An award-winning digital home for Arsenal that’s driving fan engagement:
  • Dwell time up 20%
  • Digital membership up 15%
  • Winner at the 22nd annual Webby Awards

The challenge

Arsenal Football Club is a London-based club that plays in the Premier League, the top flight of English football. Arsenal Media Group (AMG), which manages and leverages all aspects of Arsenal sports media property, enlisted the help of Inviqa to transform its primary platform for fan engagement.

Arsenal.com is Arsenal’s number-one channel for engaging fans around the globe. The website not only provides a source of club information and news; it also directs fans to its various online retail stores and helps Arsenal to engage and acquire new partners.

But Arsenal.com and its sister sites were developed without mobile users in mind and, with a dated system in place for sharing new content, Arsenal was missing opportunities to improve fan engagement and drive revenue.

Digital is the best way to convey the excitement of being at the physical ground to a global audience. Inviqa understood this from the outset and challenged us to explore the motivations and business reasoning behind every decision we made.

David Savage, Arsenal Football Club & Arsenal Media Group

The club had two content management systems (CMSs): one to manage Arsenal.com; the other to provide a hub for club-related videos and to manage Arsenal Player, the club’s dedicated video site.

These bespoke, PHP content management systems were almost 10 years old and were showing their age. They posed challenges for editorial teams, were difficult for developer teams to update, and were preventing Arsenal from capitalising on the growing number of distribution channels and platforms favoured by its fans.

For editorial teams, simple processes like managing images and embedding videos were unnecessarily complicated, so asset management was a key pain point. Meanwhile, the legacy platforms were preventing Arsenal’s content team from integrating with other systems and developing application programming interfaces (APIs) to enhance the fan experience.

Arsenal recognised the need for a single, sustainable, and flexible CMS that would support its current and future business growth initiatives. The new platform would need to provide stability and a foundation for becoming more agile in the face of changing fan behaviours. And with mobile representing approximately 70% of Arsenal’s audience, optimising the website for a seamless mobile experience was key.

When designing our new CMS we knew it would be the hub for all our digital content. And that, in time, it would be serving content to devices, platforms, and channels that don’t yet exist. This had to be at the heart of the design and build philosophy.

David Savage, Arsenal

The club was looking for a cutting-edge, open-source platform that would optimise editorial workflows, be easy to integrate and develop, and would provide capabilities to enable future business growth.

With compelling case studies and experience in the sports industry, Inviqa and US-based agency Phase2 were selected as Arsenal’s partners to provide consultancy, as well as to implement and maintain the new platform.

Our support for Arsenal included:

  • Discovery: workshops with key stakeholders to gain a deep understanding of the project goals and how success would be measured to help prioritise and inform decisions
  • Drupal 8 customisation and implementation  
  • Implementation of Gigya for single sign-on for social media and membership
  • Implementation of a mobile-first design
  • Platform-as-a-service approach with Platform.sh for simpler development and deployment workflows, as well as agile scaling to meet peak traffic

I would definitely recommend Inviqa. They’re very strong in terms of account and project management, and we have a really good relationship thanks to their openness and transparency. They appreciate that we’re in it together with common goals.

David Savage, Arsenal

Following a thorough Discovery, which encouraged Arsenal to ‘strip everything back, identify our objectives, gather requirements, and establish a direction of travel’, according to David, the project progressed over two stages:

  • Building a ‘minimum viable product’ – a base platform to support Arsenal’s existing workflow and process
  • Delivering enhancements to strengthen editorial workflows and processes

 

Ongoing product enhancements

Our work with Arsenal is ongoing as the club looks to continuously improve site performance and the user experience. More recently we integrated the club’s membership portal into the main website to remove friction in the user journey. We’ve also focused on key KPIs such as improving site speed and site performance through the likes of image optimisation and 'lazy loading'. Another KPI was boosting the performance of video following the launch of a video player on the site homepage.

The results

The all-new, Drupal-powered Arsenal.com provides the club with a bigger, bolder content hub that paves the way for deeper fan engagement and future business growth.

Key milestones include:

  • 34% of fans now watching Arsenal-owned video content
  • 15% year-on-year growth in digital membership sign-up
  • 13% YOY increase in site users
  • 4 second improvement for average page load
  • 150,000 page views per month for the newly integrated membership section
  • Awarded the 2018 People’s Voice Webby Award

Delivered on-time and without any disruption to the business, the new platform, built on Drupal 8 and Platform.sh, allows Arsenal to move faster in response to changing fan behaviours and continuously improve the experiences it delivers.

Arsenal.com was developed to be mobile-first, providing a stable and intuitive experience across multiple devices. Features like infinite scroll further enhance the mobile experience, while the decision to replace the legacy membership gateway with single-sign on powered by Gigya has simplified the user journey.

Content teams are now able to effortlessly create and publish engaging content for fans, and the new platform enables Arsenal to take full advantage of its rich media content. Since adding video to the homepage, Arsenal is seeing 15% more video views per user, with 20% longer dwell time on the homepage, and more than 33 years’ worth of content watched in May 2018 alone.

Arsenal now has the foundations to build upon its live content offering through real-time updates, such as match imagery within the live, minute-by-minute match-day coverage, and fan content from social channels. Having invested in customer relationship management (CRM) to improve fan relationships, Arsenal is now looking to focus on making fan experiences personalised, geo-targeted, and ever-more relevant.

We’re now able to progress more rapidly though our roadmap and get features developed seamlessly. Now that the huge task of replatforming is completed, we can focus on further growing and enhancing fan experiences.

David Savage, Arsenal

Arsenal talks fan engagement

Arsenal's senior systems and operations manager, John Dollin, sat down with Inviqa's content practice director, Myles Davidson, to share his top fan engagement tips. Listen to the podcast below, or head here to get edited highlights from the conversation.