Home > Blog > Football Fans Guide: Digital Strategy For Football Clubs & Leagues

Introducing digital strategies for football fans, clubs & leagues – explained jargon-free ⚽️

The days of lumping it long for the big man at the top of the park to finish it off are long gone at the top levels of English Football. Since the introduction of more overseas (read, cultured) footballers into our game and even more so with managers, we have seen the tactical side of Football take on a more important role than ever before. Whether that’s the high line and Genger pressing of Klopp’s Liverpool. The Tika-Taka approach of Guardiola at City or the Solid defensive line of any Sam Allerdice team, tactics dictate results.
Despite all the tactics in the world, sometimes it does just boil down to luck, as we found out this summer watching the national team in the Euros. In the game of Football, luck is often awarded to the team that takes the biggest calculated risks – The same could be said with online marketing.

Through this blog we will attempt to show you that the approach to marketing your club online is exactly the same as planning for a big match, using a string of ill-fitting metaphors and Football terminology. 

 

The Goal

In the beautiful game, the goal is obviously the goal. ‘We’re gonna score one more than you…” No one gets any joy from a scoreless draw, so identifying what YOUR goal should be the first point of call. 

– What do you want to get from your presence on social media?

– What about your website? What’s the main point of having it?

Knowing what you want to achieve early on will ensure your plans are specific and you use your energy effectively, you don’t want to waste energy chasing the opposition around the pitch only for them to take you apart in the last 20 mins. 

Ask yourself the 5 whys if you find this hard. Keep asking why until you get to the root objective for your digital channels.

⚽️ You might have a goal that is to increase your social media following. WHY1?

⚽️ Well, to increase the number of people we can talk to and show our content too. WHY2?

⚽️ To showcase the great work we do as a club and to increase engagement? WHY3?

⚽️ To get more people interested in our club? WHY4?

⚽️ To get more bums on seats in the stadiums. WHY5?

🏆 To increase income and support the club financially.

Boom. you have your overall objective for using social media as a club. If we had stopped at the first answer, we would be looking to grow our social media audience for no real reason. Now we have a goal.

It’s important to take the 5 answers from those questions and identify a key number or metric that will record that progress. For example, follower numbers, website traffic, direct sales.

 

The Tactics/ Approach

I mentioned earlier that the days of the big man up top are long gone. Tactics have become an important part of the game. Take a look at any Match of the Day Goal of the Season competition and you will see the goals that do the best involve most of the team. From the keeper to the defence, through midfield, out wide and finally through to the strikers.

Marketing online is a little like that. We have a saying that no one digital marketing channel works in isolation. So if your overall goal is to increase people through the turnstiles, you’re gonna need more than just social media. Content marketing, search marketing, a good website and maybe even paid advertising all play their part in the final conversion or sale.

We refer to it as the SEE, THINK, DO, CARE funnel. Usually, someone online will need a few SEE touchpoints before they are ready for the THINK stage. From there they can do the DO (sign up or buy a ticket) with the CARE element reserved for turning those customers, fans or sponsors into brand advocates, making it easier and easier to market what you offer. Think of this as the 12th man.

Like any game, your approach is key to a good outcome. 

 

The Crowd

Like any good Football club, ultimately, it’s the fans that hold the real power. Understanding what they need from your team can make or break any manager or owner. Get the tactics or style wrong and the fans will have you out before you know it.

When it comes to your social media or digital marketing, knowing who your audience is, is the most important part – neglect this at your peril. Making assumptions about your audience by using stereotypes and ill-judged misconceptions will result in your content being misguided, misinterpreted and lacking in results.

For example;

  • How does your audience use the internet? 
  • Do they go online and search or rely on social media channels? 
  • What time of day are they active? 
  • Where do they get their news? 
  • What questions do they have? 
  • What platforms do they use? 
  • What words do they use? 
  • Who else do they interact with? 

Ultimately, like the audiences that can now pack out stadiums in their thousands around the world, how can your efforts go towards making their life, as your audience, a more enjoyable, pleasurable experience. 

No WENGER OUT banners around here.

The Team

The big teams have more than one star player nowadays. Gone are the days of building your whole team around one player. And no one will be feeling that more right now than Barcelona as they plan for life post-Messi.

I mentioned it earlier but like all good football pundits, I like to keep my one-liners consistent. One digital channel is rarely successful in isolation. We find using a mix of social media, content, search, paid ads and website optimisation have the best results in delivering the objectives for your business, club or league. So with a greater understanding of your audience and their online habits should come more direction in the channels available to you.

 

Player of the match

Every game can throw up a different player of the match, or the same player gets it week in, week out. The same would be true of your channels. Some will deliver more results for you than others but that doesn’t mean you should drop the others – they help support the channel giving you the results.

Look at the data and work out who is your star performer. Monitor them, love them and they will reward you with more Player of the Match performances.

Euro 2020: England's Bukayo Saka voted man of the match - Sport News Africa

Kick-off 

So we have a goal to achieve and a good understanding of our audience and fans. We have worked on our team and identified our star players. We have set the formation, taken to the knee and now it’s’ time to kick off. Taking the first plunge into digital marketing can be daunting. But using a strategy can help you minimise the risks and give you more confidence.

Set the campaigns live, push the social media campaign, start new content. Whatever helps you achieve that goal, to those people, get going.

We can spend a long time talking about the game before it’s even started. Time to kick off.

 

Half time

The halftime whistle blows and depending on the flow of the game it’s either a relief and time to regroup or an interruption and a time to maintain momentum. With your digital marketing strategy, regular reporting breaks need to be built into your day to day processes. This will enable you to see if you are achieving the goals you set for yourself, and what you need to change to affect the game positively.

Report weekly on the key numbers and metrics that are important to your goal. More on this later.

 

Substitutions

Sometimes things don’t go to plan and that’s OK, it’s how we react to that on the touchline – do we admit defeat and change up the personale? Or stubbornly stick to the plan? The beauty of a digital strategy is that you can use real-time data to see if something is working and if it isn’t, allowing you to test different options.

Be open to changing your digital strategies as you learn more and new options open up. Use it to test designs and different formats of content.

In football, no one wants to be that sub who’s subbed. But in digital, you can take human emotions out of the decision and bring them off and on as much as you like.

 

The Result

So I’ve thrown as many football metaphors and analogies at you that I can manage, but to coin one more, ultimately, at the end of the day, when all is said and done, it’s a results game.

Play all the pretty football in the world, if the results aren’t right, changes are gonna happen.

With your digital marketing strategy, it is important it doesn’t become a plan that does not see the light of day again. It should guide you and at the end of a match, or campaign, it should also be able to tell you how to gauge what the results are and whether that’s the result you needed to qualify?

Tools like Google Analytics will be able to give you the post-match data you need to go back into that training ground with a brand new game plan.

Germany 1 England 5 is John Motson's favourite commentary

League table/ Conclusion

Digital marketing isn’t new, but it is still under-utilised by many businesses, leagues and clubs. The ‘unknown’ nature of it can mean it left for the big boys to utilise and, well, become even bigger. But we all know football isn’t just about the big boys. Delete Man City, Barcelona and PSG out of the history of the game and the game still exists. 

Because it’s for you and me.

Just like having a digital strategy should be.

As the adoption of digital marketing techniques gains momentum, where you rank against your competitors can change all the time.

Digital evolves, just like the game. Have a strategy to evolve with it.

 

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