Dubai Exiles Rugby Football Club

11 February 2024 /

Dubai Exiles Rugby Football Club is the oldest rugby club in the Middle East. Established in 1966, it has proudly enjoyed the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum since 1972.

Despite the Club being very well established and for many years, the powerhouse in UAE and West Asia Premiership rugby, it had very few physical promotional assets and almost no digital presence.

The lack of digital presence had exacted significant damage to the Club’s primary revenue stream, that of membership. Between 2012 and 2019 overall membership had fallen by 39.39%. Even more alarmingly, the Club’s Mini & Youth rugby section, its core offering, had literally halved – declining by 50% since 2012.

The Website

The Club’s website at https://dubaiexiles.com served several, very important, purposes:

  1. To promote the Club and the sports it offers to people in the UAE
  2. To facilitate and manage membership registrations
  3. To promote the sports of rugby and netball to the local and wider community
  4. To be the central, and single, point of news and information about the Club.

With the introduction of the new Dubai Exiles Rugby Club website in 2018 it wasn’t very long before the Club was featuring as the top result in nearly all rugby related search terms on Google – a position it still holds today.

The Club’s website features no ‘SEO tricks’. It is optimised for the Google algorithm, it has grown to 1,681 content rich pages with 296 of those pages being high quality, unique, content in the Latest News section of the website.

Content creation examples:

  1. https://dubaiexiles.com/tigers-tamed-as-exiles-take-uae-premiership-title/
  2. https://dubaiexiles.com/so-who-is-exiles-director-of-rugby-jacques-benade/
  3. https://dubaiexiles.com/exiles-under-13s-deliver-over-300-pairs-of-boots-to-kenya-harlequins/
  4. https://dubaiexiles.com/exiles-under-16s-have-a-near-perfect-2022-23-season/
  5. https://dubaiexiles.com/exiles-under-19-girls-route-to-the-dubai-7s-title/

When creating digital content it is extremely important to understand your audience, how to segment that audience, and where and how they might engage with the stories that you can tell.

It is imperative for any organisation that the content it creates is rich, exclusive, and pertinent to the sphere that the organisation operates in.

For Dubai Exiles RFC platforms were created, within the website, to facilitate the creation and distribution of exclusive content that was compelling and appropriate for both the ‘human reader’ and Google’s web crawler software, Googlebot.

Branding and Display Assets

The Club had very few branding assets and despite being located at the premier rugby facility in the UAE, The Sevens Stadium, had little or no branding or visible presence at the venue.

A new visitor to the Sevens Stadium, unless asking a venue staff member for guidance, would have been almost completely unaware that Dubai Exiles RFC, the oldest club in the Middle East was based on the site.

Branding assets, gazebos and flags, were designed and manufactured for club days and match days, display positions on the venues pitch-side advertising hoardings were purchased and populated with appropriate graphics.

Social Media

Social Media is now, for most people, a part of day-to-day life.

In a country like the United Arab Emirates, where a significant amount of the population is originally from outside of the UAE, it’s a good idea to share stories not only about the club and the teams, but also about the members. The most important people in a club. Telling their stories makes it very easy for them to share ‘what they’re up to’ with family and friends back home.

Since 2018, EbbittMedia, has created all of the Dubai Exiles social media content and ensured a balance between news and stories about the club, and news and stories about club members.

As a result, the Club’s social media now has over thirteen thousand followers, an increase of 433%.

The Outcome

The 2019-20 season saw Dubai Exiles RFC record their lowest ever enrolment. Since 2012, the highest recorded enrolment, the primary revenue stream of membership had fallen by 39.39%.

The introduction of the new website, which Googlebot enthusiastically crawls and indexes, coupled with a considered and thought-out marketing and social media plan has seen the Club’s membership grow by 88% over the last 3 years (since 2019-20).

We did the photography too!

Capturing, and continuing to capture, the photographs for Dubai Exiles RFC is a mammoth task. Mini & Youth rugby matches, home and away, Premiership rugby, Division 1 rugby, plus women’s rugby all need to be photographed and archived for the Club’s website and its social media channels.

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