By Beau Clements
The digitisation of your football club can be a strenuous task, but it doesn’t need to be! Below are a few steps and ideas to ensure greater fluidity in the transition, or incorporation of online services within your football club.
First things first, people need to know that they have the option, or need to use an online variant of a service for kit, registration among other aspects of football life. In this instance, we will use the example of a club uniform shop switching to an online platform. We recommend a transition phase, in which a hybrid online AND in-person platforms are available to users. This allows the club to build awareness of your new online platform, by informing those still using the physical shop that it will not be around for much longer. Signs around your clubhouse, the stands and seating areas are all great ideas to just remind your club members that you are transitioning away from the physical shop and into a digital one. The transition phase also allows the club to trial and error, troubleshoot, and rectify any underlying issues with the online space before you fully commit to a solely online space.
Social media is your best friend
Tying in with awareness, is social media. Your club members aren’t visiting the club every day of the week to get up-to-date with the latest news. What they are doing is scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram. Utilise these social media platforms to provide updates as to when the shop will/if it is closing and promote the new website at the same time. Platforms like Instagram also offer a shop feature for business pages, so you can also use these platforms to advertise uniforms and sell them on Instagram if you tie this into your online shop.
The ability for your audience to smoothly transition from a physical to digital space can make the world of difference in your club members experience, and the success of the transition to an online platform. The most important choice is choosing the correct platform to host your online shop, whether that be within your club website, a pre-made template such as Shopify, or starting from scratch if you have the know-how to do so. Tying in with our previous point, it is vital that you spread the word of this change to your online platform, so that club members are aware of the new online space. If this is within a different website to your club website, be sure to link to it, as well as plastering the site over the club headquarters, social media sites, and around the grounds to ensure coverage and awareness of your new site.
Club website as the hub
Your club website should encompass all things digital, a real one stop shop. Using the example of Marayong FC, a football club in Sydney’s west, you want a clean and smooth experience for users, who can easily identify AND navigate what they want out of the website. Although Marayong does not offer an online uniform shop, their other subsections of the club site are easy to pick out – such as ground closures, partners, and registration. Having a crisp website with images of your players, beautiful graphic design, and an easy to digest layout gives your club the best chance at success for visitors to navigate. It also delivers a sense of professionalism when your website is well set out and will reflect well for your club in comparison to other clubs.
A strong online presence can also interlink sponsorships and partners and further boost engagement. Posting shoutouts and advertisements of your local sponsors, including any deals and promotions they are running, is a great way to utilise your online platforms. This idea not only strengthens the ties between your club and its sponsors, but you also are advertising your online space to other potential sponsors and partnerships further down the track. A club with great online traffic is far more likely to entice businesses into sponsorships and having that data from your online platforms could go a long way to secure vital funding for your football club.
Whilst many clubs have already entered the digital space in some capacity, these tips should allow your club to strengthen its ability to utilise digital media to boost engagement, revenue, and participation.