How Football Can Influence Your Digital Marketing Strategy

Digital Marketing Strategy

10 years ago, we were talking in terms of “hits” and “impressions“… then came along the question, “What exactly is a hit?” Needless to say, the dying artform of quoting “1 million hits a day” quickly disappeared as most marketeers relegated this term due to the fact it simply counted downloaded images…

Saying that, I do still receive advertising enquiries from companies quoting “hits“…. which is usually answered with a stifled yawn and a dialing tone.

2013, we talk in terms of unique visitors as a benchmark for calculating the popularity of a website… or ‘followers‘ in terms of our social media credibility. Relevant terms, potentially, for within the marketing department, but what do these terms mean to the Financial or Managing Director? Diddly Squat!

I’m highly favourable towards relating marketing terminology to that found on the football pitch… so, follow me through the following example.

Here Comes The Football Link… Honest!

Football team City United have an average homegate of 10,000 for a league match…. 5,000 for a cup tie and 500 for a reserve game. It’s the 2nd Round of the Tin Pot Trophy and they’ve been drawn at home against Seaside Town, based 200 miles away. Not exactly a derby… Now, in order to try and draw a crowd of 5,000 which is usual for a cup tie the Chairman decides to put the prices down to £10 from the usual £20 to try and draw in a decent crowd.

Lo and behold …. due to the decrease in ticket price 7,500 paying fans show up…. not quite the revenue drawn from a league game, but needless to say, better than expected.


  1. The manager decides to put out the equivalent of a reserve team
  2. Those that do show up are fairweather fans who aren’t exactly living and breathing their local football team
  3. The players are disinterested as there’s no particular passion around the ground
  4. Most players have their mind on the league game at the weekend
  5. It’s cold
  6. It’s raining
  7. You get the picture

… and finally, the all important NUMBERS. City United lost 3-0 and the 7,500 that did show up, go home grumbling “never again”.

The reason for this football analogy?

Whilst 7500 paying spectators showed up, this has had a negative impact on the club. Why?

  • A large proportion of them will not even bother showing up next time even if the ticket price is £5.00

Now, relate this to your own website and your marketing strategy…

  • Are you spending 10p on clicks from irrelevant terms in the hope that people may just buy?
  • Are you wasting time hitting your database with emails just for the sake of ‘getting this months email out’?
  • Are you employing cheap blackhat SEO tactics to drive traffic with little relevance to your site offering?
  • Are you building Twitter followings of users from far away places who are simply doing the exact same thing?

The numbers that matter are the sales revenue figures, leads generated and enquiries off of the back of your promotions and the all important ROI & conversion figures.

Numbers themselves mean nothing to anybody unless they’ve backed up by core business values…

The next time you tell your MD about the site impressions or twitter followers or facebook friends your marketing tactics have generated, be prepared to justify them in terms that the business owner wants to hear and understands.

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About Ian Rhodes

Heartily sharing insight and advice, based on my own experience, that will help you get more out of your digital marketing endeavours.

Doing the Digital thing since 1996.

  • Azlan Raj

    Great post Ian. I think it’s also important to point out that not only does retention reduce due to the lack of “quality traffic” in this analogy, but also:

    1) The direct ROI alone for the decrease in price vs the additional customers (without the cost of marketing to inform them of the price drop) is negative in comparison to the original pricing.

    2) City Utd’s Brand perception is damaged altering its positioning with the fair weather fans.

    3) Being less passionate, these fans are less likely to buy additional merchandise which reduces the usual cross sell/upsell income.

    Moral: Be targeted in your marketing and keep you long term strategy in mind! Don’t sacrifice your vision for a tactical solution they may not work short term and will definitely have a negative impact in the longer term!

    • Ian Rhodes

      Absolutely, Azlan. Particularly agree with your comment regarding short-term tactics vs long-term strategy. This is commonplace across retailers offering voucher codes for £x off when you spend. Customers become accustomed to voucher discounts and when they’re pulled from a site, there’s no correlation with customer loyalty to ensure repeat business.