Hawthorn Football Club

Our club has always been one to take the lead and be ahead of the game and Salesforce supports us to be more innovative with our data and how we engage with fans.”

Sophie Szabo | Head of Events and Special Projects


days of admin eliminated per week


Hawthorn Football Club stays ahead of the game with Salesforce

Founded in 1902, Hawthorn Football Club is a professional Australian rules football club that competes in the Australian Football League (AFL). The Victorian-based club is a leader on and off the pitch and is known as the Family Club because of its support for its fans and the wider community.

Hawthorn’s engagement with fans and stakeholders such as sponsors is crucial to its ongoing success and it is transforming with Salesforce to make this engagement first-class. 

Discussing the decision to use Salesforce, Sophie Szabo, Head of Events and Special Projects at Hawthorn said that the club wanted a platform that would deliver a number of efficiencies and support more data-driven engagement. 

“Our club has always been one to take the lead and be ahead of the game and Salesforce supports us to be more innovative with our data and how we engage with fans,” said Szabo.

Creating a single source of truth

Hawthorn’s first step in its transformation was to replace its core CRM. The club’s data was previously siloed in spreadsheets and different systems and not always easily accessible to those who needed it.  

As the club looked for a new CRM, it wanted a platform that would help it achieve one single source of truth and leverage its data more effectively. It also wanted the ability to automate processes. It chose Salesforce because it enabled these capabilities and more. 

“We initially planned for a straight CRM replacement, but ultimately saw an opportunity to do more than that and integrate CRM and marketing,” said Dean Westaway, Manager, Information Technology and Facility at Hawthorn Football Club. “With the ongoing development of the platform and acquisitions like Tableau, we also saw Salesforce as a solution that would grow with us and support our future needs.”

Hawthorn has implemented Salesforce with the support from Skie Solutions and has integrated the platform with its other key systems for a single source of truth. This includes details of events and sponsorships, donations and bequests, and membership and ticketing data. The latter is held in a third-party database and was previously only available upon request, slowing down the club’s ability to send targeted communication.

Eliminating hours of administration

Hawthorn is now using Salesforce to create efficiencies across its operations. For example, the club has used Sales Cloud to streamline and automate processes surrounding the sales and management of events. This includes the creation of event bookings and  invoices as well as corporate ticketing. 

Ticketing alone once took as long as four hours per event and required a part-time resource. This was due to manual tasks like generating RSVP links to capture attendees’ details and dietary preferences. The on-premise system used to support these activities was also slow and cumbersome and could only process small blocks of information at a time. 

The process now takes less than two minutes per event with RSVP links and tickets generated automatically once payments are received. This represents a 99% decrease in the time it took previously and has saved approximately two days per week, removing the need for a part-time resource to manage event administration.  

Follow up emails are also sent automatically to those who don’t reply, reducing the admin burden on staff. All information related to sponsorships and events is also captured in Salesforce which makes it easy to report on. Salesforce Inbox helps with this process by connecting with Hawthorn’s Office 365 environment to track commercial conversations related to sales, sponsorships, and events. 

“When the team has their monthly catch up, all the information they need is easily within hand. They can review what was delivered in the previous month and be clear on what contract deliverables are coming up next,” said Westaway.

Enhancing member engagement

Hawthorn is now leveraging automation and its single view of the customer to enhance member engagement. For example, it is using Marketing Cloud to automate communications like welcome journeys for those who sign up to become a member. 

In the past, these emails were sent manually once or twice a week which meant someone might sign up on a Friday and not receive any communication until the following Tuesday. Now, new members receive an email right away which welcomes them into the Hawthorn family.  

Hawthorn is working on additional journeys to welcome other new contacts, such as those who sign up to its newsletter. It is also automating operational emails related to merchandising and payments. 

“Our focus has been on automating the communications that were taking up a lot of our time and we now have a foundation in place to work on the more exciting aspects of engaging with members,” said Westaway. 

Improving the timeliness of communication is a priority. This includes making information available to people when they want it as well as driving them to consume information at key moments. For example, with match day ticketing information, Hawthorn will be able to send members personalised offers as they are sitting in the stand. More timely, personalised communications such as these will not only lift engagement, but open up new commercial opportunities for the club and its sponsors. 

Meanwhile, Szabo said that the biggest benefit of Salesforce so far is the efficiency it has created for the team. “Salesforce is revolutionising how we work and has given everyone access to the same data which is huge. Our ambition is to now use that data to talk to our members and fans in real-time.”


Keep exploring stories like this one.

Questions? We’ll put you on the right path.

Ask about Salesforce products, pricing, implementation, or anything else — our highly trained reps are standing by, ready to help.