I recently ran a workshop for some of New Zealand’s top sporting codes to discuss CRM and automated marketing. The discussion was based around 13 key requirements I had initially identified whilst building Team All Blacks to over one million registered fans, the journey to acquire them, engage them and ultimately monetise that relationship.
While recognising there will be different requirements for sporting organisations across various countries and codes, the conclusion of the workshop threw up the following (prioritised) key areas. I encourage you to add to the conversation via the comments area below if you have any firm views or feedback based on your experiences.
1. First party data strategy.
Invest in first party data, i.e. the data you own. It is hugely valuable and only becoming more valuable over time. When you 'own' a direct relationship with the fan, you become less reliant on third party (mainly social) platforms such as Facebook and Twitter who charge you handsomely to connect with your fans. This was the primary reason we started Team All Blacks in the first place and it has since meant savings on marketing campaigns and a far quicker journey to putting up the "Sold Out" signs. It also means a far better line of communication with the avid fan who likes to have information at their fingertips.
Many sporting organisations are often under resourced and it is often a case of 'where to start?' An ideal place is asking yourselves the right questions - what is it that we really need to know and what data will help us find the answers? With so much data becoming available these days it is easy to feel like you are drowning in a sea of data. Keep it simple to begin with and build your capability over time.
2. Coordinated data gathering points and integrations.
With so many places to collect data why not begin with the data you already have? Listing out the areas you gather data and determining what format it's in is a great start! With data migration and integration often being two of the biggest unknowns and risks in a CRM implementation project it pays to get onto these pretty quickly.
Some areas to consider include:
Player registration and competition management database
Online purchases where details have been provided
Form submissions from lead generation tools
3. Having stakeholder buy-in and ensuring the CRM is user friendly.
From experience I find this to be the biggest source of failure in any CRM project. 60% of CRM implementation success is based on stakeholder buy-in! Ensure you have a key sponsor at executive level who really believes in CRM and the benefits it can provide. Keep them well informed and pass on any wins you are having that they can use to 'sell' its success at the top table.
As important as it is to have support from above, it's equally important to have buy-in from those who it really impacts on the front line. We therefore see any implementation needing the 'top down / bottom up' approach. Try and give those who will be using the CRM some quick wins to make their life easier and think about rolling functionality out in small chunks if at all possible.
With so many CRMs being extremely good at what they do, each providing A LOT of functionality, look for something that is user-friendly. Unless you have internal technical capability, you do not want a CRM that's so feature-rich and customised, that you then need to call a developer to complete the most basic of functions or changes.
TIP - Think about your post-implementation support. Don't just roll out a new CRM and have zero help available for users. Ideally have an internal 'go-to' person who is there to answer technical and practical questions.
4. have good functionality, particularly around automated marketing.
While traditional CRMs usually have good sales pipeline management functionality, start thinking about the fan lifecycle and applying lead scoring. At New Zealand Rugby, we used this type of thinking to drive content strategy, specific offers and targeting methods. We also analysed the specific touch points fans engaged with us. A lot of this can be automated which was really helpful when we had a small team. Fans thought we must have had an army of internal marketers when that couldn't be further from t
5. The ability to track fan interactions, measure ROI and report on success (or failure).
Being able to track fan movements over various online and offline channels to determine how engaged they are can be hugely rewarding. Some of today's CRMs enable this and should be seen as a key ingredient when looking into the functionality you are after from a provider. Having the ability to use lead scoring as a tool to determine which of your fans are in cold, warm, or hot fan pools and using that to help determine content strategy, specific offers and targeting methods is essential. To then report on both campaign and lifetime value -based metrics is a fantastic tool to drive buy-in at the executive and board level and prove the value of your CRM and the benefits it provides.
6. Manage memberships, ticketing promos and help facilitate community engagement.
So you have a different tiers of fan memberships? You have a special ticket promos that you wish to promote and various community based events that sit along side these? Do you have a number of affiliated organisations at regional or club level to support in efforts to promote their own events? Do they need help promoting your events? A good CRM is the perfect way to help drive these from an overarching campaign level. Give clubs and regional organisations the tools they need to succeed locally - help make them look good, and feel good doing it! A well-tuned CRM helps sporting bodies and associations to communicate effectively with clubs, fans, administrations and volunteers, and
can provide a bit of extra 'grunt' to make their life easier.
7. Sponsor pipeline management functionality.
In many cases sporting organisations do not have a system to effectively help manage commercial sales and sponsorship pipelines. Using a well thought out lead scoring system can help with this and make a real difference. Implementing automation, which allows for tracking and highlighting leads with heightened p
urchase intent helps to engage sponsors at critical moments and improve sales conversions.
8. Help facilitate sponsor's connection with fans.
In most cases a sporting team or organisation's sponsors are buying the ability to connect with that sport's fans, so when it can't be done physically (especially in Covid-19 times), helping them to do it digitally is the next best thing. How to facilitate your sponsor's connection with fans is seen as a real pain point by many. In 2021 when live events are few and far between it's now even harder for sponsors to connect. This is a prime opportunity to "monetise" your digital offering. Having participants
and fans on your CRM, come up with ways to connect your sponsors with them, ideally providing fans with relevant offers and value along the way.
Learn more about Openside Digital's CRM implementation services.
Do you agree with these? Would you change the order, throw any out or include others? Leave a comment below.