Location

London, England

Industry

Sports Marketing & Data Management

About InCrowd

Most sports organizations today have an omnichannel brand presence that includes a website, a mobile app, and a brick-and-mortar venue (at the very least). Each of those channels is home to a vast network of content and user activity. In order to keep fans engaged, foster loyalty, and deliver a seamless experience, organizations need to be able to bridge the gap between live events and digital experiences in a meaningful way. Achieving that level of synchrony requires powerful data systems and a flawless communication strategy — that's InCrowd's specialty.

InCrowd helps leagues, clubs, federations, venues, and sports media companies engage with fans and increase their lifetime value through integrated data and technology solutions. Helen Nicholls, InCrowd's Head of Marketing, puts it simply: “our driving force since day one has been to create personal and memorable experiences for fans.” Fittingly, InCrowd’s proprietary product is a digital experience platform (DXP) called Bridge. Their DXP combines advanced data capture and reporting capabilities with content publishing, digital asset management, website and app gamification, audience segmentation, user messaging, and more.

Incrowd about

Understanding the Modern Fan Experience

The modern sports fan experience actually consists of four types of experiences: Follow, Watch, Subscribe, and Attend. Of those four experiences, only one (attend) is an in-person experience — the rest are digital.

Although live games tend to be the focal point of the sports industry, many dedicated sports fans don't have the opportunity to attend many games (especially if they live in a different country) and may not watch games on mainstream television networks. Instead, they follow their favorite teams in other ways — by consuming personalized content, engaging with app gamification, receiving live match updates and news alerts on their mobile phones, and more. For this reason, InCrowd believes that this type of digital experience represents the single largest opportunity for sports organizations to scale.

Incrowd understanding the modern fan experience

Mobile push notifications are an integral part of the follow experience. They also help form the glue that links each of these four categories together to create a more meaningful and cohesive fan journey. As Nicholls explains:

“People have more ownership over their preferences with push — email can be hit or miss as to whether people check it. For me, push is the first channel I check. If I get a notification, I see it and I read it right away. Used smartly, push can be one of the strongest communication tools that we offer on our platform.”

Push is the perfect medium for connecting with fans wherever they may be — whether that’s at a game, at home on their phone, checking in with their team on the go; anywhere. For this reason, InCrowd’s CTO Ciaran Fisher says that one of their founding goals was to “bring push notifications in as a channel for our customers to use straight from our own internal management tool.”

Helen Nicholls
“People have more ownership over their preferences with push — email can be hit or miss as to whether people check it. For me, push is the first channel I check. If I get a notification, I see it and I read it right away. Used smartly, push can be one of the strongest communication tools that we offer on our platform.”
Helen Nicholls, Head of Marketing

Navigating the "Build vs. Buy" Decision

At first, InCrowd built their own native mobile push notification system with Apple (iOS) and Google (Android). Over time, however, they realized that maintaining this internal system required a significant amount of resources.

In search of a resource-efficient solution, they switched to AWS SNS, before changing over to Google’s GCM for Apple and Google. As InCrowd grew, however, they began looking for a solution that could deliver the scalability and reliability they needed to continue delivering an exceptional end product.

Choosing OneSignal

When their team finally found OneSignal, they had high expectations. Their experience taught them that ample support and product documentation were just as important as finding a highly reliable solution with a clean API. Because they were searching for a messaging solution to offer to their customers, they were keenly aware that their choice would have an impact on customer relationships and perceptions of the InCrowd brand. After weathering trials and tribulations with other providers, it was important for them to find a long-term solution that they could trust.

They considered Airship, but made the switch to OneSignal immediately due to what Fisher describes as “great documentation, great SDK support, and an easy to use API.” OneSignal’s advanced message automation and segmentation capabilities were also a core part of their decision.

Incrowd choosing onesignal

Growing With Onesignal

By integrating with OneSignal, InCrowd gave customers the ability to easily segment and target audiences from their internal management tool. Whereas other solutions required them to do a lot of in-house development to provide more granular targeting and personalization, OneSignal came with these features already built and easily accessible through the API. “The scheduled push feature was fantastic rather than rolling out our own scheduling system,” says Fisher.

OneSignal’s geotargeting capabilities and intelligent delivery feature were also particularly valuable to InCrowd’s customers. Geolocation triggers make it easy for organizations to send fans relevant promotions and content when they visit a stadium or brick-and-mortar store. According to Fisher, “The Intelligent delivery feature is great for customers when they want to send a push but aren’t sure of the best time, especially if their fans are across multiple time zones.” Using both of these features has helped their customers boost open rates, click-through rates, and in-app purchases.

Ciaran Fisher
“The Intelligent delivery feature is great for customers when they want to send a push but aren’t sure of the best time, especially if their fans are across multiple time zones.”
Ciaran Fisher, Chief Technology Officer

Helping Customers Drive Engagement With Push Notifications

When the InCrowd team advises customers and speaks to prospects, push notifications are a huge part of the story they tell. Nicholls describes how the immense amount of data that InCrowd captures is most relevant if it’s used in the right moment, with the right fan. “We include push in our sales pitches when we talk about personalization use cases,” Nicholls says. Those use cases involve sending automated game updates, ticket and merchandise promotions, and countless other possibilities that are unlocked when you have a means of reaching fans wherever they are.

Incrowd helping customers drive engagement

One of Nicholls's favorite examples involves sharing real-time promotions based on live events: “If the team wins, you can utilize this post-game positivity and send a push notification promoting a discount on merchandise, tickets, or purchases with brand partners. Because push notifications can be linked so closely to an app and/or include web links to purchasing pages, it reduces the number of steps for the fan, creating a better purchasing journey and ultimately a better experience.” This synchrony ultimately increases subscribers, nurtures loyalty, and drives revenue.

Supporting Hyper-personalized Digital Experiences

Many of her go-to use cases also involve OneSignal’s in-app messaging product, which helps organizations connect with fans in their mobile app. A single sports organization may manage a variety of teams and in-app messaging is the perfect medium to further personalize the app experience based on a fan's specified interests (whether that’s a specific team, game, player, etc.).

InCrowd’s Audience Builder tool uses the data captured by their platform to help clients target a known audience (such as season ticket holders, ticket buyers, and recent push notification openers). The Audience Builder leverages OneSignal’s API to automatically tag specific users and update user data in order to send highly personalized push notifications and in-app messages at scale.

“When we talk about making an audience more specific, using intelligent delivery, and using rich media, it all links back on our side to the idea of building a more targeted approach to fan engagement,” Nicholls explains.

Helen Nicholls
“When we talk about making an audience more specific, using intelligent delivery, and using rich media, it all links back on our side to the idea of building a more targeted approach to fan engagement.”
Helen Nicholls, Head of Marketing
Incrowd supporting hyperpersonalized digital experiences

Currently, they’re working on the second iteration of their Audience Builder tool. With Audience Builder 2.0, they’ve added much more and/or rules, groups, and filterable data so that the tool is more tailored to each of their clients. For instance, Nicholls says, “football organizations may want to connect with season ticket holders whereas other sports, like motorsports, may be more interested in contacting ticket buyers for a specific event the previous season to encourage repeat purchasing."

InCrowd was originally founded in 2015 with a focus on sports app development and engagement. Since then, they've grown rapidly and expanded into advanced data systems, content delivery, website development, and digital consultancy services. “OneSignal has very much been part of our evolution; we're excited to see what else is possible in the digital experience landscape.”

Helen Nicholls
“OneSignal has very much been part of our evolution; we're excited to see what else is possible in the digital experience landscape.”
Helen Nicholls, Head of Marketing