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How to truly leverage a ‘single view’ of your fans to understand and action their data like never before

Luke Ibbetson, managing director at XCM, explains the fundamental steps sports organisations must take to unlock the true value of their customer data.

6 April 2023 Luke Ibbetson

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As fanbases grow, so too does the expectation around more personalised and engaging experiences. Fans set the agenda by providing ‘masses’ of data across many different sources and touchpoints – from their perspective, that is ‘job done’. But for those controlling the data it is just the tip of the iceberg. 

In this two-part series, we’ll underline the challenges associated with achieving ‘supercharged’ fan engagement and how, through a truly ‘data-driven’ solution, they can be overcome. 

So what does the challenge look like?

While today’s clubs and sports organisations are taking steps towards optimised fan engagement, for many the hard yards come with the ability to not only arrive at a unified single view of their fans, but to also combine that with a much deeper understanding of fan behaviour across the entire organisation.

The all-round solution then needs to fuel actionable insight to drive dynamic and hyper-personalised content and communications to exactly the right fan at exactly the right time. And there’s more.

Add into the mix universal requirements for advanced reporting, business intelligence and marketing automation and it is fair to say that you arrive at a challenge of considerable scale. But the reality is much more manageable when you realise that the answer does not lie in a singular piece of ‘out-of-the-box’ technology.

You must also build supplier relationships that go way beyond that, with high levels of customisation and supporting expertise to help you realise your goals and ultimately empower your chosen solution.

Technology and strategies in this area are still developing and reasonably embryonic. But the opportunities to maximise engagement and growth within this digital age are far-reaching. Clubs and sports organisations need to embrace digital transformation now and strive to weave their entire business strategy around it.

Flexibility and agility are a prerequisite. In a constantly ‘switched-on’ environment, an acute understanding of the end-to-end fan journey, their touchpoints and physical interactions is crucial. Those who succeed will create not just an ‘end point’ for CRM but holistic data orchestration, in and out of club source systems.

The answer is a Customer Data Platform, isn’t it?

Almost everyone will tell you that you definitely need a CDP and indeed you most likely do, but you also need so much more and it’s this crucial element that is often overlooked. You will categorically not only need to deploy some new game-changing technology but you will also need clever and dedicated support rotating around it.

Having the right data and integration partner with significant experience, skills and resources to genuinely understand your data is where you need to focus. XCM works with clubs and sports organisations to fully understand their fan behaviour and radically transform their engagement.

We do that by not only providing cutting-edge technology in the shape of our Horizon Customer Data Platform, but by supporting it with a talented group of solution architects, developers, analysts, data scientists, communication experts and strategic consultants. We don’t deploy and walk away – we stick around.

So in our world, what are fundamental steps you need to take to realise true value and success?

Step 1: Gain total clarity on all your fan touchpoints and channels by consolidating your entire data ‘ecosystem’

Fans and their data must be at the centre of all your decision making. You will therefore need easy and uncluttered access to ‘Big Data’, whilst carefully considering the needs of each business user. The first step to ‘truly’ understanding core fan behaviour is leveraging universal source integration.

  • Connect in real time to an unlimited range of sources and stitch your entire data ecosystem together
  • Collect and unify data across all your individual fan touchpoints (ticketing, retail, memberships, hospitality, etc)
  • Identify and match fan records to provide a clean, streamlined and enriched dataset
  • Transform the data into a robust ‘single fan view’, perfectly customised to your business needs
  • At the same time, realise enviable levels of data capture and watertight data compliance

Step 2: Cultivate deeper, unparalleled understanding of your fans through a best-in-class analytical and insight framework

Rapid analysis, automated machine learning and advanced segmentation should co-exist with the ability to easily feed rich fan insight back into your systems. Sophisticated fan segmentation calls for advanced analytics and modelling capabilities.

  • Power your fan data with best-in-class machine learning and AI modelling
  • Create unparalleled understanding that can be analysed, modelled and optimised
  • Put one-touch fan performance reporting and business insight right at your fingertips
  • Align your teams with clear objectives and KPIs that facilitate quick comprehension of overall performance

Step 3: Use actionable insight to seamlessly power your fan communications and maximise loyalty and lifetime value

Today’s sports fan has more choice and less patience. Hyper-personalised and highly relevant communications should be delivered dynamically and in real time to reach fans quickly and efficiently. The outcome will enable true commercial growth and radically transform your fan marketing performance.

  • Fully understand the fan lifecycle and map their experiences from prospect to super-fan
  • Action your fan data to create highly segmented audiences downstream into execution platforms
  • Deliver real-time campaign orchestration via highly automated and repeatable campaigns
  • Communicate to fans as ‘individuals’ where all their needs and preferences are clearly understood
  • Deploy advanced capability around ‘in moment’ and ‘proximity’ based fan marketing
  • Move away from the more manual and time-consuming activations by using automation

In a nutshell, all the above forms the nucleus of our solution for revolutionised fan engagement.

This is how we currently work with and deliver success for our clients in sport. XCM and Horizon provides your people with a vehicle to integrate, manage and enrich your data universe whilst also visualising and understanding your data at pace and with clarity. The end result will give your organisation the genuine ability to maximise fan value, optimise marketing investment and significantly improve results.

Part two of this series will showcase our solution in action and how we demonstrate success.

Click here to learn more about XCM or follow us on LinkedIn. Come and visit us during SportsPro Live at the Kia Oval in London on 25th and 26th April. You can also connect with Luke on LinkedIn here.

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