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Designing Sports Rewards Programs to Effectively Monetize Fandom

In this article, we will discuss how rights holders can optimize their programs to reward for behaviors that mutually benefit clubs, partners, and fans. 


Entertainment Brands Compete Against Endless Options

With endless options for how fans can spend their free time, sports and entertainment brands must deliver experiences that consistently deliver value. While quality of content offerings and capability to entertain are paramount, there are additional benefits rights holders can provide that compels attention and spend. Effectively rewarding fans can be the key driver in sustained loyalty, and lifetime value.

Rewards Programs have been a staple of the airline industry since the 1980s Increasingly it is an approach being taken by brands that benefit from sustained loyalty. While some brands reward based on purchases, others may use gamification to increase engagement.  Sports organizations, with multiple platforms to engage their audience through, lend themselves to holistic rewards programs that add value to consumers in a range of methods.   

An analysis of the English Premier League indicates many of the top clubs are designing rewards programs that incentivize their fans to take actions that benefit the league’s bottom line. Seven English Premier League clubs (Manchester United, Chelsea, Wolverhampton, Arsenal, Manchester City, Everton and Aston Villa) have built comprehensive rewards programs that reward all of their supporters for actions that benefit the club, creating opportunities for fans around the globe to engage.  Other teams have digitally accessible rewards programs, although these serve smaller audiences of ticket buyers or season ticket holders, and potentially miss opportunities  to use gamified rewards programs to reach new cohorts of fans.  

Clubs with the most effective rewards programs are:

  1. serving a global fanbase
  2. providing impactful value exchanges with fans, and  
  3. driving fan behavior that correlates with the goals of the club and its commercial partners.

Prioritizing Features of Rewards Programs

So how can organizations use digitally integrated rewards programs that mutually benefit the club, their partners, and fans? In order to determine what behaviors to reward, rights holders need to correlate those behaviors toward beneficial commercial activities, understand the KPI(s) they need to drive to achieve commercial goals, determine the fan actions to incentivize, and measure the commercial impacts.  Below are some examples of how rights holders can use this strategic approach to plan their programs.

Behavior to Reward: Engagement on Owned & Operated Platforms

KPI(s) to Drive:

  • Daily mobile app opens
  • Time on platforms
  • Digital membership sign ups
  • Followers on social media

Fan Actions to Incentivize:

  • Daily mobile app opens
  • Read/Watch/Interact on platform
  • Participate in voting, polls, surveys.
  • Complete fan account profiles
  • Fill out surveys for the club and its partners

Impact

Benefits

Commercial

  • Value of digital platform(s)
  • Fan data & gained audience insight 

Partner

  • ROI on partnership activation(s)
  • Fan data & gained audience insight for remarketing efforts
  • Brand recognition & allegiance

Fan

  • Access to exclusive rewards, prizes, experiences
  • Deepened affinity for the club/league

Behavior to Reward: 

Advocacy (introducing friends/family to the club/league)

KPI(s) to Drive:

  • Increase ticket buyers
  • Grow fanbase
  • Followers on social

Fan Actions to Incentivize:

  • Bringing friends to games
  • Join a fan chapter, attend a fan watch party 
  • Sharing social channel content

Impact

Benefits

Commercial

  • Value of local rights
  • Value of digital platform(s)
  • Ticket revenue
  • Fan data & gained audience insight 

Partner

  • ROI on partnership activation(s)
  • Fan data & gained audience insight for remarketing efforts
  • Brand recognition & allegiance

Fan

  • Additional incentives to spend leisure time & money with family/friends and club/league fans
  • Access to exclusive rewards, prizes, experiences
  • Deepened affinity for the club/league

 

To understand what opportunities there are for your brand to impact your commercial goals through digital rewards programs, Infront X leverages a Fan Value Exchange framework to assess the value your organization and its digital platforms are bringing to fans. To receive a preliminary fan value exchange scorecard, reach out to us via our contact form.