Data Helps Soccer Clubs Engage Fans

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By bringing together its own data and information from individual clubs, Major League Soccer is able to have a clearer view of fans and give additional information to the 19 different clubs.

Bridging silos and bringing together data that's hosted in different repositories is a priority for many organizations which want better visibility into their customer data, allowing them to gain better insights on which to base business decisions.Major League Soccer is one organization that embarked on an ambitious project to bring together the data it was collecting and ticketing information gathered by its 19 individual clubs. According to Charlie Shin, the league's fan engagement and CRM leader, clubs were only in possession of season tickets while the league was collecting very valuable information about fan engagement on different levels, including social activity and merchandise purchasing history.

Although clubs were very protective of their data, Shin told reporters during the SAS Premier Business Leadership Series 2012 that the league is currently in the process of developing a centralized data warehouse that's giving individual clubs access to data they weren't privy to beforehand. "They have a full view of how fans are engaging," Shin notes.

This increased data visibility is helping clubs move from their historical product-driven view to becoming more customer oriented. "They are now understanding how different fans are engaging with the brand," Shin said.

The league is currently also taking a deeper look at social media, to better understand its core fan base, mainly tech-driven, very social, and digitally oriented Gen Y people. Shin explained that the plan is to use social data to determine the level of engagement of individual fans, for example the level of fandom of someone who likes a club on Facebook versus a season ticket holder who doesn't. Further, the league wants to determine whether a person who also follows a club on Twitter and tweets about the team is a bigger fan than someone who only likes it on Facebook.

The additional insights are meant to help clubs reach out to their fans with more relevant information. "Clubs have a broader understanding of how fans are engaging not just from a ticketing standpoint, helping them better personalize the information," Shin says. Further, access to more data allows clubs to better understand the service needs of fans, for example predict the churn risk of a season ticket holder who never bought merchandise versus someone who makes regular purchases and also plays fantasy soccer. Shin notes that the insight can help clubs determine who they need to reach out to and encourage to be better engaged.

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