Personalize your club’s online experience

In this article, we want to talk about personalization and how personalization can enhance your website’s experience. We will examine how personalization works and how you can create concepts for personalized experience. Also, we will discuss technical solutions that make user specific experiences possible.

Added value through personalization
First of all, we need to look at the online goals of a sports club. In our experience, most of the clubs are aiming for

  1. increased traffic
  2. emotional bonding with the fans, and more generally
  3. added value for all stakeholders (fans, sponsors, media, etc.).

If we think of personalization as “to display content that is most fitting to the user’s demand or intention”, we can easily argue that personalization directly pays off in favour of all these goals. Here is why:

  1. Users who easily found the content they were looking for, are more likely to revisit your webiste. Therefore, personalization increases traffic.
  2. By offering different experiences based on the users interest, a sports club is more likely to deepen a fan’s enthusiasm than with a “one for all apporach”.
  3. By anticipating a user’s intention and offering the most suitable information his intention, added value is generated for all stakeholders.

As we are sure that personalization adds value to the user and other stakeholder, the challenge remains to monetize this added value. Here, business conception comes into place. Within your organizaiton you should identify the processes that directly generate revenue but also the processes that represent significant costs that could be lowered. Personalization can help you with both, increasing your revenue (e.g. by increasing your conversion rate in your merchandising shop) and lowering your costs (e.g. by increasing the efficiency of your external advertising expenses).

Create personalized experiences
Furthermore, we would like to gain insight on how personalized experienced can be created based on the user’s data. In order to do so, we are focusing on anonymous users, since they represent the majority of users on open website. However, the presented concepts can easily be adapted to logged in users as well – there, even more data might be available.

Despite his anonymity, a user accessing your website delivers a lot of data in different domains:

  • time: local time at users location; day of the week; season; special holidays
  • technology: user’s device; browser; screen size
  • location: Geo-IP; GPS data; Wifi, beacons
  • referrals: Link/URL, social platforms, google adwords,
  • user input: custom events; pages visited; input in contact forms; favourites or likes

This data can be used to anticipate a users interests and needs, as the following two examples demonstrate.

Firstly, if a user is mainly visiting pages in the media section of your website, you may display your newest video prominently on your homepage if the user returns to your site a few days later. On the other hand, if a user is mainly browsing your team’s statistics pages, he surely will appreciate to find a direct link to your statistics section on your homepage the next time he enters your website.

Secondly, if a user is accessing your website with a mobile device and within a certain range from your stadium, he might need some information about parking, opening hours of your merchandising shops, a map of the stadium and the surrounding area. However, a user accessing with a desktop pc and 1500 km from your stadium might not be interested in that kind of information.

Also, user independent data can be used as a variable for your personalized experience.
For example a sports club should consider to offer different content on match days than on non-match days. As on match days, one can antizipate that the majority of the users is not interested in any other news than about today’s game. So the focus on your site should be about live news from inside the stadium.

These examples show the logical pattern behind a personalized usecase:

  1. Build user segments using different data attributes (e.g. device is mobile and gps range is less than 2km from stadium = usersegment: gameday spectator)
  2. Antizipate user segment’s need (e.g. information about parking, opening hours, etc.)
  3. Define personalized content (e.g. banner or teaser on homepage)

Technical approaches
In order to technically reproduce this logical pattern we need some kind of analytics system to gather data and a rule engine to define which content should be displayed based on what data. Sophisticated Content Manangement Systems (e.g. Adobe Experience Manager, Sitecore, EpiServer or the like) offer both features – varying in complexity – out of the box. Furhtermore, they offer a lot of possibilities to extend the existing software. However, if you are not sitting on budget that allows to pay the yearly fees for these solutions, personalized experiences can also be created based on open source solutions (e.g. Drupal and Google Analytics)

To conclude, personalization can enhance your digital offering and generate added value for all your stakeholders, increase traffic and support emotional bonding with your fans. However, your actions should always considerate both your online goals and the budget at your disposal. Hence, business conception and technical evaluation are key in order to create a sutainable personalization strategy.