London Irish Rugby Club targets fan engagement with Dynamics cloud CRM

London Irish Rugby Club has deployed Microsoft Dynamics cloud customer relationship management (CRM) tools to help analyse its fan-base data and drive ticket sales through targeted marketing.

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London Irish Rugby Club has deployed Microsoft Dynamics cloud customer relationship management (CRM) tools to help analyse its fan-base data and drive ticket sales through targeted marketing.

The club recently completed a refresh of its IT estate as part of a move to new training premises in Hazlewood, Surrey, including the replacement of its legacy CRM system with Microsoft’s software as a service tools. This will allow London Irish to “dissect” its CRM data on 60,000 fans more easily, indentifying individuals to target in email advertising.

“Now we are in a position where we can find a specific type of fan who has been to certain games - we can be a lot more specific,” said Richard Watton, operations manager at London Irish Rugby Club.  

“For example, two days before a match when it is cold and wet and ticket sales aren’t as high as we might like them to be, we will be able to look back at our old data and say ‘these people haven’t booked, but they did come last year’. So we can send them an email and see if they want to come again.”

He added: “We can personalise our communications to our fans. People get a lot of junk emails and if we can personalise it then there is much more chance that people are going to read it and interact with it.”

Watton said that Dynamics is easier to use than the previous CRM system, meaning that more of its 60 staff can interact with customer data.

“It will allow more staff to access the system. Ultimately if more people know how to use the system and are comfortable using the system, it allows us to be much more creative with our ideas.”

Hybrid cloud

As part of the IT overhaul led by Microsoft partner LeadingEdge, London Irish also deployed Microsoft’s Office365 cloud productivity tools to provide more flexibility to staff using laptops.

However, the club decided against moving all of its systems to the cloud, instead setting up on-premise infrastructure virtualised with Hyper-V and running Windows Server 2012 and Sage accounting software. 

Nevertheless, London was able to reduce its data centre footprint through greater resource utilisation, and can add software in future more easily.

“Through the use of the cloud and virtualisation we were able to make the size of the server room smaller, and we are now able to have a whole extra bank of desks where we would have had servers,” he said.

“The virtualisation gives a huge amount of flexibility going forward. At the moment we have our print server and Sage on-premise, but if we ever had the need to implement an SQL server we could do that now. What is great is that we don’t need to invest in more hardware because we have limited space."

Player analysis

As part of its IT modernisation plans, London Irish also introduced SportsCode video analysis software combined with GPS monitors to provide coaches with more data on player performance.

“On the back of each training shirt the players have a small patch where they have a GPS unit. From that we can work out a number of things such as how quickly they are running,” Watton said.

“It means that the coaches can get a lot more data and a lot more insight into how they can improve the players. We now have a lot more data on our athletes, which is very useful.”

Image credit: Pinacle Photography 

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