As clubs seek to elevate engagement and improve the matchday experience for fans, the importance of utilising data becomes increasingly important.
Following a new partnership with League One contenders Doncaster Rovers, Sportego’s Co-Founder, Trevor Keane spoke to InsiderSport about the importance of data in helping a club understand its fanbase, as well as how clubs outside the Premier League can maximise fan engagement.
InsiderSport: Can you tell us more about Sportego, and the role you play in helping clubs increase audience engagement?
Trevor Keane: Sportego is a fan data analytics company. We work with clubs and sporting bodies to help them understand their data. Data in sporting terms can relate to memberships, ticket sales, season tickets, retail sales and hospitality. Our focus is on bringing all these data points together so a club knows their fan base.
The experience of a Mum and Dad with two kids going to a game is very different to two students going to a game, likewise how a club communicates with them should be very different. We work with clubs to help them harness the power of the data they have internally. We also work with them to help understand and engage effectively on social media acting as a third party reviewer of their social content. Rather than benchmark to themselves, we push clubs to benchmark to peers and rivals.
InsiderSport: How important is the role data plays in helping fans increase audience engagement?
TK: Data is very important. Clubs need to understand their fans to ensure they maximise their engagements with them. They need to know when they renew, why they haven’t or how far they travel. They need to get an insight into the behaviour and motivations of fans.
They also need to ensure that when they target fans with offers and deals, those offers and deals are relevant and adding value. Data is the driver for all this. All clubs have multiple data points in-house, it is about bringing all those together and analysing them.
InsiderSport: How can a side like Doncaster Rovers expand their fan engagement to a wider market?
TK: Creating an experience is crucial, when families and people give up their time for a game, it means they have forsaken some other activities, the key then is to ensure that the experience they have makes them want to come back. Whether that is clean toilets and easy access or having a pre-match experience that drives participation among all age groups. It is also about positioning yourself as people second favorite team.
Doncaster may not be able to compete with Manchester City or Liverpool for fan but they can create, via an in-stadium experience and strong online presence, a situation where they are regarded as the second team of a fan. In addition they can engage with the wider Doncaster region to ensure that they maximise the potential of their fan base. Shaun and his team are doing a great job in creating a fantastic atmosphere for fans. The club have created Donny Dog Kennel with a games zone, a chance to meet players and fun and games.
InsiderSport: We have seen the growth of football teams mobile apps in recent years, how crucial is this when it comes to increasing mobile engagement?
TK: If done right, apps can play a big part. The key is to get it right. There is no point replicating an experience that can be achieved via a strong mobile responsive website. News, fixtures and player info can be got via their site. If you do an app then you need to ensure it is sticky and adds value.
ETicket wallets ensure no need for season tickets, A/R tools bring programme and walls to life, Streaming abilities allow fans to see a piece of action instantly, in-app notifications can lead to rewards, while in-game stats create additional involvement. App are important but it is important to ensure that fans also watch and see the game and are not too distracted.
InsiderSport: What trends have you seen from football fans, in terms of the type of content they enjoy and engage with?
TK: What we have seen is that fans want more and more behind the scenes content. ‘Sunderland till I die’ is a good example of this. An excellent documentary that not only told the story of a season but also of a city and its people.
While having a partner like Netflix will help this type of content reach a wider audience, teams can produce this level and show their area, fans and club. I also think fans want experiences and easily digestible content, especially that elusive 18-34 group. Short, snappy to the point content online will help, as does taking an unique approach.