Gamification is at the heart of the new Premier Browser app for Everton FC, which sits as the highest rated sports app in the Android play store.
Premier Browser can be used across mobile and desktop devices, and enables users to earn credit to spend in the Everton FC club shop by buying from a wide range of retailers through the app. A percentage of the spend will also be donated to the club’s charity, Everton in the Community.
Its mission is to provide a browser that brings clubs closer to fans and sponsors. Fans get more out of browsing online, and the clubs get detailed reporting about what fans want, as well as when and where they are searching for it online.
The fan engagement technology behind the app is set to open up a new world of commercial opportunity for its clubs, while also providing much needed funds for the local community.
David Berney, CEO of Premier Browser, spoke exclusively to Future Sport.
“The idea was to create an engagement platform that brought both the commercial needs of the club and the supporters together. We looked at where the synergy was between the product and the user to come up with a reward based system.
“Premier League football was an obvious choice due its very passionate audience and of course its existing fanbase.
“The challenge was how could we build something that would give the fans something back.”
Premier Browser is available as an extension on Chrome, Safari, Firefox and Internet Explorer, as well as a proprietary browser on iOS and Android.
“The first part went live in January 2015, and we’ve got three more clubs going live soon. The second element is now working with the clubs to refine the offering and get it right.
“The key element to what we’re doing is that there’s no change in the user behaviour. All that happens is that the user is prompted with a ‘do you want to generate credit for the club store’ from a transaction.”
SEGMENTING CLUB’S FANBASE
As well as providing supporters with the opportunity to generate credit for them to spend at the club store, the app could provide additional digital sponsorship opportunities for clubs.
This would mean segmenting a club’s audience to offer relevant marketing to that demographic.
Berney added: “Say a club had a percentage of women between 25 and 35. A brand, say Toys R Us, could engage with just that part of the fanbase. It means that the club can offer something more relevant to a brand with a specific demographic, who are perhaps not wanting to spend to sponsor across the club’s entire fan base.
“Users can earn more points by sharing too, extending the sponsors reach in to family and friends, even if they aren’t interested in the football club.
“Everton have been brilliant. It’s a mutually beneficial offering for the club – for its fans, the foundation, the commercial side and the sponsors.
“It helps to engage fans with the community elements. There’s the story of Frank Bird, who put the roof on a small school that the charity was involved with, and he didn’t charge, he just did it to help the club he loves. Well through the app, if a fan was searching for a local roofer or whatever, then fans would find Frank and want to work with him because he’s helped the club and the local community.”
It is clear that Premier Browser are going to focus on perfecting their offering, in particular the gasification elements, rather than flood the market with their technology.
“Our focus is on getting the product right. We’re talking a lot to clubs and the sponsors, creating surveys and asking fans what they want.
“We’ve had huge engagement with the fans and we’re listening to them and then feeding back to the club. It’s the marriage of four circles that add value.
“What we learn from one club can help to enrich others.
“Another element is the ability to give regionalised rewards. The Asian fanbase is huge, but they aren’t going to be interested in tickets to matches. Instead, we can offer five or six prizes in the same campaign to different demographics, so we’re targeting the rewards to the audience.”
A recent signed shirt giveaway prompted 2299 entries. Of those, 39% shared on Facebook, 36% shared on Twitter, 20% invited a friend, 22% send the link via mobile and 14% sent it via the browser extension.
The average Android user browsing duration is six minutes 50 seconds, and 82% returning users.
Berney added: “We can take those figures forward. We’re talking to brands all the time to see what they want, asking them what kind of reporting they want. We want to know what is a fan’s dream offer.
“So far, we’re really happy with our work spreading through word of mouth. If you do a good job, you are rewarded. And we’ve got a great mechanism in place.”