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Does your club need its own app?

We're almost at the end of 2020, a year which has been nothing short of a nightmare for most businesses in the world. It's been over 8 months since the world literally came to a standstill, and we were confined to our homes with limited to no human interactions. Most B2C organizations have been forced into shutting down or have had to reinvent themselves to adapt to these unprecedented times.

The global sports ecosystem has taken a huge hit with all professional sports now happening behind closed doors. Clubs and competitions have had to innovate a lot of their strategies to face this new challenge in front of them - no ticketing revenues, engaging fans digitally.

The Covid-19 pandemic has become a catalyst in disguise to the digital revolution in the sports economy, with now even smaller teams exploring various digital tools and platforms to give their fans and sponsors the best possible experiences and services through their screens. The majority of the big teams and clubs have been a part of this digitalization wave for some time now. If we just look at what the biggest clubs in European Football have been doing digitally, you'll see a lot of resources invested in a lot of various digital tools to attract more and more fans at the same time giving them the best possible experiences. But are these investments really efficient enough? Can medium and small clubs also incorporate some of these to help them grow off the field?

One such investment most Football clubs tend to make these days is their own official mobile application or app as they are commonly known. You name the biggest of teams and I am sure they have their own official app. But does it really make sense for a team to have its own app? Is it a profitable investment? Because at the end of the day an app is still a tool for the club to increase their revenue directly or indirectly.

Lets consider the case of Manchester United, a club who off-late are known more for their off-field activities than on-field achievements. Manchester United being the commercial giant they are, has not one but two apps - Manchester United Official App and the MUTV app. Former being a normal app for supporters to be constantly be engaged to the club, be updated with the latest news, be informed about games, team-sheets, stats and also have access to the digital store. On the other hand, the later is a streaming / media app where the subscribers (paid membership) get access to all matches played by all junior teams, friendlies, and all other premium content produced by the club.

If you look at the stats above, United has more than 73 million followers on Facebook, almost 38 million on Instagram, and 23 million + followers on Twitter but they hardly have 5m+ downloads on their official app in the Google Playstore and close to 1 million downloads on their MUTV app. Which means hardly 15% of their Instagram followers have downloaded the app whereas hardly 8% of their Facebook followers have used their app. And this is Manchester United one of the biggest clubs in the world in terms of fan following, brand value, and revenues.

Now, lets compare it to other major European clubs and see how their apps are performing among their audience base.

If you look at the numbers above comparing the app downloads of the top 12 teams from the top European leagues (excluding the EPL) to their Instagram followers, no team has more than a 10% conversion. That is more than 90% of their followers are not using their app. And the smaller the club becomes, the lower the download percentages ( Atletico Madrid has a 1% ratio)

Lets make one more comparison of some of the English teams since EPL is one of the highly marketed leagues across the globe to see how different teams within the EPL fare in this exercise.

Here, the ratios of downloads to followers range from 1% to 20% but for a small club like Burnley FC the total downloads are as low as 10,000. But from a product perspective, the Burnley FC app offers everything that any of the other app has to offer. And the app would even cost the same to the club. Then does it really make sense for a club like Everton, Burnley or any other smaller club to build and maintain their own app?

Before answering that, lets figure how much does building an official app cost a club? Developing such an app would normally cost a club somewhere around $100,000-$200,000. Prices may even go higher if the club tries to incorporate more and more advanced features that are now invading the game like Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality etc. Apart from this one-time development cost, clubs end up paying 50-90% of this amount every year as support and maintenance charges to the same agency. Now analyzing these costs with the stats above, these apps might be a profitable exercise for clubs like Manchester United, Barcelona, Chelsea, and Real Madrid but they are definitely not sustainable for clubs like Burnley, Everton, and Monaco especially when they already have an established fan base elsewhere and huge potential market to tap in to as well.

This established fan base is nothing but their social media accounts and these social media platforms are some of the widely used apps globally. So what is the benefits of using an app over social media that these clubs build their own app? Generally social media fans are anonymous fans, the clubs have no data about these fans and all communications that take place with them are one-way communications. And that's one of the primary reasons why clubs make their own apps to convert these anonymous fans into known fans (preferably paying fans in the future). But what if there was a way to convert these anonymous fans into known fans without spending huge sums on building your own app? The answer is messenger based engagement tools. Messenger based marketing allows you to convert your unknown anonymous fans on Facebook and Instagram into known fans, interact with them in a two-way communication, engage with them using games and quizzes, reward them for their loyalty and even sell them your products.

Such tools can be a great asset for medium and small clubs wanting to do more in the digital space in an effective way without investing in their own app. Gamedayz, is our very own messenger based engagement tool designed for sports club to convert their unknown fans into known fans and maximize their social media efficiency.


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