A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of chatting with one of Everton FC’s leading lights when it comes to their digital strategy, Scott McLeod.
Scott started out at the Liverpool Echo before joining Everton in 2005. He was brought on board to add his journalistic expertise to the club as New Media Journalist. In those days it would have been centred around the website.
Since then he has progressed through to become Website Editor, Communications Manager before starting his current role as Digital Media Manager. He spends his days managing all digital output from the club. This includes; the match day concourse and stadium bowl screens and content, the four main Club web platforms, an online TV solution and the delivery of the clubs digital marketing. Quite a broad role!
He manages a team of 6 within the Digital Media side. This is made up of 4 journalists and 2 video editors/cameramen. They ensure that all the content needed for the channels is kept up to date and feed the insatiable appetite of the Everton community with breaking news and interviews.
The club prides itself on being one of the top clubs in the digital area. It may not get the press of the Man City, Liverpool and Arsenals of this country but they are certainly up there. Twice in the last 3 years they have won awards for the website, including ‘Best in Class’ at the Interactive Media Awards in December last year.
They’re aim is always to stay “one step ahead by keeping our finger on the pulse”. They have certainly managed it by launching a series of firsts;
- 1st Club Android App
- 1st Club Podcast
- 1st Club iPad App
They were also one of the first to launch an iPhone app. So the club is certainly not afraid to take a chance and invest in the future through digital. They’re aim has always been to make best use of the budget they have but, importantly, also spend it wisely.
18 months ago they removed the subscription requirement for the club video channel. Something most others have yet to see the light and do. They realised that it was more important to increase the value proposition to Everton fans than just make some money out of a few (video subs have never been big money makers).
In a time when fans have found increasingly diverse ways to get their fix of what they want in terms of news and action. If the club doesn’t supply it then they will go elsewhere. The Everton team realised this and made the move first.
Fans are also expecting higher production levels than ever before. So recently they joined the likes of the Top 4 with their own TV studio at Goodison Park. This will ensure they can produce more content, easier and keep those fans engaged in more innovative ways. Its an investment many more short-term focused clubs (and sports) would not sanction.
One of the main reasons I wanted to speak to Scott was to ask him about their fantastic #BlueCrimbo campaign. It caught my eye in the lead up to Christmas and I hoped to find out more on how it came about and how it went.
At the start, the aim was to involve fans from the start. Making it as interactive as possible. It was decided that the conversation would be driven by content and this would help keep it alive over a period of time. Not just the one-off peaks we tend to see in more traditional campaigns.
It turns out that Blue Crimbo was an evolution of previous campaigns rather than a completely new one. It also took into account the growth in their social media presence.
After previous plans that had included ‘viral’ attempts didn’t quite make it ‘big’ and various departments running their own attempts at tapping into the business that is Christmas.
2012 saw them knock down the walls between these siloes and work together on one overall campaign that included e-commerce, ticketing and social media and brought them into one place. And it worked very well. (If you’d like to read about the campaign in detail then click here).
So, stats wise how did it perform? Scott was kind enough to disclose some of the figures
- 7,500 #BlueCrimbo tweets
- 2000 new signups – added to club CRM database
- 152% Increase in ½ season ticket sales
- 25% year-on-year increase in retail traffic from Evertonfc.com
Overall I think we can safely say it was a success. The bringing together of different elements of the business into a single, simple campaign with fans at the heart of it makes sense to everyone. Fans responded by getting involved and news of it spread over the 5-week period.
So what does the future hold for Scott and Everton?
Their aims over the next 12-18 months sound equally exciting. He sees opportunities around ‘connected tv’, placing content in layers for fans to engage with. Also the possibility of developing ‘premium content’ that could then be subscription or sponsor lead is one they see potential for. Though the aim is to keep as much content free to fans as possible.
Apps for PTV and Social are continuing to be developed. With the help of Rippleffect, their digital partner since 2003 who develop the website, and Mobile Roadie who worked on their iPhone app development, things are moving on at a rapid rate (much like the industry as a whole).
They recognise that you have to continue to innovate to stay relevant. Sitting still isn’t an option!
Thanks to Scott for taking to time out to chat and good luck to Everton for the rest of the season.