Voetbalmedia uses martech from SAS to better engage with 1.4 million football players and enthusiasts
Increase user activity and retention on mobile and web platform
personalized emails per year
SAS® Customer Intelligence 360 helps Dutch football platform improve user reach and participation through unique offers and experiences
Football is one of the most popular sports in the world, particularly in the Netherlands, where thousands of amateur football clubs are active year-round. To support these leagues, more than a million people turn to Voetbal.nl.
Operated by Voetbalmedia, Voetbal.nl is the platform for amateur footballers in the Netherlands with more than 1.4 million users, including players, coaches, referees, administrators, and parents of young athletes. Users can view personal statistics, team statistics and the standings of local teams. They can also upload videos and connect with other local footballers.
As subsidiary of the Royal Dutch Football Association, KNVB, Voetbalmedia maintains the voetbal.nl website, app, email program and all marketing technology (martech) campaigns. To improve user reach and participation, Voetbalmedia wanted to take a more personalized approach.
“We want to serve our platform users, including the club representatives, players and advertisers, in a more relevant way – not only with results and standings, but with everything they want to know,” says Felix van der Kooi, Director of Voetbalmedia.
Due to the wide variety of users, Voetbalmedia struggled to provide unique, targeted messaging. A trainer has different informational needs than a manager, for example. Additionally, users often fit into multiple categories. For instance, someone might be a football player in an adult league while also serving as a coach for his child’s youth football team. Voetbalmedia wanted to provide role-based information to better meet each individual’s unique needs.
Voetbalmedia began the search for a customer data platform and martech solution that would offer a single view of all user data, including membership data and web behavior. It selected SAS Customer Intelligence 360, which helps marketing teams use data at a granular level and create customized content and interactive messages across channels.
We want to serve our platform users, including the club representatives, players and advertisers, in a more relevant way – not only with results and standings, but with everything they want to know. Felix van der Kooi Director Voetbalmedia
Targeted marketing that meets privacy guidelines
Prior to implementing SAS Customer Intelligence 360, Voetbalmedia was using SAS software for its data selection as well as a separate email marketing software for creating and sending newsletters. Unfortunately, this process created both operational inefficacies and data privacy concerns.
“You are constantly uploading and downloading data, which increases the chance of errors,” Van der Kooi explains. This problem became more pressing as the GDPR was introduced, because it is difficult to guarantee privacy when customer data is spread across different systems. “That is almost impossible to do and, moreover, the distribution of data is not at all desirable,” he continues.
SAS Customer Intelligence 360 as a holistic martech suite offered an all-in-one solution. “By working with an integrated environment, we can set everything up much more robustly and simply according to the guidelines of privacy by design,” Van der Kooi says.
Additionally, ease of use has vastly improved. In the past, Voetbalmedia outsourced much of its technical work, such as creating marketing target groups. Now those tasks can be done quickly in SAS Customer Intelligence 360.
Personalized recommendations for users
Adding email personalization provided an immediate benefit for Voetbalmedia and Voetbal.nl users. The company has 360,000 opt-ins for its newsletter, and before using SAS, it was sending out separate newsletters for each audience. Now Voetbalmedia has the capability to send one weekly e-mail to all recipients with tailor-made information. For example, if you are a referee and driver, you will receive just one email with all the information tailored to these specific roles.
To increase website and app usage, Voetbalmedia measures how individuals use the platform and proactively points out new possibilities.
“If we see someone logging into the website every week and manually looking for the results and standings in their competition, we can tell them that they can create a favorite team, and then they will automatically end up on the right page for the specific information they’re interested in,” Van der Kooi explains.
These personalized recommendations improve the user experience and promote more time on the Voetbal.nl platform.
“Sometimes we even make complete customer journeys that consist of multiple emails that respond to behavior,” Van der Kooi says. “We want to increase total users within teams and clubs, because we have a number of features that only add value when a large part of the team is using Voetbal.nl. For instance, the transportation functionality for planning rides to games works best when the whole team participates.”
Voetbalmedia – Facts & Figures
app screen views per month
personalized emails per year
Determining the right time, right approach, right content
The data collected by Voetbal.nl is also increasingly used by KNVB.
“Think of themes such as recruiting new trainers and referees,” Van der Kooi says. “For example, we can see in our database when a player from the first team goes down a step. We know that person now has more time because they’re going to train less. That’s the right time to approach someone to become a trainer or referee.”
Advertisers find value in the accurate target group selections, too. Because the media landscape for this target group is so fragmented, advertisers can find it challenging to reach amateur footballers. However, Voetbal.nl responds by offering relevant, personalized content.
“Advertisers do not send out mass emails to the entire group of football fans,” Van der Kooi says. “Instead, they can target individuals in a relevant and meaningful way.”
Leading the way and looking ahead
Voetbalmedia continuously monitors the developments with Voetbal.nl to find innovative new ways to reach footballers. And sports associations at home and abroad are keeping an eye on its achievements.
“The KNVB leads the way internationally in approaching members in a personalized way,” Van der Kooi says. “By facilitating everything around amateur matches, we ensure that the amateur football player can enjoy the sport to the fullest. The football experience improves by offering personalized statistics and content. Due to the large reach that we generate for KNVB partners and advertisers, we have been independently ensuring positive participation and further development of Voetbal.nl for years, and that’s something that we are quite proud of.”