When people talk about tech in sport, they think about the high-tech announcement systems in big US stadiums, the huge infrastructure that powers the TV networks and the powerful advertising tools, modern apps and score keeping systems that large clubs and organisations use.
It’s easy for players and coaches at local level, (getting muddy on a Saturday with shivering spectators!) to forget that a sports club is about so much more than the game itself these days and increasingly a basic knowledge of modern online tools can help even smaller clubs engage with their audiences, increase their appeal to sponsors and raise much needed funds.
Here’s some useful tools that even small clubs can take advantage of:
It may not be number one on a start-up clubs list, but you will be amazed at how the right website can help your image, grow your fan base, increase the quality of sponsors and boost ticket sales.
While smaller clubs will often engage ‘so and so’s Dad’ to build the club website on a free platform with a subdomain, a proper domain can cost as little as £5.00 a year and should be a priority.
Don’t be tempted to skimp – if you really can’t raise funds to pay for a professional web developer, see if you can reduce the cost in exchange for match tickets or advertising on the club ground.
A professional website will usually mean one that works better, with features that engage your fans depending on the sport, for example, sharing an online bowls game, watching recent football and cricket matches, sharing player interviews or sharing online golf tips using video. Depending on the sport and level, there’s always at least one way to make it more interactive and personal to your club.
Adding an incoming RSS feed system to your website is an easy way to increase the content for your site. For example, a feed could enable you to offer a single place to catch up on news for your sport, share local news and make your site somewhere people want to visit frequently.
Likewise, creating your own external RSS feed would enable your club’s news to be effortlessly shared on other sites. This boosts engagement, increases fans and improves your club’s image.
An online newsletter, done professionally using designed-for-purpose software will enable your sports club to offer advertising space to club sponsors, as well as better engaging with your members and players. To do this, you will need to collect email addresses and keep them in accordance with GDPR rules.
The good news is you don’t need to be a marketing professional to achieve professional results these days. Modern software tools like Mailchimp and Constant Contact allow someone with minimal training to get really good results, the learning curve isn’t terribly steep and there are lots of free tutorials online – and they have GDPR functions built in.
Getting sign ups to your mailing list
While getting software to send out the newsletters is only half the battle – you will need to have people to send newsletters to!
If someone in the club is willing to lend or buy you a tablet, tools like Mailchimp have a corresponding app that you can use to capture willing subscriber details electronically while they are queueing to come to the game. It doesn’t need to be a modern tablet, it just needs a wifi connection and signal.
The beauty of using the electronic sign up form is that the data is captured in a GDPR compliant way, they can unsubscribe or opt out anytime they want to, and it looks incredibly smart and professional, boosting the club’s image. Unlike paper forms, there is no extra admin to be done after the game, the data is held privately and securely and once they sign up, they are subscribed to your list there and then!
Smaller clubs can be quite informal, but often eventually become a Charity or a CIC, which can be problematic when it comes to record keeping, which needs to be highly accurate.
Using accounts software to track everything will make it much easier to comply with accounting duties and will help the club treasurer provide the information auditors may need.
These days it goes without saying that your club will benefit from using social media platforms to engage with followers, but there’s a difference between just ‘being’ on social media and building an audience.
Social media training will really help, but if there’s no budget for that, follow other clubs in your sport and see what they do, and learn from it.
There are so many more advanced ways that clubs can harness tech hardware and software as the club grows in size and reputation, but these recommended tools are a great place to get your club online with a minimal budget and a professional outlook – enabling you to give your small club a big online presence.