ESSMA Fan Experience Workshop 2019: the Key Takeaways
On 21 and 22 May 2019, ESSMA organised its fourth Fan Experience Workshop at Marshall Józef Piłsudski Stadium, home of Legia Warsaw. Over 46 members from 16 countries learned insights and shared knowledge linked to stadium enhancing experiences, fan zones, loyalty, rewarding and attracting fans to the stadium.
For those who missed out on the opportunity to join us in Warsaw, we have created a list of ten key takeaways based on the output of presented cases and group discussions:
- Online content
Make sure to provide engaging online content to appeal to a new, modern fanbase. Some (younger) fans might not come to the stadium but might look for opportunities to engage with their favorite club through social media. Try to provide the right type of content to reach these fans.
- Fan zones
Fan zones and pre-game activities are proving to be an effective way to get fans to come to the stadium earlier. While most clubs work with pop-up fan zones a couple of times a year, some clubs including Brøndby IF have introduced an integrated fan zone for year-round use. The fan zone, while only 8 months old, has helped the club raise its matchday revenue in a structural way and has had a positive impact on the pre- and post-game atmosphere.
- Distinct offer
Provide a wide and differentiated offer to appeal to all fan segments. This can be applicable to merchandising, F&B, ticketing, etc. Whether they are ultras, casuals, one-time visitors or season ticket holders, every fan should be able to find their own perfect matchday experience within your offer.
- Data analytics
Data analytics can help you to get to know your fans better and learn about their consumer behaviour. When used correctly, a club’s CRM can help you create different profiles and more personalised offers, which in turn could enhance the fan experience.
- Fan feedback
Don’t be afraid to try out new things inside the stadium. If the fans don’t like a new initiative, you should see it as an opportunity to get to know them better and learn what they like and dislike. Make sure to act on fan feedback and focus on the positive aspects.
- Stories behind the numbers
Even though data (analytics) is becoming more and more important, it is still crucial to remember that there are stories behind the numbers. Some fans have stories about their bond with the club which deserve to be highlighted but which won’t show up in any data analytics programme.
- Loyalty programmes
Loyalty programmes can be introduced to offer your most loyal fans something extra. What loyalty exactly means can vary from club to club. Some clubs choose to reward attendance, while others opt to reward their fans for money spent at the stadium, early arrivals, bringing a friend or anything else that has to do with a fan’s engagement to the club. Fans who show that they like the club and “prove their loyalty” can get rewarded with a special experience or gift which is an excellent way to boost their loyalty to the club even further.
- Strong brand identity
Create a strong brand identity for your merchandise offering. Fans buy club merchandise because they identify with the values of the club and want something to commemorate special experiences. Your club-merchandise should therefore be designed to reflect the identity and values of the club.
- Tools for fan engagement and data collection
Fan shops generally have much lower traffic than online web shops on a day-to-day basis. However, they can still account for a large part of merchandising revenue because conversion rates are much higher than those in web shops. When fans enter a fan shop, they rarely leave it without buying anything because they want to have something to remember their special experience. It is therefore important that clubs try to generate higher traffic in their fan shop on matchdays to maximise the revenue. This can be done for example, by organising pre-game activities in and around the fan shop.
Engage with fans on matchdays and on non-matchdays through e-sports. This is often organised on a league-level but can also be organised by individual clubs. For example, you can have fans competing for prices through an online tournament or you can organise a tournament for kids inside the stadium before kick-off.