From hug-a-thons to birthday messages, Everton fans are treated to much more than great footballing action. We talked to Danny Harris, the club’s Senior CRM Manager, about how Everton has transformed fan engagement and Season Ticket retention with greater personalisation.


Why is Everton known as the People’s Club?

We have a reputation for really caring about our fans and the local community. We’re about to embark on the biggest community project in the club’s 140-year history. The People’s Project won’t just equip Everton with a new stadium, it will deliver a £1billion boost to the local economy, create new jobs, and deliver lasting change.

The Club is already heavily involved in supporting the city and its people through Everton in the Community, which offers more than 40 programmes covering a range of social issues, including health, employment, education, and disability. Both players and fans take part in Everton in the Community activities: for example, more than 200 supporters raised £40,000 and awareness about homelessness in Liverpool by joining a stadium sleepout in 2018. 


How do you make Everton’s supporters feel special?

We want to engage with fans throughout the week, not just during the 90 minutes when the team is on the pitch. We arrange a number of events involving players, such as the ‘Gomes hug-a-thon’ and create personalised moments for fans. For example, when a player’s shot hit a supporter in the stand last season, we sent them a signed shirt to say sorry.

Salesforce makes it easier for us to reach out to fans on an individual basis. We also use Marketing Cloud to personalise the messages sent to fans across different channels. All of these activities help to boost fan engagement and retention - the email click to open rate for the Gomes hug-a-thon was double the average.


How has a personalised approach transformed season ticket renewals?

The season ticket campaign is a massive undertaking involving more than 130,000 emails and 12,000 text messages. It’s a complex campaign for the marketing team and can be frustrating for the fans to receive multiple renewal reminders. We also used to send out thousands of direct mail items.

For the 2019/20 season, we transformed our approach focusing more on digital communications. With Salesforce, we were able to personalise emails based on the category and location of a fan’s Season Ticket and highlight the savings they would make by renewing. Thanks to a more personalised approach, we were able to be more efficient and get a better ROI from the campaign.

Email open and click through rates out-performed previous season ticket campaigns resulting in £1.64 million worth of email conversions compared with £1.06 million for the previous year. Our season ticket retention rates are always good but we hit a new high of 96.7%, with many fans renewing a lot earlier.


How have you simplified online engagement?

We need fans to submit their details to register for events and to join the Season Ticket Waiting List. People don’t always have time to fill in lots of information, so we want to make the process as easy as possible.

By using the CloudPages app within Marketing Cloud, fans can now just click on a photo of their preferred stand to indicate where they want to sit and then confirm their registration. This approach coupled with a ‘one click waiting list’ campaign resulted in 4,000 new signups for 2019/20, taking the total people waiting for a Season Ticket to a record high.


How do you know if you are meeting fans’ expectations?

Campaign metrics are great for measuring the effectiveness of our marketing efforts, but the biggest success indicator for us is fan feedback.

When a fan receives a personalised email about a new signing or a message from a player to wish them happy birthday, we receive a fantastic response on email and social media. It’s often the highlight of their day. This personal touch is particularly appreciated by fans that are not based in the city – it makes them still feel part of the Everton family.


What’s next on the CRM radar?

We’ve already achieved a huge amount in terms of automation, segmentation and personalisation – the ability to add dynamic content to emails has saved us a huge amount of time.

We now want to bring greater personalisation to how we communicate with fans via our app, for example sending travel updates on a home match day. We also want to integrate Service Cloud and Marketing Cloud to give us a 360-degree view of the fan journey. Our Salesforce Customer Success Manager helps to pinpoint new opportunities, and we’ve participated in a couple of Accelerators too. Salesforce is a building block that we can keep adding to.


By taking time to understand its fans better, Everton can deliver moments that matter to more people. Find out more about how the club is top of the league for fan engagement in the full customer story: Everton FC stays on the ball with Salesforce.