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Urban Zoo’s Gamechanger enhances the digital experience

A host of British football clubs have adopted Urban Zoo's Gamechanger platform - a revolution in fan engagement and monetisation.

A host of British football clubs have adopted Urban Zoo’s Gamechanger platform which has become a revolution in fan engagement and monetisation. 

In a critical time for the sports industry, technology company Urban Zoo has transformed the performance of digital platforms for UK clubs such as Aston Villa, Sheffield United, Fulham, Stoke City, Everton, Middlesbrough, Wigan Athletic and even Scottish powerhouse Celtic. 

Chris Grannell and Rob Moore are the pioneers behind the Warrington-based technology company and has become a revolution for British football. 

“We provide the ability to integrate clubs’ apps, web sites, streaming services and retail platforms via a single sign-on (SSO),” Grannell said.  

“Clubs get a single fan view, helping them better understand their behaviour and allowing them to tailor bespoke offers. Even though the system behind it is a ‘bespoke platform’ we can craft a unique user interface that makes every site individual to its host club.” 

Fulham FC wanted to review its brand and subsequently turned to Gamechanger to help present the club’s unique identity more strongly online after a detailed competitor audit. 

“We now have SSO in place across the club’s main website, ticketing, retail and TV online properties, and will roll that out to a new club app shortly,” Fulham’s head of marketing Jack Burrows said.  

“Few clubs currently have this full breadth of functionality, and since launching the new website in September this year the overall feedback has been extremely positive.” 

The combination of managing content and maximising potential revenue opportunities online has been just as important as stronger fan experience. 

“Our previous system was falling down, and the website behind where we wanted to be positioned as a club,” Burrows said. 

“It was incredibly difficult to modernise user journeys and unlock online potential across content consumption and engagement, as well as commercial and e-commerce opportunities.  

“Gamechanger has allowed our commercial team to monetise new digital assets, and by enhancing site functionality across desktop and mobile, simplifying the front-end navigation and working with a strengthened back end system, Gamechanger is continuing to allow us to innovate more and drive forward digitally.” 

More fans now want to engage with clubs’ digital assets given it’s easier, more intuitive and more enjoyable to do so.  

Premier League club Sheffield United are one of Urban Zoo’s partners.

“Our multi-platform traffic is up by more than 200 per cent,” Aston Villa’s digital product manager, Ben Startin said. 

“We’re a big club and when we made announcements such as player signings we’d get huge spikes in web use but our legacy system would fall over.  

“It was driving fans off-line and got so bad they were developing memes mocking our web performance. That’s completely reversed now and whilst the spikes in usage remain huge, Gamechanger can handle all the traffic thrown at it.” 

“The whole platform is so easy use. We had just one training session for the team and they’ve been able to make the system fly from the off. 

“There’s no way that an enterprise software platform could have delivered all this in just four months.” 

All clubs agree that Urban Zoo’s approach to client management has been extremely beneficial. 

“They’re footy people,” Wigan’s Ashley Houghton said.  

“They don’t hide behind account managers and flannel: you get talk to the techies direct and they’re a constant source of great ideas.  

“When Jonty Castle (now CEO at AFC Fylde) brought them he said they ‘got it’ and he was right. Some of our most enjoyable brainstorming sessions have been with their team.” 

Startin from Aston Villa has also been impressed with Urban Zoo’s passion towards transforming football clubs. 

“You can see Urban Zoo’s football pedigree from the way Gamechanger has been designed, but also in their proactivity,” he said.  

“They work on a fixed licence-fee model, which makes working with them much more budgetable. It’s a very transparent and commercial approach which helps avoid nasty surprises.” 

For Matt Gamble at Everton, they have been able to use Gamechanger to accelerate the performance of the Toffees’ newly-launched app. 

“Our focus is on massively increasing the regularity of fans’ usage,” he said.  

“The platform has allowed us to completely revamp the push notification system, letting fans tailor what notifications they want to receive. 

“We can also now create mobile- specific experiences such as competitions or games exclusively for the app and it offers much better integration with our video provider.  

“We can now deliver live video or audio, providing another reason for fans to keep visiting.” 

Urban Zoo currently has 12 clubs and organisations as clients.

Chris Grannell and fellow director Rob Moore at Urban Zoo have built a platform that has already delivered positive outcomes for many UK-based football clubs. Deeper integration and knowledge of fan’s needs will be delved deeper with a new Sports CRM proposition to integrate seamlessly with Gamechanger. 

“With easy and intuitive interrogation it will provide clubs with all the behavioural analysis, segmentation and loyalty tracking they could ever need,” Grannell said. 

“It will mean another step up in how they communicate with fans. We’re taking direct marketing to another level and it is British football leading the way.” 

Another big leap forward will come by seeking an improvement on personalisation for fans. 

“We’re now working on a big change in ensuring that each fan engagement feels instantly bespoke, at point of sign-in,” Moore said.  

“Fans want to be presented with what they are interested in. They want to be recognised as the type of fan they are, with a user experience personalised to their preferences.

“It’ll have a huge impact on generating additional spend and user satisfaction.”

You can find out more about Urban Zoo and Gamechanger here. 

Liam Watson is a Senior Journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on international football policy, industry matters and industry 4.0

Dig Inclusion makes digital access available for everyone 

For stadiums around the world, infrastructure has been created to cater for people with disabilities, however access to club websites and apps cannot be overlooked. 

In the past, stadiums had been designed so people with disability can still access the venues. As we know with COVID outbreaks, attention has now shifted towards how we get these people into the grounds by using apps and in particular to scan a QR code for contact tracing. 

As we have seen in 2021, the QR system has become a mandatory tool, while at the same time we have seen the need to go with virtual tickets, rather than the printed out copies we had always been accustomed to. 

For clubs and stadiums, they want to ensure that fan experience is at the optimal level, so that means they have to assess the accessibility for disabled people and ways for them to have entry to venues without an enormous amount of hassle. 

This is where Dig Inclusion can help. They are a digital accessibility service who ensures that football club websites and apps are equally available for everyone. 

For clubs, they should be asking themselves whether disabled fans have the same opportunity to buy tickets online as everybody else, while the other consideration should be if news feeds, match statistics, websites and apps are as user friendly as they need to be. 

For digital accessibility, Dig Inclusion takes into account people who are colour blind, dyslexic or have cognitive impairments (including people living with dementia). Through a club’s website or app design process – from the use of font, to language, to colour contrast – are all highly important so nobody feels overwhelmed when accessing a club’s resource. 

For example, if a disabled fan wants to buy some club merchandise, then they will have the same opportunity to browse and make that purchase just like any other person would, with tailored options available to assist anyone who needs it. 

When teams partner with Dig Inclusion, they are there for every step of the way, from accessible testing, research and strategy, to accessible development and content creation, and finally a check on websites, mobile apps, PDF documents and ebooks among some of the benefits. 

All of Dig Inclusion’s services are designed to help clubs keep pace in a rapidly changing digital age: 

Accessible design review: To highlight visual aspects of a design that need to be checked for accessibility, such as colour contrast and positioning. This looks at common accessibility pitfalls and turns this into what would be the ultimate experience for all customers. 

Accessibility help desk: Advice and support from someone who understands the company and what they do, offering fast response times and specialist knowledge for any stucks in the digital accessibility process. 

Mobile accessibility: Helping to get the most out of tablet and smartphone users, with those devices more often used than desktop or laptop. This is very important for disabled or elderly fans who would like to use mobile technology. 

Web accessibility: Advising organisations about the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) in an easy-to-understand manner, as design agencies and web developers may find it difficult to grasp or keep pace with updates as they become available. 

Disabled user testing: It’s not only digital content meeting accessibility guidelines that is important, but also making sure that the experience of a disabled person using a product is a good one. 

PDF accessibility: Accessibility guidelines are not just designed for webpages, but anything that a customer downloads is also included. Dig Inclusion can produce PDF documents that go alongside WCAG with equal access as a typical website. 

Video accessibility: When businesses make advertising material, they can be supported with transcripts, captions, subtitles, or audio descriptions that they probably would have not used before on their own. 

Ebook accessibility: Tablets have been a valuable way for people to virtually read books and other publications. An accessible ebook gives all readers instant access to fit their needs, regardless of print disability. 

Dig Inclusion provides ways for clubs to navigate the challenges associated with building an app or website for equal opportunities. To learn more on Dig Inclusion, you can find it here. 

Swan Retail: Promoting clubs through powerful app 

Swan Retail’s software development has seen the creation of FUSE – an app that has all the best fan engagement features in the one place. 

It’s been a mixed bag for Australian audiences wanting to go to live sporting events, as lockdowns and restrictions have not always gone in our favour. 

For sport clubs, they have become more reliant on finding ways to engage with their fan bases via digital, as the typical match day inclusions do not always go to plan, with unpredictable Covid-19 changes. However, what is for certain is that clubs cannot be stopped in exploring ways to promote their team in a variety of ways. 

Swan Retail has identified the demand for digital and online resources, where they have taken their expertise into the sports & stadium area. 25 years’ worth of experience has lended itself towards furniture & homeware, fashion and specialty retail to name a few. 

Swan Retails app, FUSE, encapsulates that a club is searching for when it comes to fan engagement. It is completely branded to suit a club’s identity and includes an immerse news feed to create engaging content that you would see on a social media platform. The only difference here is that the app takes everything from a club and showcases that directly to a fan, rather than trapping it in amongst other competitors.

When a fan uses FUSE, their sole focus is on the team they support. FUSE is the application that integrates quality engagement, offering clubs the chance to interact with their fans, build their brand, reward loyalty and drive sales. 

Available on the App Store and Google Play, FUSE has a host of features to maximise marketing potential: 

  • Build and theme a business app. 
  • Clubs can customise their branding. 
  • Scale up only when clubs need to. 
  • Deploy to iOS & Android. 
  • Potential to be live within four weeks. 
  • Deliver engaging content through the app feed. 
  • Segment, target and deliver content based on purchase data. 
  • Display real-time loyalty points and loyalty account balances. 
  • Wrap and enhance a mobile website. 
  • Harness the power of push notifications. 
  • Drive footfall, sales, traffic and conversion. 

FUSE can bring fan engagement benefits that are developed around loyalty. To build and sustain a fan base, Swan Retail helps to bring promotions to life. The app provides the go-to resource for planning and delivering promotional campaigns, leading to an increased rate of revenue. 

Clubs can bring across their creativity and connect with fans in a more personalised manner, whether it be game day or to provide greater access off the pitch. Swan Retail have partnered with Warrington Wolves Rugby Club, Ipswich Town Football Club and Stoke City Football Club who have already seen the following benefits: 

  • News, events, polls and promotions form the pivotal part of FUSE, making content the app’s bread and butter. This can be implemented further by integrating an online shop, which can be a post of a goal celebration during the match with a promotion applied to the player’s kit. 
  • Push notifications as a regularity can consistently bring fans to the app once they have been informed of new content, rewards and timely promotions that all contribute to driving sales. 
  • Loyalty points can be accrued to make fans feel part of something special and to be rewarded for their support. 
  • A website within the app to collaborate a fans’ online experience by seamlessly allowing them to browse and buy from a store without leaving the app. 
  • Calls-to-action as a way of offering new products such as kit releases and the ability to use redeem promotions and use rewards points. 
  • Custom forms can be created as a crowdsourcing tool to get feedback and insights from the people that make the club tick and learn more about how to maximise profits. 

To learn more about Swan Retail, and to have a read of their case studies, you can find it here. 

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