Derby County Ladies Football Club

Digital transformation is driving the future of sports marketing

For Matt Wheatcroft, being involved with his passion for Football isn’t solely defined by his time as Derby County Ladies Under 12’s Black Socks Coach, he is also a leading component of the digital transformation in the game with his Full Service Marketing Agency, Purpose Media, a company that has had a huge say through his work with the men’s arm of Derby County and will continue to do so in the transforming world of Sports Digital Marketing. Here Matt talks about the landscape of the changing digital market in Football.

The digital landscape of sport is changing. At the top end of football, most clubs are fully aware that their digital real-estate is as important an asset as their players and stadia.

It’s a key part of enabling them to build their club as a brand and reach an audience that’s not bound by their geographic location.

Even in the lower echelons of the football pyramid, or in sports which don’t attract Premier League-sized crowds, the number of paying supporters coming through the turnstiles each week doesn’t tell the full story.

It’s likely that thousands more are lurking in armchairs and on laptops on matchday, keeping tabs on the action, or constantly poring over newswires and social media for the latest player news, gossip and rumours.

This ‘hidden army’ of support is the holy grail for professional sports clubs… a rich but untapped seam of digitally-savvy content consumers.

The challenge is how to reach them.

The modes and methods of watching broadcasted sport are also changing.

It’s no longer just about television.

Fans now stream football and other sports via desktop, laptop, mobile and tablet.

They access highlights via social media and often multi-screen to take in every aspect of the game and every bit of opinion online, on-demand and in real-time.

And many are prepared to pay for ‘premium’ access to their club, its players and exclusive insight from their favourite opinion-formers.

The net effect is a major disruption of the marketplace, which was previously dominated by major broadcasters reliant on an outmoded subscription model that no longer generates the returns of its halcyon days.

The savviest of clubs, across all sports, are waking up to this fact.

They are realising that as the growing number of ‘digital natives’ within their fanbase continues to expand, exponentially, they need to offer a way to interact with them on a

24/7 basis, providing personalised, exclusive content and offers that are focused on their wants and needs.

Intelligent sports businesses are also innovating in the way they use their data.

They know exactly things like what each of their fans likes to eat, where they sit, what video clips they enjoy watching and which players’ shirts they like to wear.

Acting upon this insight helps them to connect with their fanbase, create additional revenue streams, drive growth and increase engagement.

It enables advertisers and sponsors to identify and deliver specific messages and campaigns in a highly-targeted way and measure the impact of those campaigns with respect to their own business and marketing objectives.

In short, it’s a win-win for fans, clubs and sponsors alike.

More and more clubs, across more and more sports, are waking up to the fact that their digital destiny – and the commercial gains that come with it – is in their own hands.

They are developing their own platforms to reach out to and engage with their fans, cutting out the middlemen of the traditional media and instead, going direct.

Derby County Football Club was among the first in the English Football League to embrace this change, when it was given the opportunity of opting out of the EFL Digital agreement, which it did in 2016. The club opted, instead, to create its own digital platform, www.dcfc.co.uk, which would give it greater control over its own online channels, deliver a greater commercial return as a result and enabling it to deliver a more immersive, engaging and interactive experience to its fans.

We worked with Derby County to create a market-leading online football platform that redefines football websites by placing fans at its very core, while generating significant new commercial opportunities for the club.

The platform offers greater scope to deliver more engaging content directly to the people that matter most to the club – its fans.

The club was keen to put its fans at the very heart of this project, to create a digital platform that is engaging, immersive and totally transforms the way supporters interact with it.

The response was to create a platform that can be viewed at home or on the go, providing a fluid service that is just as responsive on mobile or tablet as it is on desktop.

It delivers an enhanced online matchday experience, with the introduction of a new Match Centre which will allow fans to follow the action in every game from the club’s pre-season friendlies to the end of season deciders and beyond.

Unified from top to bottom, supporters can find whatever they desire all in one place, and with a single user account and login, making it easier to buy tickets, merchandise and hospitality packages.

And the club’s in-house video news channel, RamsTV, is fully-integrated into the new platform, and will feature player and manager interviews, extended highlights and the full 90 minutes of every fixture, and pre- and post-match news, features and studio chat.

Since launching, the club’s website has experienced a 165% increase in visits, a 98% increase in users and a 306% increase in page views.

In today’s fast-evolving digital sports landscape, the match never ends.

Nor do the continual opportunities to engage fans, deliver experiences and generate new – and improve current – commercial revenues.

Clubs can now control and manage their own destiny, where an integrated approach to data analysis will personalise the fan experience.

This is what digital transformation means to sport, and business as a whole

Its future belongs to the brave, bold and innovative.

If you’d like to talk about how Purpose Media can help deliver digital transformation for you, please get in touch, we’d love to help. Contact us on info@purposemedia.co.uk or call 01773 864500.