Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past year or so, you might have heard that superhero superstar Ryan Reynolds (and his pal Rob McElhenney) recently purchased Wrexham FC for a mere £2 million, completing the takeover on February the 9th 2021. Read on to discover what led two friends to buy this football club and the impact their digital marketing strategy had on Wrexham FC.
Where the story began…
To give a little bit of background on the Welsh team, Wrexham FC was founded in 1864 by members of the town’s cricket club and was Wales’ first-ever professional football team. Wrexham are currently in the National League and it’s their 158th consecutive season playing!
The National League is arguably one of the most difficult football leagues to escape from and get into the higher leagues of football. Combine this with the fact that owning a football club is usually a monetary blackhole for club owners, so why have Reynolds and McElhenney taken on this great challenge?
Buying the club
It wasn’t an easy process for the pair to buy the club; having to pitch themselves to the loyal Welsh fans and show why they would be good owners. But after all this, Wrexham FC agreed to be bought out by Reynolds and McElhenney and have now been skyrocketed into the media spotlight like never before.
A lot of people could argue that Reynolds and McElhenney are not qualified to have this position, after all, what would a Canadian and American know about our beloved sport?
Well, in reality, probably not much. But what they do know is how to drum up media attention and utilise different marketing channels and platforms to build the visibility of the club both digitally and traditionally.
Reynolds and McElhenney may not expect a Return On Investment (ROI) on their purchase, in terms of being promoted into the top leagues of football any time soon. But they can certainly expect some ROI from their other marketing activities.
As we’re a marketing agency, it seems only right that we jump into some of these and explore them further.
Storytelling sells, there’s no doubt about it
As a marketer, you can never undervalue the power of storytelling, and what better way of telling the story of the Wrexham FC buyout than through a Disney+ series with a global audience.
Disney CEO, Bob Chapek, stated that the streaming service is on track to reach between 230-260 million Disney+ subscribers by the end of the 2024 fiscal year.*
On the 24th of August 2022, the TV series “Welcome to Wrexham” was released on Disney+, an obvious choice considering this is currently the streaming giant to beat.
If we compare this with their rival, Netflix, who are losing subscribers at a consistent rate, Reynolds made the very smart marketing decision to go with the platform that is investing in creating new and organic content that users actually want to see.
But what has the global reach really been like?
If we look at the screenshot below, we can see the global interest for the search term ‘Wrexham FC’ from 01/01/2020 to 01/01/2021 (before Reynolds and McElhenney bought the club).
Comparing this with the below screenshot of the search term ‘Wrexham FC’ (2021 to present), you can see that the search activity has significantly increased – particularly shooting up when ‘Welcome to Wrexham’ was released on Disney+ in August.
It might just be that content isn’t just king for SEO, but also for marketing as a whole.
How has ‘Welcome to Wrexham’ contributed to Wrexham FC’s digital landscape
We often tell our clients not to underestimate the power of influence from other marketing channels when it comes to their SEO efforts, and this is made evident from the growth of the wrexhamafc.co.uk domain.
As we know, Reynolds and McElhenney bought the club in 2021, and having someone as well-known as Ryan Reynolds backing the club brought more digital attention to Wrexham. You can see this from the screenshot below which shows that Wrexham FC’s organic traffic increased by 260% from 2020 to 2021 – without the global reach of their Disney+ series.
Let’s take a look into the effect the Disney+ series, Welcome to Wrexham, had on the website since its release in August 2021. From the screenshot below, you can see that Wrexham FC’s organic traffic increased by 121% year on year (YoY), which is impressive organic growth!
Most remarkably, Wrexham FC has attracted a whole new demographic in the United States with an impressive increase of 198% YoY between 2021 and 2022.
Using the Disney+ series has enabled Wrexham FC to grow their brand awareness exponentially in comparison to some of the top Premier League clubs.
The question is, how long until the top Premier Leagues clubs start to follow suit?
Translating this data into monetary value
If we delve into Google’s keyword planner, we can see how much additional search activity has been encouraged due to the Reynolds effect and Disney+.
Looking at the keyword “Wrexham FC tickets” which has a transactional search intent (users looking to buy tickets), we can see that the number of people enquiring about this grew exponentially during April 2022 – dying down over May and June and then shooting back up when the new Disney+ series aired.
According to firstpage.com, being in the top position on Google usually generates a click through rate of 39.6%. With this in mind, at the very peak of searches for Wrexham FC tickets (9900 searches a month in April 2022) we can estimate that an additional 3,920 people visited the Wrexham FC site to purchase tickets.
For a smaller club like Wrexham, these numbers are huge and depending on the conversion rate of the site, these additional season ticket holders could help Wrexham continue to grow and invest in their club.
Let’s assume all 3,920 users bought a season ticket (for £127 each) after visiting the site, that would equate to an additional £497,840 in revenue for the club, thanks to the additional search activity generated through their PR efforts.
If you’ve seen the show, you’ll know this would nicely cover the bill to get a new pitch for the club!
What lessons can we learn from this?
The biggest takeaway from this is that no matter what size your business is, you should consider implementing recent news into your SEO strategy to help you build brand visibility.
Of course, most businesses won’t be able to create a Disney+ series or invest the same amount of money Reynolds has, but we can still use the same premise and dial it down to suit your business. After all, most of us have smartphones which have good-quality cameras to create content on.
There are many new start-ups out there that have benefited from documenting how their businesses have grown, and given some behind-the-scenes footage and learnings to share with anyone who might be interested.
By highlighting your business’ journey, you allow potential customers to build a relationship with your brand and add a human touch to a predominately transactional relationship. The stronger you build your brand awareness, the more likely it is to grow a loyal customer base.
Timely and trending content is a great way to attract backlinks
To put this idea into practice we’ve highlighted some examples below for businesses in different industries to create content around the relevant trending series:
- Perhaps you’re a home security company and you want to create some content that will get in front of potential customers. Why not create some content imagining you were the company installing the security cameras on the Netflix series “The Watcher”, and how you would do it differently, or even better!
- You could be a Special FX software provider and create a breakdown on how the new ‘House of Dragons’ series was created, with interesting infographics provided on the content that allow journalists to link out to and explain the story better.
- Maybe you’re a recruitment company and you create an article which highlights the cost of hiring and losing employees during their probation period, using the current political affairs as an example. Through this, you can highlight your expertise on the subject matter and offer some advice for any companies that might find it useful.
By creating content around a trending series, topics and news articles, you could benefit from something which is already disruptive, therefore speeding up the process of your SEO efforts and building your visibility.
How our SEO team can help your business
If the idea of creating content that drives organic traffic and creates backlink opportunities gets you excited, then contact us today and talk to one of our experts about how we can make this work for your business.