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Marketing Lessons from The Beautiful Game

  • Jed Mole

    Jed Mole

Created at November 18th, 2014

Marketing Lessons from The Beautiful Game

Social Soccer?

Sport may not automatically spring to mind as a service that must tailor activity to suit customer preference. But like any other organisation reliant on continued loyalty for success, as a business, football clubs must place fans (customers) at the heart of activities.

Fan-Friendly: Football Club to Global Media Publisher

Take the example of Manchester City Football Club. By its own admittance, the club has transformed, no longer regarding itself as a football club, but as a global media publisher. Evolving to suit the modern age of technology, using data insight to secure customer/fan loyalty and engagement, the club presents a varied range of media content to its fan base, created and centred on a sophisticated CRM system. This keeps activity current, targeted and consumer oriented; from focused social campaigns to dedicated mobile apps and a Man City TV channel.

Marketing Lessons from The Beautiful Game

Acting as a business, there are marketing takeaways that any organisation can learn from Manchester City’s approach. A football club using a CRM strategy to achieve continued success highlights the importance of:

  • Loyalty. To gain and retain a loyal customer or fan following, organisations must create and serve data-informed, targeted, compelling content and products, containing messages that resonate. Loyalty is a powerful force, and is something football teams are no strangers to.
  • Timing. Timing is important to leverage an audience and their feelings at crucial times – such as during post game analysis, midweek motivation, pre-game excitement, to match day and post match commentary. This is the basis of a football club’s content, and like any brand content has to reflect ‘moments’: it must be relevant in real-time and informed by insight to resonate with fans – just as any communication must do for other businesses.
  • In-depth targeting and personalisation. For global organisations with international customers (like football clubs with international supporters), targeting personalised content can be difficult. But targeting is crucial to ensure that content is relevant. For Manchester City, the insight an effective CRM strategy provides means activity can be localised to key locations where significant fan-bases are, and used to better personalise communications.
  • Data-informed, cross-channel insight. The factors listed above can only be achieved through real-time data insight across all channels for a complete customer view. If brands can better understand their channels and their consumers (or fans), they can make more effective decisions and produce better results. A comprehensive, end to end, cross-channel view of audiences – online and offline – is required: harnessing data to deliver insights that can deliver competitive advantages.

Transforming teams through targeting and technology

Football teams are transforming, recognising their value as brands and utilising data and technology to make consumer’s lives easier and more enjoyable. That should be the ultimate aim, and a good lesson for all brands; to target activity and produce personalised messages that enrich the customer experience with data at its heart.


Acxiom have recently published our Marketing Lessons from the Beautiful Game report focusing on detailing the science how online ads drive sales. Click here to download.

Matthew J Robinson – Marketing Communications Manager, Acxiom