Since bursting onto the American Major League Soccer scene in 2009, Sounders FC has engaged, inspired and delighted its fiercely loyal fan base. With an average of nearly 45,000 rabid fans at every game, the Sounders not only lead the MLS in attendance, they outdraw all but three Major League Baseball teams. With such a strong and active fan base, everything the club creates for its supporters receives intense scrutiny—including its mobile apps.
To shape the mobile app strategy for Sounders FC, POP conducted surveys, engaged fans on the Sounders FC Facebook page, reviewed hundreds of comments, examined fan-generated Flickr photos and invited supporters to participate in focus groups with our creative and strategy teams. We learned that fans craved a way to connect with the team and to access club information anywhere, at any time and on any mobile platform. .
The Game Plan
In response, we created apps for iOS, Android and Windows phones to surface the content requested most often. Each app is tailored to take advantage of the unique attributes of each platform and provide relevant information before, during and after each match. Pre-match, the apps let fans purchase tickets, add the match to their calendar and browse Sounders’ news and videos. During each match, the apps highlight goals scored, cards issued and other critical match stats, while allowing fans who can’t be at the match to follow game play via live audio and Twitter streams. Post-match, the apps feature match recaps, play highlights and full match stats. And at any time, a simple right swipe leads to the team roster, schedule, league standings, news, video and more.
Building in Loyalty
Push notifications provide opportunities for the club to share offers and announcements with its supporters at any time. Additionally, we built in the ability to link the apps to an individual fan’s MatchPass account, enabling customized delivery of coupons, offers and discounts on team merchandise and concessions—or deals from partner businesses. And MatchPass integration is just the first step in a plan to give fans even greater control over their experience, driving greater adoption of this fan loyalty program.
Beyond the Full 90
The apps have been embraced by fans, and were featured in two Forrester reports along with receiving an FWA mobile award. Looking ahead, the apps are well positioned for the future. Upcoming releases are slated to further monetize the apps to drive additional revenue for the team, while continuing to add fan-focused features that will foster deeper and more meaningful supporter involvement at every touchpoint.