Brand Engagement, Digital, Digital & Media, Future Trends, Partnerships, Sport Business | Nov 29, 2019
Olympique Lyonnais and Salesforce lift the lid on an integrated, data-driven approach to fan and sponsorship engagement.

Olympique Lyonnais and Salesforce lift the lid on an integrated, data-driven approach to fan and sponsorship engagement.

The 2015/16 season was a transformative one for French Ligue 1 side Olympique Lyonnais.

On the pitch, Paris Saint-Germain cemented their dominance with a fourth consecutive league title. Lyon finished second, a full 21 points behind. But off the pitch, Lyon became the first club in French football to be operating out of a 100% privately owned stadium – the 60,000-seater Groupama Stadium, the centrepiece of a growing multi-purpose development on the outskirts of the city.

It was also the year that the club began what has become one of the most fruitful multi-platform digital engagement and database projects in global sport, using Salesforce to implement a new ‘fans first’ strategy.

Olympique Lyonnais announced record revenues of €309 million for the 2018/19 financial year. That’s up 7% – or €19.6 million – year-on-year, and almost €100 million more than €218.1 million in total revenue from the 2015/16 season.

The club’s Deputy GM Harry Moyal and Salesforce’s Sports Lead for EMEA & UK Oliver Williams were on hand at the Leaders Sport Business Summit in London this October to explain how an innovative and data-driven approach to fan and sponsor engagement has led to a significant uptick in revenue, a broader base of current and potential customers, and a solid platform from which to push on.

“If I have to give you one piece of advice, it’s to adopt a very basic segmentation.”

“Our vision is to try to capture and leverage the fan data into personalised offerings to enhance the fan experience,” explains Moyal, who joined the club in June 2015, and began working closely with Salesforce on strategy and tech integration almost immediately. “The idea was to try to capture the data and develop a 360-degree view of each of our fans on four main areas. The first is basic demographic and socio-economic data – name, age, gender, contact details, professional data and if we can get them family status, because it has an impact.

“The second way is how fans are interacting with our marketing – how do they respond to our emails, push, which channels did we acquire them from; what type of client is it – B2B or B2C; everything transactional – ecommerce sales, physical store sales, ticketing and attendance history; whether or not they’re using the wifi when they’re coming as well as all the behaviour – relationship with club media, interaction on social networks, of course browsing data, web, mobile and app; and geo-tracking data. As much as we can get to get a better holistic picture of our fans. We tried to use this knowledge to develop personalised, customised offers for each of the fans.”

A step-by-step integration process has led to a point at which, today, Olympique Lyonnais is using Salesforce’s Sales Cloud as its principal CRM, Salesforce’s Service Cloud for all customer service interactions, and Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud for marketing campaigns across social, email, SMS and push.

“The Saleforce platform, rather uniquely, does the B2B side of the football business and it does the B2C side of the football business as well,” explains Williams. “If we take B2C first, where Olympique Lyonnais started on this journey a few years ago was through mass market communication and they talked about reaching an upper ceiling of 25 million emails sent in a year. They realised that even if they doubled that kind of volume they wouldn’t see return on investment and they started to realise that actually their fans would get far more frustrated by having non-personalised interaction. That’s where the Salesforce platform has helped them. They know loads more about their fans; their marketing teams have that data at their fingertips; they have a fantastic fan segmentation, and it allows them to personalise all of the interactions across all of the channels.”

Customer segmentation has been the key to driving success in fan reach, retention and revenue generation. Olympique Lyonnais have been collecting data from 15 significant touchpoints with their fans, and driving all of that information through Marketing Cloud to build out fan profiles to then target individualized messaging at those distinct segments.

“We have six levels or segments moving from prospect fan moving through to what we call the Very Important Fan,” explains Moyal. “It’s a simplified view so moving from being just a visitor to doing your first purchase to doing repeat purchases to cross selling different products and services we’re offering, to full monetisation of the fan. It’s not the most analytically profound segmentation, and that’s not because we don’t know how to do it. It’s because I’ve realised quite quickly that it would be very difficult for my marketing and digital team to own the segmentation if it was too abstract. So the idea was to make it as simple as possible for them to understand how you move from one step to the other. That’s the way it eased the transformation and change management internally. If I have to give you one piece of advice, it’s to adopt a very basic segmentation.”

Combined investments in technology platforms, including IT infrastructure, in-venue wifi, and points of sale in the stadium, as well as an expansion of the digital team to 15 full-time executives and an uplift in the marketing department headcount too speak to a full-scale digital transformation project.

The results have been striking. The club now has 900,000 B2C clients in its database, including 180,000 new clients brought into the database last year. The club’s membership programme, MyOL, has 40,000 paying members; and there are 13,000 companies – B2B clients – in the database too.

I think today we have engaged 80% of the targeted audience we were thinking about at the start of the programme,” says Moyal. “In terms of the ROI, outside the revenue from TV and player sales, we have moved from 50 million to 100 million in revenues.”

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