Behind-the-Scenes Sports Media with WhatsApp

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Norwich City Football Club has set upon a new channel to strengthen their relationship to their followers and deliver behind-the-scenes info: WhatsApp for fan communication. We sit down with Gavin Beard, their Head of Marketing, to discuss why they started using WhatsApp and the biggest advantages of messenger communication.

“WhatsApp is a really responsive platform. We love the opportunity for two-way interaction.”


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WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Apple Business Chat have begun positioning customer service via messaging apps as a leading business opportunity. Sports teams, political parties, and clubs can develop their own take on this by using the closeness and directness of messaging apps to increase brand loyalty and get to know their fans and members better!

Gavin, please briefly introduce yourself and the Norwich City Football Club!

I’m Gavin Beard and I’m the Head of Marketing at Norwich City Football Club. Norwich City Football Club was founded in 1902. They currently sit top of the Championship at the time of writing. Home games are played at Carrow Road, their home since 1935.


Using WhatsApp for Fan Communication

Tell us about the decision to use WhatsApp as another marketing channel. How did you find us?

In a post-GDPR world, we were looking at new, innovative and, most importantly, cost-efficient marketing channels to reach more Norwich City fans. We saw the success Northampton Saints were having and decided that we wanted to be the first British Football club to launch the platform.

What were the first goals you set for WhatsApp fan communication and how are the results so far?

We set a target for subscribers, which we reached within the first 4 weeks, and have seen continuous steady organic growth since.

How is your community developing so far? Do your fans like the communication via WhatsApp?

We saw a natural spike at launch, and see a spike each time we cross-promote via our other social channels. Importantly for us, we saw this as an opportunity to drive customers who weren’t engaging via email or SMS onto this platform, ensuring more eyes on our content.


Hint: In our article Fashion Chooses Chat Apps you’ll learn about another industry using WhatsApp to create a closer dialogue with customers: fashion retailers!


Multi-Media Content, Delivered 1:1 — “Fans love the behind-the-scenes feel.”

What kind of content do you send your fans over WhatsApp? Is there any special/exclusive content that leads to really high CTRs?

We wanted our content to be authentic, which was why we delivered the EFL team sheet to fans phones, rather than turning this into a graphic. Fans love this behind-the-scenes feel. Having the highlights delivered to fans phones is also a big selling point. We also asked our fans to send in their questions for a first-team player, which we filmed exclusively for WhatsApp and delivered back to the group, allowing fans to get closer to players than ever before. We’ve also just finished filming a soon to be launched WhatsApp exclusive series; stay tuned for this!

In your opinion: what are the biggest differences between messaging apps on one hand and social media and e-mail? Which advantages do you see in messenger marketing?

WhatsApp is a really responsive platform, in a similar way to SMS, which allows us to deliver branded, bite size content on a platform that’s already used by many of our fans. Email remains a strong platform that allows us to deliver more messages, but the response rate is naturally slower.

How do you think messenger marketing will affect the UK market? Are some channels going to switch positions regarding their importance?

I can see WhatsApp becoming another key channel in Football clubs armory, alongside the usual social channels. For us, the key benefit of WhatsApp is that fans don’t have to go looking for content; it’s delivered to the palm of their hand.

What kind of features are your favorites and how do you use them? Are there any special requests for features you would like to see?

We love the opportunity for two-way interaction, and we are currently trialing the Survey Bot to give our fans a louder voice.

 

Thank you for giving us an inside look at your WhatsApp fan service, Gavin!


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Read more about how the direct 1:1 dialogues over messaging apps offer valuable business opportunities. Check out our Messenger Customer Service Best Practice, how messaging app Chatbots work, and how messaging app usage has even surpassed social media.

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