Newcastle United implements software to understand Toon Army better

Football club’s marketing teams are using data analysis software to give them a better picture of what supporters like off the field

Newcastle United Football Club is using data analysis technology and services so that it can understand its supporters better and make more targeted offers to them.

While football manager Rafa Benitez is tasked with keeping fans entertained and engaged with on-field activity, the club’s marketing department is using software to improve off-field engagement with fans.

With the average home match at St James’ Park attracting 50,000 supporters and thousands more fans following the team around the country, the club has invested in Qlik Sense data analysis software from Qlik to help it understand their demands.

The software helps marketing teams to understand and act upon trends. The club contracted Newcastle-based IT services firm Technology Services Group (TSG) to roll out the technology and provide data science expertise.

Chris Scott, data and insight manager at Newcastle United, said the club wanted to gain a deeper understanding of its fan base. 

“We wanted to be able to offer them a more bespoke experience, depending on what they enjoy doing while they’re at the stadium,” he said. “We also wanted to vastly improve our online communication methods so we could provide our fans with much more relevant, targeted and regular information.”

First, the club had to “cleanse” its existing data, said Scott. And getting the data up to date was vital if the club was to target fans appropriately.

“For example, we had 400,000 people on our database without dates of birth, which meant we couldn’t target specific demographics,” said Scott. 

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After updating the data, the club implemented Qlik Sense data visualisation software to help it see trends.

“What Qlik Sense allows us to do is spot hidden trends within our data, which will prove incredibly helpful in our marketing,” said Scott.

“I can now create very specific mailing lists in less than five minutes. This could be using data that is all over the place. For example, I can say, ‘I’d like to see the attendance of 24 different matches by age band’. Previously, I’d have had to spend a couple of hours re-coding the data to see that. Now I can build a chart in a few seconds which gives me a very clear picture.”

The club faced a particular challenge this year after being relegated from the Premier League. “Being in the Championship, we need to raise our fans’ excitement again, and we have a massive opportunity to do that now,” said Scott. “Having Rafa [Benitez] stay on as manager has helped too, of course.”

It is vital to have expertise alongside the software, said Scott, so TSG is providing ongoing support. “Data is a science, and to get the best results, you have to work with people who know what they’re doing and can ask the right questions from your data,” he said.

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