Back in the Champions League on the field, Olympique de Marseille is also approaching the European elite for digital power, riding on a strong brand and a large community of fans. A discreet but crucial revolution.
There is the Velodrome, the boiling public or the big-eared cut. But the club also has “a real treasure: the hundreds of thousands of data that OM produces every day,” said OM president Jacques-Henri Eyraud.
“The transformation of businesses is going digital. This is also the case for football clubs,” added the director, who, for example, published a remarkable column on May 24 on the social network LinkedIn.
“OM have made a big mess and have recruited a lot to focus on digital” (digital), confirms Lawrence Joye, marketing specialist at Lagardère Sports. “And the OM brand is very strong, that is the main asset.”
The most visible change in the general public has taken place in the media. No more club TV, outdated model according to many observers. The giant of Marseille offers a wide variety of content on very different media.
OM is counting on an audience of 13 million followers by combining its “followers” from different social networks.
“We do not post the same content on these platforms, explains marketing and media director, Hervé Philippe. TikTok has a very young audience, Facebook is a more general target, Twitter a more active and engaged community …”
With its new digital tools, the club can also “geotag content”, he adds, write Wolof to Senegalese fans or offer offers to Shanghai supporters for the Chinese New Year.
OM have also completely rebuilt and digitized their ticket office, in order to best fill their stadium with last minute offers.
“Before, we sent up to 300,000 people the same offer + an adult seat bought a free child seat +, to people who had already bought tickets or who were not parents at all,” explains Frédéric Cozic, “Head of digital transformation “of the club, the manager of the technical part.
The results are tangible, the Vélodrome has turned to 53,000 spectators on average this season. “By targeting better, we are more efficient in sales,” says Cozic.
But for Lawrence Joye, “the real novelty, and the biggest issue, is CRM”, or “customer relationship management”, customer knowledge, thanks to “all the + data fan + that we can collect”.
“We can send a + push + (an alert on mobile, editor’s note) of reduction on the second jersey to the one who often buys the outfit. The one who is a subscriber, we will not push him + a reduction on a match ticket”, lists Joye.
The word “client” is a bit scratchy for the purists, but the end goal remains to enrich OM. The first four years of the McCourt-Eyraud duo ended up in deficit, the sanction of the UEFA financial fair play will fall, but these were “the essential investments”, repeats JHE, and the second phase begins.
Player data analyzed
Admittedly, the economic levers activated by this digitization are still far from freeing up fortunes as in Bayern Munich, one of the models.
“But if you do like OM more than 20 million euros in ticket sales per year, scratching 1%, it starts to make more money,” says Cozic.
The fifty million to buy the “great attacker” dreamed of by the Vélodrome “will not come directly from there, but multiplying these small streams will make bigger rivers,” he prophesies.
Other contributions are more indirect. The sponsor Uber Eats, a player in the new economy, has also joined OM because “he is no longer just looking for visibility at the stadium or on the jersey, but is very interested in our massive digital community”, explains Hervé Philippe.
Finally, digital also affects athletes, within a “football analytics” entity created this season. The physical or medical data of the players, of the pros at the training center, are collected and analyzed.
To manage everything together, from marketing to sports, OM signed a strategic partnership with the Amazon Web Service (AWS) platform last year.
The next step is the release, delayed by the pandemic, of an OM application for smartphones “very innovative”, promises Cozic. In Marseille, the digital revolution is underway.