In a short period of time, Vitesse succeeded in transforming their organisation from a provider of 90 minutes of professional football to delivering the ultimate experience for fans and partners. By bringing the right technologies together in a centralised and a personalised approach, season ticket sales increased exponentially.
Imagine your name is Gijs, you are a Vitesse fan, and you don’t have a ticket to go to the Vitesse versus PSV match, which is due to be played soon. There is a very good chance you will open an email with such a personal message by one of the players. And the likelihood of you clicking through to the ticket sales page also increases, because Bryan is asking for your help specifically, right?
We will explain how it works later. This example provides an insight into answering the key question: how can a football club use the large amount of (fan) data to better respond to the needs of its fans? An interesting question, Vitesse certainly thought so as well. Sports Cloud offered a helping hand.
Modern day football fans expect a lot from their favourite club. It is not only about the next match, but increasingly about how supporters can share the passion and pride that they feel about their club. They want to engage with club and players throughout the day, through all possible channels. Fans seek interaction and want to build a special bond with the club that is so dear to them.
Like other commercial companies, a football club consists of several departments. For example, there might be departments for ticket sales, sponsoring and hospitality, media and fan engagement. Traditionally, such departments each have their own budget and objectives. As a result, one company, in this case a football club, is divided into four, five, or perhaps six smaller companies. But supporters don’t care about that. They want to follow their favourite club via all the possible communication channels. And their expectations are high. All of a club’s communication should be tailored to every fan’s specific needs.
Where parts of the organisation worked happily in isolation, to become a modern-day football club the organisation needs to be redesigned. A new digital look. All of the different departments receive data and information. The information varies: from the number of matches a fan visits each year, to which sponsor they might most likely buy from, which is their preferred sport streaming platform, or who is their favourite player. Combining and integrating such data flows can be incredibly powerful.
The result of the transition from an analogue to a digital organisation: ONE Vitesse.
By no longer taking in all this data separately, but processing and integrating it, clubs can better respond to the needs and requirements of fans and achieve a centralised view of the customer. By bringing all the data together, Vitesse created individual customer profiles. Such profiles bring back various data insights to one specific fan.
How does this work? By making smart connections between systems, by redesigning the IT infrastructure, and by optimising internal communication and data flow processes. Five keywords were and remain central to this process. They are People, Process, Data, Technology and Culture. Vitesse made the much-needed transition from an analogue to a ‘digital first’ organisation. In a short period of time, Vitesse has been able to reset the organisation to deliver the ultimate experience to fans and partners. By selecting and implementing the right technologies towards delivering a personalised approach, sales of season tickets increased significantly. But it required a lot of work.
In 2017, the owners of Vitesse had a vision. The Arnhem club wanted to develop a digital strategy that would make the club best in class. Not just from a commercial point of view, but because the club wanted to take the total fan experience and marketing performance to a higher level. A higher level? To the highest level in the Netherlands!
This brings us to the Sports Cloud methodology. In order to identify the data sources that contain personal facts and figures and to determine which databases and applications were available, we first mapped the total IT infrastructure and the associated processes within the club. Based on this analysis, we worked in close collaboration with the club to develop a roadmap towards a digital ecosystem. An ecosystem in which we have designed the information technology to integrate with marketing applications that automatically communicate with each other. It enables Vitesse to now take a customer central view and serve every supporter in the best way possible based on the deeper insights that are available for each to them.
In order to achieve the goal: “to communicate one-on-one with every Vitesse fan”, the club needed to understand each fan’s online behaviour, preferences and interests. How did we achieve that? Profiling software, such as a Customer Data Platform, is required to be added to the IT infrastructure, so that Vitesse can trace the behaviour of unknown website visitors and compare and contrast this to a known fan. By adding real-time data flows about interests, needs and page visits to the transactional (sales) data of supporters already known in the CRM system, the club continuously increases its ability to send personalised messages to an ever-increasing army of Vitesse fans. This has led to an increase in the number of season tickets sold by 8%, a reduction in the marketing campaign costs and an ability to increase the level of fan service to the next level.
Mascha van Werven Marketing & Communication Manager, Vitesse
Do you want more information about this Vitesse case, creative activations and enrichment of your database? Feel free to contact Sion de Jong.
Director Business & Strategy