2016 is the year of the connected consumer. As mobile device ownership is nearing ubiquity, digital experience moves beyond the geographical confines of the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) and presents Wimbledon with an important opportunity to engage with fans across the globe on an entirely new level. This comes with the challenge greeted by many brands across industries of ensuring these communications are timely, relevant and, most importantly, welcome. In an age where autonomy is firmly in the hands of the consumer and experience is a key driver, the balance between personalised communications and overbearing engagement is easily tipped.
This year at The Championships, 10 million messages per minute are communicated around the world to connected devices during the tournament. For an English Garden holding only 39,000 at any one time, this is a poignant indication of the role that digital experience has to play in a sporting event. That said, arguably Wimbledon has become more than that now. Every facet of the experience has been characterised to conjure the perfect, archetypal British day out. From priming the flowers to making sure benches are perfectly aligned, to preparing for hundreds of thousands of juicy strawberries to be consumed, all elements take focus in the most minute of detail.
This detail extends to the way in which Wimbledon communicates with fans, too. Although the very act of downloading a mobile application demonstrates a certain level of interest in the content available or at least utility of information, the brand then plays an important role in deciphering the degree and timing of communications not only to keep fans engaged but also to enrich their experience. Whether on The Hill, in The Queue, sitting on Centre Court or even thousands of miles away, the mobile experience at Wimbledon is designed to act as the next best thing to being there.
This is where consumer autonomy comes in – allowing fans to make a choice as to how often they would like to receive content and to what degree – or indeed leaving it to the app to decide for them, provides a level of personalisation and flexibility beyond the traditional association with push notifications. When users download the application, they are able to personalise it – i.e. select their favourite players, countries and also specify if and when they might be visiting the grounds. This enables Wimbledon to target messages to specific groups of audiences based on their preferences and allows fans to receive relevant information in context. Importantly, for those fans who are waiting to catch up on highlights at a later stage, ensuring that scores or giveaways are not communicated is another key feature.
For those lucky enough to experience The Championships on site, there are 10 iBeacons to provide helpful messages based on their location and, in hand, context. This could be a welcome to the ground, a helpful reminder of features to experience whilst on site or a real-time update on a match on centre court. This demonstrates how the boundaries between physical and digital consumption are blurring. Where there is always focus on extending the reach of The Championships beyond those on site, especially considering a social media audience of 8.5million (and growing) and over 21.1million unique device visits last year (a 23% increase on 2014), engaging with fans who are visiting on a particular day is just as vital. In a sharing economy, fans are keen to capture and share every element of their visit.
This fusion of digital and social media has played a key part in Wimbledon’s strategy to be the best tennis tournament in the world and engage with fans on a deeper level. Push notifications in this context allow Wimbledon to target and personalise messages to their fans and provide the platform to share their experiences, too. Using cognitive technology, Wimbledon can also ensure that they are providing the most up-to-date and relevant information – whether it’s finalist Raonic hitting the fastest serve of the tournament at 144mph or Murray approaching his 4,000th Wimbledon point, The AELTC are primed to look out for these key pieces of information to move first in communicating fresh, real-time content to fans and broadcasters across the globe.
Although the Wimbledon experience is like no other, the concept of tailored communications and push notifications transcends industries, allowing brands to target and personalise messages to their fans wherever they are. And the in app push capability goes a lot further – personalisation can be automated based on a user’s activity in the app, online and offline, to help brands understand what, when and where its users want to receive relevant content, to drive better brand loyalty, and improve redemption rate on offers. With unique, contextual information at the fingertips of fans, Wimbledon is determined that fans aren’t at risk of missing their favourite players or key moments in the tournament, wherever they happen to be in the world!