The Swiss club is working with a Growth Marketer to improve and develop, to optimise processes and drive digital transformation. We talked to Mathias Menzl about his tasks, the daily work and latest projects.
You are Growth Marketer at FC Basel. What are you doing?
Mathias Menzl: I work in the Digital Business department of FC Basel and take care of projects in the intersection of Content, Marketing and IT with a strong focus on challenging and optimising internal processes, and the user experience based on data and a business-oriented mindset.
Why is this a topic at Basel? Are you ahead of other clubs when it comes to these things?
No, I don’t think so, job roles and descriptions sound often fancier than they really are. As far as I can oversee the market most clubs have a growing digital workforce, focus more and more on taking data- and business-driven decisions in communication and marketing and try to optimise their processes by the help of digitalisation.
Basically, how important is digitalisation or the digital transformation at your club?
Very important. We’re basically an Event-, E-commerce- and Media-Company, with 11 male and 11 female Influencers on the pitch and social media and with a very demanding user-base. So, it is very important, as it is for any other company.
What are typical topics or projects you are working on?
Currently I operate as a Product Owner for our Website and Native Apps which are currently relaunched on a new tech-stack and CI/CD. Apart from that I work on different data-, marketing- and content-related projects.
How does your work actually look like, can you explain the journey with a specific project?
A football club is, as mentioned before, a media- and ecommerce- company. So I also take care of the same things as a Digital PM in a media company. One could be to make proposals how to change the content-strategy of our Youtube-Channel based on the data from content we publish and later implement this strategy together with our editorial content team and sales-team in order to find a sponsor and be cost-efficient or even profitable. Another is to think about a strategy to create more content with the same number of resources and make specific proposals how to do that. Another one is to find out how we can grow the traffic and sales in our webshop. Another constant one: implement our analytics set-up, taking care of dataquality, monitoring and analytics of our content- digital sales- and marketing-efforts and ensuring that the user experience of our digital products matches a professional standard.
You heavily rely on data. Does FC Basel gather a lot of data?
Yes, we do gather a lot of data, but we still need to work on the dataquality and connect the dots in order to work with the data. Gathering data is not a problem, but working with data, cross-platform is challenging.
Are you analysing all the data yourself or do you have dedicated data analysts at the club as well?
Currently we do not have specific data-analysts. Basically, we are currently laying the groundwork to professionally work with the data we gather.
Beside data, what role does content play for your work?
Data is content. Basically, we publish a lot of content, as a media-company. So we need to monitor, track and analyse these content-effort in order to learn what is really performing and what is not and with which type of content we serve our customers best. There we differentiate between club members, season-ticket-holders and the generally interested user.
What are projects you are currently working on and which were the biggest or most important projects in the last year?
We established a newsroom-structure to optimise the collaboration between the different departments. Apart from that we relaunch our website and our native apps and we implement a new crm/erp systems. Together with our new wep- and app-products we are going to implement a new Analytics-Strategy in order to better understand the needs of our fanshop-buyers, clubmembers, season-ticket-holders and the generally interested fan of FC Basel. Connecting all these dots and datapoints is requiring a lot of effort and finding workarounds. Apart from that we try to grow digitally in every aspect: Fanshop, Ticketing, Clubmembers, better digital products for our fans for example live streaming of women and youth-games, interactive features in the stadium and our native apps, e-mailmarketing, social media etc.
Did you already have to dismiss a project because it missed clear goals?
Projects not, features yes.
You are not the typical sports marketing guy; you came to FC Basel in February 2020 from a media company. What are the big differences between media companies and football clubs?
Media companies do have paying customers. Football Clubs do have paying fans. This can be an advantage and a downside at the same time. The product of football club has much more to do with identity and tradition and therefor you cannot operate as an independent company. You have to listen to your customers even better.
What are non-sports companies doing better than sports organisation like football clubs?
As I mentioned before: We’re basically an Event, E-Commerce and Media-Company. So we have a lot of things we need to be good at the same time, with a constrained budget. So we have to find solutions to cut costs and harness synergies. The competition on the pitch isn’t a driver to harness synergies between clubs. I guess this could be done better.
If you could change some things at your club (for example hiring people), what would that be?
More people with a digital mindset. With that I mean people who are not afraid to take decisions and are not afraid to make mistakes and learn new things.
You are up to a certain degree independent from the daily business, how important is that?
50/50. It’s important to have the freedom to step back and take a bird’s eye view. But it is also a danger to be too far away. In the end you need to know the needs and requirements of in-house as well as external stakeholders.
Where are you looking for inspiration? At Football clubs? Other sports organisations? Media companies?
It doesn’t depend in what kind of business a company is, it’s mainly about good digital products, good distribution tactics. In the end it’s the execution and not the idea.
How big is the potential of the FC Basel in the digital area and how can you exploit it? Or why didn’t you exploit it yet?
How big the potential is, is currently our task to find out. There is defenitely a lot of potential to further exploit. As mentioned in the beginning where a media- ecommerce and event-company with around 40 influenceres with a huge digital reach. Currently we have a social media-reach of more than 5 million contacts, That’s a lot for a swiss football club and a swiss company.
Are digital business cases currently a relevant revenue stream for the Basel?
We’re currently in a period where the attention shifts. Corona and the development of physical attendances in the stadium, the growing importance of eSports, everything goes towards more digital awareness and business cases. So we are in a organic growing area. The Digital Business Department where I’m based has now the task to grow our digital revenue streams.
This interview was originally published in the FBIN Magazin from June 2021.