England Netball Digital Transformation
Netball is unique; the only major sport that’s female only at elite level. At grassroots level, on any given weekend more women in England are playing netball than men playing rugby (1.4m people in England express an interest).
In 2017, England Netball’s leadership team knew a critical period lay ahead. Moving from old offices in Hitchin to the Sports Park in Loughborough was key but would see some turbulence. There was a Commonwealth Games to come in Australia in 2018 and a home World Cup in Liverpool in 2019.
Like all sports governing bodies, there was the need to promote the elite game while also growing the grassroots game. As with any medium-sized NGB, there was the need to be commercially self-sufficient and lower the reliance on funding England Netball knew the answer was rapid digital transformation – and brought in Seven League to do it.
7L conducted a Digital Audit (Spring 2017), followed by a Digital Strategy (Summer 2017) and then embedded a 7L team member once a week to implement it.
We trained an all-new digital content team hired to work in Loughborough and developed sub-strategies for content, branded content, CRM and platforms. We delivered the strategy at an all-staff nationwide conference which secured wider buy-in.
By Spring 2018, we swapped our strategist for a CRM specialist who scoped the full relaunch of CRM and membership (including SSO) and appointed vendors to deliver a new CRM & membership ecosystem.
We delivered digital coaching for CEO and senior execs (CEO launched on social), trained regional staff in workshops on-site around the country and provided media training for execs following the Commonwealths Games gold.
We delivered World Cup strategies for digital and PR/comms and ran an RFP for new website provider with a new vendor appointed.
Strategy and playbook: our digital strategy from 2017 sits on the content team’s desks. It’s referred to every day (not sitting in a drawer) and is seen by the team as a playbook as well as a strategy.
Digital DNA: a new team, in a new environment, combined with 7L training, workshops and conferences means there is widespread buy-in for digital across England Netball.
Set-up for success: when England Netball won Commonwealth gold in 2018, their digital portfolio was set-up to take full advantage. Our work helped drive a 1839% increase in traffic to the session finder on the website: a clear link between elite success & participation.
A consistent, digitised user experience: back in 2017 EN’s membership system was not digital: payments were made in cash and then by clubs over the phone. In 2019, that was digitised, forming part of a bespoke ecosystem. The fact that a medium-sized NGB with limited budgets continued to lean on Seven League for ongoing digital, marketing and comms support for over two years is testament to the value we were able to deliver.