RFU turns to data to enhance revenues

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) is overhauling how it gathers data on fans as it looks to help clubs boost their non-matchday revenues and give commercial partners more insight on fans.

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The RFU is launching a new CRM initiative to enhance fan engagement and boost the revenues it can invest back into the game.

The organisation is working with new corporate partner IBM to gain a more holistic view of rugby fans by implementing a CRM platform that will offer a single customer view of rugby fans across the country for the first time. Currently the RFU has several separate databases containing different levels of data about fans, which it says has made it difficult to track customers and develop integrated commercial strategies.

The aim is member clubs will use the data to target new and existing fans with ticket promotions as well as create integrated marketing campaigns across their retail and corporate hospitality channels to generate revenue on non-matchdays. It will also be shared with sponsors to encourage them to invest more in the sport, although the RFU is currently in discussions with regulators over how much data it can share.

Unlike the Premier League, where a global fan base and multi-million broadcast deals drive commercial revenues, the most-known Rugby Clubs are reliant on ticket sales for revenue.

Sophie Goldschmidt, chief commercial officer at the RFU, told Marketing Week the organisation hopes the initiative will accelerate a move away from this traditional business model by identifying new revenue streams.

She adds: “We have a huge amount of information about various fans and customers but didn’t feel we were being strategic enough about how we were utilising that data to garner better insight and make sure that there was real consistency across the whole organisation. The insight will be valuable to partners but how we allow them to actually utilise the data is still being discussed.”

Rugby clubs including Harlequins are looking to mirror the way Premier League clubs such as Liverpool and Manchester United have commercial revenues as their main source of income.

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