7 years ago, the Football League recognised that embracing digital solutions for effective engagement with fans was essential. To this end, Other Media developed an app for the Football League for clubs to offer to fans to enhance the experience offered by their websites.
We have come a long way since then and forward-thinking clubs are evolving and so is their digital strategy. Moving away from one-size-fits-all websites and apps is a key element of this strategy. Clubs are now recognising that they can, and must, own the content that they produce if they are to offer fans what they want and need.
Taking ownership of content by a club is the first step, followed by producing the right content. To really provide a truly satisfying offering to a fan, the third step is to make it accessible. What really sets a progressive club apart from the rest of the field is a truly engaging experience that keeps up with fans wherever they are, providing all the features they yearn to consume about their beloved club.
Why have so many fans chosen to engage with their club in this way? Quite simply, the app gives them what they need, when and how they need it. And for a sports fan, it really is about need over want.
What they need is live audio match commentary, team news and other scores; live streamed press conferences; push notifications for match information, such as line ups, goals and the result. As it happens. Live. Without delay.
How they need it is in a format that suits their preferred way to consume the information, whether this is an Android or iOS phone or tablet. A club app must be responsive to the screen upon which it is viewed and intuitive to use. Content that is pleasingly presented and able to be navigated with ease will result in engaged users. The app gives fans the information they want in the fastest possible way.
It is also important that the app be able to evolve in design and functionality as new technologies emerge. Currently apps need to integrate complex data feeds to ensure consistency with the club’s website and to be up-to-date. Audio and video must be woven in seamlessly.
Lastly let’s not forget the branding. A club’s app must be instantly recognisable as being part of the club’s digital family. The app design must be consistent with this branding.
Getting all of this right will drive fan engagement and also open up commercial opportunities. As well as paid advertising and sponsorship, offering additional, exclusive content to fans who have subscribed to club membership encourages more users to become members of the club and subsequently opens up the paid-for membership options to them.
A well-designed, bespoke app can be the difference between a club supporter sporadically checking in with some content and a fan, that lives and breathes their club, being absolutely tuned in to the every detail of their obsession.