How AZ Alkmaar is enhancing fan engagement via data and fan intelligence

During ESSMA’s Fan Experience Workshop at Legia Warsaw, Bas Schnater - (former) Marketing Coordinator at AZ Alkmaar - focused on how to use data to enhance fan engagement and which initiatives AZ Alkmaar has implemented.


A brief overview of the challenges AZ has been facing in regards to their fans:

  • Clinical relationship with fans
  • Decline in average stadium attendance
  • No insights to explain the decline
  • No techniques to tackle the decline
  • Relatively old fanbase

“One of the club’s challenges is learning why fans didn’t renew their season tickets.”

They analysed these challenges and discovered that the club was in need for a data warehouse, insights on fan behaviour, marketing on intuition, an increased fan interaction and a centralised fan approach.

What about fan engagement?

One of the aspects to tackle these challenges focused on enhancing the fan engagement at the club, which consists out of four main pillars:

  • Identity and meaning: rituals and symbols which make fans feel connected to the club
  • Dialogue: for example interaction with fans on social media
  • Execution and experience: matchday activities
  • Matchday people: it is important not to underestimate the influence your staff has on the fan experience and the customer service they offer

Fan intelligence

To learn more about their fans, AZ started with expanding their fan intelligence by qualitative research e.g. askings fans in focus groups what they want and information from mystery fans as well as quantitative input via data e.g. insights on general admission tickets and season ticket holders.

The first step in creating insights is to collect all the data. Secondly, they ‘clean’ the data and finally cluster the data in valuable and easy-to-understand insights.

AZ Alkmaar divided their fans in seven different segments to better personalise their communication approach and learn more about their needs:

  • Sleeping discount seekers: they only react to e-mails with discounts
  • Active discount seekers: they want to come to the stadium but need a discount
  • Regional glory hunters: they come to the stadium a couple of times per year
  • Busy supporters: they have a season ticket and come to about 40% of the games)
  • Traditionals
  • Fanatics
  • Ultra

Takeaways from Bas Schnater's presentation:

  • Set strategic fan KPI’s and goals including growing fan attendance and improving the fan experience
  • Get executive buy-in, make sure management supports your vision and projects
  • Data is an enabler to enhance the fan experience, but data itself is not a goal
  • Never forget that it’s always about people and their stories and not (just) about data records

Go to our ESSMA Flickr account for more pictures.


Access his presentation on the ESSMA Knowledge Platform


The ESSMA Knowledge Platform is only available for ESSMA members. If you have not received your login, contact