Currently sitting seventh in the EFL Championship, Welsh side Swansea City have been the envy of clubs in English football for their off-the-field innovation.
Since ditching the EFL Digital platform two years ago, City’s focus on fan-centred technology led to the launch of a new creative website, followed by a mobile app which breaks away from the usual.
Head of Commercial for Swansea City, Rebecca Edwards-Symmons told FC Business: “There weren’t that many apps in football at the time and the clubs who had an app often just duplicated content from their website to the app and assumed that would be fine.
“That’s not what I wanted us to do, so our whole digital strategy was about taking a risk. We were a smaller club in the Premier League at the time and we were able use this and our owners’ drive to be trendsetters in the use of app technology in the UK and to take massive strides. So that’s what we did.”
In November 2017, Swansea became the first club to create an app with single sign-on and a one club functionality, giving fans access to tickets, retail and digital accounts. City’s digital partners Other Media and Sports Alliance were instrumental to the success of the app. By July 2018, the service would allow consumers to purchase in-app season tickets.
Edwards-Symmons claimed that a key part of their digital strategy was to give fans content that was suited to their needs.
“We have a very loyal fanbase in Swansea and I wanted an app that could deliver them all the short- form content they would need while saving long-form content for the website,” she said.
“But we also wanted to be able to distinguish UK fans from those outside of the UK to give that matchday experience to those who weren’t in the local area, something that other apps couldn’t do.”
The next stage for Swansea is to take personalisation to even higher levels and deliver the best experience possible for its supporters.
“Everybody is saying that it’s next but nobody has really done it yet. I want each of our fan’s app to look different based on who they are, where they are, if they’re a season ticket holder or someone who only comes to four games a season and is based in London, etc. I want personalisation to its fullest and that is our next step for the next 12 months,” Edwards-Symmons said.
“We’ve got over 50,000 downloads which is a lot for a Championship team in South Wales and these people who have our app are our most influential, they spend more than the average fan. We get optimal engagement but it’s also the best platform for us to get information out there quickly through push notifications.”
Despite these promising statistics, the club understands where they currently sit in the landscape of UK football.
“I want us to be classed as an innovative club, while realising we now have to work within the financial restraints of not being a Premier League club at the moment. Every club wants to be different and the biggest challenge a club has is doing just that. At the end of the day, we’re never going to convert a Chelsea or Liverpool fan into a Swansea City fan but what is important is to focus on the fans and the community and we should not forget that.”
Edwards-Symmons concluded: “Working with Other Media has been a pleasure – they’re not a supplier to us but a partner – they know our business inside out, they understand what we’re trying to achieve and we trust them which is a must in sport.”