Club Specific Fan Engagement Product
With a team of sports fanatics, it was only a matter of time before we (Digital Marmalade) applied our puzzle/gaming digital experience to building a product which could engage directly with fans in a way others had missed.
The idea was simple: create a club specific predication game. This product should be free, only take a min or so to ‘play’, and be the conduit to the provision of other fan-centric ideas.
It was from this idea that “Know Your Football” was born.
The premise of Know Your Football (KYF) is deceptively simple, yet incredibly powerful. Fans gain points and win trophies for predicting the success (or failure!) of their own club, one match at a time, as the season progresses.
Unlike most fantasy or prediction games, this does not require a fan to even think about other clubs, making it a much deeper and relevant connection between clubs and their fans.
Official, quick, easy, and free to play – Know Your Football means higher regular engagement and interaction with a fully engaged grassroots audience. It is also an additional marketing platform with scope to evolve – we have only just touched the surface in terms of relevant club specific fan engagement.
Our strategy was to make the proposition simple – Know Your Football is a football club specific prediction game. Players of the game predict the results of a single team’s fixtures throughout the season, earning trophies, points, and prizes. For each fixture a player predicts the result, the final score, a scorer, and the time of the first goal by either team. Points ranging from 1-5 are awarded for various correct predictions made.
At Digital Marmalade we wanted to make sure that the fans of any football club would be delighted to ‘play’ Know Your Football and interact with their club. We did this by making it the only club specific fantasy game. Unlike Soccer Six, Fantasy Manager, Dream Team and the like, KYF allows users to focus exclusively on the one club they care about – their own. It is showing itself to be a better test of supporter knowledge with full, club endorsed bragging rights attached.
We also made it competitive. The ability to pit friends and families against each other through private leagues is nothing new to the world of football. But extending that out so we can track which stand knows the most, or which supporter club has the most knowledge is a unique position to be in, and is opening up some really interesting marketing opportunities. With those hard to reach fanatics, the game is bringing them closer to the club in a way never experienced before.
One of the most significant elements we have focused on is ensuring the prizes are unique and desirable. The clubs have really responded to this element, as they have provided various monthly prizes including signed shirts, signed balls, corporate hospitality, and more. These are usually presented on pitch during half time.
They have been much more creative with the main prizes. We have even had a prize-winning fan take his place in the official team photo with another offering the chance to watch players train and then have lunch with them.
With the product currently being used by six clubs across the 2018/2019 season it has become a huge hit with fans, but what does it deliver in reality:
It allows clubs to offer something free to their supporter base which is quick to use, easy to track, offers high retention rates, and a reason for regular direct interaction. This direct fan engagement has resulted in 40 per cent plus in retention rates and up to three points of contact per match.
This is great for the club as is provides them with unique, club owned stats. In this world of public data, KYF provides some unique statistics for the club to leverage on their social channels. This ranges from the obvious matchday predictions through to how stadium attending fans compare to their armchair equivalents.
As it is fan-centric in nature, virtual matchday interaction has become a priority. We have begun developing a club owned matchday tool – starting with predictions, but will evolve to include team announcements, video content opportunities (as legends begin to compete), and post match analysis.
“Know Your Football has really helped improve our fan engagement since we launched KYF. This has been mainly down to the amount of content we can generate around each match. The game gives us a raft of great content to use across social media and allows our supporters to compete for some money can’t buy experiences.” Jake Baxter, Peterborough Football Club
It is quick to deploy (1-2 days) and with a system that self manages, the level of disruption to the club is minimal and restricted to marketing support.
KYF has shown itself to be a unique connector – whether it be independent supporter associations, sponsors or fans.
“The ‘Know Your Football’ prediction site has been a brilliant way for YABA to engage with Cambridge United fans straight away! It’s simple, but sparks so much debate. It has also ignited our partnership with Cambridge United Football Club, with them offering to award some top prizes to the monthly winners of the our predictions league. Since then we have worked alongside the club in many more ways to improve our content, with player interviews going out almost every week for our fans to enjoy.” Ollie Slack, YABA CUFC
The ability of Know Your Football to add to the Corporate matchday experience and collect much needed personal data has proven a huge success. Alongside this creating a further connection between clubs and their affinity sponsors has helped continue the conversation across the season meaning sponsorship renewals are that bit easier to conclude- as they don’t feel ignored. A good example of this is Peterborough United’s ongoing relationship with Walters, which was extended to pay the licence cost for the club.
“Sponsoring Know Your Football has allowed us to really engage with the clubs and interact with the commercial teams to establish our relationship beyond a simple cash for coverage interaction. From Walters helping the team at Norwich City to maximise returns, all the way through to Ethos supporting Lincoln City as they step up through the leagues, the fact that KYF sits in the background means that we are in regular contact with them and therefore has allowed us to understand more of their problems and help think up solutions.” Tony Collard, Director, Ethos/Walters (Product Sponsor)
KYF supports existing marketing efforts, as well as creating a complete new channel – supporting and allowing all sorts of innovation in communicating and sourcing marketing stories to the supporter base.
It has also been used to promote new social channels, Norwich City have used KYF to help drive sign-ups to their innovative WhatsApp group, as well providing regular contact and updates on which strand is their most knowledgeable.
“The game offers a great opportunity for supporters to compete amongst themselves for the opportunity to win monthly and seasonal prizes. In return it provides us, as a club, with additional channels to communicate directly to our supporters and having the design and content provided also saves time for the department to focus on other projects.” Shaun Whitmarsh, Marketing Manager, Portsmouth FC
The game is supported by a wider traditional campaign of stadium posters, programme ads, and flyers.
As our first season draws to a close we have over 6500 members with 35 per cent of them regularly making predictions – factor in that we have got 10 per cent of the average gates of the clubs involved signed up and it is easy to see how attractive this is to match-going fans.
The results of the partnership and resulting game are far reaching and evolving with the game. Fans of Cambridge United specifically were incredibly responsive and provided great feedback on the game.
This style of interactive gamification also has scope to evolve into other heavily fan-followed sports, such as Rugby and Golf, having already been picked up for Cricket, where we have partnered with Middlesex CCC at Lords launching Know Your Cricket for the 2019 season.
The game has evolved to allow supporters to predict the result of the match, the top scoring batsman, the highest wicket taker, and the first innings score range.
“We are really excited to be developing this great county specific prediction product, as we believe its simplicity is its strength and will provide a much-needed link between our supporters and the club. The opportunity for Middlesex, together with Digital Marmalade to actually develop and shape the product means Know your Cricket will really help us hit our KPI’s.
From delivering additional value to existing sponsors through to really enhancing the matchday corporate experience – this concept has the potential to make a huge difference, both to Middlesex’s ongoing Commercial and Marketing challenges, whilst making Middlesex even more accessible to our supporters…” Rob Lynch, Commercial Director, Middlesex Cricket
With the inclusion of a Beat The Legend section (Mike Gatting is the legend and the prize is a nets session for the winner and four of their friends before lunch at the Taverners Arm) it is clear the surface has only just been scratched as we look to evolve the product across other sports and begin to expand the concept to help change supporter behaviour in an environment which is rare – fun and free!