As serious advocates of IBM Watson platform, it was great to see a real life example of another client who benefits from their offering.

The RFU who use the IBM marketing stack including Watson Campaign Automation, talked us through their journey from 1 eZine a month to now 20 email campaigns a week.

It was interesting to hear how they have segmented their database into three tiers based on type of subscriber, demographics, previous behaviour and engagement.

The transformation of roles within the team has enabled them to deliver highly engaging content for their subscribers. Their team is now geared around producing great content and using the assets they have in conjunction with their partners.  Assets come first, the belief is if they create compelling content then customer and fan engagement will follow.

And this approach seems to be working well.

Their database has grown from 100k subscribers to now 500k subscribers in less than two years.

They currently get 30 – 60% open rates and, some of their regular emails get a minimum of 33% CTOR, most achieving much higher than this.

As a result of the digital transformation they no longer need to do any above the line advertising to sell match tickets. Even if they get a last minute dump of tickets back to them from corporate partners they know they can always sell tickets with a single email to the right segment of their database.

Segmentation also helped them see the need to restructure their membership options,  with their annual exclusive membership option FIRST XV now being much more profitable and highly retained year on year.

A key part to their success is due to understanding that their subscribers are fans first, customers second. They really take advantage of all the content at their disposal to drive engagement and build loyalty.

And of course it wasn’t all work, work, work.

Before a very nice lunch, we were given a tour of their museum where the story of Rugby from its origins to present day was told.  A recommendation to any rugby fan.

We discovered a whole new art form, welcome to the world of Groggs. Apparently highly prized by your average Welsh rugby fan.

And the highlight of the day was the stadium tour, which included visits to the changing room, gym and the hallowed turf itself.

A great day out, thanks to IBM and the RFU.