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ARTICLE MarketingSeptember 17, 2014

ISC Q&A: 3 ways to target different groups of customers online


AFL and NRL sports fans are gearing up for their respective codes’ grand finals in the coming weeks. We caught up with sports clothing retailer ISC Sport to find out how it segments its email marketing campaigns to target different groups of fans.

ISC Sport is an Aussie sports retailing success. Today, the company has divisions in Australia and the UK and it partners with some of the biggest clubs in AFL, NRL and super league on both sides of the globe.

Recently, it launched its ISC Marvel Heroes campaign, and it also runs a successful online retailing business that allows fans to purchase the latest licensed sporting gear, using a SecurePay payment gateway. ISC’s Online Marketing Manager Lauren Esplin shares tips on how to segment email databases and how to get creative with online marketing.

Lauren Esplin, ISC Sport's Online Marketing Manager.

How did ISC Sport first start?

“ISC is a family business started in 1991 by an avid sports fan, David Corrick. His son Brett Corrick now runs the business.”

Which sports and codes do you cater for?

“ISC holds the official apparel licence for seven NRL teams (South Sydney Rabbitohs, Sydney Roosters, Canberra Raiders, Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles, North Queensland Cowboys, St George Illawarra Dragons and Newcastle Knights) and six AFL teams (Port Adelaide, St Kilda, Sydney, Fremantle, GWS and Geelong). We dabble in some EPL and cricket sub licences. In the UK, we hold the apparel licences for several super league teams.”

What are some of your most significant AFL and NRL partnerships?

“All our partnerships are important. Obviously, clubs boasting large fan bases are appealing to us. Clubs that are partnered with ISC include the Sydney Swans from the AFL and Sydney Roosters from the NRL. Interestingly, all four teams that made the NRL finals last year (Roosters, Sea Eagles, Knights and Rabbitohs) were ISC teams.” 

When did you start selling online?

“ISC has been selling its compression range online for many years now; however, we only began selling our licensed apparel this year.” 

ISC Sport uses a SecurePay payment gateway, which allows businesses to accept payments online.

How important are online sales to ISC today?

“We are really impressed with the success of our website to date. Online sales are growing each day. However, for ISC, online sales generation was not the only driving factor in setting up our new website. For us, it is important to have an online presence that demonstrates the breadth of ISC's influence as a brand across many teams and codes in Australia and overseas. The new website also allows us to be more agile in marketing our existing products as well as giving us the opportunity to sell our own range in the future.” 

How do you tackle online marketing?

“Our email database is very important, so we decided to offer enticements for customers to sign up to our e-newsletter. That has been very effective in building our email database. We have also created a segmented database, which means we can target our customers based on their favourite teams. The key to successful email marketing is frequency and consistency. We have found that sending emails at the same time, regularly, is effective.

“In terms of social media, brands need to be smart about how they market. Social media is a wonderful place to create creative and engaging content that generates brand awareness and interest in products, rather than constantly pushing offers and other sales messaging. That is a balance that each brand needs to find.” 

Do you market differently to AFL and NRL fans?

“Yes – you have to know your market. NRL fans are very different to AFL fans and I think this stems from the values, history and tradition of each code. In my experience, the AFL is quite conservative and subsequently can be more restrictive with its apparel licensing compared with the NRL. This means the NRL and its clubs are more likely to try out some of the more experimental gear.”

Three tips for targeting different customer segments

1. Segment your database and target your email marketing.

2. Know your market – keep brand consistency but don't be afraid to alter your messaging to suit different customer segments.

3. Be diverse and creative in your marketing. This means refreshing your message to stay relevant, experimenting with multiple channels to find a mix that works for your business and taking educated risks when it comes to creativity.  

Do AFL and NRL fans have different shopping habits?

“In terms of spending differences, both codes have some pretty fanatical fans who will buy a variety of gear each year. In terms of shopping habits, a lot of this depends on the predominant climate in the location of the club and its fans. For example, for the fans of our AFL clubs in Victoria, wet weather jackets and hoodies are popular, whereas our NRL teams are located in New South Wales, the ACT and Queensland, so we find the lighter training gear more popular. Jerseys and Guernseys are traditionally the most popular licensed apparel across the board.”

What are your tips for other retailers on structuring an e-commerce team?

“In a perfect world, you would have someone handling the technical side of things, from updating products on the website to making more substantial changes like creating campaign-specific landing pages – such as the one we created for our recent Marvel program. You would also have someone to drive traffic to the website through creative campaigns via email and social media marketing; a creative for executing social media content and managing interactions; someone across organic and paid search; and someone responsible for handling partnerships with other brands, with the objective of growing both businesses' online presence and sales.

“In reality, this is often not possible and one or two people end up managing everything. At ISC, I have an external web development company assisting me for major changes to the website and a marketing executive who specialises in visual communication and can design EDMs and social media content, as well as a marketing assistant to help with administrative tasks.” 

Does your e-commerce approach in the UK differ to the one in Australia?

“Yes, to an extent. There are economic and cultural differences that come into play. For example, the Super League in the UK does not have a rugby league body like the NRL in Australia to assist with building the sport. Therefore, a lot more reliance is placed on sponsors, such as ISC, to assist in building the brand awareness of the sport, which also helps with selling licensed apparel.”

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