Customer Relationship Management or CRM if we’re using acronyms, is a term that every reader of fcbusiness will be aware of. If not, where have you been?
To suggest that a club in 2017 does not use CRM in some way, certainly in the professional leagues, would be absurd, wouldn’t it?
Just like the performance analyst with his array of player related data made famous by the ‘Moneyball’ effect, the use of CRM has become accepted practice. It is now an integral part of the football marketer’s armoury with the business and commercial strategy largely driven by data and insights gleaned from the vast array of touch points a club has with its fans.
Data from the different touch points provides valuable information about a fan’s behaviour, whether that be their ticket purchase history, merchandise buying habits, the time they arrive at the stadium or how they interact through the ever expanding range of digital channels. Whilst the value of observing these behaviours is well understood, so is the number of challenges faced by clubs in its implementation.
Football clubs are actually quite complex businesses with many specialist functions and historically there have been a plethora of systems holding different sources of fan data. Having the technology to gather and analyse these many sources of data in one ‘Single Fan View’ is an essential requirement alongside the level of resources and skills to make it happen.
In 2006, the emergence of Green 4 Solutions and their CRM and marketing software sought to provide a solution to this challenge. Their system, built on the Microsoft Dynamics platform, allowed clubs to gather information from the various fan touch points and multiple transactional systems, within one single system.
From there, the data could be analysed and segmented to define target profiles for personalised communications strategies aimed at maximising engagement with fans and corporate customers. In the 11 years since its formation Green 4 has built a reputation as being the original CRM platform in the sport and leisure industry.
“Green 4 is synonymous with CRM in the sports industry,” said Garry Adamson, the company’s new Managing Director. “Green 4 entered the market when CRM was a relatively new concept in football and we are proud of our pedigree in this area, however managing data in the digital world has become a major challenge and we have had to make sure we stay ahead of the game.”
As with all technology, Green 4’s systems platform has evolved to keep up with changes in the market. Understanding the complexities and unique nature of sport, whilst being driven by client requirements, Green 4’s technology solution now known as ‘Go’, is marketed as a ‘Fan Engagement Platform’ and includes CRM, Marketing, Loyalty, Ticketing, Food & Beverage and Access Control functionality all within a single platform.
“Having a fully integrated fan engagement platform where all of the key functions are provided within the same system means that data capture challenges are easier to overcome. We are also aware that clubs may not require all of the modules within our system, so we still provide the expertise to integrate Go with other third party systems. Ultimately it’s about being flexible and helping clubs to improve their fan engagement strategies based on their specific requirements.”
This evolution of Green 4 has recently been accelerated following the merger with 4Sight Sport, the CRM and data marketing agency, a move which saw 4Sight founder Garry swap roles to become the MD of the new larger company. The move saw the addition of 4Sight’s range of specialist data driven marketing services to the Green 4 technology.
“I originally set up 4Sight in 2011 as my experience led me to believe that sports club’s CRM and data programmes had been too focused on the software – leaving many with a highly specified technical solution but without full consideration of the level of resources required to be successful.
4Sight’s service was based around helping clients generate results from their data through consultancy, strategy, generation of insight and delivery of fan engagement campaigns. Essentially, 4Sight were an extension to a club’s Marketing team.
“The merger came about because it was clear that in today’s world you cannot just say here’s a system, off you go. You need to offer a level of support that’s more sophisticated, that helps our clients be successful and generate results to maximise their return on the investment.
“This is where our range of marketing services (known as Go+) are so valuable because they will help clubs maximise the value of their fan data, gather the insights and compete with the wide range of entertainment options on offer We now have new divisions focused on key areas such as Green 4 Insight, Green 4 Consultancy and Green 4 Digital. In fact, since the merger we are effectively a new company, it’s now almost Green 4 2.0 if you like.”
Perhaps the most notable addition to Green 4’s offering within their new Green 4 Digital division, has been the addition of club website design and development. Long-term partner Hull City will become the first club to utilise the full range of products after selecting Green 4 to build their new website to be launched later this year.
Tom Rowell, Marketing, Communications and Ticketing Manager at Hull City is overseeing the full integration of the club’s website and fan engagement systems. “We are currently developing a new club website to launch July 1st, this will combine our ticketing, CRM and digital offering into one website,” he said.
“It will enable supporters to buy tickets seamlessly whilst browsing news articles and other areas of the site such as history and academy details. It will also enable fans to use our new rewards scheme via competitions and discounts they have earned through their activity with the club on the same site.”
Green 4 will develop Hull City’s club website which will be personalised through a plug in from the ‘Go’ CRM engine. This will enable the website to recognise the visitor and provide a personalised user web experience including personalised content.
There are many benefits for Hull, as Tom suggests. “Green 4 have been our ticketing and CRM partner for some time now so the step into digital was the natural progression for the relationship. They have the ability to make our website unique for each supporter through the use of a login function to improve the user experience for fans, showing their loyalty points, and personalised content according to purchase history.”
Hull City are one of the many clubs that are leaving the Football League Interactive’s (FLi) centralised website platform, now that the initial league-wide contract has expired, and they’re not the only Green 4 client who sees the opportunity this has presented.
Other clubs are using CRM and data in differing ways, as Garry explained. “The beauty of our offering is that it is not a one size fits all approach,” he said. “We can deliver the elements of our solution that are required, based on the recognition of the key objectives of the club and what they are looking to achieve.
“In the Premier League, West Bromwich Albion are strong users of Go focusing on insight to distinguish complex fan behaviours and deliver targeted marketing campaigns, whilst on the south coast Southampton FC use our system to drive their B2B corporate sales process.”
Birmingham City have led the way with personalised websites for Season Ticket campaigns in previous years and have the developed the industry leading Blues Loyalty programme – all managed from the Green 4 platform and using the 4Sight range of support services.
The majority of clubs are using CRM and data in a variety of ways to understand and better serve the differing and complex needs of each individual fan. This understanding is helping clubs maximise the value of each fan by tailoring the services and offers they can provide to their specific preferences yielding a greater response.
But ultimately, it’s clear that most clubs require a wide range of skills, integrated technology solutions and support services to deliver success through this method as football business sees the evolution of more sophisticated methods of digital communication offering even greater opportunities for personalisation.
For more information visit: www.green4solutions.com
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