How to Introduce an Effective Loyalty Scheme at Sports Clubs
Thursday July 6, 2017
Many clubs today are realising the importance of looking after key segments of their fan base. From the die-hard season ticket holders to the international social followers, more and more clubs are introducing schemes and initiatives to reward fans for their affinity to the club.
There have been many examples of failed loyalty schemes, so to help you avoid this I’ll cover some of the key considerations to ensure that your loyalty scheme is a success.
Who is your loyalty scheme targeted at?
The first thing to think about is who are you trying to target? Do you want it to be an all-inclusive scheme or do you just want to use it as an added incentive for season ticket holders and members? Opening the scheme up to all fans will certainly help to broaden the overall following of your club but only making it available to season ticket holders and members offers the extra value that these fans are craving.
What is the structure of your loyalty scheme?
To decide on the structure of your loyalty scheme, you really need to think about what kind of behaviour you are trying to encourage amongst your fans - the scheme should then incentivise this behaviour. For example, you may wish to try and encourage your fans to arrive at the stadium earlier with the objective of increasing match day spend at retail and F&B outlets.
How will you communicate your loyalty scheme to your fans?
One of the major pitfalls that clubs come across when introducing a loyalty scheme is how it is communicated with fans. Fans are sensitive and usually have an emotional bond with your club. Therefore, you really need to think about how you encourage fans to engage. Understanding your fans behaviours and how they like to be communicated with will go a long way to avoiding any pitfalls.
How and what do fans earn through the loyalty scheme?
Typically, fans earn points through their interaction and engagement with the club. A common misconception of a loyalty scheme is that points are only awarded when a fan spends money with the club. Why not let fans earn points when they interact with the club without spending money, for example, by opening an email or by ‘checking in’ to a certain geo-location?
What rewards will your loyalty scheme offer?
In my experience, sports clubs that offer more than just discounts and free tickets are the ones that offer the most value. Why not consider some ‘money-can’t-buy’ rewards to give your fans an experience they won’t forget. Meet the players, sit in the dugout, visit the training ground or even cleaning the changing rooms (or maybe not!) are all examples of money-can’t-buy experiences that will really get your fans hooked!
Will you have an interactive loyalty portal?
A common complaint about loyalty schemes is the lack of ability for fans to have any visualisation of or interaction with the scheme. Very often, loyalty points are simply held on a card with no place to view your loyalty account. Why not offer fans a loyalty portal where they can view their balance, points statement and engage with money-can’t-buy rewards, lotteries and competitions?
How will you review the effectiveness of your scheme?
Plan plan plan. Review review review. Not everything you do with your loyalty scheme will work. Not every reward will be as popular as you had hoped and not every campaign will quite have the impact you wanted. The key is to plan and review everything you do. Really think about the rewards you are offering: “what added value is this giving to my fans?” Most importantly, it’s vital that every campaign is properly reviewed and analysed. If you don’t measure the success of a campaign, there is no possible way of learning for the future.
Loyalty schemes present an excellent opportunity for sports clubs to engage with their fans. I have seen examples of fantastic loyalty schemes which have had a great impact on the fans engagement with the club. Here’s an example from Birmingham City Football Club – read this case study to find out how they have improved their fan engagement with their Blues Loyalty scheme.
If you’re thinking of starting a loyalty scheme at your club, ensure that you start with these considerations to understand what you are looking to achieve and then when your scheme starts, you will be sure that it will incentivise the fan behaviours that you are looking for.
Jack works as part of the Business Development team at Green 4. He works with prospective customers to understand their requirements and the results they are looking for from their data-driven CRM strategy.
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