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How rugby teams can learn from Amazon ahead of the second lockdown

In our latest blog, our Communications Manager Jamie has been looking at how professional rugby clubs can use data to make the most of behind closed doors matches.

The on-going global pandemic has forced many professional rugby clubs to re-evaluate their business models.

As we head into a second lockdown, a swift and efficient return of fans to stadiums is looking less likely by the day. As a result, clubs across the country have realised the need to accelerate their digital transformation.

On the other hand, Amazon thrived during the first lockdown and have seen continued record-setting growth since. We all know it’s a successful model but the reasons behind the recent success should inspire Rugby clubs and other professional sports.

Through digital technology, data and knowing their target markets, Amazon has seen their customer numbers and profits soar. In essence, the key to their success has been using owned data to understand customers better.

For rugby clubs, understanding their fans better will place them in a greater position to drive commercial revenue from sponsorships and partnerships. Not only this but it also potentially enables the exploration of alternative business models and revenue streams.

Personalising the at-home experience

With talk of a long-drawn-out, phased return to stadiums - similar to the National Rugby League (NRL) in Australia, which is gradually increasing from an initial 1,000 spectators in corporate boxes - the need for improved at-home experience has never been more important.

Fan expectations in this area are changing. Thanks to improvements in online experiences from Amazon and other rights holders, fans are expecting unique services, offerings and insights through digital experiences that are personalised. Rugby clubs should be able to use technology to deliver a scalable, tailored, omnichannel experience that transforms fans from spectators to participants, no matter where, or what devices, they are watching from.

The extent to which this is the possible will, of course, depend in part on the rights held centrally and those held by the club. It will be interesting to see how broadcasters seek to enhance their product while clubs seek to hold on to the rights that allow them to create their own content.

Selling digital advertising

Traditional sponsorships have evolved and without in-stadium fans and rugby clubs will now struggle to deliver on many of the season-long partnerships which they rely on for revenue. Instead, rugby teams may now wish to shift their focus to smaller-value, but higher-volume commercialisation rather than large deals.

For example - selling advertising on digital assets, which is cost-effective to set-up and run. This replacement for in-stadia advertising can be just as lucrative for the clubs and, when taking the Amazon approach, Rugby clubs are in a great position to segment their audience and offer advertisers direct access to a specific demographic of fans for a set price.

Driving sales with performance marketing

Have you noticed ads for Amazon’s Premier League football matches on your Facebook feed recently? That’s no coincidence. Since acquiring the rights to show matches, Amazon has invested heavily in its performance marketing.

For rugby clubs, setting up ads is easy - they already have a database of their target market which can be uploaded to Facebook’s database and the sales journey can be tracked all the way through from ad to purchase.

The shift to subscription services

Looking into the future, rugby clubs could look to partner with cloud technology platforms, similar to that of the German football league (The Bundesliga) and Amazon Web Services. Using AWS technology, the league built a cloud-based media archive that will “automatically tag specific frames from 150,000 hours of video, with metadata such as game, jersey, player and venue”, which enables them to search and locate match highlights quickly and accurately.

All of these videos are held behind a subscription-based paywall, which if replicated by rugby clubs could keep fans engaged and transacting even during the off-season or if matches are cancelled due to the global pandemic.

What does the future hold for your club?

While the future may look bleak for some clubs, it doesn’t have to be.

Speak to Nifty today for a free consultation about ways we can help drive your content strategy and open new digital revenue streams through this difficult period.

nifty communications is a pr & marketing agency with a difference. everything we do is fuelled by the latest Google data, so we position our clients in the centre of topical discussion through an integrated marketing environment called the niftyverse.

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