tasks, it creates a sense of urgency. This excitement often results in increased conversions! Not sure how to gamify? Please give our team a call. We have many experts in this field who could offer suggestions or work with you on something new.

Personalized offers and app experiences for VIP fans (based on how many matches a season ticket holder has attended)

To make sure that your VIP fans get the best possible experience, we recommend creating personalised offers and app experiences. VIPs may have different preferences to other customers, so it’s worth considering their individuality.

Instead of sending out generic messages on behalf of a football club, send individualised messages. A great example of this is discounts at stadium stores based on how many matches a season ticket holder attends. This is something most clubs don’t even think about doing because they’re too focused on the big spenders.

Carousel rich push notifications

Visuals are far more efficient at grabbing people’s attention than just words. Use a case carousel of players in their club strip. You can show the backs of their uniforms so fans can see the players’ names and numbers. You can use this tactic to promote “15% of shirts this weekend only”. It’s a vibrant but effective way of getting people interested in what you’re selling.

Surveys

Surveys are great for finding out more about your customers. They offer a quick and easy way of gathering information which can help tailor your content, products, and experiences. You can also use surveys to ensure people want to hear from you. This saves you time and money because when fans are interested in what you have to say, it’s less work on your part.

Conclusion 

We hope you have some fresh ideas on how to turn your football fans into loyal lifelong customers. Want more information? Get in touch with us.


Christopher has a long history of driving value and creating personalized, omnichannel journeys that enhance customer experience. He's passionate about learning and development and has a keen interest in developing economies, especially ones with a lot of room for digital growth.