Rugby League World Cup 2021 (RLWC2021) was a record-breaking event, achieving the status of the most watched and attended Rugby League World Cup of all time. A Tournament of firsts from the offset, it was also the first Rugby League World Cup to host concurrent Men’s, Women’s and Wheelchair Tournaments, helping to drive record Wheelchair Rugby attendance and Women’s Rugby League viewership. Ticket sales surpassed any previous Rugby League World Cup with new attendance records set for overall attendance, highest combined opening day, highest men’s and women’s semis, highest men’s quarter final game, world record wheelchair game, and highest ever standalone game of women’s RL in the UK. The significant majority of fans who attended matches were hugely positive about their RLWC2021 experience.
As Official Data and Insight Supplier, Goodform have been with the RLWC2021 team every step of the journey. The RLWC2021 team set their vision to be “trailblazing”, and the way insight has been utilised attests to this. Data and research have been championed like no other Rugby League World Cup and have been central to digital marketing and decision-making. Evidence of this is apparent throughout the event’s narrative.
Straight from kick-off in 2018, Goodform and RLWC2021 set out to build and engage a database of core Rugby League fans and major eventers. The goal was simple: generate Tournament buzz from Northern strongholds and new territories, and drive ticket sales, with relevant and personalised marketing campaigns. The result: ticket sales KPI’s were surpassed by 37%, and Goodform data analysis spotlighted breakthrough Rugby League audiences in the North-East and London.
It’s no secret that RLWC2021 have had to tackle a global pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis head-on, like many other sporting events. While the pandemic was a challenging period leading to the rescheduling of the event to 2022, fan research led by Goodform was the basis for RLWC2021 becoming the first major event to lead comms with a ticket refund guarantee based on research insight, with customer feedback overwhelmingly positive about this. A number of other sporting events followed.
Expectedly, predicting ticket purchasing activity became essential to financial and scenario planning. Three waves of Goodform tracker surveys pre-event, illuminated propensity to purchase tickets, and anticipated timing of purchases, informing Goodform ticket sales forecasting for different RLWC2021 fan profiles. This reinforced RLWC2021 ticket sales and pricing strategy, particularly around late purchasers.
Ticket sale KPI’s were monitored via Goodform’s Sportswise Customer Data Platform throughout, which also provided RLWC2021 stakeholders the analytical tools to understand audiences with ease. Highly-targeted marketing campaigns based on in-depth data analysis helped to surge ticket sales to over 400,000, with campaigns automated across 61 matches and 3 Tournaments streamlining marketing during Tournament-time. Most importantly, fans praised the communication that they received, with a large majority of email marketing comms coming back as positive.
RLWC2021 attenders were also hugely positive about their event experience in Goodform post-event research, rating their enjoyment as 8.7/10 on average. Goodform’s NPS analysis supported this, with the event scoring an outstanding +47. Overall, Rugby League fans and major eventers had showed strong enthusiasm to provide their feedback, with over 37,000 taking part in research. Simply put, these numbers are remarkable. The data speaks volumes for the incredible sporting experience crafted by RLWC2021, and the importance of tracker research in the major event lifecycle.
Goodform and RLWC2021’s focus has now turned to realising a measurable legacy for the sport, with new interest, fan data, and insight to benefit the RFL for years to come.
Mick Hogan, RLWC2021, commented:
Goodform’s data and research insight, digital marketing, and major event expertise, have played a vital role in surpassing ticket sales targets set for the Tournament. Working closely with Goodform has allowed us to base decisions around fan behaviour and attitudes, rather than gut feeling, which has had strong results. Overall, it’s been a pleasure having Goodform as a seamless extension of the Rugby League World Cup 2021 team
Jon Dutton, RWLC2021, said:
To see the Rugby League World Cup break records was truly inspirational. All the obstacles and challenges the tournament has faced were overcome. We are proud to have created such a special moment for the sport which provides a legacy opportunity domestically and internationally for the RL family; with the sharing of new fans, we hope to see the audience grow for the sport more widely.