Keeping U.S. track and field fans engaged is challenging, especially when other sports like baseball, basketball, and football capture far more coverage and marketing dollars. USA Track and Field (USATF), the national governing body for cross country running, track and field, and other related sports, is tackling this issue by strengthening its connections with fans.
"We knew we needed to create a deeper affinity with our fans and we needed to collect and leverage our data in a more strategic manner," says Caleb Bailey, USATF strategic programs manager. "The data that we had was very limiting in how we could market and grow our brand."
Bailey chose CrowdTwist, a loyalty marketing and data solutions provider, to help USATF ramp up its insights and engagement efforts. The organization's goals were to drive deeper engagements with fans.
In January, USATF used CrowdTwist's platform to launch a rewards program in which fans earn points or "wings" for actions such as retweeting a post from @USATF, watching videos on USATF.tv, or using the hashtag #USATF in a post. Fans can then exchange the points for items such as autographed shoes and other merchandise, as well as VIP access to warm-up sessions, holding the tape at the finish line, or presenting a medal to the athlete.
The platform also includes analytics on active social media users and information about their interests, such as pages that they've liked on Facebook and topics that they frequently comment on. USATF uses this information to identify influential fans, Bailey explains.
"If someone tweets or posts a lot about us, we know he or she will do a good job if we can get a product into their hands," Bailey says. "We also like to surprise fans with things like a video from their favorite athlete thanking them for being a brand ambassador."
Since the program was launched earlier this year, USATF's tweets have been retweeted more than 13,700 times; more than 11,000 tweets and posts included USATF's rewards hashtag, and approximately 21,200 viewers have watched videos on USATF.tv.
USATF is happy with the results and is looking forward to further engaging users, Bailey added. The organization is also hoping to gain more (paying) members. USATF has nearly 10,000 rewards members. The organization launched two campaigns,"Become a USATF Member"and"Renew Your USATF Membership" in May and converted 14 percent of its rewards members into annual USATF members.
"We've got a lot of potential members that we can market to in a more effective manner than anything we've done in the past," Bailey notes.
Bailey also plans to use the insights his organization has about its brand ambassadors' interests to drive more ecommerce revenue.
When users, for example, join the rewards program through Facebook, USATF can see the brand pages they liked on Facebook, songs they've listened to, and other activities. The organization can use those insights to further personalize their interactions with brand ambassadors and send them products that will more likely appeal to their interests.
The average retail customer spends about $65 per visit on USATF merchandise whereas rewards members typically spend three times as much, Bailey notes. "Once we connect the ecommerce side," he notes, "hopefully we'll be able to market to our biggest and most influential spenders."