Those in the sports world, especially rights holders, have been playing catch up with other industries when it comes to CRM. Other industries adopted CRM way before sport because they had to! They aren’t blessed with natural loyalty like sport is – it’s been said that you can change your house, your car and your relationship, but you’ll never change your football team!

Twenty years ago things were much simpler in the world of sport; rights holders could open their gates and fans would flock. But twenty years ago fans didn’t have UltraHD Sports packages, Superfast Broadband fans can use to stream ALL matches on a weekend, and they didn’t have Smartphones that ping a multitude of offers and discounts into their inboxes that they can respond to in seconds.

With so much competition for the attention of fans, rights holders need to work smarter with their data to compete, and drive attendances forward. Rights holders can use CRM to make their business work smarter so they don’t have to work harder.

But first, let’s be clear what we mean by “CRM” – WinnersCRM define CRM as a business strategy that enables you to send the right message to the right person at the right time (on the right platform) to help you achieve your business objectives. It is NOT just a piece of software!

Whilst software plays an important role in CRM, we believe it forms just one part of the 5 key principles of the Perfect CRM circle, specifically Technology:

the perfect CRM circle

To send the right message to the right person at the right time on the right platform, we need to capture the right data. But in a world of Big Data and the Internet of Things, where 2.5 quintillion bytes of data is created every day, what is the “right data”? The right data is entirely dependent on the objective, and what a rights holder chooses to collect, and more importantly analyse, is crucial.

We understand what the “right data” is for our clients across Europe based on our work together; the types of data that is making a difference to rights holders’ objectives.


Top level data like first name, last name, date of birth, gender, address, nationality and country of residence are all integral for a personalised experience. From our case studies, just by using a fan’s first name in direct communication we have achieved an increase of 26% in comparable open rates for our clients!

At a much deeper level, we can use services that provide demographic tagging for customer data. These services match captured data with the information in their system and tags it with the relevant requested information. Tags like:

  1. Employment financial band (£10-20k, £20-30k, how many millionaires are in their database etc),
  2. Educational background (how many fans are university graduates, college graduates etc),
  3. Societal background (the likely class a customer is, be it lower/middle/upper class) and,
  4. The type of property they live in. (1-bed flat valued £100k+, or 3 bedroom terrace valued £250k+)

These services are also able to tag on average how often a person uses the internet!

So how can this data be used for rights holders? Targeted communications based on a recipient’s situation will be more effective with the desired outcome than a generic message blasted to a full database would be. The right message, to the right person, at the right time.


No, I’m not talking about credit card details, I’m talking about a fan’s financial relationship with a rights holder:

  • Single ticket buyers versus Season ticket holders
  • Merchandise buyers
  • Corporate hospitality members.

Each of these types of fan have a different relationship with a rights holder: the value they are spending, the frequency in which they buy, and how recent they have attended is key in determining how they should be targeted.

Combined with wealth tagging I refer to above, this information can be incredibly powerful in effecting action from fans, and it comes down to targeting the right person with the right message at the right time.


Online digital behaviour is the sexy stuff that we love as data driven marketers. It tells rights holders so much about their fans. By tracking the way each fan interacts with their direct marketing efforts, how long they spend on their website, the type of device being used, and whether they were referred from social media etc. rights holders can build a diverse picture of their fan base and optimise their marketing accordingly.

Ultimately, rights holders are able to use their fans’ digital information to market more efficiently to them, by targeting them appropriately. As people are habitual by nature, and by analysing specific user behaviour over time, not only can they understand their fans better but they can influence their fans to behave the way they want them to at the times they want them to.

So how do Sponsors fit into this equation? Well, the right message to the right person at the right time applies directly with sponsors!

The data a rights holder captures can be matched to a current sponsors’ target demographic and used accordingly, but it can also be mapped to a potential sponsors’ target demographic. This will make it easier for rights holders to renew contracts, as well as helping them “sell in” their brand offering to new sponsors.

Customers, including fans, no longer want to be sold to. They want to be told a story – just look at the Superbowl and John Lewis Christmas ad! Sponsors are waking up to the fact that if they integrate their brand with sport, and tell a story instead of hard selling, their engagement rates improve dramatically.

By using demographicaltransactional and behavioural data in partnership with a sponsors brand activation, both parties benefit.

By sending the right message to the right person at the right time, rights holders and sponsors will engage their fan base smarter, and reap the benefits accordingly.