Computers and artificial intelligence have come along at an exponential rate over the past few decades, from being regarded as oversized adding machines to the point where they have played integral roles in some legitimately creative endeavours.
Melbourne Victory Football Club (MVFC) is looking to bolster member numbers and improve the way it engages with fans of the game after rolling out a marketing automation platform.
The A-League professional football club’s head of consumer business, Monica Dinh, told CMO the rapid rise in digital engagement witnessed over recent years was a key factor in its decision to strategically invest in technology platforms to better understand and communicate with fans. As well as building out a customised CRM platform, the association maintains its own ecommerce capabilities and online membership portal.
While MVFC had also been using email marketing tools, its former choice of software wasn’t integrated with CRM, making marketing automation the logical next step forward, she said. MVFC has chosen to invest in Marketo’s platform and expects to go live in the next couple of weeks.
“We had worked on a supporter continuum, knowing what the engagement points are and we’re really close to the consumer journey. It’s now about automating it,” she said.
Using the platform will give the MVFC marketing, digital and membership teams the ability to track fan behaviour across multiple channels, then develop email content that is relevant and timely based on their engagement with the club.
Over the last seven years, MVFC has built loyalty programs and community forums online and built up its customer data sets, using its CRM system as the centralised hub of intelligence.
“Having ownership over the CRM gave us flexibility with integration, and we’ve integrated that with many systems to enable the flow of data in our business to be seamless,” Dinh explained. “What comes with that is data integrity, so once we were confident of that, we were able to map out our consumer journey, from engaging with the club via an email address right through to ticket purchases to membership conversion. At every point we know which percentage conversion we have at each point in the customer journey.”
Integration of the marketing automation platform is now underway, and three of MVFC’s staff have undergone Marketo training, including its head of marketing and head analyst. Other users will include membership and community departments. The procurement process was managed by Dinh and the marketing team.
The automation platform is expected to benefit both MVFC’s efforts around member retention as well as its acquisition efforts. For instance, Dinh said it plans to automate a series of renewal reminder campaigns based on specific triggers such as whether a member searched information online. To date, the bulk of this has been done via direct mail and outbound calls.
Acquisition is arguably the bigger focus, and Dinh said the team planned to tap a wealth of data on visitors as it strives to convert game attendees into supporters initially, followed by different tiers of membership. Data insights range from number of games attended to merchandise purchased.
“We’ll then put them on the pathway to a membership type – we’ll decide what type they will best convert to and we’ll provide incentives based on those past transactions,” she said. “It’s marrying what their interests are with incentives to encourage them to sign up.”
Key metrics for gauging success will be additional transactions, such as whether a fan purchases an additional ticket for a game, cross-selling, merchandise sales or participating in its clinics.
The objective for MVFC this year is to lift its membership base from 27,000 to 30,000 this season, an ambitious task given its home ground, AAMI Park, can only take 25,000 memberships.
“We’ve had to come up with more creative ways with our memberships to enable us to reach those numbers,” Dinh said.
Key to getting the Marketo technology investment over the line was justifying the additional value of the platform compared to the former email marketing tool. To do this, Dinh said she emphasised the additional functionality provided around more relevant timing for when the customer is actually engaged with MVFC, as well as that additional information around their site visits and behaviour.
“It was about showing the benefits it would provide in that sales process,” she said.
While the initial rollout sees the platform being used just for email-based marketing communications, Dinh said there was every intention of expanding its utilisation of the software for other paid channel activity as well as integration with its digital properties.
“We have to start with the foundations of the system, and we’ll build from there,” she added.