Click the image above to learn about the Fin Club!
Happy July everyone!
In the next couple weeks, NFL teams will be opening up their training camps ... and it won't be long before footballs fill the air!
And with Opening Sunday on the horizon, this week we wanted to bring you the story of one NFL team, the Miami Dolphins, that are doing some incredible things with their fan loyalty program. As Lucas puts it in his opening -- fan loyalty programs have quickly gone from being "nice to have" ... to "HAVE to Have" -- and the Dolphins, (and their agency, CrowdTwist), have taken the "standard" fan loyalty program up one exceptional notch.
As you read about the program's elements, keep in mind some incredible ROI statistics: new Season Ticket sales up 11 times over this point last season ... season ticket renewals up 156% and e-mail open rates up 250%. The Dolphins and CrowdTwist are obviously doing something right -- and we salute them for a great program. With that -- enjoy this week's story and we'll see you in a couple weeks!
P.S. - We hope you had a happy 4th! Want more revenue generating ideas? Follow @NatlSportsForum on Twitter to get more helpful insights on #sportsbiz, #sponsorship and more!
Miami Dolphins: Fin Club
Fan loyalty programs are no longer "nice to have" for sports teams--they are now an integral component of any successful fan engagement strategy. Giving fans a tangible platform that is unique to their team is becoming the most beneficial way to add value for season ticket holders and create lifelong fans. Many teams have loyalty programs out there--but at the end of the day, most teams are not effectively monetizing their fan loyalty initiatives. There’s a fine line between generating a buzz and converting your engaged fans into buyers.
In this weeks "Selling It…" article, we get to see a fan loyalty program that puts a unique spin on "rewards" for its fans. This multi-channel platform incentivizes fans to act as brand ambassadors for their team both online and in-stadium, all with the end goal of driving sales and rewarding fans for their fervent support.
The Fin Club was built to engage fans across multiple channels to drive ticket sales and keep fans satisfied, regardless of how the team performed on the gridiron. In essence, it is a targeted marketing initiative that leverages all assets and channels: in-stadium signage, direct mail, e-mail, radio, online, social channels, and on-site. The Dolphins had set out to enhance their database marketing strategy and accumulate knowledge on their fans so they could personalize each customer experience and use that valuable information to drive revenue. In order to do that, they created a fan loyalty platform that was different than all others before it.
The program as a whole is very similar to other loyalty programs at first glance, but the way the Dolphins have designed the key aspects is cutting-edge--and judging by the results from the first year of the program (see results section below), very successful. Fans can earn redeemable "Fin Points" currency through typical social media activities such as posting and following players on Facebook and checking in at games. But the innovation comes when fans are allotted points by adding their phone number, expanding their profile, adding their birthday, reading articles and viewing photos on the Dolphins website. Simple rewards like redeemable points for looking at pictures is a great way to encourage fans to consume your content--but the real meat of the program comes from the fan information capture. With a 100% opt-in rate for all members and over 100 data variables, the database the Dolphins have grown through the program is enormous. They now have a much better understanding of who their fans are, what they do, what they are interested in, and what they are talking about. This has enabled improved performance by the sales team, as the data has driven more targeted outbound ticket sales offers—and in turn, conversion and segmentation. The sales team was equipped with the ability to personalize the conversation with each prospective client, instead of just going down a list of names and cold calling. As a result, they have generated an 11x increase in season ticket sales.
In return for all the data they have been able to capture, the Dolphins knew they wanted to do something special for their fans. Many teams choose to give out rewards like tickets, merchandise and food--which in turn cost the team money, negatively affecting their bottom line. The Dolphins did a little bit of that, but their focus was and has always been on unique fan experiences. By offering priceless experiential rewards that you cannot get anywhere else, they truly ignited peoples' passion and created Dolphins fans for life. Top level loyalty rewards--which ranged from running the team flag through the tunnel on game day, to watching from the broadcast booth, to taking pictures in the locker room--not only had zero monetary expense for the Dolphins, but also resonated much more with the fans who were active enough to achieve such rewards. Anyone can buy front row tickets, but how many people can say they’ve led the team out of the tunnel on game day? The Dolphins realized that unique experiences like this are able to turn a fair weather fan into a fanatic.
Click above to visit the Fin Club splash page!
The Dolphins teamed up with CrowdTwist, a New York-based customer relationship & loyalty platform provider whose technology was used to launch the Fin Club. This fan rewards platform leveraged the power of points to drive interest and more frequent engagement across the brand’s properties as well as providing access to the data compiled through the software's back-end Control Center, which includes a customizable platform, tools, and analytics to measure the impact and optimize the effectiveness of the program. Adam Trisk, head of Marketing at CrowdTwist, said "We do everything possible for our clients in order to make it simple and easy for them to engage their fans and provide a flawless fan experience."
The results from this program are literally off the charts. The following quantitative measures of enhanced fan engagement were derived from the Fin Club analytics engine: 5x more weekly engagement, 10x increase in Dolphins.com site visits, email open rate up 250%, and 100% opt-in rate for members. And those statistics are just for engagement--the ROI numbers are even more impressive: new season ticket sales are up 11x, season ticket renewals are up 156%, 63% of team revenue was generated from Fin Club members, and member likelihood to buy merchandise went up 60%!
The Fin Club truly is a loyalty platform that shows us that generating an increase in fan engagement can correlate with substantial increases in revenues for your team.
We have not seen the end of the Fin Club, it is just taking off! In its first year, there has been no sponsor attached to it, but there is a big opportunity for the Dolphins to bring in a sponsor on the program and generate even more revenue from the initiative. They are also looking into going ticketless in the next few years and giving members a "Fin Club Card", which members can use in-stadium for gate entry as well as merchandise and concessions purchases. Moving forward, the Dolphins are going to be putting even more resources into the program, and hope to deliver on their vision to make it the most successful fan loyalty program in the sports industry.
For more Information, contact:
Adam Trisk, Head of Marketing, CrowdTwist
Claudia Lezcano, Chief Marketing Officer, Miami Dolphins