The Role of CRM in Sponsorship

For years, the key goals of CRM in sport and leisure have been focused on the usual suspects… sales increases, loyalty, cost reduction and profit improvement.

The income target is usually expected developed from an anticipated increase in B2B and B2C spend from improved data driven targeted sales and marketing.  These objectives are crucial and the benefits in these areas will form the major part of the development of the initial CRM programme business case.

However, one often overlooked benefit is sponsorship and partnership income increases.  This factor has the potential to become an even greater source of return than those previously mentioned.

For many years, any sponsorship deal with a rights holder was regarded pretty much as a charitable donation. The name on the shirt became the end in itself and there was little of what is now known as ‘activation’ or measurement.

As sport, especially football, has evolved commercially in the past 15 years, so has the size of the sponsorship deals that have been achieved. With this has brought greater demands from partners in terms of the measurement of the return on investment from rights holder. The result has been a major increase in recruitment of sponsorship activation personnel and a greater increase in these activities.

This expected return on investment has now extended into the club’s CRM & Data strategy. Potential sponsors are keen to know that not only will they achieve the traditional objectives of media awareness but that the potential audience of customers is well managed, understood and has the ability to be engaged with. Simply put, the more quality data a rights holder has then greater the value which could be derived from the deal.  Rumours abound in the industry that 2 major Premiership clubs were both vying for the same sponsor and the ‘winning’ club were chosen simply because their CRM database was larger than the other.

Another story emerged this year that CRM & Data played a major part in the £150m deal that Arsenal secured with Emirates.

So, with possible large sums of money involved in increased deals and the ever growing expectations of partners and sponsors, how can a sports rights holder or club ensure that their CRM & Data strategy supports the delivery of greater value from their future deals?  Here are 6 ways to get you started:

1. Grow the data

Use measurement to help increase the focus within the business to drive the quantity of customers within the database. Include data measures as a KPI within the business along with targets for all key staff which include incentives. Our experience is that this will immediately drive a change in behaviour and an increase in data quantity. If you don’t measure it, staff will not believe you think it’s important!

2. Basic profiling ability

Focus on building contact and transactional data initially which can be used to profile based on behavioural and geo-demographic information. Sponsors want to know that you are able to contact your dataset easily and also understand the basic information about them.

3. Enhanced profiling

Once the basics are in place then a profiling tool can be applied to add extra information to aid greater insight.  MOSAIC is the most popular lifestyle classification tool and is an ideal method to build further insight into customer and fan groups. It is used regularly in advertising and politics as the MOSAIC groups have clear characteristics about their likely lifestyle choices meaning its much easier to target them with those products and services they are interested in and their communication preferences. This can be used to build profiles and flag those against the customer record within the CRM database for future reference and results reporting.

4Sight recently worked with Leicester City to provide an analysis of their fan base in terms of their MOSAIC profile.  Through segmentation analysis a selection of typical profiles were built showing the various segments and their likely car type preferences.  This was then used as a powerful insight to share with potential automotive partners to demonstrate the strength of their fan base as a marketing asset to the sponsor.

4. Communications preferences

The traditional method of allowing possible sponsors to contact a clubs database is to ensure that as many fans as possible have signed up to the ‘allow 3rd party’ section in their communication preferences.  However this method can also be a reason for fans not providing their details as they fear being bombarded by perceived spam emails from companies they are not interested in.

This model must change.

With a large database of engaged fans where the data is well managed and insightful, a new model is emerging from which CRM practitioners should be aware.  If fans believe that they will be provided with relevant information about products and services that they are interested in then they are more likely sign up.  To do this, use a preference manager tool to find out more about the key products and services they are keen to know more about, especially where there is a chance of extra value in a possible deal.  These categories would typically include car dealerships, mobile phone providers and financial services.  By opting in to specific sectors, extra value can be generated by linking these people to local partners who see a much bigger attraction in communicating with a smaller group of fans that have given their permission to be contacted.

5. Contact management strategies

To support the overall objectives and the achievement of a new value partnership between sponsors and fans it is essential that their interests and preferences are captured.  Sam Nixon has produced a piece (What’s your Preference) to give examples of how this can be achieved but essentially this boils down to making sure your systems can deliver a real closed loop marketing process.  I.e. when you send an email to the supporter base asking about their interests, favourite player etc… it is much easier to manage the results if this information flows straight back to the customer record.  The preference manager survey is an often over looked approach and is much simpler and more accurate than building propensity models trying to predict what fans may want rather than actually asking them directly.

6. Measurement of buyers…not just media evaluation

A further option for partners working with consumer brands where data is collected at the time of booking (e.g. travel companies, mobile phone providers and financial services) a new measurement process can be implemented to understand success.

Traditionally medial evaluation has been the way that sponsorship success is measured but this is flawed as it only reports on the comparable value of the equivalent advertising rates rather than real sales.

A data driven option which can prove much more accurate is to assess how many fans appear on the sponsors database at the start of the partnership and re-assess on a regular basis. The aim will be to increase the penetration of fans from the rights holder’s data within the sponsor’s customer base. This equates to real sales and is a much more appropriate measure which we expect to be used much more in the future.

For more information on using data to grow sponsorship sales contact Garry Adamson –

Does football have a new home?

BT secures exclusive UEFA broadcast rights

BT have, for £897m, secured the sole live broadcasting rights for the 2015-18 UEFA Champions League (UCL) and UEFA Europa League (UEL) games. BT’s acquisition of the rights has raised more than a few eyebrows. The two main surprises of the announcement are the price paid (more than double the existing Sky and ITV deal (£400m)) and the fact that from the season 2015/6 there will be no free to air broadcaster for the first time in the UK.

This blog briefly examines the deal, why BT have acquired the rights and a few potential consequences of the announcement for fans.

Specifics of the deal

The agreement between UEFA and BT grants BT Sport the exclusive rights (in the UK) to show all 350 games in the UCL and UEL including the two finals for three seasons (2015/16-2017/18).  Although the UCL and UEL are not part of the prescribed UK ‘A’ listed events (events which must be shown on free to air e.g. FA Cup Final) as part of the agreement UEFA required BT Sport to show the following for free:

(i)                each British team at least once (presumably in the group stages to ensure that each team is shown);

(ii)              a selection of the top games; and

(iii)            both the UCL and UEL finals.

BT will show these games on their BT Sport channels, and remove the paywall for the event, but may also choose to sell the rights to a free to air broadcaster such as ITV. For a more detailed examination of the potential competition issues created by only using a single broadcaster see Daniel Geey’s blog

Why have BT invested so much?

BT believes that this investment in increasing their sports rights will help retain, and secure new, customers particularly in respect of the lucrative broadband market. Sky and BT have in recent years increasingly competed within the triple play market (phone, TV and broadband). In order to attract customers from Sky BT have offered their sports channels for free or at a discounted level (access is free this season) to their customers. It is believed that for many the availability of a top level sports package from BT (at a lower cost that Sky’s package) will indeed make the difference when choosing a provider.

Presently BT has 7m broadband customers to Sky’s 5m and BT will spend approximately £81 per subscriber on football rights alone once the UEFA deal is factored in.  In order to be able to afford such a significant outlay BT will need to increase their revenues through:

(i)                raising their broadband prices by 6.5% in January;

(ii)              attracting at least another 1m broadband customers (analyst estimates);

(iii)            significantly increasing domestic subscribers to the BT Sports channels (both existing BT customers and non BT customers);

(iv)            increasing advertising revenues around the UCL and UEL matches; and

(v)              improved retail sales of the BT sports channels to businesses in particular pubs.

Potential consequences of the deal

  1. 1.       Cost for the fans

BT Sport have yet to announce specific prices for subscription to the BT Sports channels (for the 2015/16-2017/18 seasons) although they have confirmed that unlike this season (for BT Broadband customers), there will be a subscription cost. The indications are that the subscription cost will be lower than the existing cost of subscribing to Sky Sports. Gavin Patterson (BT Chief Executive) said “European football will be far more accessible and affordable with BT”. However, due to the amount of Premier League games Sky Sports will have (at least for the 2015/16 season) many fans will have to pay for two subscriptions in order to follow their team.

BT Sport have paid well in excess of the rival bids of Sky Sports and ITV. A Sky spokesman said “it seems BT chose to pay far in excess of our valuation” and “if we thought it was worth more, we’d have paid more.” The additional expenditure (it is believed the next highest bid was only c.£500m) will need to be recovered in one form or another and the fans will be expected to bear at least part of this.

  1. 2.       Do I have to have BT Sports to see any European football?

As mentioned above some games will be broadcast free of charge and non-BT Sports subscribers will be able to watch these games. In addition the BT Sport deal only covers the live broadcasting rights with the highlights package yet to be announced. It is widely expected that it will be secured, at least in part, by ITV. If however a fan wishes to watch their team live in the majority of their European games then they will have to subscribe to BT Sports. Some fans will however already have decided to subscribe to these channels due to their coverage of Premier League games.

3. Is the new deal television only?

The UEFA and BT Sports agreement is platform neutral (as with all UEFA broadcast deals) and therefore BT Sports can exploit the pictures via platforms other than television. Therefore it is expected that BT will harness their expertise with other platforms and provide the fans with a wide range of options including via mobile, tablets, computers and other smart devices.  BT will look to increase the current viewing figures (avg. 30m per season although this includes the free to air viewers) of the Champions League through such offerings.

4. What will my club get out of the new deal?

One of the main winners with the new deal will be the British clubs competing in the European competitions.  The UCL television monies are distribution via a revenue pool that takes into account the number of teams qualifying for the tournament, where each team finished in the league (previous season) and how they (& the other British clubs) perform. Early indications from analysts believe that teams who are successful in the UCL could conservatively reap at least an additional £10m-15m of revenue as a result of this agreement.  This extra revenue will help clubs meet the financial fair play regulations in place for European competitions and the Premier League.

For a more detailed breakdown of the distribution of UEFA TV monies please see Swiss Ramble’s blog


The true effects of the UEFA and BT agreement will not be fully apparent for awhile to come. It does however re-emphasise the significant commercial value of top level football broadcast rights in the UK. The fans are likely to be further out of pocket as Sky Sports are unlikely to lower their subscription costs as a result of the announcement but BT will raise their subscription costs.

Whether it proves to be an inspired acquisition or the start of the end for BT Sports awaits to be seen. It is apparent that at least for now BT Sports are a significant rival to Sky Sports and the effect of this deal may only be truly seen once the prices bid by Sky in the next sale of Premier League rights become apparent as Sky without football would be unthinkable just a year ago.


Iain Taker is a sport lawyer who can be followed on Twitter (@iaintaker) or on LinkedIn.

Lessons From Sport

The title and thoughts for this came about after attending an event, which involved an International Rugby 7′s player addressing various business leaders on skills that are transferable from sport to business.

It was an enjoyable evening and stimulated some interesting discussion and gave rise to a number of questions on the theme for the night.

The presentation was based around Goal Setting, individual and team, and how this athlete has applied it throughout his career to allow him to represent his country on a world stage in a sport that gets ever more popular and physically demanding, and is only going to continue on its upward trend as a result of  its appearance in the upcoming Commonwealth and Olympic Games.


The content was certainly well delivered, interesting and thought provoking, however, coming from a sporting background as a player and coach, it didn’t feel ground breaking.

What was even more interesting was the type of questioning it stimulated as a result, which the presenter dealt with excellently.  It appeared that although not a new concept, goal setting in a team environment didn’t arouse the same positive feelings that the presenter alluded to in his experience for those involved in business.

There was also discussion on creating an open and honest environment within the current team, and how this is having a huge impact on their performance.  However, those involved in business didn’t think the prospect of their sales team, for example, sharing objectives and being engaged in some peer assessment, even if it was for the greater good of the organisation would be a particularly positive experience.

This was pretty much the topic of conversation for Mark and myself on our way home.  We clearly understand the differences between the setup of a business and a sports team, but wondered how the idea of working towards a common goal can be achieved in an ‘office’ environment.

So, here is the quandary, in order for a sports team to improve performance, it is widely accepted that the individual components of that team (the players), need to improve their own skill set.  However, all the while they are under the scrutiny of their team mates who will both identify weaknesses and encourage them to improve on those weaknesses for the better of the team.

Therefore, is it feasible to encourage and implement this approach to business, where individuals publicly highlight both positive and negative aspects of their colleagues performance to help them improve. And if so, how would you implement this?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this or any other transferable skills, and if you have seen any crossover in your working life.

Andy Muir


Blues use data and insight to boost new Season Ticket sales

With attendances across the Football League taking a downward turn in recent seasons, and especially with an increasing eye on Financial Fair Play, clubs up and down the country have focused their efforts on improved engagement with fans in order to secure a sustainable future.

Whilst Birmingham City has a steady flock of loyal fans that will stand by the club through thick and thin, the club understands that it must pay attention to other key segments of their fan base if they are to maintain success.

Through some detailed insight gained from the club’s database, including sophisticated MOSAIC profiling, families were identified as an audience that will be critical to success for Blues.

The overall aim was to lay the foundations to sustain the club’s long term ambitions by encouraging more young families to get behind the team; however this is supported by a number of short term goals.

Birmingham City tackled this with great success for the 2013/14 season with the introduction of the #passiton campaign, which sits in the centre of a number of family orientated initiatives, including a new free ticket initiative for under 10s. This has resulted in a substantial increase in the number of new Season Ticket Holders mainly through a boost to the family audience.

Aims and objectives

Besides the long term objectives of sustainability by developing a young and passionate group of fans, the aims of the campaign were simple.

Through a focus on data marketing the club would seek to deliver a highly personalised and targeted campaign that would engage with the fans on a new level. Whilst the retention strategy was not forgotten, the focus for growing a young and family audience had to be on new Season Ticket Holders.

On top of this, Blues were also looking to change the traditional patterns of behaviour surrounding purchasing. They should drive online sales and encourage fans to engage on a digital level. This would not only improve the experience, but reduce marketing costs and ensure measurable, closed-loop marketing was achieved. This also presents opportunities for further engagement and an extended amount of campaign exposure by encouraging interaction across social sites.


Personalised communication including Personal Web Pages (PWPs)

The #passiton campaign was activated through a multi-channel marketing campaign that included various communication channels, such as email, phone and text message, as well as a mailing of a postcard to some specifically targeted fan groups. The club’s marketing team worked closely with 4Sight Sport ( to carefully construct a strategic marketing plan in advance that focused on getting the right message to each different fan segment.

4Sight would then activate the plan, delivering the range of communications on the club’s behalf. Underpinning this whole data driven approach to marketing was the 4Sight Personalised Web Pages (PWPs). Blues fans would receive their own personal web page, which even included their name in the URL!  Such was the level of personalisation is that the page would be designed to a different memorable occasion in the club’s history, depending upon the age of the supporter.

In keeping with #passiton campaign,  ‘Your history, their future’ Blues aimed to strike a chord with the fans by bringing in some nostalgic memories in order to re-enforce the importance of sharing their passion for the club with the next generation of Blues fans.

The results were extremely encouraging.

Measurable success


Objective Result
Grow the number of new Season Ticket Holders New Season Ticket Holders increased by 13 percentage points
Increase volumes of new young fans (U10s) and young families
  • Average Season Ticket Holder age decreased
    • Increase in the percentage of new young Season Ticket Holders
    • Increased percentage of female supporters
Reduce marketing costs Marketing spend reduced by 25%
Increase digital engagement
  • 10% increase in online sales
    • Email open rates consistently exceed 50%
    • 25% saving in marketing costs compared to traditional methods

New fans are on the up! The club has seen an uplift in the percentage of Season Ticket Holders that are new fans. The proportion of new fans has increased by 13%. The average Season Ticket Holder age has fallen, there has been a rise in the 6 to 10 age category and the percentage of female Season Ticket Holders has increased too, further suggesting that there are more families in attendance.

An improved digital offering proved valuable. More than three quarters of season ticket holders engaged with their personal page, which resulted in an improvement in online sales by 20%. Season Ticket Sales were neatly aligned with the marketing activity, showing that the level of engagement with the marketing communications was high. Email open rates were in excess of 60% and from email activity alone there was significant sales demonstrating the importance of the digital aspect of the campaign.

Further to the results from the utilisation of digital channels, the club were able to save 25% in their marketing costs compared to traditional methods.

The verdict

Speaking of the #passiton campaign, 4Sight’s Head of Client Services, Sam Nixon, explained: “We are delighted to have worked with Birmingham City to provide a leading example of sports data marketing.

“The PWPs [Personal Web Pages] are a great way to engage with fans on a more personal level. We can gain huge insight from the data and this platform gives us a great opportunity to utilise this to convey the right message to each different fan. We’ve received extremely positive feedback and are now talking to a number of other clubs about this approach.”

Birmingham City Head of Marketing, Alexa Stockham, added: “We are really pleased with the results of this campaign.  Last season we were the first football club to use personalised web pages, to this extent, to increase fan engagement and also online sales. This season we took it to the next level to ensure we had closed loop marketing to monitor the ROI on all activity and also have a mobile optimised solution to offer our fans.

“We are one of just a few clubs to be taking personalised data marketing to this level and are proud to have done so through this campaign.

“4Sight are always great to work with and their data driven approach means that  we can be targeted with our communications using innovative new initiatives. Not only do we work together on a strategic level, but also operationally and their insight reports make a big difference to the way we work.

“We’ve taken this strategic step to ensure we consistently engage with our fan base on a meaningful way which we hope will set us up for sustained success – whatever happens on the pitch.”

For more information visit:

Football is a tough industry

Football is a very tough industry “making it” in the game is hard enough, but lasting as a professional footballer at any level is not easy and takes lots of effort and determination.

Most footballers turn their dream into a reality by putting in 110% effort, changing their mind set, lifestyle and putting in extra work, examples of this are:

-Extra running.
-Extra training sessions
-Researching opponents you’re playing against.
-Having your own video footage of your skills, and showcasing them.

I have created this website so that footballers have a place to upload show reels of themselves, but some players want me to do this for them. It amazes me some of the phone calls, emails, Skype conversations that I’ve taken since starting this business from people who want to “make it”, but unfortunately these are the type of players who will not last too long at the professional level.

At we promise to showcase clips player’s uploaded to the website, all around the football industry. What people do not see is all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes this is to help the people prepared to put in the extra effort to “get noticed”. So get hold of your footage and upload to the site if you’re serious about a career as a footballer!

What the business has achieved this month (October, 2013)

Mail drop campaign to all UK clubs (Professional and Non-League/ Grassroots), and the top two leagues in Ireland. Flyers are posted to an individual in the club so I know that they make it into the dressing room and the manager’s rooms.

We have sent 500 flyers to companies we are partners with.

Prepare various different blogs for my site, to help with other issues such as nutrition.

Meeting with two football agencies to help their players, this was very successful and the agents will be showcasing their players with us.

I have had several meeting with a huge company (Pro Direct Soccer Academy) about more trial days throughout the year so that I can help more footballers to find clubs.

One of our up loaders at were playing locally so I went to watch, as well as watching a Devon FA select side take on a Non League England C XI.

Keep an eye on us we are moving forward and at a very quick pace, come and be a part of it if you’re determined and hard working enough. We want to see your skills and show them to the world, come and be one of our success stories-upload today!

Thanks for taking the time to read.

With Best Wishes

Guy Branston