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It is no secret that Manchester United is one of the biggest global brands in football. The club’s commercial business is the highest among European football clubs as shown in the latest Deloitte Football Money League report. The club generated a commercial revenue of €363.8m, 53% of its total revenue.
Alongside revenue, another aspect that was analysed by Deloitte is the number of followers on the club’s leading social media accounts, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. In all three platforms Manchester United came in third place.
While social media has become a dominant way for clubs to engage with their fans, it feels that the pioneer of online engagement has been forgotten. In this article, we will review the traffic and insights on the club’s official website through information by SimilarWeb. The examined time frame is for 3 months, October-December 2016.
Each website is ranked in three categories:
1) Global: Man Utd’s official website is ranked number 8,125 in the world
2) Country: Although not a country, the official website is ranked number 1,184 in the United Kingdom
3) Industry/Sector: the official website is ranked number 45 in the sports/soccer sector.
It is well known that people nowadays browse the web a lot through smartphones and at times many of us are second screening. The traffic for the website is split between desktop browsing and mobile browsing with desktop having the edge.
Top 5 countries
This insight is really important. Manchester United’s website is available in 7 different languages and each has their own analytics. The main website (English) draws the most visits from the following countries:
1) United Kingdom:21.35%
2) United States: 7.30%
3) India: 4.55%
4) Tanzania: 3.65%
5) South Africa: 2.17%
Manchester United has a strong presence in India with two megastores who sell official club merchandise in Mumbai and Kolkata. In addition, thanks to the club’s partnership with the Nissin Food Group, the club’s players can be found on the instant noodles packages. So why is there not a website in Hindi? Perhaps this is something that the club may consider in the future.
The Indian market is the second biggest internet market in the world, with over 460M internet users, only behind another BRIC country, China. The football crowd is perceived to be dominant by males. In India, 71% of internet users are men. Moreover, India has the potential to become one of the most valuable markets in terms of online purchasing. Retail e-commerce transactions from India are estimated at around $16 billion in 2016. (Statista: Internet usage in India, 2016)
Looking at the top 5 countries in which traffic came to the official Manchester United online store in December 2016 the list is as follows:
1) United Kingdom- 26.75%
2) USA- 17.31%
3) Sudan- 3.82%
4) France- 3.65%
5) Vietnam- 2.62%
While so far, we focused on the English version of the official website the Spanish version can teach us a few things too. The most traffic comes from Ecuador 26.90%. This probably derives from the fact that one of the longest serving players in the current squad is Antonio Valencia. As of 2017, 13.47M people in Ecuador are connected to the internet. In second place features Spain with 22.44% of the traffic. E-commerce stats in Spain show that in 2016 the sales amounted to $25.97 billion. No data was available for Ecuador.
By looking even closely on the other languages that the official website has to offer and the traffic sources it was found that the area that most countries engaged from is Africa with 7 different countries. But the official online store traffic shows us that only one country from Africa are among the top 5 traffic generating to the store. Whether they buy or not remains unknown.
Social Media Traffic
In the battle of social media traffic, it is Facebook who take the lead being the platform which provides the most traffic to the club’s official website. Twitter is around 50% behind Facebook in providing traffic. With 45% of total traffic coming from mobile browsing as was shown earlier the next set of data can be used by content creators and social media managers to understand where to focus their fan engagement efforts or where it needs improvement. Perhaps the 7.78% via Reddit shows that there’s potential in a platform that may not be considered by many clubs.
Wondering why Instagram is not in the list? Simply because Instagram does not allow clickable links in comments and photo captions. A link can be found only on the account’s bio.
In today’s business of football it is essential to understand your online audience in order to set a foothold in new markets. Football clubs constantly look for ways to increase revenue and fan engagement is emerging as the key factor for clubs who wish to be truly global. We have seen in the analysis that Manchester United clearly has options for growth via the Indian market. We can be sure that they’re not the only club who will be keeping a close eye on this emerging footballing region.
This article was written by David Haimovich, Marketing Assistant at the Sports Business Institute Barcelona. If you have any comments or questions about this post feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow him on Twitter at: @HaimovichDavid.
*Note: In some parts of the analysis, the percentages do not add up to a 100% simply because the entire set of information is not available to us.