FC Bayern Munich: The Secret of Their Success

Stefan Mennerich (Photo: FCB)

Every month, Stefan Mennerich records around 720 million instances of contact – known as “touchpoints” – with fans of FC Bayern Munich (FCB) on a total of 24 media platforms worldwide. The Champions League finalist’s head of IT and new media has good reason to keep a very close eye on these figures. Because, as well as nurturing communication with club supporters, his job is to boost revenues through sales of official team jerseys, scarves, match tickets, and other fan accessories.

Success by the numbers

FC Bayern Munich’s home page clocks up 120 million page views every month. The club’s own TV channel, FCB TV, and its online ticketing system register 110 million hits and 300,000 hits per month respectively. Compared with the Huffington Post’s online news portal (692 million page views in the last 30 days) and German news magazine Der Spiegel” (with a monthly average of 890 million page views last year), that’s a pretty impressive tally. Especially when you consider that FCB’s news reports, TV programs, and social media network “only” contain content that relates to the club itself. “These figures are unparalleled on the European soccer scene,” adds Stefan Mennerich, who began posting cuttings from the club’s print magazine on the newly launched FCB web site 15 years ago – long before anyone else thought of doing so. Today, Mennerich is responsible for the club’s TV channel, social media, and IT.

FC Barcelona is still the world’s biggest brand name in club soccer. But Bayern Munich is rapidly catching up with its rival, not least since it knocked the Catalan team out of the Champions League competition at the semi-final stage and earned the chance to win Europe’s most coveted soccer crown. A quick look at the social media statistics confirm that FCB is becoming hotter and hotter property all the time: Since the beginning of the year, the number of Facebook fans has risen by 1.1 million to 7.1 million; the tally of Twitter followers has rocketed by over 200,000 to 330,000; and Google+ followers have increased in number by 50,000 to more than 200,000. What’s more, the Bayern Munich brand is now famous far beyond the borders of both Bavaria and Germany: The club’s social media platforms in Asia, for example, boast more than 1 million fans.

Not only a force in the Champions League: FCB’s social media success

These figures are music to Mennerich’s ears, but they do not tell the whole story. The former Münchener Abendzeitung newspaper reporter has distributed his news network not only to a total of 24 media platforms, including the club’s web site, Facebook, Twitter, and apps (which have already been downloaded  2.5 million times), but also to channels in China such as the social networking platforms Tencent (with 620,000 fans) and Sina Weibo (with 55,000 fans).

Next page: How CRM, CMS and e-commerce are growing together 

This has helped FCB intensify communication with its fans and has boosted the revenue that the club generates from the sale of tickets and merchandising, including official FCB shirts, socks, and scarves. Also instrumental in FCB’s business success are a content management system, which is used as a forum for reporting, a customer management system (CRM) that consolidates all the leads gathered from the myFCB community and the club’s online ticketing system, and a sophisticated e-commerce system that handles online sales.

On the technical side, FC Bayern Munich’s backend is equipped with business warehouse software from SAP, a ticket management system, an online personalization platform, and a newsletter server. At the front end, Mennerich has created the myFCB community which, after registering, fans and interested parties can access by entering their name, e-mail address, and age. “The CRM system enables us to analyze user data and offer an even more targeted service for our fans,” explains Mennerich, who has already collected three million sets of user data.

Whether Ribéry, Robben, or Schweinsteiger: A content-sensitive CMS

Fifteen years after the first magazine cuttings were posted on its web site, Bayern Munich now has a content-sensitive content management system. So, if someone is watching the Champions League final on May 25 and searches for information about the players Ribéry, Robben, or Schweinsteiger, he or she will also receive a selection of videos and radio reports that precisely match the search term. And it makes no difference whether that person is watching the match at home or in a bar: Half of all myFCB users now access the community from a mobile device.

In 2012, more than 300 million people around the world watched the Champions League final – so it looks as if May 25 will give a further boost to FCB’s mighty merchandising machine.