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The Dutch Eredivisie: 3 opportunities to improve webshops (attempting to stay alive…)

The club season 2009-2010 has ended and the internationals are getting prepared for the world championship in South-Africa. In the Netherlands, this football year can be classified as the year of the financial problems. Correlating with the financial trouble al over the world, also the Dutch soccer business has a hard time currently to survive. Expenditures are transcending the incomes on a monthly base due to declining sponsor revenues and saturated television fees on the one hand, and long-term salery dues for the players on the other hand. Traditional as the directors in this industry are, one keeps ignoring the eBusiness opportunities that are out there.

In their search for gaining extra money in the market, the 18 football clubs from the Dutch Eredivisie came together a couple of months ago to discuss the opportunities. Some market penetration options were mentioned, by installing cameras in the dressingrooms to eleborate on the television money-source. Market growth – ofcourse – was mentioned, because one in Europe nowadays seems to anxiously aim for expansion in China when growth limitations are evolving in the home country. But instead of promoting Dutch football clubs of the Eredivisie in Asia, Africa or South-America, one should consider business development possibilities that are much more close to home: the club’s website.

My colleague Chris Takkenberg recently wrote about optimizations for municipality websites that were discovered during our Webscan to 25 municipalities. In line with this branche scanning we adapted our Webscan to the professional soccer industry, and scanned all the 18 Eredivisie clubs of the 2009-2010 season. Also here, the results were disappointing. Generally speaking there are 30% on opportunities (with a total of 250 factors of analyses) that are not covered on their websites. This means that clubs poorly support there fans in acquiring clubwear or other merchandizing online, resulting in a far from optimal online revenue model. Kind of a paradox to ignore such sales opportunities when you’re struggling to acquire revenues to survive. 3 factors that clubs should give immediate attention to:

Promote your product: Most clubs in the Eredivisie sell products online in an online fanshop. Though, in many cases this fanshop is hardly visible. Promote it on the homepage; place here banners and direct links, set up campaigns and sales promotions in order to bring the fan to the shop. Most fans enter the website to read match reports or watch the player pictures but a small percentage also navigates to the fanshop while it is just a few clicks away.

Personalize: Fans are comming with ten-thousands a day to the clubs’ website. An amount where many webshops are dreaming of. Though, they are ‘welcomed’ by the club online as fan #9564 rather than “Hello Jop, what a great win our team made yesterday, they are worldclass heros. Have a pleasant day, and check out our new away-kit for next season”. Such personal pages will certaintly boost the online rev’s.

Linkbuilding with fan(sites): Nowadays, every fan has there own website / weblog / facebook / twitter etc. Enhance your website traffic with links from these domains. Furthermore, for some clubs the official fan websites enjoy more attention as the club’s website, where the sale should occur. Fan websites are mostly eager to cooperate with the club, as they all share the same loyalty to it. Use this loyalty online, in order to improve traffic to the online fanshop.

I will be pleased to receive your thoughts on this topic in the comment section below.

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