As disciplines go, you can be forgiven for believing there is very little in common between the sport of rugby and digital marketing in 2018. After all what has 15 brutish men battling over the forlorn oval ball got to with driving online sales and enquiries anyway? Well from my experience, more than you might think.
But first a little about me…
Having first started playing the humble game of rugby in Summerhill College at 12 years of age, it fast became my game of choice throughout my teens and early 20s, even going so far as to specialise in the game through a college degree course. My love for the sport stemmed from the unrivalled camaraderie and willingness to win among all team members, and, down through the years we shared many victories (and losses) together making many lifetime friends and memories.
What has all this got to do with Digital Marketing I hear you ask?
Modern digital marketing practice is a multifaceted activity employing a range of different (yet complementary) tools. Rugby teams too are multifaceted, with individual team units such as the forward and backs have individual team goals & KPI’s. Forwards for instance are charged with winning possession of the ball at set pieces such as scrums and lineouts. In digital marketing, we employ two search engine tactics (search engine optimisation & search engine marketing) in order to win website traffic.
Speaking about set pieces, rugby fraternities often through the phrase “getting clean ball” around when it comes to winning possession. In many ways, this describes digital marketing optimisation processes designed to improve the calibre of website visitors.
But the similarities don’t end there. Most readers will be familiar with a few select players on the Irish Rugby Team. Through no fault of your own, readers will be far more familiar with players such as Rob Kearney, Conor Murray & Johnny Sexton, simply because the media amplifies Ireland’s success on the back of these players.
Let’s take a look at Ireland’s world renowned victory against France in the 2018 Six Nations Championship where Johnny Sexton landed an 82nd minute drop goal, clinching victory at the death. In watching the video below, look at the work rate of Jack McGrath (#17) and Devin Toner (#19) in the lead up to the kick.
Did you notice the extraordinary amount of work Jack & Devin got through to help Johnny get in position over 41 phases of play? Without their work and the work of 12 other players, Ireland wouldn’t have won the game and gone on to win the Six Nations Grand Slam. However, Johnny Sexton reaped the plaudits for the victory.
A similar story happens in Digital Marketing. Often the plaudits for a sale or enquiry are attributed to a single channel, when in actual fact that is not the case. For instance, a website visitor may have read your recent blog post, visited your Facebook page, and opened your email marketing newsletter before taking the Google and clicking on your pay per click ad. Each channel had a role to play in gaining the conversion, however the kudos is often attributed to the final channel that gained the success. In reality it is a team effort with each and every player contributing to the overall goal in their own, individual way. Savvy digital marketers understand each channel has a role to play and attributes success to each and every channel employed.
Rugby is also a highly analysed activity. Individual performances, unit performances, team performances and even the opposition are reflected upon by the coaching team following victories and losses. Every on pitch decision carefully analysed in order to achieve better outcomes in future.
In digital marketing, we employ the very same strategic thinking and analysis. Every outcome is an opportunity to improve. Whether it’s a sales funnel update, acquisition strategy adjustment or even succinct tweak to a call to action, every step should be analysed and improved upon to afford greater return on investment in the future.
So there you have it. Do rugby players make the best digital marketers? Who knows!
But what we do know is there is a variety of similarities that can be drawn between the digital marketing practice and the game of rugby.