This time last year the opportunity arose to work with Luctonians.
Lucs needed an up to date website with a comprehensive CMS so that pages and content could be easily added and revised whenever the communications team needed to.
We developed a WordPress website with specific features the club could utilise. Features like upcoming fixtures, latest scores, results and league table. Unfortunately the previous website did not have and was unable to support Google Analytics. We have almost a clean slate to work with with regard to visits and web statistics. The previous website was built in Flash which 10+ years ago was a cutting edge platform. However it has since aged and it was time, Luctonians decided, to overhaul it.
A year is a long time
We have patiently waited a year to publish our case study. We agreed with the team at Lucs we would. From official launch last September to coincide with the start of the 2016 / 2017 season until the close of the season this April we would monitor the successes and failures of the website. Make ongoing improvements and assess usability throughout the 8 months. The website would be extensively tested ensuring everything the following season is vastly improved from this. Increasing traffic and creating as good as user experience as we can.
The reason? To both aid the club’s visibility in Google and making a website that compliments the sports club itself. We are well aware that Lucs are the highest ranked rugby club in Herefordshire. We were responsible for giving the club a professional, future-proof and modern website. One that reflects both what the club does on the field in all age groups and aspects of sporting activities.
As rugby fans it was a mixture of business and pleasure. Knowing what we felt works and doesn’t work on website’s of Premiership clubs allowed us to put together a website that we as fans find easy to use and navigate and as professionals knowing what the club needs and how to best execute this. This being imagery, social media, easily accessible information. Blended with a look of a high profile club. Showcasing the vast and diverse range of sponsors who help them be the club they are.
It was a great project to be involved with. Not only because of the stature of Luctonians but from a marketing point of view. We have strategies to draw in traffic and sales. This was made all the more easier (correction: enjoyable and less strenuous) as Luctonians are blessed with fans instead of customers. This was an interesting reversal to our methods. We focus on drawing people in with engaging content. However Luctonians have this engaging content en-masse. Visitors are using the website to mainly see how the rugby sides are progressing throughout the season. As well as what is happening at Mortimer Park.
From a marketing point of view we had to assess how to deliver this engaging content. In a way that the user is satisfied very quickly in both a search and reading point of view. User experience was paramount, as it is with all the marketing projects we execute. We just didn’t need to worry about producing the content. This was all readily available which was an absolute joy. We recommend publishing 4-8 blogs per month to any of our clients and for Luctonians you could easily double this. Great for Google, we just had to analyse when were the most engaging times to publish the posts. Ensuring we could readily establish in preparation for next season which pages would be best utilised to add links to events or sponsors messages which would benefit from the exposure.
As well as a thriving sports club, Luctonians is a business. It was important over these 12 months to review from a marketing and business point of view how we could help the club grow from one season to the next.
A decent improvement
You can see from the chart that the website was launched around August 2016, during this time the website was being indexed by Google. On the run up to Christmas 2016 there was a good average number of visits. However you can see after the Christmas break, there was a significant increase in traffic. This is where people were now familiar with the site, as well as Google. There is a healthy divide in new vs returning visitor. This means you have a loyal audience who are interested in coming back for more. Great for brands, as this means logos are being seen over and over. The website is being browsed by people too, so they are exploring, again useful for advertising. Over 26,000 visits in a 10 month period, averaging 2500 a month (more in the rugby season).
We also helped with a number of promotions within the club, producing artwork to be used both online and offline. Lucs had a volunteer recruitment drive to encourage new volunteers to fill roles. All the while thanking existing volunteers for the hard work they are already putting in. These are posted around the club in the hope that it catches somebody’s eye. Someone who is keen to get involved for this fantastic sports club. Other efforts include a #ReturnToRugby poster and a summer cricket camp. Plus anything else seasonal and relevant that helps promote the club and its events.
This is true to the social media following Luctonians has as well. It is natural that their following will grow season upon season as they will play new teams and host new events so these new interactions will happen through social media with a ‘Like’ on Facebook, a ‘Follow’ on Twitter or more recently we have included Google+ (if you’re going to succeed in Google, you need to embrace and use Google+) and YouTube as Lucs have a international, as well as national, following / fan base. The YouTube channel is obviously a great tool to upload the match day video shorts and highlight videos which we balance by selectively uploading certain videos direct to the website as web traffic is more important in attracting sponsors through figures than views on YouTube at present.
Though Google+ and YouTube are 2 exciting new additions to Luctonians which the team are embracing and beginning to use – another aspect of our involvement as marketing professionals by exploring areas the club can benefit from. The challenge was not simply publishing the same thing on all channels, but filtering what works best on each platform – broadcasting on Facebook, interacting on Twitter, showcasing on YouTube and pinging Google on Google+. Working with Greg at Luctonians we have been able to refine how each platform is utilised with a Social Media Strategy. This was embraced and executed and we hope that this will benefit the club as a whole as its implementation is ongoing. Working with Greg we have been able to ‘brand’ graphics for the club to use on match days and the build up to match day.
We hope that it will add an additional appeal to the club as well as inspiring everyone involved with the club. Here are just a few samples:
We have also created promotional videos and highlight reels to keep the audiences engaged appealing to all preferences on all platforms, whether this be written content, visual content or video content. Here is another sample:
We have also been able to help arrange a visit from Rugby Nats UK to record an episode featuring Luctonians in the 2017 / 2018 season. Rugby Nats UK is a privately owned, self-funded, social media platform created to provide a broadcasting service to promote “Grass Roots Rugby” across the leagues nationally.
We also helped run the Twitter account. Starting on December 1st we were able to help publicise events at the club, results, fixtures and anything else we felt we could express to their Twitter following, which, when we took over, was a fantastic 2260 and during our involvement we have been able to grow this considerably to 2550. Over the course of this 8 month period to today (225 days) we have achieved an incredible 1 follower per day (1.3 to be exact!). Is doesn’t seem like much, but when you are solely broadcasting what the club is doing (no paid advertising, no nonsensical #FollowBack hashtags, this just shows what a great club it is and what a broad appeal it has.
We’ll continue to grow this following and we hope to be one of the biggest League 2 north clubs in a Twitter sense one day. It’s been a good start and is something to build on in the future.
Toward the end of the season we tried to keep the interest going by holding a ‘Follow & Retweet’ competition on Twitter, giving away a signed book by referee Nigel Owens who we approached via Twitter for the prize also.
Blending every element from Luctonians extensive communications team we have a wealth of material that we bring together on the new website. Match day photographers, match reporters, social media managers, team news, team selections, captain’s write ups and match previews. Undertaking everything a Premiership team would do – not on a smaller scale, just on a lower level of rugby. We do whatever we can from a digital management aspect and the players do what they can on the pitch. We all aspire to be big – and both we and Lucs share that aspiration.
As Lucs so elegantly put it themselves – they are:
‘a big little club or a little big club!’
We are both proud and excited to be involved with Luctonians. They have so much going on and it’s up to us to channel and filter these multitude of goings-on and deliver it in a manner that is easily accessible, structured and user friendly. The website is a real labour of love for us. We have major modifications to undertake throughout the summer in preparation for the 2017/2018 season while throughout the last seaon we have been tweaking elements as and when we feel could be improved. Our role was not to help increase revenue within the club but instead help restructure processes and improve the website on an on-going basis. We hope that our work will inspire more sponsors, volunteers, players and ‘fans’ to be involved with the club which in turn helps grow and support the club.
We also designed a full colour 20 page A5 newsletter in the form of a booklet which Luctonians sent out to sponsors and supporters alike, helping them build upon what they have done in the past both in a visually appealing and professional manner. We are particularly proud of our final offering for the 2016 / 2017 season and if the #LucsFamily are impressed – and furthermore talking about our efforts and the club as a whole, then we can rest easy knowing that we have had a meaningful contribution to the growing success of this great club.
Equally as important to us as a business is the involvement and growth of clubs we are involved with. As well as Luctonians we work with Belmont Wanderers, Greyhound RFC and potentially Ledbury RFC and are always keen to expand so if you are involved in a sports club or society you would like The DM Lab to be partners with and you can see the value we can add, please get in touch!